National Government Political Effects 1931-35


How National was National gov?

  • Formed Aug 24th 1931, truly was an emergency gov
  • Cabinet made up  of 4 Labs, 4 Cons, 2 Libs
  • First job = pass the Economic Act to cut spending in order to meet the terms of the foreign financers to prop up pound and keep Britain ON GOLD. Act passed only by 61 votes, with 250 labour MPs voting against (reveals how crucial it truly was for RMD to form NG)
  • There was a strong case for reducing dole (10% reduction in unemployment benefit key part of Econ Act) seen as hasn't changed since 1921 and was worth more in 1931 due to falling prices
  • 2nd run on pound in Sept 11th 1931 due to the Invergordon Mutiny (british navy seamen mutinied angry at cuts to wages, investors and people lost nerve so withdrew money from British banks)
  • The Mutiny forced Britain off gold, EMERGENCY GOV CONTINUE but ONLY WITH MANDATE FROM VOTERS aka the 1931 October Election
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1931 Election Results

  • Cons win 470 seats alone
  • National Labour won 35 seats
  • National Liberals (Simonites) 35 sets
  • Total National Gov = 540 seats, huge majority, and had a popular majority >50% of actual votes

-Liberal Samuelites got 33 seats

-Opposition Liberal LG rebels got 4 seats

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Impact on main three parties?


  • Similar to having LG as PM, took LG 'prisoner' and could use as a scapegoat if things went wrong
  • Managed to implement Tariffs in 1931
  • Neville Chamberlain chancellor in 1931, dominated Gov in many respects
  • Tories dominant party in the NG, huge maj, could've ruled alone
  • Allowed SB to sideline more radical members of party especially WC


  • Labour disowned RMD as 'Lucifer of the Left' only a small number of Labour MP backed the NG, most remained separate with Henderson as their leader
  • Labour did not play a role in Gov until the 1940 Wartime Coalition
  • Party had two leaders in 1930s, ineffectual George Lansbury (Hyde park lido guy) 1932-35 and Clement Attlee after 1935
  • National Labour w/ RMD 'rump of party'
  • Party did recover in the long run, won the 1945 election
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Impact on liberals?

  • Worse-affected, formed three separate tribes
  • Now indistinguishable from Cons/Lads- lost any sense of party identity
  • No longer held balance of power like they did when they were united as oone party in 1924 or 1929-31
  • Britain now a two-party democracy
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