22 January 1924: Ramsay MacDonald becomes prime minister

Ramsay MacDonald was one of the founder members of the Labour party, which he took to power on this day in 1924.

Ramsay MacDonald was born in 1866 and moved from Lossiemouth in Scotland to London at the age of 20. In 1900 he became one of the founder members of the Labour Representation Committee, the forerunner of the Labour party. He was elected Labour leader after the 1906 general election, but his opposition to World War I cost him the leadership, membership of the local golf club and eventually his seat (in the 1918 election).

MacDonald returned to parliament in 1922. The Tories lost their majority in the election of 1923 and relinquished Downing Street to a Labour-Liberal coalition headed by MacDonald on this day in 1924. This proved to be short-lived. One of the first acts of the government was the resumption of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. A letter purporting to be from Zinoviev, a senior Soviet official, to the Communist Party of Great Britain, suggested the Soviets saw this as the first step to revolutionary change in Britain.

The Conservatives regained power on the back of the scandal that engulfed MacDonald when the letter was published in the Daily Mail (the letter is now known to have been a forgery). Labour lost the resulting election in 1924. Five years later MacDonald was returned to high office, this time as head of the largest party, but was soon overwhelmed by the crisis of the Great Depression. Huge public spending cuts were needed to preserve the Gold Standard, and the issue split the party.

He invited the Conservatives to form a National Government, for which he was expelled from Labour, and he ended up as the figurehead of a de facto Conservative government in 1931. He lost his seat in the 1935 election, and died two years later.

Recommended

Car hire and the strangeness of the post-pandemic economy
UK Economy

Car hire and the strangeness of the post-pandemic economy

A global shortage of hire cars and unusually high hotel occupancy rates sum up the post-pandemic global economy in a nutshell, says Merryn Somerset We…
30 Jun 2022
Prepare your portfolio for recession
Investment strategy

Prepare your portfolio for recession

A recession is looking increasingly likely. Add in a bear market and soaring inflation, and things are going to get very complicated for investors, sa…
27 Jun 2022
Central banks are on course for recession
Global Economy

Central banks are on course for recession

The world’s central banks have found themselves behind the curve on inflation. Acting to tame it now runs the risk of sparking a recession.
23 Jun 2022
About Us
Economy

About Us

Welcome, and thank you for visiting us.
23 Jun 2022

Most Popular

UK house prices are definitely cooling off – but are they heading for a fall?
House prices

UK house prices are definitely cooling off – but are they heading for a fall?

UK house prices hit a fresh high in June, but as interest rates start to rise, the market is cooling John Stepek assesses just how much of an effect h…
30 Jun 2022
How to invest in copper, the most important metal in the world
Industrial metals

How to invest in copper, the most important metal in the world

As the world looks to electrify and try to move away from fossil fuels, copper looks set to be the biggest beneficiary. But how can you invest? Rupert…
30 Jun 2022
Don’t try to time the bottom – start buying good companies now
Investment strategy

Don’t try to time the bottom – start buying good companies now

Markets are having a rough time, so you may be tempted to wait to try to call the bottom and pick up some bargains. But that would be a mistake, says …
1 Jul 2022