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100 years ago: Labour set to govern

12 January 2024

January 11th, 1924.

THE House of Commons met on Tuesday for the election of its Speaker in a mood of complete good will; in the words of the representative of the Times, it was as bright and cheerful a meeting as one could wish to see of the new Parliament. Nor did the speeches in which the party leaders offered their congratulations to Mr Speaker fall short of the highest standards. It is natural that special attention should be paid to that of Mr Ramsay Macdonald: there was nothing in it that might not have been said by the most stalwart of Conservatives. In commending the Speaker for his maintenance of the dignity of the House, Mr Macdonald seemed to be addressing himself through the Speaker to certain among his own followers; in the name of his party he offered the Speaker-elect the humble and loyal support of all. Later in the day Mr Macdonald addressed an elated meeting of his followers at the Albert Hall. He declared that Labour would take office, if it were called to the task. The first great duty to which they would set their hands would be the establishment of peace, to create the conditions of peace. If a Labour Government can succeed where others have failed, then it will have deserved well, not of England only but of the world, and none will hinder it in any honest effort to accomplish so great a task. For the rest, Mr Macdonald stated ideals, without very clearly outlining his plans. Unemployment and housing were his principal themes. Concerning the latter he said that if trusts and monopolies in any of the essential materials for building stood in the way of the Government, it would break them. We may remind Mr Macdonald that these are not the only, or even the chief, hindrance to housing schemes. The primary cause of the prohibitive cost of building is the restriction placed upon Labour by trade union regulations, which reduce every man to the output-level of the least competent.

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