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1929 Labour Party General Election Manifesto

Labour's appeal to the nation

The long-awaited opportunity has now come for the Nation to give its verdict on the present Government.

By its inaction during four critical years it has multiplied our difficulties and increased our dangers. Unemployment is more acute than when Labour left office. International relations are worse. Vast areas of the country are derelict. The posters on our hoardings announcing the grim truth that 'a million of our fellow countrymen are needing food and clothing' tell how the Government has failed. In the face of such a state of things this Tory Government has sat supinely with folded arms without a policy, without a vision, waiting for Providence or charity to do its work. For nine months the Government watched the paralysing struggle in the Coal Industry. It aided and abetted the mine owners when they locked out the men, and provoked the industrial unrest that led to the General Strike, for which the Government was mainly responsible. The Government's further record is that it has helped its friends by remissions of taxation, whilst it has robbed the funds of the workers' National Health Insurance Societies, reduced Unemployment Benefits, and thrown thousands of workless men and women on to the Poor law.

Tories tax the poor

The Tory Government has added £38,000,000 to indirect taxation, which is an increased burden on the wage-earners, shop-keepers and lower middle classes. In its only Budget the Labour Government reduced the Food Taxes by £25,000,000. Now that the Election is in sight the Tory Chancellor has repealed what was left of the Tea Duty but has retained the duties on sugar, coffee and cocoa and other foods. This remission only amounts to one-sixth of the additional indirect taxation he has added in the last four years.

Whilst every economic influence has been tending to reduce the cost of living the Government's policy has been to put obstacles in the way. It means to continue this policy. The Tory plan for solving Unemployment and improving trade - called 'Safeguarding' was denounced by the Prime Minister in 1923 as 'pottering along'. He was right, as experience shows. 'Safeguarded' countries have unemployment, low wages and sweating, poverty, generally corrupt politics, and high costs of living.

The old bogey

In order to hide their record of incompetence and reaction, Tory leaders are trying to frighten the electors with horrifying pictures of the disasters which would come upon the country if a Labour Government were returned. It was such scaremongering tactics as this which gave the Tories a majority at the last Election. We do not believe that the voters will be misled a second time by such discreditable deception.

We warn the electors against the misrepresentations of Socialism and the aims and Policy of the Labour Party, which are already pouring from our opponents.

The Labour Party is neither Bolshevik nor Communist. It is opposed to force, revolution and confiscation as means of establishing the New Social Order. It believes in ordered progress and in democratic methods.


The Labour Party gives an unqualified pledge to deal immediately and practically with this question. Its record on Unemployment is a guarantee that this pledge will be kept. Only by the unceasing advocacy of Labour have the claims of the Unemployed been forced to the forefront of political issues in the teeth of the opposition and neglect of the Liberal and Tory Parties.

When the Labour Government was in office it announced to Parliament schemes of a comprehensive and far-reaching character which it had already begun to put into effect. Immediately afterwards both Parties united and defeated the Government! They could not tolerate its continued success.

Labour's plans

Our schemes for dealing with Unemployment have been before the country for years before the Liberal Party - in the hope of reviving its declining fortunes - appropriated some of them and proclaimed them as original.

They are three-fold in character.

1. National Development and Trade Prosperity

Labour will undertake:

  • Housing and Slum Clearance;
  • Land Drainage and Reclamation;
  • Electrification;
  • The Reorganisation of Railways and Transport;
  • New Roads and Road and Bridge Improvements;
  • Afforestation associated with Small Holdings;
  • Training and assistance by agreements with the Dominions for those who wish to try their fortunes in new lands.

The most important attack upon Unemployment is to restore prosperity to the depressed industries, and develop our country. This programme will not only provide employment for large numbers of those who are now out of work, but its reaction of other industries will be immediate and beneficial.

There is a great market at home which can be developed by increasing the purchasing power of the working classes. There is a greater market overseas, especially in India and the Crown Colonies, where there are enormous populations with a very low standing of living and vast undeveloped resources.

