Leaders of the Labour Representation Committee and the Labour Party (19002009)
From 1900 to 1906 the Labour Representation Committee (the forerunner of the Labour Party) elected a chairman annually. Following the formation of the Labour Party in 1906 the official title of the leader was chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party (until 1922), then chairman and leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party (until 1970), then leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party (until 1978), and then leader of the Labour Party.
From 1906 to 1981, when in opposition, the Parliamentary Labour Party elected its leader at the beginning of each parliamentary session, though most elections were uncontested. Under rules introduced in 1981 the leader was elected by the party conference, with 40 per cent of the vote allocated to the trade unions, and 30 per cent each to MPs and the constituency parties. From 1993 the leader was elected by an electoral college with MPs, constituency parties, and trade unions each accounting for one-third of the votes; constituency parties and trade unions were required to ballot their members and divide their votes accordingly.
In 1931 the Labour Party split over the formation of the National Government: only a minority of Labour MPs continued to support Ramsay MacDonald, who lost the leadership of the Labour Party to Arthur Henderson but remained prime minister.
On two occasions the deputy leader of the party assumed temporary leadership of the party following the death of the elected leader: George Alfred Brown (19141985)
was leader from January to February 1963, and Margaret Mary Beckett (b
. 1943) was leader from May to July 1994.