How successful was the first Labour Government of 1924?


How successful was the First Labour Government of 1924?

Wheatley was the most successful member in the Cabinet. He directly analysed long-term shortage of housing. The Wheatley Housing Act of 1923 raised the subsidy from £6-£9 and raised the length of time over which it was to be payable. from 40 years, ensured housing should be built for rent, improving lives of many working class families, also made sure the subsidy would last for 15 years. Howeverm economic crisis of 1931 meant the programme was discontinued, but by then the housing shortage had improved. The result was the construction of 1,700 million houses over the next nine years.

Slum clearance was not promoted and conditions remained dreadful for many of the improvised and unemployed. The act didn't provide direct rent controls, the problems being highlighted by strikes in London and Glasgow, and benefited the prosperous working classes rather than the very poor but it was still an achievement. 

Labour was attacked for being a communist party in disguise. Daily Mail published a document which was said to be from the executive committee of the communist international, advising communists to prepare for revolution. It was known as the Zinoviev letter. However the Zinoviev letter allowed Labours leaders to deceive many of their followers into believing that the electoral reverse had been based on the tricks and deceit of the Conservatives and the 'establishment'. If the red scare/Zinoviev letter did have any electoral impact, it seems it had been forced Liberal voters to choose between Labour and Conservatives.

Minister of Labour, Shaw, introduced 2 unemployment insurance acts. One ended the necessity of waiting 3 weeks between periods when benefits were claimed. By the second act, benefits for men increased from 70-90p per week and for women from 60-75p and for children 5p-10p a week. 

Industrial conflict didn't end, there were serious strikes, first by engine drivers, then by dockers and London tramway men. 

Several reforms were introduced but had to be given up because of the absence of a parliamentary majority or simply by lack of one e.g. an unsuccessful attempt to end the means test for old age pensions. Also the regulation of working hours, an attempt to secure a maximum of 48hr working week failed to make it beyond the drafting stages as the government fell. 

MacDonald was also foreign secretary. He was able…


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