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

Did the Labour Party show that it could govern Britain competently in the years 1924-31

Extracts from this document...


Did the Labour Party show that it could govern Britain competently in the years 1924-31? Historians have debated just how competent the two Labour administrations were between 1924 and 1931. Governments are normally only considered "competent" if they have managed the economy efficiently, prevented widespread corruption and maintained law and order. Labour came to power at the end of 1923, a time when the Conservatives and other right-wing groups were spreading vicious rumours about Socialism. MacDonald was determined to disprove these fears, particularly Churchill's jibe that a Labour Party would "not be fit to govern". Since the Prime Minister is an integral part of a government, it will also be important to look at the competency of MacDonald himself. Labour came to power in 1923, even though they had not actually won the 1923 election, and were therefore not the single largest party. Therefore, Labour could not form a strong government, thus making it more difficult to pass legislation and to implement their policies. However, despite these difficulties, the first Labour Administration did have numerous successes both in social reform and foreign policy. For example, with regard to social reform achievements, Labour raised old age pensions as well as unemployment benefits, and revived state scholarships to universities. They also passed legislation, which stated that there was to be no gap between the two periods of 16 weeks in any year in which benefits could be claimed. ...read more.


Asquith said that the Labour Party had "committed suicide", and many historians have argued that MacDonald showed poor leadership and incompetence during this episode. However, other historians have claimed that MacDonald knew from the beginning of Labour's time on office that his administration would not last long, and merely wanted to show the public that Labour could govern competently, and that their fears about a socialist revolution had been unjustified. Most historians believe that the 1924 election was a success for the Labour Party because, although they lost 40 seats, they gained a million extra votes. Many voters had clearly been impressed by Labour's moderation in office and were immune to the "Red Scare". Large sections of the public seemed to believe that Labour had moved into the middle ground of British politics. Therefore, many historians have argued that MacDonald had achieved his aim of presenting the Labour Party as a national party able to represent the interests of all sections of society, and his government had shown competency in their governance, thus disproving Churchill's jibe that a Labour Party would "not be fit to govern". Labour won the election of 1929, giving MacDonald the chance to form his second minority government. Again, the fact that Labour did so well in the 1929 election indicates that large sections of the public had been impressed by the first Labour government's competence. ...read more.


Therefore, Labour may be labelled incompetent in the way in which they handled the 1931 economic crisis, as they appeared unable to reach a consensus on what action to take. In conclusion, it must be said that the Labour Government did, in many instances, show that it could govern Britain effectively in the years 1924-31. But Labour was very unfortunate in that it came to power during difficult circumstances. For example, the first Labour administration came to power at a time when there were vicious fears and rumours about socialism. MacDonald also had to deal with ideological divisions within his party, particularly those between the socialist groups and the trade unionists. The second administration came to power the same year as the Wall Street Crash, which was a cruel twist of fate for MacDonald, as for the first time he was in control of the single largest party in the Commons. The 1931 banking crisis was also very unfortunate for the Labour Government. Most historians argue however that, despite the immense difficulties that the Labour Party was confronted with, it actually did a good job of governing, and showed itself to have the ability of representing the nation as a whole, rather than just being a narrow-sighted pressure group for the TUC. MacDonald had fulfilled his aims of disproving the Conservative's jibes about both socialism and the Labour Party. Labour's successes in foreign policy as well as in economic policy showed a great deal of competence, despite the fact that most of the cabinet ministers had little or no governmental experience. ...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. Mankind's Inability to Self Govern

    in the same market, working on his own free will and, ideally, getting out of it capital from as much work as he puts in. While this sounds to be a fair and realistic system, it holds fundamental flaws for the underprivileged.

  2. The Labour Governement

    * Edward and Mrs Simpson * King Edward VIII came to the throne in January 1936. Baldwin did not approve wholeheartedly of the new monarch for reasons as diverse as his taste for light-coloured suits and his liking for certain aspects of Nazi Germany.

  1. Calvin in Geneva

    However, the new Church was far from organised,The Genevans themselves did very little in the way of reform beyond overthrowing the power of the clergy making the future of the Church in Geneva very unclear. Calvin was set upon the renewal of clerical control in the city which he was

  2. American Iran Relations For years, relations between the U.S. and the Middle Eastern country ...

    President George Bush also made efforts to isolate Iran by tightening the sanctions enacted by Carter and Reagan. In 1992, he signed the Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act, a law barring the sale of nuclear technology and military equipment to Iran and Iraq.


    parliament, citizens have limited information about the rules of the game and the standard of service they can expect from public agencies; and exposure of the average citizen to corruption in the public sector tends to be episodic (paul,1997a). CORRUPTION AND ITS EFFECTS "The corruption of government institutions threatens the

  2. Do the events of the British General Strike show that Britain was a genuinely ...

    An example of the response of the British public is illustrated in the amount of people that went to work, for example in a normal working day over 15.000 engine drivers would be at work but during the strike only 207 went to work.

  1. Do you agree that labour was "betrayed" by Ramsay MacDonald in 1931?

    Moseley was defeated through party loyalty. Ramsay MacDonald took responsibility of his idea and now had to hope that one day socialist reforms could be paid for out of a successful capitalism. Hence he had no idea of how to cope with the lack of success of the economy.

  2. Is New Labour a Conservative Party?

    Thatcherism bought in a new era of government- industrial relations, where more economic power was given to the British people and workers and less to the labour union hierarchy which had strongly influenced the country since the war. As mentioned above Thatcher believed very strongly in the freedom of the

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