The First Labour Government, 1924

By Richard W. Lyman | Go to book overview
case raised fundamental issues, important enough to justify precipitating a Government crisis. King George V, reluctantly granting the third Dissolution in less than three years, regretted that "the appeal to the electorate cannot be made upon a more vital issue".54 But The Times of 8 October found lofty principles at stake: "the purity of the administration of justice and the equality of all before the law", rights which are "our proudest boast . . . the admiration and special envy of all other civilized peoples". The leader the next day, however, whittled it down to a relatively subtle distinction: while it was certainly justifiable for an Attorney General to consult his political colleagues about initiating a prosecution, he should never consult them concerning the withdrawal of one.After the electorate had returned Stanley Baldwin to power, MacDonald asked him a Parliamentary Question relating to situations such as this; Baldwin replied that it was the Attorney General's duty "to inform himself of all relevant circumstances which might properly affect his decision: when the proposed prosecution is of such a character that matters of public policy are, or may be involved, it is the duty of the Attorney General to inform himself of the views of the Government or of the appropriate Minister before coming to a decision."*Sir Patrick Hastings's crime, then, becomes a matter not of having dared to consult other Ministers about a prosecution, but of having failed to do so in time to avert the necessity of withdrawing a prosecution already under way. Unless an Attorney General is to be forbidden to rectify mistakes, and required instead to allow such errors to bring down the Government in which he serves, it is difficult to see in the Opposition's behaviour in the Campbell case anything other than what a lonely Tory dissident called "contemptible party tactics".55NOTES
1. Beatrice Webb's Diaries, 1924-32>, ed. M. Colc ( London, 1956), p. 11 ( 29 Feb. 1924), p. 39 ( 21 July 1924).
____________________
*
179 H.C. Deb., 5 s., 1214 ( 18 Dec. 1924). The Labour Government, it later appeared, had gone farther and instructed that no political prosecution should be undertaken without the Cabinet's sanction. The Baldwin Government excised this instruction. See The Times, 12 and 19 Dec. 1924.

-245-

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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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