How successful were the Labour governments of 1924 and of 1929-31?
The Labour government of 1924 displayed both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, Labour had shown that it could actually run the country proved the widespread view that ‘Labour was unfit to govern’ was wrong and also it was proof that MacDonald and the Labour party could be trusted to run the country efficiently - the fears of a social upheaval on socialist lines. Education was a great area of achievement for Labour, as state scholarships for poorer students were restored. Furthermore Trevelyan raised the leaving age up to 15, meaning that all children were to receive a chance at a proper education, which would obviously benefit the country in both the short and long run. In the housing market, it had expanded the provision of public housing, by increasing subsidies for local authority house building and assuring the building industry that such measures would operate for at least 15 years. Wheatley, the Minister for Health and Housing, had combined the state and private sector, in a plan for the long-term success, and this did quite a lot to end the problem of inadequate housing supply. Indeed by 1933, when the scheme was stopped, 500,000 houses had been built. Labour also increased unemployment benefits. Labour did spent £28m on public work schemes to increase employment – although it must be noted that the sum was not exceptionally high. With foreign policy, MacDonald helped to negotiate the Dawes Plan which was use to diffuse the crisis caused by reparations. He also sought to negotiate the Geneva Protocol in order to strengthen the pledges of collective security amongst the European powers. However on the negative side, MacDonald was quite poor in the case of handling his colleagues, and was sometimes described as rather arrogant towards them, and so this set a likely precedent for future problems. The Party didn’t have a majority and so the distinctive policies...
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