The Fall of Lloyd George: The Political Crisis of 1922

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Lloyd George's political reputation is based upon his rising from modest origins although he did like to overplay this to the highest position in the land, his championing of Wales in British politics, his principled stand against the Boer War, his support for the New Liberalism of social reform and welfare expanding the role of the state and the impact on the British constitution arising from the clash between Lords and Commons over his People's Budget.

Apart from his war leadership, perhaps he was not among the top rank of Prime Ministers and his reputation was diminished later through his association with the sale of honours, his infidelities in marriage and political misjudgements about the Black and Tans in Ireland, appeasement and Hitler. Nevertheless he remains a towering and dynamic figure in Welsh, British and Liberal history and he is probably the most important Liberal politician of the 20th century.

The following is not an exhaustive list of all the books or contributions to published works about Lloyd George, his family and his politics - of which there are hundreds. It tries to include all the books whose content and scholarship has not been wholly overtaken or superseded by new research or newly published material; books from which there is still something fresh to be taken, even if they were published many years ago.

Most of the books should be reasonably accessible. They should be in print, in libraries or capable of being obtained through inter-library loan. Of those no longer in print many will be available to buy second hand through booksellers on the Internet. Academic articles have not been included, except those published in the Journal of Liberal History a number of which will be freely downloadable from the website of the Liberal Democrat History Group. David Lloyd George was such an important figure in 20th century politics that the general histories of the relevant period, works about political parties other than the Liberals, biographies of his contemporaries, diaries and memoirs of politicians of the time contain many references to him as even a quick look through the indexes of such books will demonstrate.

However this bibliography concentrates on books written directly about Lloyd George and his family or it would be never ending. There are probably books that are not included but which should have been and some older publications that should not be on the list - perhaps that can be taken care of in a later version and perhaps academic articles may be able to be included at a later point too. Meanwhile, there is enough to be going on with.

There is no single volume account of Lloyd George's life that has established itself at the head of the field. Two recently published books about Lloyd George have both however been well received. It is written, as are all the other books in the series, to a standard format of pages with three illustrations. Hattersley has written a number of histories of the early 20th century, including a biography of Henry Campbell-Bannerman in the Haus series on British prime ministers and The Edwardians , a popular, narrative of the period which received positive reviews.

Hattersley's book has the potential to establish itself as the standard single volume work on Lloyd George but we have to await the critical, academic reviews. Unfortunately John Grigg died just before the fourth volume was published, so if the series is to continue, authorship must pass to someone else. Margaret MacMillan, Peacemakers: the Paris Peace Conference of and its attempt to end war John Murray, London, - magisterial summation of the conference including Lloyd George's central role.

The fall of Lloyd George : the political crisis of 1922 /

George Dangerfield, The Strange Death of Liberal England Serif, London, - originally published in , it remains a classic piece of historical literature but dubious history today. He also engaged in what would later be called insider dealing, buying shared in Marconi when he knew that the company was to be awarded a government contract. Although he led his country in war, he was at heart a man of peace. With his weaknesses as well as his strengths, Lloyd George gave his nation skilled leadership at a crucial moment in its history. Of him, Winston Churchill , his friend and colleague, Winston Churchill said: "The greater part of our fortunes in war and peace were shaped by this one man.

Although born in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, England and therefore a Mancunian by birth, Lloyd George was a Welsh-speaking man and Welsh by descent and upbringing, the only Welshman ever to hold the office of Prime Minister in the British government. In March his father, who had been a school teacher in Manchester and other towns, returned to his native Pembrokeshire due to failing health and took up farming but died in July , aged His mother Elizabeth , daughter of David Lloyd, shoemaker and Baptist pastor, of Llanystumdwy, Caernarvonshire , sold the farm and moved with her children to her native Llanystumdwy, North Wales, where she lived with her brother Richard, a master cobbler and later a lay Baptist preacher who, as a strong Liberal, proved a towering influence on the boy, encouraging him to take up a career in law and enter politics; his uncle remained influential up until his death at age 83 in February , by which time his nephew was prime minister.

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His childhood showed through in his entire career, as he attempted to aid the common man at the expense of what he liked to call "the Dukes. Articled to a firm of solicitors in Porthmadog, Lloyd George was admitted in after taking Honors in his final law examination and set up his own practice in the back parlor of his uncle's house in The practice flourished, he established branch offices in surrounding towns and took his brother William into partnership in By then he was politically active, having campaigned for the Liberal Party in the election in which he was attracted by Joseph Chamberlain 's "unauthorized programme" of reforms.

The election resulted firstly in a stalemate, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives having a majority, the balance of power being held by the Irish National Party and then in William Gladstone 's announcement of a determination to bring about Irish Home Rule which in turn led to Chamberlain leaving the Liberals to form the Liberal Unionists.

