How far do these sources support the view that there was no consensus on how to tackle unemployment in the decade before the downfall of the Labour government in 1931? Looking at the sources there would not appear to be much of a consensus on how to deal with unemployment in the 1920s, but when you look more closely at the sources there is a division between the orthodox policies in the early 20s and the more radical Keynesian thoughts of stimulating the economy which, from the sources do not become seriously considered until after the Wall Street Crash in 1929.
Phillip Snowden the Chancellor of the Exchequer for Labour in 1924 and 1929-31, puts across the view that no unorthodox plans should be used, and in fact the only policy that should be followed is government cutbacks. It shows the orthodox, laissez fair view of Snowden about how to deal with the economic problems and unemployment in Britain. This is similar to the treasury view in source B of balancing the budget to sole the economic problems.
It is an official statement of the Treasury’s views about what path to follow, they believe that government spending should be cut because the only other options available would create more problems for the government and the people. It informs you of what choices the government had, but it has been written to try and bring the government departments around to the Treasury views. MacDonald says in source C that they were going to try and reduce unemployment through creating an increase in international trade.
This follows on from all the orthodox policies put out at this time by Labour. Source C shows that MacDonald is also supporting orthodox policies, this is the same with source D were unemployment and the economic problems are blamed on the lack of international trade. Although these are orthodox views there is a large difference between source A and D which have grabbed two ends of the orthodox ‘stick’. The consensus on how to deal with unemployment comes to an end with sources E and F from 1929 and 1930 respectively.
Here policies are put forward in which public works play a large part, this was rejected in the other sources in favour of an orthodox approach. Mosely in source F believes that a totally new system where the government is completely responsible for trying to get unemployed back to work, the Liberals on the other hand were saying that private investors alone couldn’t sort out unemployment and that the government needed to help.
This shows that unorthodox policies were being much more seriously considered. The effect of the Wall Street crash would have been felt and the government would have been looking for other ways to sort it out. The sources provided do not cover the opinions of all the parities and there is a large split in the timing of the sources, with the only views opposing the Labour ones coming from after the Wall street crash so we cannot tell if they had differing views before then.
The Conservatives are not even mentioned so we must assume that they continued with their traditional policies throughout this period, and so would support the claim of consensus. The sources show that there was a certain amount of consensus on how to deal with unemployment but this changed before 1929 when orthodox policies were looked appon less favourably and new schemes were being tried. It in 1929 when the wall street crash caused the world economic depression, this probably meant that more unorthodox views were looked for to try and restore the economy and reduce unemployment.