Why Did the Labour Government Fall in October 1924? (British Politics 1918-1929)(British Period Study: Britain 1918-1951)(Britain 1900-1951)

  • Created by: oanderton
  • Created on: 31-08-20 18:51


Labour lost the 1924 election due to 2 scandals

  • The Campbell Case
    • A Communist opposes the repression of strikers but urging troops not to support force against them and is sued by the attourney general. MacDonald throws out the case.
    • Makes Labour look sympathetic to Communists.
  • The Zinoviev Letter
    • A forged letter, supposedly from a Russian Communist leader, Zinoviev, urging British Communists to support LAbour.
    • Lead public to associate Labour party with Communims & causes a red scare within Britain.

These 2 scandals made the 1924 election focus on the red scare & the opposition focused on Labour being Communist.

  •  Trade treaties with USSR & Labour's Maifesto also became focal points of this campaign.

1934 election showed Labour would never be elected on a purely radical socialist programme.

  • Red scare showed Communism would never appeal to the British public.
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The Campbell Case

  • Government only lasted from January to October 1924
  • Record was impressive considering the limited time period

The Labour government fell because MacDonald mismanaged a relatively trivial incident - The Campbell Case.

  • Labour government was unsympathetic to strikers and ordered troops against them.
  • In July 1924, J.R.Campbell published a letter calling for troops to refuse to act against striking workers.
  • Attorney general prosecuted for incitement to mutinyUnder an act of 1797.
  • Labour left was very angry.
  • In August, MacDonald withdrew the prosecution.
    • Due to pressures from backbenchers in Labour party.
  • Liberals saw political influence being used in a matter of law.
    • Called for investigation
    • MacDonald decided to make it a matter of confidence
  • Could have ignored the criticism
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ii. The Campbell Case

  • Chose to make it clear that if the government was defeated then this would make it a vote of no confidence.
    • Showing he could no longer govern and would resign.
  • Baldwin decided to support the Liberals
  • Vote of Liberals and Conservatives brought the government down
  • Relations between Labour and Liberals had been poor.
  • Decision was seen by many as unfair
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The Zinoviev Letter

1924 election: characterised by wild talk of Labour's support for Communism.

  • Zinoviev letter: a forged letter, supposedly from Zinoviev, a Russian Communist leader.
    • Urging British Communist party to support Labour.
  • Caused a red scare in Britain.
  • Voters convinced that a vote for Labour would mean a vote for Communism.
  • Evidence for the suppose threat.
    • The Russian Treaty
    • Reference in Labour's manifesto to 'a socialist commonwealth'.
  • Effects of Zinoviev letter have probably been exaggerated.
    • Labour did not lose votes.
    • Labour actually increased its popular vote.
    • Gained support for its idealistic foreign policy.
  • Electorate decided that the choice was now between Labour and Conservatives.
  • Losers in this election were the Liberals.
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