Lloyd George was uncertain of which wing to follow, carrying a pro-Chamberlain resolution at the local Liberal Club and traveling to Birmingham planning to attend the first meeting of Chamberlain's National Radical Union but he had his dates wrong and arrived a week too early.

In , he was to say that he thought Chamberlain's plan for a federal solution correct in and still thought so, that he preferred the unauthorized programme to the Whiggish platform of the official Liberal Party and that had Chamberlain proposed solutions to Welsh grievances such as land reform and disestablishment he, together with most Welsh Liberals, would have followed him. On January 24, , he married Margaret Owen, the daughter of a well-to-do local farming family. Also in that year he and other young Welsh Liberals founded a monthly paper Udgorn Rhyddid Trumpet of Freedom and won on appeal to the Divisional Court of Queens Bench the Llanfrothen Burial case which established the right of Nonconformists to be buried according to their own denominational rites in parish burial grounds, a right given by the Burial Act that had hitherto been ignored by the Anglican clergy.

It was this case, which was hailed as a great victory throughout Wales, and his writings in Udgorn Rhyddid that led to his adoption as the Liberal candidate for Caernarfon Boroughs on December 27, His flair quickly showed, and he was narrowly returned Liberal MP for Caernarfon Boroughs on April 13, at a by-election caused by the death of the former Conservative member, his margin being 19 votes.

When entering the House of Commons, he was the youngest MP in the house and he sat with an informal grouping of Welsh Liberal members with a programme of disestablishing and disendowing the Church of England in Wales, temperance reform and Welsh home rule. He would remain an MP until , 55 years later. As at that time, backbench members of the House of Commons were not paid, he supported himself and his growing family by continuing to practice as a solicitor, opening an office in London under the title of Lloyd George and Co and continuing in partnership with William George in Criccieth.

He was soon speaking on Liberal issues particularly temperance, the "local option" and national as opposed to denominational education throughout England as well as Wales. During the next decade, Lloyd George campaigned in Parliament largely for Welsh issues and in particular for disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of England. He wrote extensively for Liberal papers such as the Manchester Guardian. When Gladstone retired after the defeat of the second Home Rule Bill in the Welsh Liberal members chose him to serve on a deputation to William Harcourt to press for specific assurances on Welsh issues and when those were not forthcoming they resolved to take independent action if the government did not bring a bill for disestablishment.

Thereafter, he devoted much time to setting up branches of Cymru Fydd Wales Will Be which, he said, would in time become a force like the Irish National Party. He abandoned this idea after being criticized in Welsh newspapers for bringing about the defeat of the Liberal Party in the election and when, at a meeting in Newport on 16 January , the South Wales Liberal Federation, led by David Alfred Thomas and Robert Bird moved that he be not heard.

He gained national fame by his vehement opposition to the Second Boer War. He based his attack firstly on what were supposed to be the war aims — remedying the grievances of the Uitlanders and in particular the claim they were wrongly denied the right to vote saying "I do not believe the war has any connection with the franchise. His second attack was on the cost of the war which prevented overdue social reform in England, such as old age pensions and workman's cottages.

As the war progressed he moved his attack to its conduct by the generals, who he said basing his words on reports by Burdett Coutt in The Times were not providing for the sick or wounded soldiers and were starving Boer women and children in concentration camps. But he reserved his major thrusts for Chamberlain accusing him of directly profiteering from the war through the Chamberlain family company Kynochs Ltd of which Chamberlain's brother was Chairman and which had won tenders to the War Office though its prices were higher than some of its competitors.

His attacks almost split the Liberal Party as H. His attacks on the government's Education Act which provided that County Councils would fund church schools helped reunite the Liberals, his successful amendment that the County need only fund those schools where the buildings were in good repair served to make the Act a dead letter in Wales where the Counties were able to show most of the Church of England schools were in poor repair.

Many nonconformists refused to pay their taxes, and were jailed or had property seized. Lloyd George supported his fellow nonconformists in their opposition to the Education Act. Having already gained national recognition for his anti- Boer War campaigns, his leadership of the attacks on the Education Act gave him a strong parliamentary reputation and marked him as a future cabinet member. In that position he brought legislation on many topics, from Merchant Shipping and Companies to Railway regulation but his main achievement was in stopping a proposed national strike of the railway unions by brokering an agreement between the unions and the railway companies.

While almost all the companies refused to recognize the unions Lloyd George persuaded the companies to recognize elected representatives of the workers who sat with the company representatives on conciliation boards -one for each company. If those boards failed to agree then there was a central board. His great excitement - apparent from his letters to his family -was crushed by his daughter Mair's death from appendicitis a fortnight later in November While he continued some work from the Board of Trade - for example legislation to establish a Port of London authority and to pursue traditional Liberal programmes such as licensing law reforms -his first major trial in this role was over the Naval Estimates.

