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