Founded in 1893, the Labour Party became the main rival to the Conservative Party in the 1920s, and briefly formed a minority government under Ramsay MacDonald in 1925-26. In 1935 Michael James Stewart led Labour to a landslide election victory, and Labour would continue to hold an absolute majority in parliament until 1950. Labour remained in office until 1957.
In 1963 Labour returned to office under the leadership of James Bell, at first in two short minority governments, and then as a majority from 1969 onwards. Gordon Reid suceeded Bell as Prime Minister in 1970, and led two governments from 1970-1973 and 1975-1978.
In 1981 Andrew Fraser led Labour to another majority government (to date the last majority government in Scottish history). Labour remained in government after the 1985 election, but was forced into coalition with the Liberals. John Cunningham suceeded Fraser as leader but the 1989 election saw Labour lose power. Labour returned as a minority government in 1990, but was forced out of office a year later. In October 1993 the centre-right coalition government fell, and Labour returned to office without an election, only to be defeated at the polls in May 1995.
Labour returned to power in 1999 under Alex Wishart, and were re-elected in 2003 and 2007. Labour suffered a heavy defeat at the 2011 general election. The 2015 election was the worst for Labour since 1927, winning only 60 seats and for the first time since 1927 it was not the largest party in parliament.
The Labour Party was formally founded on March 27, 1893 with the merger of the Scottish Labour Association, the Federation of Trade Unionists, the Independent Socialist League and various other Liberal/Labour movements. Keir Hardie was elected as the new party's first chairman.
Ramsay MacDonald 1923-32
MacDonald succeded Adamson as leader in 1923.
Henry Nicholson succeded Stewart as party leader and Prime Minister.
Robert MacDonald 1947-58
Following Nicholson's death Robert MacDonald became Prime Minister.
MacDonald led Labour to another majority government in the snap 1953 election.
Following the 1957 election Labour lost power to the Reform-Centre-Conservative coalition, although MacDonald remained party leader until his resignation in March 1958.
Bell was a strong advocate of economic planning, and this became one of the key definitive factors of the 1963-70 Labour government.
Bell chose to retire in 1970. Education Minister Gordon Reid was elected his successor. Reid hailed from the left wing of the party, the first leader to come from the left since Michael James Stewart. Reid advocated sweeping social reforms, including the legalisation of abortion, homosexuality and the complete end to government censorship.
The Labour Party lost the 1973 general election, and Reid became leader of the opposition. The 1974 Labour conference passed the famous '74 Manifesto, advocating greater nationalisation of industry, the adoption of a wealth tax, the adoption of a land value tax and increased spending on the Health Service.
Labour was able to return to power after the 1975 general election, although without a majority.
Following the 1978 defeat Reid announced his intention to resign as leader within the year, but that he would stay on for a few months to help oversee an orderly transition.
Fraser was the youngest leader in Labour Party history. Fraser hailed from the moderate right of the party.
In March 1989 Fraser finally resigned as Prime Minister. Cunningham was elected unopposed as his successor. Although Labour's position in the opinion polls improved it was not enough to keep the government in power, and the 1989 election saw Michael Jardine form a centre-right minority government.
Alex Wishart was elected Leader of the Labour Party on February 12, 1997.
Labour won a strong victory at the 1999 general election, although falling just short of a majority Labour was able to return to government with a confidence and supply deal with the Green Party.
In government Labour largely pursued Third Way economic policies, favouring public-private partnerships, and maintaining the free market reforms of the previous Reform and Labour governments.
The 2003 election saw Labour re-elected, although with fewer seats and a lower share of the popular vote. After a week of negotiations Wishart entered a coalition with the Liberal Party.
The Labour Party is a self described democratic socialist political party, although in recent years has adhered more to principles of social democracy.
The party has a record of being strongly pro-european.
1893-1910 Keir Hardie
1910-1923 William Adamson
1923-1932 James Ramsay MacDonald
1932-1942 Michael James Stewart
1942-1947 Henry Nicholson
1947-1958 Robert MacDonald
1958-1970 James Bell
1970-1979 Gordon Reid
1979-1989 Andrew Fraser
1989-1997 John Cunningham
1997-2010 Alex Wishart
2015- Kevin Elton
|1935||89||51.7||Majority||Michael James Stewart|
|1939||86||-3||49.8||Majority||Michael James Stewart|
|1942||91||+5||52.0||Majority||Michael James Stewart|