The First Labour Government, 1924

By Richard W. Lyman | Go to book overview

VII
CABINET MAKING

WHEN Parliament met in January, all that was left was to go through the formal motions of bringing the Baldwin Government down and putting the Labour Government in its place. Those who hoped for the best from this experiment listened to MacDonald's Albert Hall speech and were reassured -- although the singing of hymns, the Marseillaise, and the Red Flag at the meeting may have puzzled some who were not previously acquainted with the diverse sources of Labour's inspiration.* Those who feared the worst, on the other hand, listened to Maxton's speech "at the Rouken Glen, a public pleasaunce a few miles from Glasgow", in which he played to perfection his accustomed role of a lightweight Robespierre. How the fearful must have trembled to hear this sallow, cadaverous fellow, with the straight black hair falling over his brow, saying, "The Labour Party might establish a precedent for a Government remaining in office after twenty defeats. . . . The big problem that faced the people who were going to govern was the problem of compelling the wealthy to disgorge their wealth."1

On 14 January, Lord Haldane, soon to be Lord Chancellor, held a dinner for the leaders of the party, which he described in a letter to his aged mother: "The King's Speech dinner went off remarkably well. At Bay's [his sister's] suggestion I provided both lemonade and orangeade [in place of wine]. The unofficial cabinet meeting which followed was a remarkable display of

____________________
*
The Times, 9 Jan. 1924. At his first interview with MacDonald, King George V expressed his distaste for the Red Flag; Labour stalwarts would have blanched to hear the new Premier assuring the King that "they had got into the way of singing this song and it will be by degrees that he hopes to break down this habit." Memorandum by Lord Stamfordham, 22 Jan. 1924, quoted in Sir Harold Nicolson, King George V ( London, 1952), p. 386.

-96-

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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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