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The Right Honourable
 John Robert Clynes

In office
8 June 1929 – 26 August 1931
Preceded by Sir William Joynson-Hicks
Succeeded by Sir Herbert Samuel

Born 27 March 1869
Oldham, England
Died 23 October 1949 (aged 80)
London, England
Political party Labour

John Robert Clynes (27 March 1869 – 23 October 1949) was a British trade unionist and Labour Party politician. He was a Member of Parliament for 35 years, and led the party in its breakthrough at the 1922 general election.

The son of a labourer named Patrick Clynes, he was born in Oldham, Lancashire, and began work in a local cotton mill when he was 10 years old. At the age of 16, he wrote a series of articles about child labour in the textile industry, and a year later he helped form the Piercers' Union.

In 1892, Clynes became an organiser for the Lancashire Gasworkers' Union and came in contact with the Fabian Society. Having joined the Independent Labour Party, he attended the 1900 conference where the Labour Representation Committee was formed; this committee soon afterwards became the Labour Party.

Clynes stood for the new party in the 1906 general election and was elected to Parliament for Manchester North East, becoming one of Labour's bright stars. In 1910 he became the party's deputy chairman.

During the First World War Clynes was a supporter of British military involvement (in which he differed from Ramsay MacDonald), and in 1917 became Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Food Control in the Lloyd George coalition government. The next year he was appointed Minister of Food Control.

Clynes became leader of the party following the war, and led it through its major breakthrough in the 1922 general election. Before that election, Labour only had 52 seats in parliament; but as a result of the election, Labour's total number of seats rose to 142.

MacDonald had resigned as Labour leader in 1914, due to his wartime pacifism, and at the 1918 general election he lost his seat. Not for another four years did he return to the House of Commons. By that stage, MacDonald's pacifism had been forgiven. When the occupant of the Labour leadership had to be decided on through a vote of Labour parliamentarians, MacDonald narrowly defeated Clynes.

When MacDonald became Prime Minister he made Clynes the party's leader in the Commons until the government was defeated in 1924. During the second MacDonald government of 1929–1931, Clynes served as Home Secretary. In 1931, Clynes sided with Arthur Henderson and George Lansbury, against MacDonald's support for austerity measures to deal with the Great Depression. Clynes split with MacDonald when the latter left Labour to form a National Government. In the 1931 election, Clynes was one of the casualties, losing his Manchester Platting seat. Nevertheless he regained this constituency in 1935, and in fact he remained in the House of Commons until his retirement ten years later.

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir James Fergusson
Member of Parliament for Manchester North East
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Manchester Platting
Succeeded by
Alan Ernest Leofric Chorlton
Preceded by
Alan Ernest Leofric Chorlton
Member of Parliament for Manchester Platting
Succeeded by
Hugh James Delargy
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Rhondda
Minister of Food Control
Succeeded by
George Henry Roberts
Preceded by
The Viscount Cecil of Chelwood
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by
Sir William Joynson-Hicks
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Sir Herbert Samuel
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Adamson
Chairman of the British Labour Party
Succeeded by
Ramsay MacDonald


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