Post-war coalition government
- LG in coalition with Conservatives under BL - re-elected December 1918.
- LG PM but Conservatives biggest party.
- Opposition weak - Asquith Libs only 28 - Labs main opposition
- Sinn Fein won 73 seats - refused to participate - unofficial Dail in Dublin.
- Peacetime coalitions rare in British politics
- War coalition patriotic and effective - united nation working together
- Hard political reality - LG needed Cons to stay in power. - prepared to support LG - 'the man who won the war' - reputation as social reformer would stave off political extremism
- LG in weak position - power rested on former enemies - would have support as long as he was successful
- Cons could withdraw backing once wartime spirit ended
- LG had no political base - leader of one wing of divided party in decline.
- Radical instincts for social reform - promises i.e. 'homes fit for heroes' - carrying out policies difficult
- ‘Coupon election' was disaster for Libs and LG.
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Economic problems facing the Lloyd George governme
- B4 1914;
- Competition from Germany and USA
- growth TU movement
- Home Rule for Ireland
- government debt
- Dislocation of trade and industry
- Demobilising 5 mil> men.
- Had to confront issues while negotiating post-war peace settlement
- Failure of Staple industries
- Cotton industry found it difficult to win back pre-war trading position & coal mines inneed of modernisation.
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Economic problems cont'd
- Sankey Commission - recommended nationalisation - Cons opposed it
- Unrest in coalfields and TUs stronger and > militant. - Membership had doubled - £4 mill > 8 mil 1914-1920 - large unions - amalgamation -Transport and General Workers Union
- Police strike in Liverpool & riots in Glasgow 1919
- May 1920 - dockers refused to load weapons used against Bolsheviks in Russian Civil
- May 1920 - dockers refused to load weapons used against Bolsheviks in Russian Civil War - 'Hands off Russia' campaign
- April 1921 - national miners' strike - owners cut wage rates.
- Threat of general strike - 1921 Emergency Powers Act -
- Addison's Housing Act 1919 - 200,000> 'council houses' for WC
- Fisher's Education Act 1918 - >ed school leaving age to 14 - promised part time education to 18
- Pensions extended - war widows’ pensions introduced
- New National Insurance Act - extended unemployment benefit to xtra 8 mil workers
- Costs & war debts - financial pressure
- ‘Geddes Axe’ 1921 - proposed £86 mil cuts - LG promise of 'land fit for heroes' betrayed
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- Coalition contained talented politicians e.g. A.J. Balfour and Winston Churchill.
- New ministries for health and transport set up
- Churchill took responsibility for demobilisation - carried through in 1919 without much more unemployment
- Economy switched war production to peacetime
- Controls over prices rents and profits ended.
- Rationing gradually ended
- railways returned to private ownership and reorganised into four companies for greater efficiency
- coal industry was re-privatised
- Brief post-war boom
- 1921 unemployment = 2 mil
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- Home Rule Bill due to be law 1921 - divisions in Ireland intense
- Irish Nats overtaken by Sinn Fein (‘Ourselves Alone’)
- 1916 Easter Rising regarded as heroes and martyrs
- British rule directly challenged by setting up of Dail in Dublin and rise of IRA.
- Anglo-Irish War 1919-1921 - 'Black and Tans' vs IRA.
- 1920 - Government of Ireland Act - Partitioned Ireland - Unionist rule in north & autonomy to Catholic nationalist south - council of Ireland
- Accepted by unionists - Province of Northern Ireland created - parliament in Belfast
- Sinn Fein rejected act – wanted complete independence
- LG proposed second solution - Anglo-Irish Treaty - Irish Free State
- LG persuaded Sinn Fein that although Ulster remained separate it would be so small and unviable it would soon join united Ireland.
