chapter  8
38 Pages

THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, 1931–4

In August 1931, MacDonald’s minority government fell, as a direct result of the world-wide financial situation. His decision to remain at the head of a National government had grave repercussions for both domestic and foreign policies, including the disarmament question. Henderson, the committed disarmer and President-elect of the Disarmament Conference, was not only out of office, but his already difficult relationship with MacDonald was exacerbated by the sense of betrayal felt by the majority of the Labour Party. The reluctance of former Labour Ministers to serve in the new National government meant that it contained a much greater proportion of Conservatives than of the more pro-disarmament Labour and Liberal members. With the Disarmament Conference now only six months away, any possible cohesion of British disarmament policy appeared to be remote.