Duncan’s Economic Blog

The Deficit and Political Strategy: 1931-1935

Posted in Uncategorized by duncanseconomicblog on August 3, 2010

Richard Toye’s article on Labour and Rearmament in the 1930s is well worth a read. (whole text available here).  (And whilst I’m on recommendations, his book on the broader theme of Labour and Planning, 1931-1951 is superb).

Leaving aside the question of rearmament, one notion that really comes across is the tendency of the Party in the 1931-1935 period to attack the government for not balancing the budget. This was driven by multiple factors – the desire to lay to rest the ghosts of 1929-1931, to rebuild a sense that Labour could be trusted with the public finances and to undermine the legitimacy of the National Government, which after all had been brought into being on the notion that it would tackle the deficit.  

The Party’s Finance and Trade Policy sub-committee, under Dalton, stated in 1935:

In 1931 we were attacked because we could not balance the budget by taxation. We should reverse that and turn it against the Government. Whatever is required should be met by the taxation of those able to pay … We stand for an honestly balanced budget.

The merits of this strategy are debateable.


2 Responses

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  1. donpaskini said, on August 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    “The merits of this strategy are debateable.”

    In 1935 Labour got a 7% swing and gained 102 seats. I think we would settle for that next time 🙂

    • duncanseconomicblog said, on August 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm


      Still a bad loss though.

      Labour achieved a higher share of the vote in 1935 than 1929. The differrence between a narrow victory and a bad defeat – they faced a coalition…

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