The Spectator

How much do we spend at Christmas? 


Brief Labour

22 January 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Labour government, something the party might want to celebrate, even see as a good omen. Except that Ramsay MacDonald’s minority administration lasted only nine months.

– If Rishi Sunak wanted to be mischievous, he could choose 31 October as election day – the closest Thursday to 29 October, the date the Conservatives, under Stanley Baldwin, regained power with a thumping majority of 209. Labour had been brought down by a vote of confidence after the government withdrew a prosecution under the Incitement to Mutiny Act against John Ross Campbell, editor of the communist Workers’ Weekly. Campbell had written an open letter to servicemen, imploring them to: ‘Refuse to shoot down your fellow workers! Refuse to fight for profits! Turn your weapons on your oppressors!’

A century on

Some other 100th anniversaries in 2024:

– 21 January: Death of Vladimir Lenin (Petrograd was renamed Leningrad within a week).

– 25 January: First Winter Olympics opened in Chamonix.

– 23 April: George V made the first royal radio broadcast, opening the Empire Exhibition at Wembley.

– 2 June: Native Americans were granted US citizenship.

– 8 June: Mallory and Irvine’s ill-fated attempt on the summit of Everest.

– Late summer: Opening of Britain’s first nudist camp by members of the English Gymnosophical Society calling themselves the Moonella Group, reportedly after the name of the landowner. (The term mooning, however, had been in use since at least the 18th century.)

– 24 December: Air disaster at Croydon which provoked Britain’s first public inquiry into an air accident.

Christmas money

How much more do we spend at Christmas?

– According to an index of all retail activity which opened at 100 in February 2020, between July 2021 and June last year UK spending reached a maximum of 190 on 1 December, although 23 and 24 December weren’t far behind on 189.

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