Interesting history lesson

With his Cabinet divided over these proposed cuts, MacDonald offered to resign as Prime Minister – only for George V, in a masterstroke of royal statesmanship, to persuade him to stay on as head of a National Government formed with members of the Tory and Liberal parties.


It was an extremely effective solution and, even as MacDonald\’s former Labour colleagues jeered from the sidelines, the new government slashed £70million
(£13 billion today) in spending at a stroke.

Everyone on the public payroll – from Cabinet ministers and judges down to naval ratings and dole recipients – had to accept immediate cuts of 10 per cent.

The police got off lightly, though, with a cut of just  five per cent: the ostensible reason was that Herbert Samuel, the Home Secretary, had accidentally mentioned that figure in the Commons, and said he felt obliged to \’honour my mistake\’.

Many people, however, thought he simply wanted to guarantee police loyalty at a time of crisis.

Extraordinarily, most people accepted their pay cuts with good grace. Indeed, only the judges, who were among the best paid people in the land, made a fuss – the Lord Chancellor, Lord Sankey wrote to the Prime Minister to complain that the profession was in \’mutinous mood\’.

The result of the cuts, however, was that the government had taken a major step towards trimming the deficit.

Thanks to our garbled modern history curriculum, few people remember the MacDonald government today.

Well, yes, but about that "good grace" bit. It would appear that even those who write about the MacDonald government forget that the pay cuts brought parts of the Royal Navy into open mutiny.

Tsk, the education system of today, eh?

4 thoughts on “Interesting history lesson”

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my memory of reading about this years ago was that Ramsay Mac’s Labour cabinet agreed to cuts in the abstract but then reneged on the agreement when particular cuts had to be identified and implemented. In other words, contrary to years of Labour propaganda, it was the Labour party that ratted on Ramsay Mac rather than the other way round.

  2. MacDonald government? Over here, we pretty much keep them to hamburgers and fries. Not really terrible but nowhere near good enough to “give ’em a go” at the more important stuff.

    On second thought, might’a been a bit better off if we’da thunk of it.

  3. Can you see today’s public servants agreeing to a 10% cut without kicking up a huge stink through their pet organs, the Guardian, the Indy and the BBC? No, I can’t either.

    Anyway, we’re going to need a lot more than a 10% cut in the public service salary bill.

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