Independent Political Labour League

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Independent Political Labour League
Founded 1905
Dissolved 1910
Succeeded by Labour Party (1910)
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Left-wing
Colours      Red
Politics of New Zealand
Political parties

The Independent Political Labour League (IPLL) was a small New Zealand political party. It was the second organised political party to win a seat in the House of Representatives, and was a forerunner of the modern Labour Party.


The IPLL was the product of a gradual move towards an independent working-class political vehicle. Previously, most workers supported the powerful Liberal Party, which had dominated Parliament since its creation. Eventually, however, the pace of reform began to slow, and calls arose for an independent workers' party. In 1904, the annual conference of Trades and Labour Councils called for the formation of a new organisation. This party would be focused solely on workers, unlike the Liberal Party, but would be committed to change through reform, unlike the revolution-minded Socialist Party. A constitution was drawn up in late 1904, and the first conference was held in early 1905, with John Rigg elected as the first president.[1] At the conference, it was claimed that the new organisation had over a thousand members.

Electoral history[edit]

Initially, the IPLL did not perform well. In the 1905 elections, the party stood 11 candidates: two in Auckland, four in Wellington, three in Christchurch, and one each in the Egmont and Invercargill electorates.[2] None were elected, and all but one failed to win enough votes to reclaim their deposits.[3][4] The party also failed in its attempts to recruit from among the more sympathetic Liberal MPs.

In the 1908 election, however, one IPLL candidate was elected in the Wellington East electorate on the second ballot. The Liberal vote was split by two Liberal Party candidates, and both Liberal candidates were eliminated in the first ballot. This left the IPLL candidate, David McLaren, face a conservative candidate and with many Liberal voters transferring their allegiance to McLaren, he won the second ballot.[5][6] This was the first time that any organised political party other than the Liberals had won a seat; the conservative opposition was still disorganised.

The IPLL had more success in local government politics. Particularly in Wellington, the IPLL had many candidates elected as City Councilors and Harbour Board Members such as Frank Moore and Alfred Hindmarsh.[7] IPLL MP David McLaren was later elected the Mayor of Wellington, serving from 1912 to 1913.

Position in wider Labour politics[edit]

The IPLL itself, however, was increasingly failing. Internal disputes, such as whether the party should work with or against the Liberals, created tension, and the party was generally disorganised. In 1910, the remnants of the IPLL were relaunched as a new organisation, known as the Labour Party (not to be confused with the modern party of the same name). Eventually, this Labour Party joined with several independent groups to create the United Labour Party, which then merged with the Socialist Party to form the Social Democratic Party. The Social Democrats, along with various members of the United Labour Party who had rejected the previous merger, eventually formed the basis of the modern Labour Party.


  1. ^ "Independent Political Labour League". The Evening Post LXIX (118). 20 May 1905. p. 2. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Gustafson 1980, p. 18.
  3. ^ "The Recent Election - Men who Lost Money". Wairarapa Daily Times XXIX (8327). 19 December 1905. p. 7. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Results of the Polls". Ashburton Guardian xxii (6742). 7 December 1905. p. 2. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Gustafson 1980, p. 19.
  6. ^ "The General Election, 1908". National Library. 1909. pp. 13, 31. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Taylor, Kerry. "Hindmarsh, Alfred Humphrey - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 December 2011.