Born into poverty in industrial Lanarkshire, Keir Hardie began working at seven and was in the mines until his blacklisting by mine owners in 1878. He attended evening classes, took up journalism and campaigned to improve the conditions of his fellow coalminers. In 1888 he became chairman of the Scottish Labour Party, the first independent Labour party in Britain. Dobson's portrait of Keir Hardie making a speech was painted shortly after his election to Parliament in 1892. From 1906, as first Labour leader in the House of Commons, he built up the Party's alliance of socialist and trade union elements.