Ramsay MacDonald, Britain's First Labour Prime Minister: Traitor or Hero? (HIH1032)

15 credits

Born in humble circumstances in northern Scotland, Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937) was a giant of early Labour party history, and the party’s first ever Prime Minister (1924, 1929-31). Described in early 1929 as ‘the focus for the mute hopes of a whole class’, he was, for a time, the subject of hero worship from many on the British left. But his actions in forming a National government with the Conservatives in 1931, leading to major public spending cuts and Labour’s heavy electoral defeat, left him widely condemned as a traitor. Historians continue to debate, and dispute, his legacy. This module will use a variety of sources to consider MacDonald’s career and contribution in the round.