Labour Front

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Labour Front
Founded 21 August 1954
Dissolved 28 February 1960
Political position Centre-left
Colours Brown
Politics of Singapore
Political parties
Elections

The Labour Front was a political party in Singapore. It was founded before the 1955 legislative council elections by David Saul Marshall, Singapore's first chief minister in 1955 and Lim Yew Hock, Singapore's second chief minister. A centre-left grouping, the Labour Front won the 1955 legislative elections and began to form a coalition government for Singapore, which at that time was a separate crown colony. It had won 10 of 25 elected seats in the legislative council.

Between 1955 and 1956, after sending two bi-partisan delegations to London for talks with the British, David Marshall's administration failed to gain approval from Britain for self-government in Singapore. David Marshall, taking responsibility for this failure, resigned in 1956 and soon went to form the Workers' Party of Singapore the following year. Critics believed that the British were not convinced of David Marshall's ability to govern Singapore well and to deal with the then rising threat of insurgency carried out in the name of communism. Marshall's more hardline stance in dealing with the underground Communist movement was only counterproductive. He was succeeded by Lim Yew Hock.

The Lim Yew Hock government did not fare any better. Apart from the threat of the underground Communist movements, Singapore faced problems in public order, poor economy, poor housing and sanitation, low living standards and corruption in the government. The then-opposition People's Action Party (PAP), led by Lee Kuan Yew, grilled the Labour Front government several times on these issues in parliamentary sessions. Later the majority of the Labour Front led by Lim Yew Hock, left the Labour Front to merge with the Liberal Socialists (formed by the Progressive Party and Democratic Party in 1956) to form the Singapore People's Alliance (SPA) in 1959.

In 1957 and 1958, two bi-partisan delegations successfully negotiated Singapore's status to be a self-governing state. Under the new constitution, the general elections of 1959 were held and the SPA composed of former Labour Front members suffered a rout, losing to the PAP. The PAP had won 43 of 51 seats in the parliament with a popular vote of 53% and had campaigned on an anti-colonialist platform with an ambition to initiate several reforms, improve the economy and living standards of the people and to eradicate corruption in the government. The SPA lost power and was reduced to only a handful of seats in opposition. By 1963, the SPA failed to win a single seat and after Singapore became independent in 1965, the SPA was dissolved.

The last remnant of the Labour Front contested with the 1959 elections separately from the SPA, but it was a very small percentage of the original party and eventually faded from existence.

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