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Living the Great IllusionSir Norman Angell, 1872-1967$
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Martin Ceadel

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571161

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571161.001.0001

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Exploring Politics, Enjoying Rehabilitation: 1919–31

Exploring Politics, Enjoying Rehabilitation: 1919–31

(p.235) 7 Exploring Politics, Enjoying Rehabilitation: 1919–31
Living the Great Illusion

Martin Ceadel (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Angell's efforts as a Labour politician. At first an enthusiastic leftist, he moderated his views from the autumn of 1920, and became somewhat detached from party work after buying Northey Island in 1923 and failing the following year to sell his increasingly pro-League-of-Nations foreign policy either to the first Labour government or to its backbench critics. Yet he aspired to be a Foreign Office minister, and, having secured election to parliament in 1929, was disappointed not to be included in the second Labour government. A compensation was that as the public turned against the First World War it regarded his ‘illusion’ thesis as having been vindicated. Though thus partially rehabilitated as a pundit, he remained intellectually too eclectic to offer a single, clear message: for example, he began claiming that he personally believed in the efficacy of non-resistance and so supported the League of Nations only as a second-best policy. And he failed in his attempts to understand why the public was prone to foreign-policy illusions and to devise an educational antidote. Unhappy on the back benches, and unable either to condemn Ramsay MacDonald for agreeing to a National Government during the financial crisis of August 1931 or to support him, he retired from parliament.

Keywords:   Labour, politician, Ramsay MacDonald, Northey Island, non-resistance, parliament, National Government

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