The First Labour Government, 1924

By Richard W. Lyman | Go to book overview

V
RESULTS OF THE ELECTION OF 1923 A House Divided

THE 1923 campaign was energetic but unimpassioned. The tariff controversy was perhaps too worn a theme to stir many hearts. Yet it is strange that in the face of almost universal uncertainty as to the probable outcome of the election, there was so little excitement. The Times, after a careful survey, thought Baldwin would have a majority of from twenty-seven to fifty-nine seats.1 Some others were less sure. The Nation, greatly daring, even thought that the voters might realize that "the resurgent Liberal Party is the safe and natural rallying point for all Free Traders", and added that the Liberals were "obviously in a position to form an Administration far more able and experienced than that at present in office".2 More often, Liberals were content to speculate on their chances of overtaking Labour and thus recapturing the role of official Opposition. Outlook, the Nation, and the New Statesman all thought this likely; The Times thought not. Labourites expressed confidence in public; privately some had grave doubts. No Labourite seems to have predicted more than 200 seats for his party.3

It is even said that MacDonald himself first thought of the possibility of a minority Labour Government as he drove around his constituency after the declaration of the poll; he is supposed to have dashed off to telegraph Henderson for a meeting at which this unforeseen development might be discussed.4 Mrs. Webb noted on 3 January: "So far as I know, no member of the Labour Party, certainly not any Front Bench man, foresaw the possibility of a Labour Government arising out of the election." They had expected either a clear Tory majority, or a Tory-Liberal coalition.5 Other observers were similarly shortsighted, which helps to explain how so routine a campaign

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The First Labour Government, 1924
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • I - The Labour Party, 1918-1923 1
  • Notes 16
  • II - The Election of 1923: the Conservatives 18
  • Notes 39
  • III - The Election of 1923: the Liberals Lloyd George and the Dragon 42
  • Notes 52
  • IV - The Election of 1923; Labour The Politics of Glorious Aspirations 53
  • Notes 67
  • V - Results of the Election of 1923 A House Divided 69
  • Notes 80
  • VI - The Path to Office 81
  • Notes 94
  • VII - Cabinet Making 96
  • Notes 107
  • VIII - Housing 110
  • Notes 129
  • IX - Unemployment The Intractable Million 131
  • Notes 154
  • X - The European Problem Year of Opportunity 157
  • Notes 181
  • XI - Russia Path of Most Resistance 184
  • Notes 207
  • XII - Labourites, Socialists and Reformers 210
  • Notes 227
  • XIII - Problems of Minority Government 230
  • Notes 245
  • XIV - The Election of 1924 Red Letter Day 248
  • Notes 262
  • XV - The Election of 1924 Dimensions of Defeat 264
  • Notes 271
  • XVI - Aftermath 272
  • Notes 281
  • Appendix A: the First Labour Ministry - (january 22 to November 4, 1924) 284
  • Appendix B: the Unsolved Mystery of The Zinoviev Letter 286
  • Notes 289
  • Bibliographical Note 290
  • Index 295
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