- Sinn Fein signed but opened up deep divisions among Nationalists - minority in Sinn Fein lead by Eamon de Valera rejected
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- Civil war between 'pro' and 'anti' treaty until 1922 - victory for de Valera & murder of Michael Collins - borders fixed but leaders of Irish Free State claimed sovereignty over all of Ireland until 2007
- LG fiercely criticised Anglo-Irish War, civil war south & emergence of oppresiveregime in North Ire
- Libs and Labs appalled by methods of 'Black and Tans' + Cons & Unionists never forgave LG for Ireland from B
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The fall of Lloyd George
- BL resigned May 1921 - LG's relations with Cons
- 1922 - 'Honours Scandal' - accused of selling peerages to finance own party
- 'Chanak Affair' - LG accused of ordering British troops into action without consulting coalition
- Cons felt they would be better off without LG - victory in Newport by-election
- Meeting at Carlton Club in October 1922 - key speeches by Baldwin & BL - voted to fight the next election alone - LG resigned & coalition ended.
- Conservatives won election November 1922.
- LG Libs and Asquithian Liberals won 116 seats in total
- Lab = 142
- King George V wrote LG would be PM again - never happened - reunited Libs 1926 but career over.
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- Labs became main opposition to Cons - minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1923-4 & 1929 - dependent on support from other parties
- 8 months> - BL ill & resigned - succeeded by Baldwin
- called general election December 1923 & Ramsay MacDonald became 1st Lab PM 1924.
- dependant on Lib support but passed reforms,
- >ed pensions & unemployment benefi
- Wheatley's Housing Act 1924 - 500,000 council houses built in 10 years
- set up a committee on future of secondary education.
- Only lasted 10 months - Libs withdrew support & Labs accused of being 'soft on Communism' - Row over trade deal with USSR.
- Campbell case - communist journalist urged men in armed forces to disobey orders if sent to put down general strike - MacDonald's failed to act & resigned.
- October 1924 general election - 3rd in <2 years
- dominated by Lab's links to communist - 'Zinoviev Letter' published 4 days B4 election - exploited by Cons - damaged Lab's campaign
- Lab's share of vote >ed but Cons won & Libs 3rd
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Economic Problems 1923-29
- Degree of economic recovery and Baldwin was successful in projecting an image of calmness and stability despite underlying economic problems and industrial unrest.
- Staple industries in decline
- 50% Britain's GNP
- ¼ of employment and
- ¾ of exports B4 1914
- 10-15% unemployment - share of world export trade <ed 18% > 11%
- Drop in value of overseas investments - struggling to pay for imports.
- USA became world moneylender so $ displaced £ as world's major currency
- New industries of 'Second Industrial Revolution' - chemicals, motor vehicles, electrical goods and canned foods - were growing at a fast pace.
- Motor car production by mid-1920s was three times better than 1913.
- Central Electricity Generating Board in 1926 and development of National Grid brought a new and more flexible form of power to industry and homes.
- Output per worker increased.
- 1923 and 1929, overall economic growth was faster than before 1914.
- The service sector grew due to spread of retailing, road transport, mass entertainment and administration.
- Rising living standards
- Million jobs created in service sector during 1920s
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- New industries of 'Second Industrial Revolution' - chemicals, motor vehicles, electrical goods and canned foods - were >ing at fast pace.
- Motor car production mid-1920s was >ed X3 than 1913.
- Central Electricity Generating Board 1926 & National Grid brought - new & flexible power to industry and homes.
- Output per worker increased - 1923-1929 economic growth was faster than <1914.
- service sector grew due to spread of retailing, road transport, mass entertainment and administration. millions of new jobs - rising living standards
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Government Economic Policies 1923-9
- Trade - Baldwin proposed tariff reform to protect British industry from foreign competition.
- The Labour government signed trade treaty with Soviet Russia to revive Anglo-Russian trade.
- MacDonald negotiated Dawes Plan 1924 and Young Plan 1929
- Aimed to restore Germany as trading partner by easing burden of reparations.
- Aimed to create jobs by public spending on roads, council houses, etc
- Labour government launched public works programme
- Industry - Subsidies were extended to imperial Airways
- Trade - Pre-war rate of pound to gold and other currencies
- Winston Churchill put Britain back on Gold Standard in 1925
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General Strike - Causes
- Demand for British coal fell due - foreign competition & use of substitutes
- old and inefficient & Short of investment.
