• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

“The author of its own downfall” – Is this a fair verdict on the first Labour Government? Givereasons to support your answer.

Extracts from this document...


"The author of its own downfall" - Is this a fair verdict on the first Labour Government? Give reasons to support your answer The first Labour Government began in December 1923; by 1924, this Government had collapsed, There were many reasons for this downfall, and to assess the validity of the given statement it is necessary to investigate them. Some factors can be attributed to Labour itself, such as how they dealt with the issues that faced them, the internal pressures within the party, and MacDonald's leadership. However, it is essential to appreciate the obvious weaknesses of a minority government, and the effect of these on the party's demise. One of the major factors leading to the downfall of Labour were the internal pressures within the party, this was due mainly to the moderate policy line the party was forced to take, and the conflict this caused with trade union and left-wing members. The party was funded by, and had many members of, trade unions, this funding meant that the trade unions expected to be able to control the Government, and expected it to confront issues such as nationalisation. The trade union leaders were uncompromising and unrealistic, so there was great friction with the Labour party leaders. In addition, some left-wing party members wished to pursue unrealistic socialist policies, to deliberately engineer defeat, allowing Labour to rally support in the country in the next election for true radical social reform. ...read more.


Some historians would argue that by this stage he had lost all motivation to continue, he was tired with the continual struggle of trying to unite his own party, and deal with governmental issues, and wanted to leave office. This would explain his irrational decisions, although, they could just have been as a result of inexperience. MacDonald made a few serious mistakes and these were very damaging for the Labour party, there are several proposed theories as to why he made them, but it is possible that the pressure had become too much, and he wanted to leave power. It is important to remember that Labour were not completely ineffective as a party, they did have some successes both domestically and internationally. Generally, they were not particularly radical, and achieved little more than previous Governments. Domestically, they made a few changes, such as Wheatley's Housing Act, in which grants were given to local authorities to build council houses, (to relieve the housing shortages,) and the old age pension and unemployment benefits were increased. Also, more state education was provided. Although these things were good, they were undermined by the problems in the country. People expected Labour to be radically socialist, and make big changes, both members of the electorate, and Labour party members, were disappointed by how little was actually achieved. However, some historians would argue that since Labour needed to gain an image of respectability, more radical changes were impossible. ...read more.


As a minority government, Labour was weak, and so the many events, which led to increased association with Communism, were very damaging, undermining Labour's power and support. Labour had been unpopular from the very start, and this forced to take a moderate line in policies. This divided the Labour party. The struggle of trying to bring the party together, and keep the support of the trade unions, combined with the difficult domestic problems, would have been almost impossible for any political leader. Perhaps a stronger leader than MacDonald, faced with fewer problems within the party, might have just managed to survive this time by minimising fear of Communism and dealing more sensitively and diplomatically with events such as the Campbell case. However, MacDonald lacked the necessary experience, skills and strength as a leader, the pressures put on him were immense, he made several costly mistakes, which is not surprising considering the pressure he was under. In some respects, it could be argued that Labour brought about its own downfall, certainly, MacDonald could have dealt better with the situations he found himself in. However, as a minority government, in an unfortunate situation from the very start they were destined to fall, and it is unlikely that attempts by MacDonald would have done anything more than delay when the party fell. It was little more than an apprenticeship to power, and the Conservatives knew that Labour were not a great threat, and thus, tactically allowed them to have control, knowing that they would fall. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. How successful were the Labour governments of 1924 and of 1929-31?

    Firstly there was the issue of the agreement with USA and Japan; the French and Italians refused to sign this, and it followed that the Japanese repudiated it. A clear negative was that although the Labour government promoted international cooperation and reconciliation - it was not in office long enough to see these aims through.

  2. Assess Mao's domestic policies

    Severe activities took place, led by eager communist students proudly displaying their 'Red Guard' arm bands. As time went on, rumours were constantly circulating regarding Mao's health. It was questionable whether he was still a suitable leader for China if he was unable to make proper decisions.

  1. How effective were the social reforms of the Labour Government of 1945-1951 in dealing ...

    Their building programmes therefore focused on council housing, with only a small amount of private houses being built - the ratio was 4 to 1. The 1945 Housing Act allowed Local Authorities to use open public spaces for temporary housing. The Labour built 157,000 pre-fabricated houses between 1945 and 1948.

  2. The position of the New Labour government with Tony Blair ahead of that government.

    "Socialism developed as a critique and alternative to capitalism and its political expression, Conservatism" (Jones, 1998, p.97). Like Liberalism and Conservatism, socialism can be divided into two strands: reformist socialism (democratic socialism and social democracy) and revolutionary socialism (Marxism), which ideas differ from each other. Whereas revolutionary socialism (Marxism)

  1. How successful was the 1945-51 labour government.

    It also freed up the military for use in Korea, although that may be looked upon as a disaster!

  2. To what extents can the events of 1905 in Russia be considered a revolution.

    The representation of the nobles was markedly increased. The land captains were automatically members of the zemstva. Moreover, approval of the provincial governors was required for all zemstva employee --teachers, doctors, lawyers. Zemstva's decisions were subject to review by the provincial governors and the minister of the interior.

  1. 'Repressive and Unpopular'. Is this a fair assessment of Lord Liverpool's government?

    Luckily, a government spy discovered their plot and the organisers were executed for treason. Many people believed that given the above the government's repressive response was fully justified, as reformers stood little chance against such a battery of measures. The authorities were not prepared to take any chances, and occasionally they exceeded their powers.

  2. Geopolitical consequences of the demise of the Soviet Union

    Proven gas reserves in the Caspian region are estimated at 236 - 337 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), comparable to North American reserves (300 Tcf). The prospect of potentially enormous hydrocarbon reserves is part of the magnetism of the Caspian region.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work