The BBC’s History Fail

The BBC needs to brush up on their history. When discussing possible outcomes for tomorrow’s General Election, they made the following claim:

The prime minister could resign, after being defeated on the Queen’s Speech for example, and hand power to the leader of the opposition, who would attempt to govern until 2020. This raises the prospect of a change of governing party without an election – something that has never happened in Britain and would be likely to trigger a constitutional crisis.

Unfortunately, that isn’t true–in fact, that very scenario happened less than a century ago. In January 1924, Stanley Baldwin decided to press ahead with a King’s Speech even though he’d lost his majority in the previous month’s General Election. However, MPs passed a motion of no confidence shortly after the speech, and Baldwin had to resign. The King sent for Ramsay MacDonald, who formed a minority Labour government with the support of the Liberals. The MacDonald Ministry lasted for nine months before it too lost a vote of confidence, leading to a General Election in October 1924. So while it may be rare for a new government to take over in the midst of a Parliament, it’s hardly unprecedented.

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