Posts Tagged ‘Herbert Morrison’

Labour history uncut: “And a mouse shall lead them”

11/03/2014, 10:21:26 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

In 1935 Labour hit on a new idea: a try-before-you-buy scheme for the leadership.

Just days before the November general election, Clement Attlee had been elected interim boss. Because nothing says “we’re ready to lead the country,” than having a temp at the helm.

The electorate agreed. With a disappointing 154 seats secured, it looked like Clement Attlee had no hope of going temp to perm and was about to become another victim of Britain’s insecure labour market.

Especially as now there was rather more choice on offer. The election, though uninspiring overall, had seen the return of several leading Labour politicians to the Commons, including Herbert Morrison, Hugh Dalton and John Clynes.

These new options, combined with over 100 more MPs to do the choosing, meant a change at the top seemed imminent when, barely a week after the national poll, the leadership election beckoned.

After some early jockeying for position and switches of allegiance in the manner of the children’s gameshow Runaround, the field of applicants was winnowed down to three.

Herbert Morrison, Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood remained, the last two of whom had also contested the leadership one month earlier.

Of the three, Morrison was the early favourite. He was the only one on the national executive in his own right, he had a track record of electoral success, and his dad was a policeman, so he could wheel his bike wherever in Westminster he wanted.

Morrison was on the right of the party, making him a right Herbert

Morrison was on the right of the party, making him a right Herbert


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Labour history uncut: A party caught in two minds

12/11/2013, 11:53:24 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

By late 1932 the recession had become a depression. Unemployment was stuck at 3 million and more austerity seemed the government’s only answer.

The communists responded through their National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM), which was like a union for the unemployed, with the slight drawback that when they went on strike, nobody could tell. The NUWM organised hunger marches to highlight the plight of the workless.

“Scotland to London, seriously? This is why we need a Scottish government.”

“Scotland to London, seriously? This is why we need a Scottish government.”

The government reacted by doing some organising of their own, arranging for 70,000 policemen to meet the hunger marchers and welcome them to London.

For its part, the Parliamentary Labour Party organised to stay in that evening with a cup of tea, peeking through the office curtains at the ensuing violence and hoping those nasty communists would just go away.

No such luck.

The deteriorating economic situation had helped membership of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) surge from 2,300 in 1930 to 9,000 by the end of 1932.

Meanwhile in Germany, the election in January 1933 of new chancellor with a hilarious Charlie Chaplin moustache and a less hilarious set of beliefs, led many on the left to seek common cause with the communists.

Moscow agreed, recognising an opportunity when they saw one.


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What are Labour councils for?

31/03/2011, 01:00:14 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Socialism, Herbert Morrison once helpfully summarised, is what the Labour party does. A partial assessment to be sure, but is there a more reliable compass for what Labour politicians in office should find themselves doing?

In a few short weeks, local authorities up and down the country will go red as voters give their verdict on 12 months of dismal Tory-Lib Dem cutbacks and recession. But what, when faced with reducing expenditure by a quarter, will Labour councils offer by way of a response?

Labour today launches its campaign for those elections with a blizzard of statistics and weblinks playing out the familiar annual ritual of showing that Labour councils are better value than Tory ones. The Tories will, naturally enough, produce rival spreadsheets next week showing the reverse. Plus ca change.

To accompany the usual political riffs, the party has also published a document entitled: Labour: Your voice in tough times. It suggests that: “…every Labour councillor you elect will be your community’s first line of defence against the damage being done by a Conservative-led government and its Liberal Democrat allies”. (more…)

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