Assess the Claim that the Labour Governments of 1924 and 1929-31 were unable to achieve anything
In 1924, for the first time the Labour government was appointed, headed by leader Ramsay Macdonald. At this time, a topic of much political debate was trade, Conservatives adopting a protectionist policy contrasting with the Liberal and Labour views in favour of free trade, and as the strongest free trade party it was asked to take office. Their main aims in 1924 were to deal with the increase in relative poverty in the country, mainly the situation of living conditions, and economically to restrict expenditure and maintain a balanced budget, known as retrenchment. It was also an important aim of the 1924 Labour government to prove themselves fit to govern, as a minority government they were under pressure to please, which many argue compromised the ideals of the party in an attempt to stay in power.
It must be considered when viewing the achievements of Labour that in 1924, the Labour government was not in a position to push ahead with radical policies, as a minority in the house of commons a Conservative vote and abstinence of a liberal support would have brought the government down. A heavy reliance on the liberals existed in the first labour government which some argue restricted them heavily, policies such as nationalisation and disarmament had no chance of being implemented. Also due to its reliance on the Liberals its relationship with trade unions was damaged as they felt they were not being represented as well as promised. To labour this was a large problem as trade unions provided most of their funds, however to be too sympathetic to the unions would make it difficult to project an image of their party as genuinely national. Labour theorised that a gradual series of changes would be more beneficial to their aims, and using their rise to power in 24 as foundation stone to prove their capability in government, their socialist views were...
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