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Front Page | UK Politics | Labour's centenary
A history of Labour
Click on the arrows to follow the history of the Labour Party.
1924 - 1931
Power and betrayal
Many party members supported the General Strike - but not Ramsay MacDonald.

Audio  Ramsay MacDonald: "They fear that we are living beyond our means"
Power and betrayal

The collapse of the 1923 minority Tory government gives Labour a chance at office but Ramsay MacDonald succeeds only in heading another minority administration which stumbles along for 11 months.

At the 1924 general election, the press turns on Labour with wild allegations linking it to the Soviet Union and Labour fails to return to power until 1929. MacDonald refuses to support the general strike of 1926 as the Labour movement witnesses the rise - and fall - of militant trade unionism.

Once back in power, Labour fails to counter worldwide recession unleashed by the Wall Street crash. Unemployment spirals to nearly three million, recession and benefit payments push the government into the red, sterling into crisis and half of MacDonald's cabinet threatens to resign over possible dole cuts.

In what becomes known as the most notorious betrayal in Labour's history, MacDonald ditches the party in favour of a national government. Labour is crushed at the 1931 election.

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