The original National Government was ‘a collection of people collected together to save the situation’, and no one expected it to last; but having failed to ‘save the situation’, its members proved more adept at saving themselves.1 The decision by the mass of the Labour Party to oppose the government’s economic programme, and its promises to restore the cuts and soak the rich, had helped ensure that August’s expedient became November’s permanency. The task which had fallen to the Conservatives — of acting as the bulwark against Socialism and fostering moderate Labour — had now fallen to the ‘National’ government which incorporated what was left of that last ravaged entity. This, along with the economic crisis and the rhetoric upon which the election had been fought, would have precluded any crude schemes to drop MacDonald and company, even had Baldwin not felt in honour bound to the former Labour leader.2 But the Conservative dominance does not mean that we can accept Labour’s claims that ‘National’ was a label signifying the same as Conservative.
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