- 1913 - dockers, miners and railwaymen formed 'triple alliance'
- miners wanted coal industry to be nationalised - re-privatised after war
- Major strikes & lockouts in 1919, 1920 & 1925.
- 1925 - Britain back on Gold Standard at pre-1914 exchange rate - too high - exports too expensive.
- owners called for further wage cuts and longer working hours, but the miners rejected these demands - threatened a lockout.
- Baldwin subsidise miners' wages & owners' profits for 9 months - nicknamed 'Red Friday'.
- Samuel Commission - rejected nationalisation and wage cuts essential to save jobs but reorganisation of mines
- Owners declared that 1 May 1926> miners would be locked out unless they accepted wage cuts & longer hours - government subsidies ended in April 1926
- 'Not a penny off the pay, not a second on the day.'
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Causes of General Strike cont'd
- Miners appealed to the TUC for support - 1 May - decided to call on strike for miners' case.
- Balwin failed to reach a compromise or shown a greater willingness to talk to the TUC
- 1921 Emergency Powers Act - state of emergency
- abruptly ended talks with TUC after unofficial strike at Daily Mail the day before
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- May 1926 - Coal, iron, steel, chemical and newspaper industries ceased production.
- Ships were neither loaded nor unloaded.
- Railway trains, the London Underground & bus services stopped running.
- Government sent soldiers and armoured cars into London & warships sent into Clyde, Tyne and Mersey.
- Lasted 9 days
- Term 'General Strike' controversial - began with a lockout by employers
- 3 million workers involved - fraction of total workforce.
- Baldwin: 'a challenge to parliament and a step on the road to ruin' (British Gazette, 6 May 1926).
- General Council of Trade Union Congress: 'no challenge to the constitution, the TUC is engaged in an industrial dispute' (British Worker, 11 May 1926).
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Impact of General Strike
- Emergency Powers Act - Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies - 100,000 volunteer workers to move essential supplies.
- Baldwin argued General Strike was a threat to British constitution - won public sympathy - turned issue away from miners' grievances to question of who ruled Britain
- · Put Churchill in British Gazette - fought a relentless campaign to undermine support for the strike - played on general desire to avoid violence and disorder.
- TUC stressed need for striking workers to behave
- Herbert Smith and A. J. Cook turned public opinion against them - refused to compromise
- Called General Strike off - miners continued fought alone - had to accept wage cuts and longer working hours
- Failures in TUC leadership - only began preparations <1 week - no national system for coordinating strike action
- Newspapers were closed when TUC called print workers out on strike
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Impact of General Strike cont'd
- TUC published British Worker - too late
- TUC divided moderates like J. H. Thomas against General Strike - A. J. Cook wanted to bring down government.
- TUC had hoped that threat of general strike would be enough - left struggling to find a way out
- General Strike did not harm the unions or the Labour Party as much as expected
- 1927 government passed Trades Disputes Act - limitations on unions & outlawed 'sympathy' strikes.
- Ramsay MacDonald refused to involve Labs strike - image of moderation - helped Labour to win 1929 election.
- unions were strengthened - allowed moderate union leaders to come to forefront - wanted a better deal for their members by negotiating with the employers.
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End of Baldwin's Governments
- Baldwin's reputation based on ability to reassure party and people that everything was under control
- Handling of miners' strike dramatic example of his style
- Leader of Cons for 14 years and PM 3x 1922 -1937
- Criticised for putting Britain back on Gold Standard in 1925
- Did have successes; set up BBC, built new houses, range of reforms in local government, widows' pensions and health
- Equal Franchise Act - equal voting rights for woman 1928.
- Cons lost power 1929 general election
- Labs grew after 1924> - MacDonald distanced party leadership from TU movement - >ed party's electoral appeal
- Labour’s programme 'Labour and the Nation' aimed at cautious reform - gained new seats
- 288 seats vs. Conservatives' 260 & Liberals' 59
- Largest party in Commons for 1st time - MacDonald formed 2nd government.
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