Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1922

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John Clynes

The Labour Party leadership election of 1922 was the first leadership election for the posts of Chairman and Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Previously the position had been simply the "Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party".

The election took place when incumbent Chairman John Clynes was challenged by former leader Ramsay MacDonald. MacDonald opposed the way Clynes ruled the party.


The result of the only ballot of Labour MPs on 14 December was as follows:

Only Ballot: 21 November 1922
Candidate Votes %
Ramsay MacDonald 61 52.14
John Clynes 56 47.86
Majority 5 4.28
Turnout 117 82.39

As Labour leader, MacDonald became prime minister in 1924 and from 1929 to 1931, at which point he became head of a National Government that was opposed by the bulk of the Labour Party, and he was succeeded as party leader by Arthur Henderson. MacDonald was subsequently expelled from the party. In 1932, George Lansbury became leader unopposed, as one of the few experienced Labour MPs left in Parliament, but trades union opposition to his pacifism led to his resignation in 1935 and replacement by his deputy Clement Attlee. A month later Attlee was challenged in a new election.


  • David Marquand, Ramsay MacDonald, Jonathan Cape, London 1977; pages 285-287