First Labour government

January 22. James Ramsay MacDonald became the first Labour Party prime minister. He led a minority government, depending on Liberal MPs for support. MacDonald had to contend with rebellion from his former supporters, who accused him of throwing away his socialist principles for power. Few expected that MacDonald would carry out his ambitious target of ending mass unemployment and tearing down the nations' slums. So it proved. The Government fell on October 9 after losing a vote of censure. Two weeks later the Tories were back in power with a huge majority.

January 27. The funeral of Russian leader Lenin takes place in a frozen Moscow. The ceremonies last for more than seven hours. Dynamite had to be used in digging the grave as the ground was frozen so hard. Lenin's coffin was placed outside a temporary mausoleum until the ceremony to lower it into the grave at which moment all traffic stopped throughout Russia for five minutes and all factory sirens were sounded.

September 18. Mahatma Gandhi, the charismatic Indian leader, went on hunger strike in an attempt to force feuding Muslims and Hindus to bury their differences. As the tide of history swung toward India's independence from Britain, Gandhi was increasingly distressed that his nation might be incapable of holding together with the colonial power gone.

Oswald MosleyMarch 31. Oswald Mosley, a former Tory from the upper classes sitting as an Independent MP, applied to join the Labour Party. Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald welcomed his move as a sign that Labour was not purely a working-class movement. But Mosley was working to his own sinister, extreme right-wing agenda. After seven years he lost patience with Labour to form, in February 1931, a new party shamelessly promoting fascism.

July 30. The Scottish runner Eric Liddell won the 400 metres gold medal in the Paris Olympic Games. Jewish sprinter Harold Abrahams also won the 100 metres in a sensational games for the British team. The stirring events were later to become the subject of the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire.


In brief

April 26.
Aston Villa lost 2-0 to Newcastle United in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

October 4.
Political crisis in Walsall when the Tory candidate, Captain W L Steel, stood down claiming he was unable to devote enough time to the constituency.

October 16.
In Wolverhampton, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald pleaded for support in the General Election to a crowd of 5,000 in Market Place, urging the voters to return "a solid body of Labour men."

November 18.
Crisis of confidence when the Willenhall motor-powered fire engine failed to reach a house blaze in Wednesfield after breaking down. "You can't beat the old 'oss, after all," declared one councillor.

December 8.
National Rat Week in Wolverhampton was marked with the destruction of "a conservative figure" of 300 to 400 rats.