A Labour Government will set to work at once by using Export Credits and Trade Facilities Guarantees, to stimulate the depressed export trades of Iron and Steel, Engineering, and Textile Manufactures. Shipbuilding and Shipping will immediately be benefited by an increase of foreign trade, and the improved employment in these industries will be a great addition to the purchasing power in the home market.

2. Maintenance

The Labour Party's plan for dealing with Unemployment is to provide work; but pending the absorption of the unemployment in regular occupations it will take steps to relieve the present distress. It will also amend the Unemployment Insurance Act so as to afford more generous maintenance for the unemployed, and will remove those qualifications which deprive them of payments to which they are entitled.

3. The Young and the Old

A Labour Government would also relieve the congestion in the labour market. Every year about 400,000 young persons, inadequately educated and inadequately trained, are brought into the labour market; while at the other end there are thousands of aged persons now compelled by poverty to struggle for employment who would be willing to retire if proper provision were made for them.

The Party would extend the school age of fifteen with the necessary Maintenance Grants and provide Adequate Pensions for Aged Workers.

The Coal Industry

The state of the Coal Mining Industry is so tragic that measures would be immediately undertaken to alleviate the distress in the coal fields, organise the industry from top to bottom both on its productive and marketing sides, and shorten the hours of labour. A Labour majority would Nationalise the Mines and Minerals as the only condition for satisfactory working. It would develop the scientific utilisation of coal and its valuable by-products, now largely wasted.


The Labour Party is the Party of the Workers' Home. In 1924, it revived the policy of building Houses to be let and not sold. It will return to that policy until there are enough Houses let at Working-class Rents. It will deal drastically with the Slum disgrace and will provide the necessary money grants for both purposes. In the meantime it will protect tenants by continuing the Rent Restriction Acts.

International Peace

Peace is one of the greatest issues of the Election. The Labour Government found Europe distracted by hostility and left it in a peaceful frame of mind. The Party's record when in office entitles it to the confidence of all lovers of peace. It desires to resume its work and to regain for this country the proud position it held in 1924.

The Tory Government has hampered Disarmament, and systematically obstructed the work of the League of Nations and of the International Labour Office. Labour's policy is precisely the opposite. It will establish the largest possible measure of political and economic co-operation amongst the nations, and give the fullest and most cordial support to the League and the International Labour Office.

Labour stands for Arbitration and Disarmament. It will accept the general Act of Arbitration, Conciliation and Judicial Settlement approved by the League. A drastic reduction of armaments is long overdue. Labour welcomes the initiative of the United States. It will press for the speedy completion of the Disarmament Treaty and the convocation of a General Disarmament Conference.

Labour will re-establish diplomatic and commercial relations with Russia.

Labour and agriculture

Labour is deeply concerned about Agriclture which, having been a plaything of both the older Parties, is now facing very critical times both for farmers and workers. An Agricltural Policy must be co-ordinated with a Town Policy. Farming must be made to pay.

Landlordism has ceased to be able to perform its function and it cannot be allowed to go on starving the Land of capital and the countryside of cultivation and people, and generally obstructing national need and development. The Land must therefore pass under Public Control. Meanwhile, Farmers should have Security of Enure; Fair Rents; Capital and Credit Assistance; A system of Organised Marketing; and Stability in the Prices of main crops and products. Workers should have a Minimum Wage; Unemployment Insurance; Easier Access to Holdings; and Better and Untied Cottages. A Labour Government would work with representatives of all the interests concerned to gain these objects.


The Labour Party has always been committed to securing Equal Educational Opportunities for eveyr child. It will raise the school-leaving age to fifteen with the requisite Maintenance Grants and at once develop facilities for Free Secondary Education. Labour will open the road, to whoever is able to take it, from the Nursery School to the University.

Labour's taxation policy

The Party stands for a system of Taxation which will distribute the burden fairly according to 'ability to pay'. It will abolish Taxes on Food and other necessaries, and provide what revenue is needed by Death Duties on large estates and by graduating the Income Tax and Sur-Tax with a view to relieving the smaller, while increasing the contribution from the larger, incomes. The Labour Party will carry still further the differentiation between 'earned' and 'unearned' incomes.

