James Ramsay MacDonald was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the first who belonged to the Labour Party, leading minority Labour governments for nine months in 1924 and again between 1929 and 1931.
85 Facts About Ramsay MacDonald
Ramsay MacDonald was chairman of the Labour MPs before 1914 and, after an eclipse in his career caused by his opposition to the First World War, he was Leader of the Labour Party from 1922.
Ramsay MacDonald formed the National Government to carry out spending cuts to defend the gold standard, but it had to be abandoned after the Invergordon Mutiny, and he called a general election in 1931 seeking a "doctor's mandate" to fix the economy.
Ramsay MacDonald's health deteriorated and he stood down as Prime Minister in 1935, remaining as Lord President of the Council until retiring in 1937.
Ramsay MacDonald's mother had worked as a domestic servant at Claydale farm, near Alves, where his father was employed.
Ramsay MacDonald received an elementary education at the Free Church of Scotland school in Lossiemouth from 1872 to 1875, and then at Drainie parish school.
Ramsay MacDonald left school at the end of the summer term in 1881, at the age of 15, and began work on a nearby farm.
In Bristol Ramsay MacDonald joined the Democratic Federation, a Radical organisation, which changed its name a few months later to the Social Democratic Federation.
Ramsay MacDonald remained in the group when it left the SDF to become the Bristol Socialist Society.
Ramsay MacDonald eventually found employment as an invoice clerk in the warehouse of Cooper, Box and Co.
Ramsay MacDonald witnessed the Bloody Sunday of 13 November 1887 in Trafalgar Square, and in response, had a pamphlet published by the Pall Mall Gazette, entitled Remember Trafalgar Square: Tory Terrorism in 1887.
On 6 March 1888, Ramsay MacDonald took part in a meeting of London-based Scots, who, upon his motion, formed the London General Committee of the Scottish Home Rule Association.
Politics in the 1880s was still of less importance to Ramsay MacDonald than furthering his education.
In 1888, Ramsay MacDonald took employment as private secretary to Thomas Lough who was a tea merchant and a Radical politician.
Many doors now opened to Ramsay MacDonald: he had access to the National Liberal Club as well as the editorial offices of Liberal and Radical newspapers; he made himself known to various London Radical clubs among Radical and labour politicians; and he gained valuable experience in the workings of electioneering.
Elsewhere, as a member of the Fabian Society for some time, Ramsay MacDonald toured and lectured on its behalf at the London School of Economics and elsewhere.
In 1892, Ramsay MacDonald was in Dover to give support to the candidate for the LEA in the general election, who was well beaten.
Ramsay MacDonald impressed the local press and the Association and was adopted as its candidate, announcing that his candidature would be under a Labour Party banner.
Ramsay MacDonald denied the Labour Party was a wing of the Liberal Party but saw merit in a working political relationship.
In May 1894 Ramsay MacDonald applied for membership and was accepted.
Ramsay MacDonald was officially adopted as the ILP candidate for one of the Southampton seats on 17 July 1894 but was heavily defeated at the election of 1895.
Ramsay MacDonald stood for Parliament again in 1900 for one of the two Leicester seats; he lost, and was accused of splitting the Liberal vote to allow the Conservative candidate to win.
Ramsay MacDonald retained membership of the ILP; while it was not a Marxist organisation it was more rigorously socialist than the Labour Party would prove to be, and ILP members would operate as a "ginger group" within the Labour Party for many years.
Ramsay MacDonald married Margaret Ethel Gladstone, who was unrelated to the Gladstones of the Liberal Party, in 1896.
Ramsay MacDonald was an influence on MacDonald and other politicians in their attitudes towards women's rights.
Ramsay MacDonald became the leader of the left-wing of the party, arguing that Labour must seek to displace the Liberals as the main party of the left.
In 1911 Ramsay MacDonald became "Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party", the leader of the party.
Ramsay MacDonald was the chief intellectual leader of the party, paying little attention to class warfare and much more to the emergence of a powerful state as it exemplified the Darwinian evolution of an ever more complex society.
Ramsay MacDonald was an Orthodox Edwardian progressive, keen on intellectual discussion, and averse to agitation.
Ramsay MacDonald had always taken a keen interest in foreign affairs and knew from his visit to South Africa, just after the Boer War had ended, what the effects of modern conflict would be.
Arthur Henderson became the new leader, while Ramsay MacDonald took the party Treasurer's post.
Later, Ramsay MacDonald was received by the Commander-in-Chief at St Omer and made an extensive tour of the front.
Ramsay MacDonald's illegitimacy was no secret and he had not seemed to have suffered by it, but, according to the journal he had, by using a false name, gained access to parliament falsely and should suffer heavy penalties and have his election declared void.
Ramsay MacDonald received much internal support, but the way in which the disclosures were made public had affected him.
In January 1917 Ramsay MacDonald published National Defence, in which he argued that open diplomacy and disarmament were necessary to prevent future wars.
Ramsay MacDonald denounced the Treaty of Versailles: "We are beholding an act of madness unparalleled in history".
Ramsay MacDonald stood for Parliament in the 1921 Woolwich East by-election and lost.
Ramsay MacDonald promised to pressure the government into converting the Woolwich Arsenal to civilian use.
In 1922, Ramsay MacDonald was returned to the House as MP for Aberavon in Wales, with a vote of 14,318 against 11,111 and 5,328 for his main opponents.
Ramsay MacDonald is the person whose views upon life make one anti-Semitic.
Ramsay MacDonald is behind every evil that Governments do, and his political authority, always exercised in the dark, is greater than that of Parliamentary majorities.
Ramsay MacDonald is the keenest of brains and the bluntest of consciences.
