Democracy and the Rise of Labour: 1924 and 1929–1931

  • Stuart Ball


The Conservative Party was in opposition for only two short periods during the three decades from 1915 to 1945. The two occasions had much in common: both were during minority Labour governments, and both were comparatively short - nine months in 1924, and 25 months in 1929–31. In both cases, the Conservatives had lost a general election which their leaders had been hopeful of winning, and they entered opposition in some disarray. There were disagreements over policy, presentation and leadership, and for much of these sojourns in opposition the Conservatives were preoccupied with internal factionalism and crises. During both periods, there were threats to the position of the leader of the Party, Stanley Baldwin. Finally, the issues and concerns of both periods were very similar: what attitude to adopt towards the minority Labour government, how to appeal to the new ‘democracy’ of adult suffrage, what position to take on the critical issue of protectionist tariffs, and what relationship - if any - to have with the Liberal Party, which held the balance in the House of Commons. The first two sections of this chapter discuss the context and development of each of the opposition periods in turn, and the final section deals with them together in a comparative analysis.


Free Trade Labour Government Labour Party Liberal Party Conservative Party 
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© Stuart Ball 2005

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  • Stuart Ball

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