Posts Tagged ‘Red Friday’

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.


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