The Labour Party was founded in 1900, having grown from the trade union movement and socialist parties of the nineteenth century. Support for the Labour Party overtook the Liberal Party to become the main opposition to the Conservative Party in the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay Macdonald in 1924 and from 1929 to 1931.
Sydney Box was the first Labour Party candidate for South Herefordshire. Self-educated, he spent the greater part of his early life as a labourer and developed a first-hand knowledge of the expectations and needs of the working class.
In 1912, Sydney Box became an organiser of the Workers’ Union. At that time there was no national agreement which determined the working hours or wages of labourers, and Syndey took it upon himself to organise meetings at Ledbury and Bromyard in an attempt to change this. As a result, the Herefordshire Agricultural Workers’ Union was formed.
In December 1918 Sydney’s supporters put him forward as the Labour Party candidate for the Hereford Division following his efforts to establish the party within the county during 1917. Although he was defeated, he received nearly 4,000 votes for a programme that included the establishment of the National Health Service, equality of educational opportunity, public ownership of the land and an end to sex discrimination.
The Hereford and South Herefordshire Labour Party has since built on the principles founded by people like Sydney Box to fight social injustice and improve the lives of the residents of South Herefordshire. In the most recent 2017 General Election, members of Hereford and South Herefordshire put forward Anna Coda as their candidate, which doubled the Labour Party vote for the second successive election and put the Labour Party second place in South Herefordshire for the first time since 1970.
Today, Hereford and South Herefordshire Labour Party continues the fight to create a county that works for the many, not the few.