Taxation of land values

The Party will deal drastically with the scandal of the appropriation of Land Values by private landowners. It will take steps to secure for the community the increased value of land which is created by industry and the expenditure of public money.

Extension and improvement of pensions

The grave injustices of the existing Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Pensioners Acts would be immediately remedied, and as soon as the urgent legislation to deal with Unemployment had been carried through, a comprehensive co-ordination and extension of all the Pensions Schemes would be undertaken so as to give the opportunity to many classes of persons now excluded to come in.

The limit of seven years which has meant so much injustice to ex-Service Men will be removed, so that cases may still be considered.

Industrial and domestic

Among the other measures which a Labour Government would enact are the Factories Bill, the Ratification of the Washington Eight Hours' Convention, and the amendment of the Workmen's Compensation Acts and the Trade Union Law. It will also, as promised, appoint Committees of Inquiry into the causes of depression in the Cotton and Iron and Steel Industries with a view to their reorganisation.

It would take steps to prevent the Profiteering in Food, and in Building Materials, and would watch the operations of Trusts and Combines, so that combinations, which enhance prices unreasonably or refuse to supply or to sell to persons who will not deal exclusively with them, may be made subject to law.

It would support the creation of separate legislative assemblies in Scotland, Wales and England, with autonomous powers in matters of local concern.

In order to prepare the way for the Reform of the licensing Laws, the first necessary step is a full and impartial inquiry, which a Labour Government would institute at once by Royal Commission.

An appeal to the women

The Labour Party makes its appeal to the Women Voters with the fullest confidence. It was advocating the cause of Equal Citizenship when the Tory and Liberal Parties were either utterly hostile or hopelessly divided on the question. Although Equal Franchise has been secured after a protracted struggle, the fight for women's emancipation is not yet finished. There are other anomalies and injustices - lega, social and economic - especially affecting women and children which must be dealth with.

The Labour Party recognises that the burden of social injustice and economic exploitation fails with special severity on women, and that women are very seriously affected by Unemployment, Low Wages, Bad Housing, and by any restriction of the necessary public expenditure on Education and on the Health and Welfare of Mothers and Children. The prevention of Maternal Mortality will be an immediate concern of a Labour Government.

The Labour Party in its legislative and administrative policy would seek to pursue and apply the principle of equal tratment for men and women.

Moreover, there is the important question of universal peace, vital to all, which requires to be organised on a permanent basis so as to terminate for every the futility of a civilised country squandering human life and wasting its national resources in war.

No pleges we cannot fulfil

We shall not deceive the people by saying that the task of National and Social Reconstruction is easy, or that it can be accomplished in a day or a year. But the Labour Party does pledge itself to undertake this great work with energy and enthusiam, and it confidently believes that, if it has a majority, in the full lifetime of a Parliament great advance in industrial prosperity, in social wellbeing, and in a more just distribution of the fruits of labour, can be made.

The choice of the electors

At this Election, voters have to choose not only the representatives of constituencies, but a Government. A Labour Government is the only alternative to the present Tory Government. The Liberal Party, as its leaders admit, can be no more than a small minority in the new Parliament. The electors who desire to save the country from the disaster of continued Tory rule must therefore vote for Labour Candidates.

Wanted! A majority!

Along this path Labour will advance.

The Labour Programme of peaceful but determined National Development and Reconstruction leading towards the Socialist and Co-operative Commonwealth is the only alternative to Reaction and Revolution. On this Programme Labour asks for the support of men and women of good will of all classes. Labour wants to make its contribution to the removal of poverty and the injustices which today are diseases in society. Both the other Parties have been tried and have failed. The state of the country is the monument of their failure.

We pledge ourselves to give unsparingly the best we can of our energy, experience and knowledge, to the great of making Britain a happier and more contented land, and establishing peace in the world.

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