The First Labour Government

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Background of the Party

  • Formed in 1900 as the Labour Representation Committee, becoming the Labour Party in 1906
  • Not a representation of the nation but the trade unions, therefore focussed too much on industrial workers. This is shown bu the fact that the first Labour MPs only really turned up for industrail debate in the HoC
  • Too often seemed to be a trade-union pressure group
  • War had boosted Labour's fortunes, with Henderson and George Barnes sitting in the Cabinet for a period
  • Labour's position was more defined: to work towards a society based on 'planned cooperation in production' and also the infamous Clause IV for nationalisation
  • Post 1918, the party improved it's structure at all levels, with a womens organisation and a national newspaper, leading to electoral success, with their votes and no. of seats increasing with each of the post war elections and the 1924 gov't.
  • Still some issues: the ambiguity of Clause IV and the dominance of the trade unions

James Ramsay MacDonald

  • Determined to show how the Labour Party could be a national gov't. and not just the party of  workers
  • Devoted to the party: Secretary from 1900-12, MP from 1906-18 and then 1922-37 and party leader from 1922-31. Also the first PM who had not first been a minister
  • Had little sympathy with the left wing of the party nor the trade union sponsored MPs
  • The conditions in 1924 were ideal to turn Labour into a 'respectable' party as they had to be more right wing due to the lack of a majority
  • Hoped that by doing this that he could increase Labour's appeal and increase their seats to a majority
  • Chose a Cabinet accordingly: Himself as FS, Henderson as HS, Snowden as Chancellor, J.H. Thomas as Colonial Secretary and John Wheatley. The prescence of…

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