The MacDonald Leadership (1922–31)

  • Henry Pelling


The years 1922–31 were the years of Ramsay MacDonald’s leadership of the Labour Party. The very concept of ‘leadership’ was something of a novelty: but MacDonald was a leader in a sense that none of his predecessors in the party chairmanship (including himself before the war) had been. From 1922 he was described as not just the ‘chairman’ of the parliamentary party but as its ‘chairman and leader’. The phrase was used to indicate that he was also Leader of the Opposition and potential Prime Minister. The fact that the parliamentary party had established its right to be regarded as the official Opposition in the Commons meant additional prestige and importance for its principal spokesman, who now became the prospective dispenser of government patronage. Similarly, the parliamentary party as a whole considerably increased its standing vis-à-vis the trade unions.


Depression Europe Income Expense Egypt 


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  1. 2.
    Alan Bullock, Life and Times of Ernest Bevin i (1960), 204.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Hugh Dalton, Call Back Yesterday (1953), p. 274.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Henry Pelling 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Pelling
    • 1
  1. 1.CambridgeUK

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