Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Baldwin’

Labour history uncut: TFI its Red Friday

24/05/2013, 06:03:34 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

“Every day they were in led us further from socialism.” Thus spake a disappointed Jimmy Maxton of the first, and brief, Labour government which had flopped out of power at the end of 1924 and was now back where it was most familiar, on the opposition benches.

Bitterness and recrimination reverberated across the Labour movement. Both the left and the right agreed that maybe it was time to replace Ramsay Macdonald as leader.

Philip Snowden, former resident of 11 Downing Street, tried to annoy his onetime prime ministerial neighbour by agitating for Arthur Henderson to challenge for the leadership, as well as mowing his lawn really early on Sundays.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Maxton and the red Clydesiders sounded out George Lansbury for similar purposes (the leadership, that is, not the lawn mowing).

The unions were busy grumbling too. The Labour government had proved just as happy to threaten them with the emergency powers act as the Tories and Ernest Bevin, leader of the T&G and one of politics’ all-time great haters, led the angry backlash from the brothers.

He had not forgiven Macdonald for the Labour government’s handling of the docks and tramway strikes in early 1924, telling all and sundry that he’d be happy with anyone but Macdonald as leader.

Bevin wasn’t alone either. They unions had shifted decisively left during the Labour government, partially as a result of their older leaders like Margaret Bondfield and dockers’ leader Harry Gosling, being made ministers in said government, clearing the way for more radical voices to take the reins.

Unfortunately for the serried ranks of the discontented though, they were to be disappointed. In line with the long PLP tradition of factional infighting, the only person each group of MPs disliked more than the current leader was the alternative favoured by the other lot.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Labour history uncut: Mac the knife

19/04/2013, 03:31:53 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

“The Liberals must be… destroyed,” declared Ramsay Macdonald, stroking a white cat.

Ok, perhaps not that dramatic, nevertheless it was Ramsay Macdonald’s electoral goal. Labour’s leader had a clear plan of action for 1923. He intended to show the public that Labour was a respectable party, the sort that one day might even make a serene transition into actual, proper government.

To do that, first he had to establish his party as the alternative to the Tories. In a British electoral system that only really had room for two parties, that meant the Liberals had to go.

Oddly, the Liberals didn’t seem to disagree.

They had obliged by splitting into two warring factions under Lloyd George and Asquith. True, there were now moves to broker a reunification under Asquith’s leadership, but rather than a passionate and heartfelt reunion this was an attempt to stay together for the sake of the children. It was all awkward silences and icy stares over dinner.

Margot Asquith reads a scary story for the kids, entitled, "The strange death of Liberal England"

Liberals regularly defied the whip, voting against each other on a range of motions. Meanwhile an aged Asquith seems to have given up trying to lead his party now that sticking it to Lloyd George wasn’t an available option.

It looked like Macdonald couldn’t fail.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon