The National Government, formed for a specific purpose and for a limited time, should be warmly approved
Mr Ramsay MacDonald will be the head of the new non-party Government and, since time presses and the ambitions of individuals are in this emergency of small account, he should escape the customary delays of Cabinet making.
Thus, after a fortnight, we have been brought to the expedient which was in sight when Mr MacDonald first spoke of the three parties sharing the responsibility for balancing the Budget.
He meant only that the Conservative and Liberal parties should pledge their support in advance for a programme which the Labour Government would lay before Parliament. There were always great practical difficulties in the way of that proposal. No party readily pledges a complete support to a policy the execution of which remains in other hands, because it has no confidence in others and no desire to pay the penalty for failure, whether partial or complete, which it expects.
In any event Mr MacDonald’s plan fell to the ground because of the divisions in his own party and in his Cabinet, which grew rather than diminished as the days went on. The disruption of the government made the resort to a Coalition almost inevitable. The concise Parliamentary action which is necessary would have been unlikely to be realised had Mr Baldwin taken office with no promise of support from Labour – and none could have been forthcoming – such as Labour had asked of him.
In other circumstances Mr Baldwin could, and no doubt would, have advised a dissolution. But this is not the time that permits, nor are these the issues that recommend, a general election. The alternative, which has been forced on us by the pressure of circumstances, is therefore a Coalition of all parties. The Conservative and Liberal leaders have perhaps found no great difficulty in joining it; their parties will be with them. Mr MacDonald’s choice has been much harder – for it is completely uncertain how much of his party he will carry with him – and it will not be forgotten that in this decision he has acted with great courage.
The National Government, formed for a specific purpose and for a limited time, should be warmly approved by a country which is, as a rule, suspicious of the political Coalition. Parties have, or should have, strong political convictions; they differ in principles widely and sincerely.