The Liberal manifesto at the general elections included a commitment to reduce military expenditure.


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Lloyd George strongly supported this writing to Reginald McKenna First Lord of the Admiralty "The emphatic pledges given by all of us at the last general election to reduce the gigantic expenditure on armaments built up by the recklessness of our predecessors. This was adopted by the government but there was a public storm when the Conservatives, with covert support from the First Sea Lord Admiral Jackie Fisher campaigned for more with the slogan "we want eight and we wont wait.


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This was later to be said to be one of the main turning points in the naval arms race between Germany and Britain that ended in World War I. He was largely responsible for the introduction of old age pensions, unemployment benefit and state financial support for the sick and infirm - legislation often referred to as the Liberal reforms. These social benefits were met with great hostility in the House of Lords where the "People's Budget" Lloyd George championed to introduce and finance them was rejected because it angered the landed gentry.

These social reforms began in Britain the creation of a welfare state that had been preceded in Germany some 20 years earlier.

They fulfilled in both countries the aim of dampening down the demands of the growing working class for rather more radical solutions to their impoverishment. When the Liberal government fell as a result of the Shell Crisis of and was replaced with a coalition government dominated by Liberals still under the Premiership of Asquith, Lloyd George became the first Minister of Munitions in and then war secretary in According to his political opponents in the Liberal Party he maneuvered to replace Asquith as Prime Minister of a new wartime coalition government between the Liberals and the Conservatives, but his allies argued that Asquith's loss of the leadership was brought about by his own failures as a leader.

The result was a split of the Liberal Party into two factions; those who supported Asquith and those who supported the coalition government. His support from the Unionists was critical, and he ruled almost as a president. In his War Memoirs, Vol. There are certain indispensable qualities essential to the Chief Minister of the Crown in a great war…. Such a minister must have courage, composure, and judgment. All this Mr. Asquith possessed in a superlative degree….

But a war minister must also have vision, imagination and initiative—he must show untiring assiduity, must exercise constant oversight and supervision of every sphere of war activity, must possess driving force to energize this activity, must be in continuous consultation with experts, official and unofficial, as to the best means of utilising the resources of the country in conjunction with the Allies for the achievement of victory.

If to this can be added a flair for conducting a great fight, then you have an ideal War Minister. After December 6, , despite occupying the Premiership Lloyd George was not all powerful, being dependent on the support of Conservatives for his continuance in power. The fifth member, Arthur Henderson, was the unofficial representative of the Labour Party. This accounts for Lloyd George's inability to establish complete personal control over military strategy, as Churchill did in the Second World War, and accounted for some of the most costly military blunders of the war. Nevertheless the War Cabinet was a very successful innovation.

It met almost daily, with Sir Maurice Hankey as secretary, and made all major political, military, economic and diplomatic decisions. Rationing was finally imposed in early and was limited to meat, sugar and fats butter and oleo — but not bread; the new system worked smoothly. From to trade union membership doubled, from a little over four million to a little over eight million.

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Work stoppages and strikes became frequent in as the unions expressed grievances regarding prices, liquor control, pay disputes, "dilution," fatigue from overtime and from Sunday work, and inadequate housing. Conscription put into uniform nearly every physically fit man, six million out of ten million eligible. Of these about , lost their lives and 1,, were wounded. Most deaths were to young unmarried men; however , wives lost husbands and , children lost fathers.

Bibliography

The originality and creativity of the many organizations and systems which Lloyd George created to fight the First World War is demonstrated by the fact that most were replicated when war came again in At the end of the war Lloyd George's reputation stood at its zenith. A leading Conservative said He can be dictator for life if he wishes. In the "Coupon election" of he declared this must be a land "fit for heroes to live in.

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At Bristol, he said that German industrial capacity "will go a pretty long way. His "National Liberal" coalition won a massive landslide, winning of the contests; however the Conservatives had control within the Coalition of more than two-thirds of its seats. Asquith's independent Liberals were crushed and emerged with only 33 seats, falling behind Labour. Lloyd George wanted to punish Germany politically and economically for devastating Europe during the war, but did not want to utterly destroy the German economy and political system the way Clemenceau and many other people of France wanted to do with their demand for massive reparations.

Social reform and the outbreak of war

Memorably, he replied to a question as to how he had done at the peace conference, "Not badly, considering I was seated between Jesus Christ and Napoleon" Wilson and Clemenceau. The British economist, John Maynard Keynes attacked Lloyd George's stance on reparations in his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace calling the Prime Minister a "half-human visitor to our age from the hag-ridden magic and enchanted woods of Celtic antiquity.


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