The British general election of 1931 marked the culmination of a period of political and economic crisis, and has long been regarded as a watershed in twentieth-century British history. In the summer of 1931 a struggling Labour government collapsed; its leader, Ramsay MacDonald, stayed on to form a National government supported mainly by Conservatives and Liberals. Within six weeks the decision to call an election was taken, and in the ensuing contest the Nationals
won an overwhelming victory. Labour was left with a rump of 46 MPs, a decade in opposition, and an enduring sense of betrayal. Andrew Thorpe argues that, while 1931 changed
much, the general trends towards Conservative hegemony and two-party politics were little disturbed by the crisis. He traces the background to the events of 1931, and examines their implications in detail. His scholarly analysis is the first full-length study of the election to benefit from unrestricted access to contemporary documents, and will be of value to all students of twentieth-century British politics.
`comprehensive new study.'
Times Literary Supplement
'Andrew Thorpe has provided an ample historical study which challenges many of the judgements in R. Bassett's 1931:Political Crisis and explains much about the most overwhelming landslide in British elections.'
Electoral Studies, Volume 11 Number 1
'Thorpe offers an exhaustive account of how the 1929 parliament stuggled towards disaster. ... he has also worked meticulously on candidacies and on the statistical outcome. ... Thorpe provides an admirable guide to this turning point in twentieth-century British history.'
David Butler, Political Studies
'Andrew Thorpe's title is altogether too modest - he has in fact provided us with an excellent political history of the entire 1931 crisis. ...Andrew Thorpe has certainly succeeded in casting a great deal of light on the politics of this period, and his book will be of great value to all those studying it.'
Tom Buchanan, Labour History Review
'Thorpe provides an admirable guide to this turning point in twentieth-century British history.'
David Butler, Nuffield College, Oxford, Political Studies (1992), XL
`meticulously and impressively researched. ... The narrative is comprehensive and convincing. ... a useful monograph, and a sound platform from which to proffer a broader perspective in the future.'
Duncan Tanner, History
'Thorpe's arguments are carefully documented ... Thorpe's book-length concentration on the immediate before and after of the election, laced with election and opinion statistics, is virtually one of a kind. Undergraduates, graduates, and specialists in the field should profit from this volume, in which they will find the arguments reasonable, compelling, and well supported with facts.'
Robert Cole, Utah State University, History Reviews of New Books (US) Fall, 1992
'The approach provides publishers with a conveniently-packaged book with an instantly recognizable title, and authors with an off-the-peg methodology ... lucidly written and fairly balanced chapters on some highly contentious matters ... Interesting new emphases do emerge and some older arguments are given added weight.'
John Ramsden, University of London, Albion
Abbreviations; Introduction; From elation to despair: Labour 1929-1931; From failure to the certainty of success: the Conservatives 1929-1931; From bad to worse: the Liberals 1929-1931; A change of government; The National government and the calling of the election; Labour tries to readjust; The Parties' election programmes; Holding the line: the National Parties during the campaign; Electioneering and the media; The issues at stake; The outcome; Conclusion;
Appendix I. General election results 1918-1945; Appendix II. Regions used; Bibliography; Index