Advertisement

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

  • Stuart Ball

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Free Trade Labour Government Labour Party Liberal Party Conservative Party 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    J. Ramsden, The Age of Balfour and Baldwin 1902–1940 (London: Longman, 1978), 183.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the political developments of 1922–24, see C. Cook, The Age of Alignment: Electoral Politics in Britain 1922–1929 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1975).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. M. Cowling, The Impact of Labour 1920–1924: The Beginning of Modern British Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Memo by Dawson, 20 Dec. 1923, Bodleian Library, Dawson MSS; Amery diary, 8 and 13 Dec. 1923, in J. Barnes and D. Nicholson (eds), The Leo Amery Diaries, Volume 1:1899–1929 (London: Hutchinson, 1980), 361–2 (hereafter Amery Diaries).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Memo by Stamfordham (Private Secretary to King George V) of Baldwin’s meeting with the King, 10 Dec. 1923, in R. Churchill, Lord Derby: ‘King of Lancashire’ (London: Heinemann, 1959), 552.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    P. Williamson, Stanley Baldwin: Conservative Leadership and National Values (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 236–9; for an example of the alarmist vision of the conduct of a Labour government, see Birkenhead’s views, relayed to the King’s private secretary, Stamfordham memo, 10 Dec. 1923, in Churchill, Derby, 553.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Baldwin’s remarks recorded by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Davidson, who saw him on 12 Dec. 1923, memo by Davidson, written 12 Dec. 1923, in P. Williamson and E. Baldwin (eds), Baldwin Papers: A Conservative Statesman 1908–1947 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 137.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Bridgeman diary, Jan. 1924, in P. Williamson (ed.), The Modernisation of Conservative Politics: The Diaries and Letters of William Bridgeman 1904–1935 (London: The Historians’ Press, 1988), 175–6 (hereafter Bridgeman Diaries).Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    There remained some resistance to the return of Birkenhead, but this was swallowed as the price of securing complete and effective reunification: Salisbury to Baldwin, 26 Jan. 1924, Cecil to Baldwin, 1 Feb. 1924, Baldwin MSS, 159/258–61, 35/203–7; Neville to Hilda Chamberlain, 24 Jan. 1924, to Ida Chamberlain, 30 Jan. 1924, in R. Self (ed.), The Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters: Volume 2, The Reform Years 1921–1927 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), 204, 206 (hereafter NCDL Vol. 2).Google Scholar
  10. 31.
    P. Norton, ‘The parliamentary party and party committees’, in A. Seldon and S. Ball (eds), Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 113.Google Scholar
  11. 34.
    Headlam diary, 15 and 25 Feb. 1924, in S. Ball (ed.), Parliament and Politics in the Age of Baldwin and MacDonald: The Headlam Diaries 1923–1935 (London: The Historians’ Press, 1992), 38–9.Google Scholar
  12. 42.
    For a full account of the Conservative Party in this period, see S. Ball, Baldwin and the Conservative Party: The Crisis of 1929–1931 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988).Google Scholar
  13. 48.
    Neville to Ida Chamberlain, 22 Oct. 1929, in R. Self (ed.), The Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters: Volume 3, The Heir-Apparent 1928–1933 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), 159 (hereafter NCDL Vol. 3); Kent Provincial Division, AGM, 15 Oct. 1929, copy in Hatfield House, Salisbury MSS, S(4)131/107.Google Scholar
  14. 65.
    Amery diary, 5 Mar. 1931, in J. Barnes and D. Nicholson (eds), The Empire at Bay: The Leo Amery Diaries, Volume 2: 1929–1945 (London: Hutchinson, 1988), 151 (hereafter Empire at Bay); Dawson diary, 12 Mar. 1931, Dawson MSS; Freemantle to Salisbury, 14 Mar. 1931, Salisbury MSS, S(4) 140/20–21.Google Scholar
  15. 74.
    For the Conservative Party in the 1931 crisis, see Ball, Baldwin and the Conservative Party, ch. 9; for the crisis generally see P. Williamson, National Crisis and National Government: British Politics, the Economy and Empire 1926–1932 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  16. A. Thorpe, The British General Election of 1931 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 85.
    Williamson, National Crisis, 528–30; D.J. Wrench, ‘Cashing in: the parties and the National Government, August 1931 to September 1932’, Journal of British Studies, 23 (1984), 152–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 86.
    ‘England does not love Coalitions’ was the famous concluding phrase of Disraeli’s defence of his first budget on 16 Dec. 1852: R. Blake, Disraeli (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1966), 345.Google Scholar
  19. 87.
    P. A. Bromhead, The House of Lords and Contemporary Politics 1911–1957 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958), 151–6.Google Scholar
  20. 91.
    S. Ball, ‘Failure of an opposition? The Conservative Party in Parliament 1929–1931’, Parliamentary History, 5 (1986), 85–6, 95.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stuart Ball 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart Ball

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations