Make your own free website on
There is a deep distrust between Henderson, Snowden and MacDonald, and criticism from the left intensifies after MacDonald scuppers a transport strike by using Lloyd George's emergency plans.
January 1919Winston Churchill's fairer plan for de-mobilisation actually illustrates the limitations of the Liberal Coalition. Millions of working-class people are thrown onto the dole queue and made dependent upon soup kitchens. This poverty is to co-exist with conspicuous consumption by others; as production grows along with trade and incomes. Inequality becomes increasingly noticeable as unrest sweeps across Europe, with communist revolution spreading from Russia to Germany. In Glasgow, the Clydeside Workers Committee mounts the 40 Hours Strike - calling 40000 workers in the shipbuilding industry, electricity supply workers and 36000 miners. The strike turns violent following an attack by massed police officers.
February 1915The 40 Hour strike is called off, after some success in achieving a 47-Hour week for engineers and shipbuilders.
June 1920The rise in unemployment sees the start of new protests, some of which have severe consequences for the participants. Labour is directly involved in the Rates Revolts - an early form of protest against the distribution of local government spending in London. With conditions of dire poverty in the inner-cities, local government is seen as a direct way to help people. The Mayor of Stepney, Clement Attlee, leads a demonstration into central London.
July 1921The Mayor of Poplar, George Lansbury, and 29 Labour councillors, join a march of over two thousand East Enders from the Poplar Town Hall to the Law Courts on the Strand. This is a result of Poplar's refusal to levy the central rates for the London County Council. George Lansbury and the other Poplar councillors are sent to prison for maintaining adequate unemployment benefits whilst adding to the burden on the rates.
September 1922Whilst labour agitation was at a peak in the post-war period, things have so far been more sedate in Parliament. This changes when the Tories walk out of the governing coalition.
November 1922With Lloyd George left stranded by an increasingly fragmented Liberal Party, Labour return 142 MPs at the following election. This amounts to four and a quarter million votes. Labour are now establishing themselves as the main rivals to the Conservative Party. Beating the incumbent JR Clynes, the new Parliamentary chairman leader is Ramsey MacDonald, whose brave record in opposing the war indicates to new MPs that he is left-wing. Establishment fear is heightened by the success of the ILP in Glasgow, returning 10 "Red Clydesiders" who were to be uncompromising class warriors in the House of Commons.
December 1923Conservative plans for tariff reform demand another election. From this, Labour win 191 seats, and with the Liberals, led by Asquith, were able to force a vote of no confidence in Stanley Baldwin, the Tory leader.
January 1924George V sends for MacDonald to form the first Labour government. The early fear and panic showed by the establishment is unjustified. No Labour leaders are contemplating revolution - in fact they are completely overawed by the whole process and trappings of power. Many of them have only just entered politics.
April 1924
August 1924The ILP's John Wheatley manages to pass a rare piece of progressive legislation when his Housing Act is enacted with Liberal support. Ramsey MacDonald is attempting to combine the roles of Premier and Foreign Secretary with to some effect as a world peace-maker. Recognising reality, the Soviet Union is diplomatically acknowledged. The mainstream press, in response, becomes vicious and hostile.
October 1924The Labour Government loses a vote of confidence in the House of Commons. A small Communist paper had began to be prosecuted for sedition, and when the Attorney-General withdraws proceedings after incompetent handling of the case, fuel is added to the rumours of a left-wing conspiracy. Another election is forced after Labour is defeated in the Commons due to Liberals capitulating to Establishment pressure. This election is to be based around fear of the 'Red Menace,' the Foreign Office discovering a letter from Soviet foreign minister Zinoviev to the British Communist Party, apparently inciting an armed revolt.Labour lose 40 seats in this election, despite gaining over a million votes. The Liberals are reduced to nothing more than a rump of around 50 seats, which they remain to this day and the forseeable future. With the Conservatives back in office, MacDonald comes under fire from many in the movement. Yet events are to delay any efforts in extricating him from a position in which he has already become too comfortable.
For the index, close this window if the index is open or click here for the last page or here for the next page