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Glossary - M

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Mackenzie King

Six times Canadian Prime Minister between 1921 and 1948. Instrumental in both the Balfour Declaration in 1926 and the Statute of Westminster in 1931, giving greater autonomy to the Dominions. Insisted on the Canadian Parliament declaring war in 1939 and defused a difficult internal political issue by saying Canadian conscripts would not serve overseas

Maginot Line

French defensive fortifications built in the 1930s along the Franco-German border. Its aim was to make the frontier impregnable to German attack

Magistrates' Association

Set up in 1921, the association encourages members to undertake training in the duties of a magistrate and helps them keep up with changes in the law. Raises specific issues with the government and within the legal system as and when required by its members

majority report

When the majority of members in a committee recommend an action


Part of China occupied by Japanese troops in 1931 following the Mukden Incident. Became the pseudo-independent state of Manchukuo in 1932

Manhattan Project

Code-name given to the development of the atomic bomb in the 'Manhattan District' of Oak Ridge, Tennessee in August 1942. Marked by the international collaboration of scientists from Canada, Great Britain and the US, the project resulted in the creation of multiple production and research sites that operated in secret

Margaret Bondfield

Labour politician and feminist and the first female Cabinet Minister. She was Minister of Labour from 1929-1931 before losing her seat in the 1931 election. She continued to support Ramsay Macdonald's National Government, for which she was never forgiven by the Labour Party

Margaret Herbison

Scottish Labour politician. Held several junior ministerial posts between 1950-1951 and 1964-1967. Member of Labour's National Executive Committee and Party Chairman in 1957. A British delegate to the Council of Europe. Retired in 1970

Margaret Thatcher

Conservative politician and Prime Minister from 1979-1990. Moved the party further to the right and privatised nationalised industries. Believed in the free market. Thatcherism developed as a right-wing political philosophy. Decided to fight when Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982. Controversially closed down many mines, famously clashing with miners. After the economic boom of the 80s, the Thatcher government plummeted Britain into the worst recession since 1929, with massive loss of jobs

Marshall Islands

Former German colony in the Pacific Ocean

Marshall Plan

In 1947 the Secretary of State, George Marshall, devised a programme of financial assistance given by the US to stimulate European post-war recovery. Along with the Truman Doctrine, it was part of US policy to contain the spread of communism. Although offered to the USSR and Eastern Europe, it was refused

Martial Law

The system of rules that takes effect when the military take control of the normal administration of justice. It can be imposed during wars or occupations (in the absence of any other civil government), to enforce control after a 'coup d'etat' or, more unusually, in cases of major natural disasters


Insurgency by Kenyan rebels, largely Kikuyu, from 1952-1960. Widely known in Britain as the 'Kenyan Emergency'

Maurice Waller, Sir

Became Chairman of the Prison Commission in 1922, coinciding with a critical report on prison conditions and the foundation of the Howard League for Penal Reform

McNaghten Rules

A set of guidelines for an insanity defence used in England until the 1960s. The rules only excused (from criminal responsibility) those whose insanity resulted in a lack of knowledge of right and wrong. Those lacking the capacity to control a criminal action because of their abnormal mental state were punishable

Medical Research Council

The Medical Research Committee was set up in 1913, its prime role being the distribution of medical research funds. In 1920 it became the Medical Research Council, dedicated to promoting the balanced development of medical research in the UK. Funded largely by the government, it remains independent

Mersa Brega

German defensive line in Libya, stretching from Mersa Brega on the Mediterranean roughly 25 miles inland


Area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It largely corresponds to modern day Iraq

Messina Conference

Conference held in the Sicilian city of Messina in June 1955. Six members of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) agreed that Henri Spaak should report on setting up a customs union, this eventually led to the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and the creation of the European Economic Union (EEC)

Michael Collins

Irish Republican leader who took part in the Easter Rising of 1916. Became a Minister in the Provisional Government of 1919. He helped negotiate, and signed, the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1921 and became First Minister in the new Irish State. He was ambushed and killed in 1922 by Irish opponents of the Treaty

