Born in Lambeth, London in 1888 as the son of a police officer, Morrison lost the sight in his right eye at an early age. Morrison, like many early Labour leaders, had little in the way of formal education and left school at fourteen to become an errand boy. Morrison's early politics were radical, and he briefly flirted with The Social Democratic Federation over The Independent Labour Party(ILP). However, Morrison eventually returned to the fold and became a pioneer leader in the London Labour Party.
Morrison eventually became Mayor of Hackney from 1920-21. Morrison was also elected to the London County Council (LCC) in 1922 and the following year he became MP for South Hackney in the 1923 General Election, but lost that seat the following year when Ramsay MacDonald's first administration lost the general election.
Morrison returned to Parliament in the 1929 general election, and MacDonald appointed him Minister of Transport, however Morrison, like many others in the party, was deeply disheartened by MacDonald's national government. Morrison, like many Labour MP's, lost his seat again in 1931.
Morrison continued to sit on the London County Council and in 1934 became its leader. In this post he oversaw the development of London's housing, health, education and transport services. Morrison's main achievements in London included the unification of the transport system and creating a 'green belt' around the suburbs. In 1935 Morrison was once again elected to the House of Commons.
In 1935 Morrison challenged Clement Atlee for the leadership of the party, but lost - if Atlee had not retained his seat in 1931, unlike Morrison, then that would would most likely not have been the outcome.
In 1940 Morrison was appointed as first Minister of Supply by Churchill, and then Home Secretary. Morrison's London experience in local government was particularly useful during the Blitz. However, Morrison had to take many potentially unpopular and controversial decisions by the nature of wartime circumstance.
After the war's end, Morrison was instrumental in drafting Labour's 1945 manifesto and orchestrating it's campaign. Labour won handsomely, and Morrison became Deputy Prime Minister and Lord President. After Ernest Bevin's resignation as Foreign Secretary, Morrison took over his role, but Morrison was ill at ease in the Foreign Office, and his tenure there was cut short by Labour's defeat in the 1951 general election.
Although Morrison had been Atlee's heir apparent since the 30's, when Atlee resigned in 1955, Morrison was simply too old to win the leadership. Hugh Gaitskell was now the young, de facto leader of the Labour right, and Morrison could mount no serious challenge.
Morrison was made a life peer in 1959 as Lord Morrison of Lambeth, and served as President of The British Board of Film Censors. He died in 1965.