January 22nd 1924: MacDonald becomes Prime Minister

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Ramsay MacDonald (1866 – 1937)

On this day in 1924 Ramsay MacDonald became the first ever Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. MacDonald came to power in 1924, having earned public respect for his opposition to the First World War. His first government had a minority in Parliament and thus relied on support of the Liberals. His government lasted nine months, and was defeated in the 1924 General Election. MacDonald returned to power in 1929, and faced the challenges of the Great Depression. His party was divided over the issue, and in 1931 MacDonald formed a National Government, with a majority of Conservative MPs. Therefore MacDonald was expelled from the Labour Party for his ‘betrayal’.

 

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Labour Party logo

Since MacDonald, the Labour Party have established themselves as a major party in the UK; Labour Prime Ministers have included Clement Attlee, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The current leader of the Labour Party is Ed Miliband, and the party is preparing for the 2015 election in the UK. This election will demonstrate the popularity of the current governing Coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. At this stage, despite how much the news media will speculate (though nothing compared to the 2016 speculation in the US!), it really could go either way. One of the major issues of the election will be concerning Britain’s membership in the European Union and immigration. The Conservatives have promised a referendum on EU membership should they win, mostly in response to the rise of the Eurosceptic UKIP challenging the Tories from the right. Anyway, I digress, today’s anniversary is the ascendancy of the first Labour government in British history. Maybe in 2015 we will see another Labour government, this time under Miliband rather than MacDonald.

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