Haldane: The Life of Viscount Haldane of Cloan, K.T., O.M

By Frederick Maurice | Go to book overview

Chapter VII
THE FIRST LABOUR GOVERNMENT
1924

Haldane found interest and amusement in settling the new Government into office. His first official connection with the Labour Party occurred before Baldwin's administration was defeated on January 21 in the Commons by 72 votes on the Address. Ramsay MacDonald had asked him to have the dinner for the Labour Party on the eve of the new session at Queen Anne's Gate, and the Address, a copy of which had, as is customary, been sent to the leader of the Opposition, was read and discussed by the prospective cabinet in his dining room. With this indication that he was to act as host to the Labour Party he brought in his sister to help him. His wine and cigars were famous amongst his friends, but on his sister's advice on this occasion he made a change in the liquid refreshment. He wrote to his mother: 'The King's speech dinner went off remarkably well. At Bay's suggestion I provided both lemonade and orangeade. The unofficial cabinet meeting which followed was a remarkable display of competence and also of conservatism. I never attended a better cabinet meeting. We agreed to take a firm line about the railway strike.'

On the day after the King had sent for Ramsay MacDonald he wrote: 'Bay is invaluable. She has already made friends with Miss MacDonald and is helping her in taking over No. 10, an awkward rambling house for a girl to manage. She says that Mrs. Baldwin is being very kind and helpful and that my old

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