chapter  9
9 Pages

Economic policy and unemployment

Labour made most of its electoral gains, during the 1920s, as a party of opposition. It was, however, always keen to show that it could form an effective and popular government. For this reason, it twice accepted office, in 1924 and 1929, even though it could command a majority of MPs only if the Liberals gave the administration their support. There were some critics on its own side who would have preferred to avoid taking power on these conditions, since the party would be prevented from carrying out its full programme, and in particular from implementing socialist measures. But the judgement of MacDonald and other leaders prevailed: that Labour would lose support if it appeared afraid to govern the country; that the Liberals might thereby be given a chance to reestablish their public standing; and that a Labour administration, even if handicapped, could none the less do something to safeguard the interests and improve the lot of its own supporters.