John Hodge (politician)

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Hodge in the mid 1900s

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.

Early life

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

Hodge first became involved with trade unionism while at the local iron works. Hodge helped form the British Steel Smelters' Association in 1885, of which he would be elected secretary, because their bosses at Colville. They were informed by works in Motherwell 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.

Political career

Hodge was a member of the Manchester City Council from 1897 to 1901.[citation needed]

At the 1900 general election, Hodge unsuccessfully contested Gower.[1] He was unsuccessful again in Preston at the by-election in May 1903.[1]

He finally won a seat at the 1906 general election, when he as elected as a Labour Party Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton.[1] When the United Kingdom declared war and entered World War I 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. He was Chairman of the 'patriotic labour' British Worker's National League[2]

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. Hodge supported the Empire Resources Department Committee, signing its manifesto.[3] From August 1917 to January 1919, Hodge was Minister of Pensions in the Lloyd George Coalition Government. In 1919 he appeared in the film Broken in the Wars directed by Cecil Hepworth to advertise a fund set up for ex-servicemen.

The Labour Party was not pleased with Hodge's anti-strike stance, patriotism and leadership of the British Worker's National League 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".[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. pp. 173, 317, 478. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Hendley, Matthew C. Organized Patriotism and the Crucible of War McGill-Queen's University Press (2012) note 189 p244
  3. Constantine, Stephen The Making of British Colonial Development Policy 1914–1940 Frank Cass (1984)
  4. Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, Memoirs (1925), p. 207.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ernest Frederic George Hatch
Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton
Succeeded by
Joseph Compton
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Thomas Burt
President of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
S. Munro
Preceded by
Joseph Nicholas Bell and Allan Gee
Trades Union Congress representative to the American Federation of Labour
With: David Shackleton
Succeeded by
Herbert Skinner and John Wadsworth
Political offices
New title Minister of Labour
Succeeded by
George Henry Roberts
Preceded by
George Barnes
Minister of Pensions
Succeeded by
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Charles Steadman
Chairman of the Annual Conference of the Labour Representation Committee
Succeeded by
William John Davis
Preceded by
Richard Bell
Chairman of the Labour Representation Committee
Succeeded by
David Shackleton
Preceded by
Joseph Nicholas Bell
Chairman of the Annual Conference of the Labour Representation Committee
Succeeded by
Arthur Henderson