1st Edition

The Myth That Will Not Die The Formation of the National Government 1931

By Humphry Berkeley Copyright 1978
    140 Pages
    by Routledge

    No figure in the Labour movement has attracted such extremes of emotion as has James Ramsay MacDonald. Loved and almost worshipped for more than 30 years, his formation of the National Government in August 1931 incurred hatred, bitterness and contempt from those whom he had led for so long.  MacDonald’s career and the admiration and odium which it engendered is without parallel in British politics. Originally published in 1978, this book provides an answer to the charge that MacDonald deliberately betrayed the Labour movement by forming a coalition government with the Conservative and Liberal Parties. It examines the criticism that he ruthlessly proceeded to destroy the Labour Party in the General Election of October 1931 – an election which he pledged, only two months earlier, would not be held. Using the private papers and authorised (auto)biographies, and the Cabinet minutes of the day, this book reconstructs what really happened between August 1 and 24 1931, and accounts for the mercilessness with which he is remembered by the Labour Party.

    Introduction. Dramatis Personae. 1. The Cast 2. Prelude 3. 12 August 4. 13 August 5. 17, 18 and 19 August 6. Thursday 20 August 7. Friday 21 August 8. Saturday 22 August 9. Sunday 23 August 10. Monday 24 August 11. Recriminations. Appendices: Cabinet Minutes August – October 1931.


    Humphry Berkeley (1926-1994) was a British politician. He was well-known for his 3 changes of political parties and his early support for gay rights. In 1966, he introduced, and obtained a Second Reading for, the Sexual Offences Bill in the House of Commons. He was a sponsor of the Abolition of the Death Penalty Act. He was vice-President of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and Hon. Treasurer of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

    Original reviews of France in World Politics:

    ‘…the introduction … [which] is a useful summary of France's main foreign-policy problems; the treatment of France and the chapters on francophonie offer intelligent insights.’ Choice

    ‘What  it  does  do  extremely  well  is  to  look  in  depth  at wider webs  of  French  interests  and  influence  -  interventionism  in  Africa,' co-operation'  versus  'dependence'  in  relations  with  the  Third  World  in general, the 'remnants of empire' (Overseas Departments and Territories),and  'francophonie'  (cultural ties with a much wider range  of countries). Philip G. Cerny, West European Politics, 13: 4 (1990).