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.
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.
Aston Villa lost 2-0 to Newcastle United in the FA Cup final
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.
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."
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
National Rat Week in Wolverhampton was marked with the destruction
of "a conservative figure" of 300 to 400 rats.