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Britain at War
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The Politics of Britain at War

How did the war affect the developments of British politics?

  • Total war meant greater state control over people’s lives
  • Liberals’ traditional values challenged – individual freedom, peace, censored press, conscription, duties on imports, food rationing, limitations of free movement within Britain
  • 1914 Defence of the Realm act, granted state power over civilians
  • Parties put aside differences and worked together

Why was a coalition formed in 1915?

  • Parties agreed to truce for good of nation
  • War effort would be run on agreeable terms for all parties
  • Failings of Asquith’s leadership – munitions crisis, Gallipoli campaign
  • Conservatives demanded government shake up
  • Asquith accepted and formed coalition to keep peace within Britain
  • Needed help to run effective war time government

Why were the Conservatives eager for a coalition, but many Liberals opposed to it?

  • Allowed them back into power without general election after 10 years outside
  • Fearful of loss in general election as patriotic nation could vote Liberal again in support of war effort
  • Would make Liberals appear weak
  • Upset Liberals, seen as compromise in position and Liberal values by allowing opposition into shared power

What was Lloyd George’s new contribution to the war effort?

  • Moved from exchequer to minister of munitions
  • Aimed to produce more ammunition, as huge criticism of Asquith’s leadership
  • Outstanding success, machine guns rose from 1330 in 1914 to 250,000 in 1918
  • By 1918 amount of shells had exceeded demand
  • Lloyd George used experts from industry to help govern production

What circumstances led to Lloyd George becoming war minister?

  • Frustrated with military leaders, felt wrong strategies were being used through deployment of massive forces in the Western Front
  • Lord Kitchener (War Secretary) killed at sea travelling to Russia
  • Lloyd George was supposed to be on board, but stayed behind to deal with aftermath of Easter rising in Ireland

Why was the overthrow of Asquith such a significant political development?

  • Lloyd George believed himself only one capable of running war council
  • Asquith unwilling to allow infringement of powers as Prime Minister
  • Lloyd George had backing of all but one national newspaper giving him power
  • Conservatives supported Lloyd George - Caused division of Old and New Liberals
  • Lloyd George Prime Minister but had no political power as reliant on Conservatives to stay in power
  • Asquith ceased to be Prime Minister but stayed as leader of Liberals, opposed to Lloyd George

What role did the Conservatives play in ousting Asquith from office?

  • Refused to stay loyal to Asquith
  • Without Conservatives turning against Asquith Lloyd George could not have become Prime Minister

What special contribution did Lloyd George give to the war effort as Prime Minister?

  • Refused to accept anything other than victory
  • Raised morale of nation and troops
  • Persuaded admiralty to adopt convoy system to protect supply ships coming to Britain

Why were Lloyd George’s relations with military chiefs so strained?

  • Generals objected to civilian politician deciding war strategy
  • Lloyd George believed military should be answerable to government
  • Came down to battle of who should be in charge of war effort Government or military

In what ways did Lloyd George abandon traditional parliamentary government?

  • Increased number of Conservatives to point he was only Liberal on war cabinet
  • Centralised the government
  • Moved away from traditional government
  • Became almost dictatorship
  • Barely attended parliament
  • Detached his group of outside experts from scrutiny of elected parliament members

How did Lloyd George overcome the political challenge he faced in 1918?

  • General Maurice sought to pass blame for failure to win breakthrough of Western front
  • Maurice said had fewer men than Lloyd George claimed
  • Asquith supported Maurice
  • Lloyd George lied and said he had received quoted figures from Maurice
  • Was so convincing in speech won vote of no confidence in coalition easily
  • Showed no chance of reunification of two sides of Liberals while Asquith and Lloyd George were in charge

What was the political importance of the Coupon election?

  • Was a victory for Conservatives, after euphoria of war victory
  • Masked victory by Lloyd George remaining as Prime Minister
  • Lloyd George dependent of Conservatives to stay in power
  • Permanently destroyed Liberals as opposition

 

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