By Henry Pelling (auth.)
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Catherine A. , 1963), studies the conversion of intellectuals to Socialism in this period and in the 1920'S. 51 CHAPTER IV The MacDonald Leadership (19 22-3 1 ) ( 1 ) THE years 1922-31 were the years of Ramsay MacDonald's leadership of the Labour Party. The very concept of 'leadership' was something of a novelty: but MacDonald was a leader in a sense that none of his predecessors in the party chairmanship (including himself before the war) had been. From 1922 he was described as not just the 'chairman' of the parliamentary party but as its 'chairman and leader'.
With an election pending in Ig09, the Labour Party was suddenly struck an unexpected blow in the law-courts. This was the Osborne Judgment, which declared its system of fund-raising from the trade unions to be illegal. s. He sought an injunction against the union, and this was upheld by the courts and on appeal by the HOUle of Lords. The view taken by the 23 A Short History oj the Labour Parv Lords was that, since political action was not mentioned among the legitimate objects of unions in the Trade Union Act of 1876, it was therefore illegal.
All this enabled the party to make its bid to rank as an alternative government of the country: a bid that within the first post-war years was to prove unexpectedly successful. Meanwhile several members of the Parliamentary Labour Party had remained as members of the Lloyd George Coalition. When the war ended on 11th November, a decision had to be taken on the question of withdrawal from the government. The idea of withdrawal was not welcome to the ministers concerned: Barnes enjoyed being in the War Cabinet and was easily persuaded by Lloyd George of the need for Labour to take part in the post-war settlement; and Clynes, who had become Food Controller, was also happily engaged in administration.