End of Coalition Govt.

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  • The end of Lloyd George's post-war Coalition, 1922
    • Ireland
      • DLG's Irish policy finally killed off the idea of a permanent coalition or a centre party
        • To be workable this would have had to include Labour as well as Cons. and Lib. members. Labour had found the methods that DLG sanctioned in Ireland deeply distasteful and therefore unsupportable
    • Conservative and Labour doubts
      • Talks between the Chief Whips of the Cons. and Lib. parties (at DLG's suggestion) in 1920 had broken up with nothing substantial agreed - genuine fusion of Cons. and Libs not possible
      • Cons. support for DLG was a matter of expediency, not principle - Cons. didn't imply any desire to make that support indefinite either
      • DLG didn't have enough to offer the Cons. and Lab. parties for them to consider a permanent coalition
        • They entertained thoughts of union only as a means of having a say in affairs until they felt sufficiently secure to strike out on their own
    • The Coalition's declining reputation
      • Seen as a tired, ineffectual administration with a leader who was past his best and sustained in office by a combination of his own love of power and a Cons. Party which would continue to support him only as long as it served its own interests
      • Commentators and newspapers characterised it as an unattractive mixture of political expediency, economic failure and financial corruption
    • Lloyd George and corruption
      • 'Lloyd George Fund' - used his power of patronage as PM to employ agents to organise the sale of honours and titles on a commission basis - Maundy Gregory = most notorious  salesman.
        • 20,000 OBEs purchased by the rich. DLG justified it as a means of raising political funds as he didn't have access Cons. funds from businesses and Lab. funds from trade unions.
          • Opponents likened the honours sale system to the Marconi scandal, 1913 (where there were suggestions that DLG as Chancellor of the Exchequer used his inside knowledge to buy and sell shares in the Marconi Company for a large profit)
            • Cons. questioned their continued support for DLG. Believed that corruption of the Coalition and its policy failures was tainting Cons. Party itself
    • Foreign problems
      • Chanak Crisis - Mustapha Kemal and the Turks wanted to take back territories lost to Greece in 1920 Treaty of Sevres. DLG sided with Greeks, sent British reinforcements into Chanak in Dardanelles (a likely area of confrontation) - war threatened, but Turks withdrew. Cons. and public appalled,- DLG condemned -unnecessary + could have led to another major war.
    • The Conservatives abandon Lloyd George
      • DLG calls general election. Cons. discussed whether to support him at Carlton Club Meeting  - October 1922. Baldwin and Bonar Law joined together to urge colleagues to disassociate themselves from DLG who was no longer worthy of their trust.
        • Baldwin called DLG 'a dynamic force which had already shattered the Liberal Party and which was well on its way to doing the same thing for the Conservative Party'
          • Cons. MPs voted 187 to 87 t abandon DLG + the Coalition
            • Election results 1922: Cons - 345 seats, 38.2% of vote, Labour - 142 seats, 29.5%, National Libs (DLG) - 62 seats, 11.6%, Libs (Asq.) - 54 seats, 17.5%
              • Lib seats dropped - combined Lib seats in 1918 = 161, combined in 1922 = 116. Cons = 358 in 1918, 345 in 1922. Lab - 73 in 1918, 142 in 1922 (doubled).
                • Due to trebling of electorate in 1918 RotPA, Cons increased their vote by 1.6 million, Labour by 1.8 million and even Libs by 1.4 million - so not a massive rejection of Libs.
                  • Libs just simply suffered from the imbalance of the electoral system, which made its recovery (the divisions within the party added to this) an impossibility
                  • 15,943 votes to elect each Cons. MP, 29,868 for Lab, and 36,116 for Libs.
    • Judging the Coalition
      • DLG criticised for running a cross-party govt. that did not conform to the normal pattern of party politics - wish to stay in power
        • By governing in peacetime without a genuine party majority, DLG 'prisoner of the Tories'
          • But Martin Pugh has suggested that after 1922 it suited the Cons. to portray DLG as a dictator over them, not their 'prisoner', so they could absolve themselves from the mistakes of the Coalition years
    • The importance of DLG in British domestic politics, 1905-23
      • Loved political battle, but could also be disarmingly courteous + conciliatory
      • Loved politics for his own sake though, for the excitement it brought, rather than because it offered a means of improving the public good
      • Used the Lib. Party merely as a vehicle for furthering his own ambitions
      • Power-hungry
    • DLG's impact on the Liberal Party/other reasons for its decline
      • The Lib. Party fell between 2 stools: in trying to be socially progressive it forfeited its claim to represent traditional values; yet, despite its apparent radicalism, it did not go far enough along the road of State control
        • It was thus unable to provide an effective challenge to either the Conservatives, representing the force of tradition, or the Labour Party, standing for nationalisation and state direction of the economy
      • Since it was during the most active period of DLG's career that the Liberal Party declined in importance, some of the blame must fall on him, especially as his challenge to Asquith in 1916 led to a permanent split in the party
    • Lloyd George - a dictator?
      • Neglect of parliament and use of a personal secretariat to bypass the normal political channels
      • But...no matter how strong DLG's authority may have appeared to be, he was always dependent on the support of the Cons. in parliament - shown in 1922 when they abandoned him and so his governmental power-base ceased to exist
    • DLG's contribution to improved industrial relations
      • Devoted much of his time to negotiating with bosses and workers, endeavouring to achieve settlements that were not simply compromises - but recognitions that employers, employees and the government had a common interest
      • Made the trade unions an integral part of British politics - his direct appeal to them in 1915 (Treasury Agreement) to suspend their agitation for the duration of the war and to enter into partnership with the govt. was a recognition of their indispensability to the national war effort and gave the unions a consciousness of their status and responsibility
    • Lloyd George's political ideas
      • No real and consistent political philosophy - made politics a matter of personality
      • But he weakened the Liberal Party to the point of political impotence
      • Laid down the basic political agenda for much of the rest of the 20th century
      • Winston Churchill in his HoC tribute 1945: 'There was no man so gifted, so eloquent, so forceful, who knew the life of the people so well'...'those who come after us will find the pillars of his life's toil upstanding, massive and indestructible'


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