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John Hodge (29 October 1855 – 10 August 1937) was a Coalition Labour party politician in the United Kingdom, and was the first Minister of Labour and the second Minister of Pensions.

Hodge was born in Linkeyburn, Ayrshire and attended Ironworks School and Hutcheonstown Grammar School. When he was thirteen Hodge left school to become a solicitor's clerk and then in a grocer's shop before becoming joining the local iron works as a puddler, the same job as his father.

It was here that Hodge first got involved with trade unionism. Hodge helped form the British Steel Smelters' Association, which he was elected secretary, in 1885 because their bosses at Colville Works in Motherwell had informed them that their wages would be twenty per cent lower than before. The BSSA was a success and by the summer of 1886 practically every smelter in Scotland had become a member and by 1888 the BSSA had members joining from England and Wales and become affiliated with the TUC. The BSSA rarely organised strikes but Hodge was successful at negotiating increases in wages.

He was on Manchester City Council from 1897 to 1901. After failed attempts to get elected as a Liberal Hodge was elected at the 1906 general election as a Labour Party Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton. When war was declared in 1914 Hodge took a very patriotic stance and criticised other Labour politicians for opposing it. From 1915 to 1916 Hodge was Acting Chairman of the Labour Party.

In 1916 he was part of the Mesopotamia Commission of Inquiry. He was also elected as president of the British Iron, Steel & Kindred Trades Association which he had helped to form with other iron and steel unions. From December 1916 to August 1917, Hodge was the first Minister of Labour and had a seat in the Cabinet. At this job Hodge claimed that all strikes during war-time were acts of treason and Hodge successfully made striking boilermakers to go back to work by threatening to charge them with the Defence of the Realm Act.

From August 1917 to January 1919, Hodge was Minister of Pensions

The Labour Party was not pleased with Hodge's anti-strike and patriotic actions and therefore put up a candidate against him in the general election of 1918 but failed to unseat Hodge. Hodge kept his seat in the general election of 1922 but retired from Parliament at the general election of 1923. Hodge continued to argue against strikes during the General Strike of 1926 and retired from the presidency of the British Iron, Steel & Kindred Trades Association in 1931.

Hodge was turned down for military service because he was too old. Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, who served under Hodge, called him a "fat, rampaging and most patriotic Tory working man".[1]

Notes

  1. ^ Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, Memoirs (1925), p. 207.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ernest Frederic George Hatch
Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton
19061923
Succeeded by
Joseph Compton
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Burt
President of the Trades Union Congress
1892
Succeeded by
S. Munro
New title Minister of Labour
1916–1917
Succeeded by
George Henry Roberts
Preceded by
George Barnes
Minister of Pensions
1917–1919
Succeeded by
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Party political offices
Preceded by
Richard Bell
Chair of the Labour Party
1903–1904
Succeeded by
David Shackleton
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