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To what extent did Ramsay Macdonald betray his party in1931?

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To what extent did Ramsay Macdonald betray his party in 1931? In 1931, Ramsay Macdonald resigned from his position as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minster of Britain, to take up a position a few days later as the leader of the new National Government set up to run the country, and thus becoming the countries leader again. Many have claimed that he betrayed the Labour Party by leaving them so he could join another party in a better position; in other words he was motivated by personal ambition. This theory can only be proven if it was known whether or not Ramsay Macdonald knew if he was going to remain Prime Minister at the time when he resigned Labour from power. One view of Ramsay Macdonald's resignation is that he resigned from the leadership to save the party. ...read more.


Macdonald would have known his name would be mud, and in a job like an MP where reputation is everything, crossing the floor so dramatically would surely have been a last resort to gain power. But was it his only resort? Historian David Marquand feels Macdonald didn't know he would remain Prime Minister at the time he resigned Labour from power, but was: 'persuaded to stay on as Prime Minister of an all-party government as the best way of avoiding an election and restoring confidence.' The current period in office for Labour had been a struggle. The previous two years had been marred by crisis after crisis, with Labour inheriting many problems not dealt with by Baldwin's Tories. The most pressing issue would be the alarming rise in unemployment that was showing no signs of slowing down. To address this problem, Macdonald turned to J. H. ...read more.


The fact that Macdonald formed the National Government, or was persuaded to, shows that he still believed he was able to solve the problems, especially unemployment. He felt he could relate to many people's problems due to his middle class upbringing and socialist background, and so leaving the Labour Party for personal reasons does not seem such a strange idea. The argument that Macdonald was motivated by personal ambition has further weight added to it when it is claimed he resigned Labour to save not only the parties' reputation, but his own. This is almost certainly true, as he didn't want to suffer embarrassment on purpose, yet it is probably not true that he wanted to save is reputation for running the coalition. We will never know the truth, as Ramsay Macdonald carried it to the grave, yet we can surmise that his decision to resign Labour from power was motivated by 75% wanting to do the best for Labour, and 25% personal ambition. ...read more.

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