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Labour Party Success

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Introduction

'Labours ability to form government at all in 1924 and 1929 was more surprising than the fact both governments were short-lived'. Assess the validity of the statement. Since the start of the of the 20th century the Labour Party had grown from being an electoral ally of the Liberal Party to the second largest party in the British political system during the interwar period. During this time the party formed two governments under the leadership of Ramsay MacDonald but the formation of each is often questioned by historians due to the circumstances which led to the election. However this is not the only issue debated by historians, each government was short-lived which has led to queries about which, out of the elections or the premature falls of the Labour governments, was more suprising. The formation of the Labour Government in 1924 had looked a distant possibility at the start of the year but a number of factors contributed to their formation and many believe this was suprising. In 1924 Baldwin had recently taken over the leadership of the Conservative Party after fighting off competition from Lord Curzon, following the retirement of Bonar Law due to his deteriorating health. After taking over the leadership of the Conservative Party he sought to gain a mandate to continue from the newly extended electorate who Baldwin believed needed to be able to trust their leaders. ...read more.

Middle

The result was damning for the Labour administration and many suggested that the government had committed suicide; Asquith went on to say that he had 'never known a government which had so wantonly and unnecessarily committed suicide'. In light of this evidence it is possible to say that the fall of Labour was suprising, surviving the preconceptions of the public which existed in 1924 was an achievement in itself and the moderate course which it followed meant it was unlikely to attract much criticism for being too socialist. It can therefore be suggested that the Labour government committed suicide and it can be seen as suprising that it fell so prematurely. After an absence from power of five years, the 1929 election offered a new opportunity for Labour to form an administration. The continuation of Liberal decline in the post-war period seemed to have been halted when Lloyd-George took over from Asquith and the party adopted a new economic policy. This economic radicalism was influenced by Maynard-Keynes but ultimately the public believed that the promises made were too good to be true and that Lloyd-George's promises would be left unfulfilled like the ones made in 1918. This confirmation of Liberal decline meant that Labour was now the alternative to the Conservatives and made the possibility of a left-wing administration more realistic. ...read more.

Conclusion

1930's and in only their second term in power the relatively inexperienced Labour government was still focused on political stability rather than radical economic measures. The first two Labour governments were both relatively short-lived and weakened by previous administrations and preconceptions. The belief of a left-wing takeover similar to that in Russia played on the mind of the public and the gold standard introduced by Churchill helped to cut short the second term. Ultimately the fact Labour governments were formed at all was more suprising than the fact they were short-lived as the conditions which met both administrations were hardly favourable to a government with little experience and therefore a relatively quick fall may have seemed inevitable. However, the elections of each government is suprising as in 1924 Baldwin seemed to gift Labour the chance to form a government due to his desire for a personal mandate and in 1929 his unambitious and low risk policies seemed to be unconvincing to an electorate who wanted action over unemployment. It may have been said that the foundation built over the five years of Conservative administration would have led a greater desire to tackle problems with increased radicalism and the absence of such a policy may be suprising to historians. In summary the Labour governments were formed due to Conservative self destruction and the party itself may have been surprised at its new found opportunity. ...read more.

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