What Were the Aims & Achievements of the 1924 Labour Government (British Politics 1918-1929)(British Period Study: Britain 1918-1951)(Britain 1900-1951)

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  • Created on: 31-08-20 17:33


MacDonald's fporeign policy was his strongest asset

He reversed many of the cuts imposed by the Geddes Axe cuts, like the Unemployment Insurance Act & Agriculture Act 1924

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Labour's Aims

Official aims had been established by the 1918 constitution

  • A national minimum: wage, working hours
  • Nationalisation of industry
  • Democratic administration of industries
  • Heavy taxation of the rich
  • To pay for social welfare and the costs of war
  • Heavy burden for the leadership for most of the following century.
  • MacDonald was far from implementing the 1918 Constitution.
    • Did not have the support of many of the members - MacDonald being one.
    • Prevented the party from having a truly national appeal.
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ii. Labour's Aims

  • MacDonald wanted to establish that Labour could tackle important foreign and domestic issues.
    • Particularly interested in working for world peace.
    • Ending the ill will between France and Germany.
    • Supporting the League of Nations
  • Aimed at going back to the refomrs of the immediate post war period, dealing with pressing problems
  • Deal with unemployment.
  • Keep costs of living low.
  • Encourage more trade and therefore more jobs.
  • Resist pressures from the left wing of the party for radical reforms.
  • Show that Labour could be a moderate governing party
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MacDonald Foreign Policy 1924

MacDonald's foreign policy & international peacekeeping efforts were a significant strength.

  • MacDonald acted as foreign secretary and Prime Minister
    • Giving him greater freedom of action here.
    • Did not need the approval of parliament for specific legislation
  • Attended the meeting of the League of Nations
  • Strong supporter of the Geneva Protocol
    • Had been drafted by former leader Henderson
  • Outlawed war
    • Made arbitration of disputes between nations in the league compulsory
  • Gave the League power to impose sanctions on any country that rejected its decisions.
  • Put Britain at the heart of moves to strengthen collective security and prevent war.
  • Influential in finding a solution to the dispute between France and Germany over reparations.
    • Dawnes Plan: payment through installments.
  • Showed Labour's ability to take the lead in international affairs.
    • MacDonald could be a world statesman
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Limitations of Foreign Policy


  • Conservatives refused to accept the Geneva Protocol.
  • Still no mechanism for enforcing the decisions of the League except sanctions.
    • Sanctions proved ineffective.
  • Dawes Plan did not survive the economic crisis that hit Germany
    • Few reparations were paid
  • Agreed to another trade treaty with the USSR
    • Criticised by Liberals and Conservatives.
      • Disliked communism.
      • Thought Britain should not have relations with a regime which had killed the Tsar and whose stated policy was to spread revolution.
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Foreign Policy Evaluation

Ramsay MacDonald was an extremely effective leader when it came to foreign policy.

  • Being foreign scretary and Prime Minister meant he didn't have to consult Parliament of foreign policy.
  • Supported the League of Nations and made them more powerful by giving them the power to impose sanctions; improved on their main weakness; the weakness of previous government lead by Lloyd George.
    • However, this did not solve the problem of the League being extremely weak, as these sanctions were largely ineffective.

However, his fopreign policy was not always recieved well within British politics.

  • The Conservatives refused to accept the Geneva protocol
  • The Liberals & Conservatives both criticised the trade agreements with the USSR.
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Domestic Policies

The most serious Geddes Axe cuts of 1922 were reversed.

  • Unemployment Insurance Act:
    • Increased benefits
    • Made uncovenanted benefit a right
    • Dole made payable immediately after unemployment insurance benefits ceased.
  • Agriculture Act 1924:
    • Agricultural wages boards set up to ensure farm workers' wages were not cut below a minimum standard for each area.
    • Did see an overall rise in wages
    • Act remained in force until after WWII
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ii. Domestic Policies

  • Wheatly Housing Act
    • Increased the subsidy for those renting council houses.
    • Enabled another 521,000 council houses to be built
  • Cuts to education were restored
    • Report commissioned on secondary education
    • Hadow Report 1931, basis of 1944 Education Act
  • Solution to unemployment was seen in terms of traditional free trade policies
    • Reductions on tea and sugar duties
  • Conservatives decided not to press for import duties
    • Little difference between the parties
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Limitations of Domestic Policy

  • Defence cuts
    • Work on the singapore naval base was halted.
  • No concessions to deal with unrest in the empire
    • More planes were ordered for the suppression of unrest in Iraq
  • Government was not sympathetic to strikes
    • Used the Emergency Powers Act against a public transport strike to ensure essentail services kept running.
  • Solution to unemployment was seen in terms of traditional free trade policies.
  • No major social refomrs
  • No attempt to impose nationalisation of industry or redistribute wealth.
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