Sunday, March 05, 2006

Hayes Labour Association Estb1910

The Establishment of Hayes Labour Association

The Labour Representation Committee had been established in 1903 as primarily a parliamentary organisation to co-ordinate Labour MP’s.

A few areas such as Ealing experimented with the establishment of local Labour Representation Committees (LRC), however it was not until 1909 that the Labour Party was encouraging the establishment of local Labour Parties.

The initial meetings of the Hayes Labour Association took place in a cottage in Hayes 1910 when Percy Langton was elected as the Association's first Secretary .
Contemporary reports state the “foster mothers” of the Hayes Labour Association were Percy Langton and Henry Palmer.

Percy Osborne Langton was a decorator and plumber of Angel Lane. He was born in Hayes in 1889 the son of Walter Langton.
While Henry Palmer was a bricklayer “with a heart of gold and a tongue like a lash of whip silver” he was also an active campaigner for allotments. Langton stated” It had been a conversation between two working men of whom Mr. Palmer had been one and he would remember with pride had been the other” April 1915.

It was largely due to Henry Palmer that the Hayes Labour Association had been established Labour to Power Percy Osborne Langton referred to origins of the Hayes Labour Association.

In the local council elections of 1910 the Hayes Labour Association embarked upon an electoral strategy that would secure its meteoric rise to power. The Association planned to field its first candidate. Percy Langton however he stood down in favor of Henry Palmer . 

The previous year 1909, Henry Palmer had stood as a “Working Man’s” candidate, losing by just 34 votes.” He was a bricklayer with a heart of gold and a tongue like the lash of a whip of silver” wire” at this his second attempt and now as a Labour candidate Palmer failed by a mere 6 votes.
At the following 1912 council election the Hayes Labour Association had secured the election of three Labour Councillors onto the Urban District Council - Henry Palmer, Percy Langton and William Rawlings, the later a packing case worker.

“Much had been made out of the labour party being socialist, he for one was not ashamed of owning up he was a socialist, but the whole of the Labour party were not socialist” Palmer May 1912

George A Sellwood had by 1914 become the joint secretary of the Hayes Labour Association.

At the 1914 Council election, Labour succeeded in having elected Juan Colonna Drenon a Bookseller and Frederick Mason a machinist.

The rapid advance of the Hayes Labour Association had not gone unnoticed and the London (Evening) Standard which warned in February 1913 that Hayes was now a “danger spot” in the Uxbridge Parliamentary Division
‘There is one danger spot in thoroughly Unionist (Conservative)Division Uxbridge it is only a spot at present but it wants watching “

”At present no radical candidate is before the constituents and it really is not a matter of surprise, it is no joke to fight in the radical interest in this division”
“There is a weak spot on which more guns require to be directed at Botwell, Hayes. The population and electorate are very rapidly increasing. Many of the newcomers are not landowners seeking fresh air and the amenities of rural Middlesex. They are largely importations from the North and Midlands."
“Gradually radicalism has been sown and the Hayes District will be important in the future fight”.

The Labour Party was not only being attacked from the right, the left, notably by the Uxbridge branch of the Social Democratic Federation established in 1908 in the guise of Mr A. D. Notley and Mr Barr. It was also attacked by John Hoffman of the Socialist Party of Great Britain who witheringly stated
“To call the Labour Party Socialist, which contains for the most part job hunting trade union officials making sheep’s eyes at the capitalist class”.

At the1914 election the Hayes Labour Association secured the election of five Labour councilors out of a possible nine, thus securing a Labour majority on the Hayes Urban District Council for the first time, The five included
Percy Langton
William Rawlings
Juan Drenon
Fredrick Mason
Robert Woodward

Merlane Chair of the HLA stated June 1914

“The Hayes Labour Association held a meeting after every meeting of the council and their representatives hold a meeting after every meeting and their representatives had to report to them as to the work done and the Association brought forward certain propositions and left the members to carry them out if they did not carry out their wishes of the Association they were asked why”

The Hayes Labour Association’s stunning success in securing a majority on the council was unrivalled by any other Labour Party, certainly in Southern England, The success should be measured against the fact that Labour strongholds such as Acton, Poplar, Battersea and Rhondda did not fall to Labour until 1919.

The relatively early electoral success of the Labour Party in Hayes helped undoubtedly to consolidate the Party during the forthcoming period of political instability caused by the outbreak of World War 1. Elsewhere the War unquestionably slowed the advance of the Labour Party and sowed confusion in its ranks, as jingoism replaced normal politics.

Despite national setbacks by 1915, Hayes Labour Association could claim an astonishing two-thirds majority on the council with Robert William Gunton being elected. The Labour councilors first action was to elect Councillor Juan Drenon as the first Labour Chairman of Hayes UDC.

Juan Drenon was born in 1864 in Liverpool, he was an inspirational man who through himself fully into the work of the Association. He is credited with pushing ahead with the early council housing scheme's and it could have been no accident that he was elected the first Labour Chairmen of the council

Note: Photo Palmer 28 Feb 1913 pg5 Gazette