Biography of James Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937)

British politician, born in Lossiemouth (Moray, Scotland) on October 12, 1866, and died on November 8, 1937. Was the first member of the labour party in the position of Prime Minister in 1924, being re-elected for the legislatures of 1929-1931 and 1931-1935.

Son of a maid, Macdonald née grew up with very limited economic resources. He/She left school at the age of twelve, but to eighteen he/she continued his education, largely self-taught, while working as an Assistant teacher in a school. In 1885 he/she moved to Bristol in search of work. There he/she came into contact with the Social Democratic Federation, which fueled his interest in social issues and political activity. The following year he/she settled in London, where he/she joined the society Fabiana, while life is earned in the works that, without qualification, got to find. In the scarce free time that left you work and political activism, he/she studied for the degree of Bachelor. Overexertion that was submitted broke his health and, shortly after arriving in London, fell ill. His precarious health kept him section of political activity for several years. In 1894 he/she joined the newly founded independent labour party being defeated to stand as a candidate to the House of Commons in legislative elections the following year.

In 1900 he/she participated in the creation of the labour representation Committee (LRC), he/she was elected Secretary. The Committee, true history of the Labour Party, obtained good results in the elections in 1906 and Macdonald was one of 29 members who got a seat in the House of Commons. Shortly after, the LRC became the labour party. In 1911, Macdonald was elected to replace Keir Hardie at the head of its parliamentary group. But three years later, at the outbreak of the first world war, he/she was forced to submit his resignation by his refusal to vote in favour of the entry of Great Britain in the race, being replaced by Arthur Henderson. The anti-war stand of Macdonald - who, however, had insisted on the need of the nation to tip over in the war effort - produced the fall in his popularity, and in the elections of 1918, the loss of his seat in Parliament. In 1922 he/she returned to the House of Commons and was again named head of the labour group to lead the opposition against the Conservative Government.

In the 1923 elections the Conservative Party was victorious, but first lost the absolute majority in the Parliament. Labour could then form a Government, with the support of the Liberal Party led by H. Asquith. On January 22, 1924, Macdonald became the first labour at the post of Prime Minister, which he/she combined with the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. During his brief tenure, the British Government recognized the Communist regime of the Soviet Union - arousing alarm class policy conservative, participated in the negotiations that led to the Geneva Protocol, adopted by the Assembly of the League of Nations in October 1924, and managed to avoid a new outbreak of violence in Ireland by his decision to cancel the debt accumulated by the Irish Free Statein Exchange for this accept to abandon its claims on six districts of Northern Ireland. In order to avoid accusations of Bolshevism that conservative propaganda launched against his Government, Macdonald was involved in a gross operation of harassment against J.R. Campbell, editor of a newspaper of Communist orientation. This was exploited by the opposition to call a motion of censure. On November 4, 1924 Macdonald was supplanted by a new conservative majority in the Parliament.

To regain the trust of the electorate, the Labour Congress of 1925 Macdonald publicly condemned communism. In the 1929 general election, labour won an absolute majority in the Parliament, and on 5 June, Macdonald was again appointed Prime Minister. At the end of that year he/she made a historic visit to the United States, being the first head of the British Government who was traveling to that country. In 1930 his Government negotiated with the United States an agreement on disarmament involving the reduction of the fleet of war and participated in the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva.

The deep economic crisis that rocked Britain after the crack of 29 greatly limited the ability of the Labour Government. This failed to take appropriate measures to stabilize the currency and tackle unemployment. The discredit of the Government, and internal conflicts that the question of how to deal with the crisis they caused in the bosom of the Labour Party, made that Macdonald submitted his resignation on August 23, 1931. However, the next day it surprised his parliamentary group by announcing that he/she would remain in office, presiding over a Government of national unity with the support of conservatives and Liberals. This defection resulted in his dismissal as President of the labour parliamentary group.

The new coalition Cabinet took steps to curb inflation: ordered the abandoned the gold standard, decreed emergency economic reforms and developed a program of rearmament in response to the militarism of nazi Germany, which made augur a new European contest. However, Macdonald had little role in the Cabinet, whose threads moving in reality the conservative Stanley Baldwin, lord President of the Council. On June 7, 1935, Macdonald claimed health problems to leave his post, which was occupied by Baldwin. It then became Lord President of the Council, since it occupied until May 28, 1937. On 9 November of that same year he/she died during the crossing by boat to South America.


MARQUAND, D. Ramsay Macdonald. London, 1977.