A Liberal motion brings down the first Labour Government

The motion called for a select committee of inquiry into the ‘Campbell case’ – named after the editor of the Communist paper Worker’s Weekly, who was arrested on a charge of incitement to mutiny after publishing several articles calling on members of the armed forces to ‘refuse to shoot your fellow workers’. The Labour Government at first supported the prosecution but rapidly backtracked. The Conservatives, fully in support of the prosecution, put down a motion of no confidence in the government. The Liberal Party, which had opposed the prosecution from the start, sought to defuse matters (and avoid a general election) by calling for an inquiry. The result was the opposite of what the party had hoped to achieve. The Tories switched to support the Liberal amendment and the government announced that it would treat it as a matter of confidence. Unable to back down, Liberal MPs had to support their amendment (with the exception of 12 MPs, including J.M. Hogge, Percy Harris and Margaret Wintringham, who supported the government) which was passed 364 votes to 198, precipitating an election which was a disaster for the Liberals.