Ramsay MacDonald became noted for "woolly" rhetoric such as the occasion at the Labour Party Conference of 1930 at Llandudno when he appeared to imply unemployment could be solved by encouraging the jobless to return to the fields "where they till and they grow and they sow and they harvest".
Ramsay MacDonald had never held office but demonstrated energy, executive ability, and political astuteness.
Ramsay MacDonald consulted widely within his party, making the Liberal Lord Haldane the Lord Chancellor, and Philip Snowden Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Ramsay MacDonald had long been a leading spokesman for internationalism in the Labour movement; at first, he verged on pacifism.
Ramsay MacDonald founded the Union of Democratic Control in early 1914 to promote international socialist aims, but it was overwhelmed by the war.
Ramsay MacDonald moved in March 1924 to end construction work on the Singapore military base, despite strong opposition from the Admiralty.
Ramsay MacDonald believed the building of the base would endanger the disarmament conference; the First Sea Lord Lord Beatty considered the absence of such a base as dangerously imperilling British trade and territories East of Aden and could mean the security of the British Empire in the Far East being dependent on the goodwill of Japan.
In June 1924, Ramsay MacDonald convened a conference in London of the wartime Allies and achieved an agreement on a new plan for settling the reparations issue and French-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr.
Ramsay MacDonald recognised the Soviet Union and Ramsay MacDonald informed Parliament in February 1924 that negotiations would begin to negotiate a treaty with the Soviet Union.
Ramsay MacDonald's Cabinet resolved to treat both motions as matters of confidence.
Ramsay MacDonald was increasingly out of touch with his supposedly safe Welsh seat at Aberavon; he largely ignored the district, and had little time or energy to help with its increasingly difficult problems regarding coal disputes, strikes, unemployment and poverty.
Ramsay MacDonald disagreed with the increasingly radical activism of party leaders in the district, as well as the permanent agent, and the South Wales Mineworkers' Federation.
Ramsay MacDonald moved to Seaham Harbour in County Durham, a safer seat, to avoid a highly embarrassing defeat.
Baldwin resigned and Ramsay MacDonald again formed a minority government, with intermittent Liberal support.
Ramsay MacDonald's government had no effective response to the economic crisis which followed the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
Ramsay MacDonald argued that the sacrifice was for the common good.
Ramsay MacDonald was genuinely upset to see the Labour Party so badly defeated at the election.
Ramsay MacDonald had regarded the National Government as a temporary measure, and had hoped to return to the Labour Party.
Ramsay MacDonald was ageing rapidly, and was increasingly a figurehead.
Ramsay MacDonald went to Rome in March 1933 to facilitate Nazi Germany's return to the concert of European powers and to continue the policy of appeasement.
Ramsay MacDonald was deeply affected by the anger and bitterness caused by the fall of the Labour government.
Ramsay MacDonald continued to regard himself as a true Labour man, but the rupturing of virtually all his old friendships left him an isolated figure.
Newspapers did not report Ramsay MacDonald denying to reporters that he was seriously ill because he only had "loss of memory".
Ramsay MacDonald's government began the negotiations for the Anglo-German Naval Agreement.
In 1935 Lady Houston stated that she intended to publish them but eventually handed them over to Special Branch, and Ramsay MacDonald's solicitors entered a legal battle with her.
Ramsay MacDonald was aware of his fading powers, and in 1935 he agreed to a timetable with Baldwin to stand down as Prime Minister after King George V's Silver Jubilee celebrations in May 1935.
At the November 1935 election Ramsay MacDonald was defeated at Seaham by Emanuel Shinwell, but he was re-elected to Parliament at a by-election in January 1936 for the Combined Scottish Universities seat.
Ramsay MacDonald was one of the signatories to the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936.
Ramsay MacDonald's body was transferred to the Royal Navy at Bermuda for return to Plymouth.
Ramsay MacDonald's coffin was borne on a gun carriage to the Church of England's Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, in a procession that included the ship's company of Orion and a detachment of the Sherwood Foresters, serving in the Bermuda Garrison and based at Prospect Camp Scotland.
For half a century, Ramsay MacDonald was demonised by the Labour Party as a turncoat who consorted with the enemy and drove the Labour Party to its nadir.
The coming of war in 1939 led to a search for the politicians who had appeased Hitler and failed to prepare Britain; Ramsay MacDonald was grouped among the "Guilty Men".
Ramsay MacDonald argued to place MacDonald's fateful decision in 1931 in the context of the crisis of the times and the limited choices open to him.
Ramsay MacDonald emphasised MacDonald's lasting intellectual contribution to socialism and his pivotal role in transforming Labour from an outside protest group to an inside party of government.
Ramsay MacDonald married Margaret Ethel Gladstone in 1896.
The marriage was a very happy one, and they had six children, including Malcolm Ramsay MacDonald, who had a distinguished career as a politician, colonial governor and diplomat, and Ishbel Ramsay MacDonald, who was very close to her father.
Ramsay MacDonald was devastated by Margaret's death from blood poisoning in 1911, and had few significant personal relationships after that time, apart from with Ishbel, who acted as his consort while he was Prime Minister and cared for him for the rest of his life.
MacDonald's father held firm Calvinist beliefs, but as an adult Ramsay would join the Church of Scotland.
Ramsay MacDonald regularly attended services at the South Place Ethical Society, and became intensely involved in Union of Ethical Societies, and friends with its founder, Stanton Coit.
Ramsay MacDonald would write regularly in Stanton Coit's Ethical World, a humanist publication.
Ramsay MacDonald felt the initial expulsion very deeply and refused to take up the final offer of membership, which he had framed and mounted.
In 1930, Ramsay MacDonald was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society under Statute 12.
Ramsay MacDonald was awarded honorary Doctor of Laws degrees by the universities of Wales, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oxford and McGill and George Washington University.