Michael Foot

Left-wing politician. Leader of the Labour Party from 1980-1983. Refused to join Wilson's government and led the left opposition from the back benches. Joined the government in 1974 as Secretary of State for Employment in an attempt to keep the unions happy. Leading 'No' campaigner in the 1975 European Union (EU) Referendum


An atoll located in the North Pacific Ocean near to the Hawaiian islands

Milton Obote

Ugandan President between 1967-1971 and 1981-1985. Founded the Ugandan Peoples Congress (UPC) to fight for independence and became Premier on independence in 1962. Led a coup in 1966, but was overthrown by Idi Amin in 1971. Following Amin's defeat, he was re-elected President until he was again overthrown in a coup in 1985

Miners' Federation

Union set up in 1888 to co-ordinate affairs of various local and regional miners' unions who retained much of their autonomy. It led the miners in the 1912 National Strike and the 1926 General Strike. It became the National Union of Mineworkers in 1945

Mining Association

Loose confederation of mine owners, working together to influence government policy in opposition to the demands of the Miners' Federation. Each coalfield/area had its own mine-owners organisation to facilitate common policies, conditions and wages

Minister of Supply

Government minister responsible for the Ministry of Supply, which was created in 1939 to co-ordinate the supply of equipment to the armed forces. After the Second World War it took on responsibility for atomic weapons, but the need was increasingly questioned and the ministry was abolished in 1959

Ministry of Production

A British Government department created in February 1942, it successfully filled a gap between the Ministry of Supply (responsible for equipping the armed forces) and the Ministry of Labour and National Service (responsible for the distribution of labour between civilian occupations, war industry and the armed forces)

Ministry of Supply

Created in 1939, it co-ordinated supply of equipment to the armed forces during the Second World War. After the Second World War it took on new responsibilities for atomic weapons. Abolished in 1959, its responsibilities were devolved to three single-service Ministries, later merged into the Ministry of Defence

minority report

A report that reflects the thinking of the members favouring the minority position or action on an issue, therefore opposing the majority

modus vivendi

A way of living that allows conflicting parties to co-exist peacefully

Mohandas (Mahatma) Karamchand Gandhi

Commonly known as Mahatma, meaning 'Great Soul'. Known for his non-violent opposition to racial discrimination and colonialism in India. Became spiritual leader of the Congress Party working for Indian independence. In and out of prison, he negotiated independence. In 1948 aged 78 he was assassinated by a Hindu extremist

Motilal Nehru

Early Indian independence activist and leader of the Indian National Congress, he chaired the 1928 Nehru Commission which drafted the first Constitution written by Indians alone, advocating Dominion status for India within the British Empire. He is probably best remembered as the founder of India's most powerful political family

Mountbatten, Lord

Distinguished British naval commander, who served in the Second World War as Chief of Combined Operations and Supreme Commander in South East Asia. Appointed the last Viceroy of India, March 1947, he presided over partition and the independence of India and Pakistan. He was assassinated by the IRA in Ireland, 1979


City now called Shenyang, in Liaoning province, China

Munich Crisis

Caused by Germany's demand for the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia (called the Sudetenland). It was resolved by the Munich Agreement of 1938. Britain, France and Italy appeased Germany, forcing Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland on condition that it was Hitler's last European territorial demand. Hitler soon broke the agreement

Municipal Corporations

Set up by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 to democratise and regulate the way Councils were elected and run. It provided relevant services as required by statute. By 1945 they were expected to deliver a wide range of education and health services in their area


Murmansk is the only ice-free port in the Russian Arctic


Capital city of Oman, on the south east coast of the Arabian Peninsula

Muslim League

Set up in 1906, the Muslim League demanded Indian independence from Britain. After the Congress Party won most provincial governments in 1936, Mohammed Ali Jinnah increasingly demanded partition. He would only countenance independence in 1947 if two separate countries - India and Pakistan - emerged. The British government agreed, and separate countries were created

Mustafa Kemal

Founder of the modern Turkish republic and President from 1923-1938. Played a key military role in opposing the Treaty of Sevres, and changed some of the terms. He encouraged the westernisation of Turkey, and became known as Ataturk - Father of the Turks. Ruled in an autocratic, high-handed way