Britain 1914-29 - Britain and WWI

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WWI

  •  Lions sacrificed by Donkeys - Sassoon and Wilfred Owen,
  • WWI = 2 parallel European wars - West & East. 
  •  world war because it involved colonial empires of Europe & US entered war in 1917. 
  • Revolutionary changes - overthrow of Imperial German, Austria-Hungarian, Tsarist Russian & Ottoman Turkey, and to the creation of many new national States.
  • 1st Communist State -Soviet Russia. 
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Political Impact - The Liberal Party

  • War produced tensions in party - undermined traditional Libs beliefs
  • 'shell shortage' May 1915 - forced Libs into >er extension of State power in order to produce level of munitions needed  
  • Asquith found it hard to give up principles such as laissezfaire
  • Lloyd George - M of M 1915 -  realised that state must take extensive over the economy if the war was to be won.
  • 1915 - gave up ruling alone - formed war coalition inc. Cons & Labs
  • Asquith retained unity of Liberals - replaced by Lloyd George  
  • Splits in party widened - party split during Maurice Debate 1918 
  • LG continued coalition  > end of the war - allowed Cons revival
  • Labs replaced Libs as reform party 
  • Libs never recovered - rapid decline after war
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Political Impact - Conservative Party

  • politically weak at beginning of war - gained political momentum
  • 1914 - Cons opposition of Libs had grew particularly intense over
  • War got them out of position of supporting armed rebellion in Ulster - directed their energies to supporting the war effort
  • 1915 - joined war coalition.- revived - found it easier to fit in than Libs - emphasis on patriotism, militarism and closeness to empire.
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Political Impact - The Labour Party

  • almost split in over whether to support war - believed in international cooperation of WC - opposed to war
  • Ramsay MacDonald refused to compromise & support war - criticised in press.
  • Most Labs movement did support the war
  • 1916 - Arthur Henderson - first Lab politician to be given a place in the cabinet.
  • cooperation of the trade unions vital to war effort. 
  • TU membership X2 during & after war - 8 million. 
  • widening of the franchise - all men - gave Labour prospect of >support from WC
  • war encouraged ideas of equality everyone had suffered and contributed to war effort.
  • constitution 1918 committed itself to 'socialist' ideas.
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Political Impact - The Irish Nationalist Party

  • war was disaster - Home Rule 'on hold' 
  • 1916-1918 overtaken by Sinn Fein party - wanted complete independence
  • 1918 general election INs defeated by Sinn Fein 73 out of 108 Irish seats.
  • Some Sinn Fein members took part in the republican rising in Easter Rising 1916
  • violent suppression by British troops - moderate Irish voters switched to Sum Fein. From 
  • 1919 - Irish Republican Army fought British.
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The 'coupon election' of 1918

  • End of war - rivalry between Asquith & LG dominated politics.
  • LG popular in country, but Libs funds & organisation in constituencies under Asquith's control. 
  • Lloyd George fought election with Conservatives - promised if elected he would make peacetime coalition
  • Those in coalition given certificate signed by LG -  'coupon'. 
  • Voters had to choose between two Liberal parties.
  • Representation of the People Act passed - extending vote to a wide section of socieity
  • 'coupon' Liberals won 133  
  • Asquith's Libs only 28 - Asquith lost seat
  • Labour Party gained 63  - 2.4 mil votes in total 
  • Conservatives won - 333 seats - nationalistic mood
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State Intervention

  • State influence > during war - govt gained powers - conscript men; censoring material believed could enemy; rationing food & to fixing prices,wages, profits and rents.
  • <1914, Britain did not conscript men -  'Voluntarism' remained basis until 1916. 
  • <1914 the British Army only 250,000 men - 1914-1916 - 1mil volunteered- could not supply enough recruits
  • Asquith resisted but Military Service Act brought - single men 18-41. 
  • Casualties on Sornme 1916 - Military Service Act extended to married men. 
  • 1918 - Russia pulled out & Germany about to switch millions of soldiers to Western
  • Front - extended to 50 - limted freedom of  individual
  • Men refusing to join up = prison, & refusing to fight court marshalled and shot 
  • necessary for cooperation of the trade unions unsure whther they would fight 'capitalist war' - anti-war demonstrations 1914 - almost all workers supported the war effort.
  • Lloyd George made dilution agreements TUs expected to work with employers
  • & avoid strikes.
  • TUs demanded controls & exemption of highly-skilled workers from conscription.
  • 1915  - major strike on Clydeside & South Wales 1917. 
  • number of working days lost through strikes < from 10 mill 1913 to <3 million 1916
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Economy

  • moving away from 'laissez-faire'. 
  • 1918 - State running whole economy.- had to support > in production of weapons
  • 2 mill shells produced <1915 - 1918 - > to 187 mill &  > from 270 1914 to 120,870 1918. 
  • Had to supply war materials to allies - demands for transport, > protect +  provision of food & coal - >ed prices & shortages of materials and workers 1914. 
  • Private industry could not cope - State commandeered stocks of vital war materials & fixing prices
  • failure of Neuve Chapelle offensive 1915 - 1st major assault by against Germans in West, a failure - blamed on a shortage of shells. 
  • Lloyd George - extended (DORA) & campaigned for a M of M to oversee war materials - appointed as head
  • set up central purchasing system for buying war materials, organised science to help war effort & encouraged development of new weapons such as mortars 
  •  Encouraged factories to convert to war production & built national factories - Leeds employed 16,000 & produced 25 mill shells p.a. 
  • Controlled railways, iocks and coal mines
  • 1918 - managed 250 factories, supervised 20,000 & employed 4 mil - women encouraged to work
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Economy cont'd

  • State introduced British Summer Time & reduced strength of alcohol drinks
  • German U-boats sinking merchant ships - Dept of Food Production - subsidised farmers to plough up wasteland, allocated fertilisers, supplied POWs to work land
  • Spending from £200 mill 1913 to £2,608 mill 1918 - borrowed money from own people & neutral countries - national debt >ed by 1,200 %
  • Increase taxation -  income tax extended 1915
  • traditional export markets were blocked off, hurting profits
  • Bought war material from US suppliers through  J. P. Morgan - loan of $5,000 mill 1915
  • war cost $5 mill p/d, - $2 million from US 
  • 1916 - report to King George V warned B faced bankruptcy - Asquith replaced by LG
  • 'We are going to lose this war' - LG
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Social change - Classes

  • WC:
    • full employment and created
    • controls on rents & prices of essential commodities. 
    • % of population in poverty
  • M + UC
    • Income tax rose & profits limited
    • > death rate of junior officers
    • > taxes on land - lestates had - 25% land holdings sold 1917-21.
  • war >ed social mobility - class divisions were not broken
  • WC girls worked in munitions, MC girls nursing or admin 
  • armed forces - divisions between officers & volunteers .
  • death toll - common bond of suffering and loss
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Social change - Impact on beliefs and attitudes

  • Education was disrupted 
  • 300,000 children lost their fathers
  • war gave churches >er public role - chaplains needed in forces 
  •  challenge to the Christian denominations - slaughter on Western Front
  • Quakers efused to fight -  'conchies' - pacifists prisoned.
  •  Church attendance rose - < since 1850s 
  • Rowntree's 1935 survey in York - attendance <ed 35% 1901 to 18% 1935
  • war weakened assumptions of superiority of European values & civilisation - strengthened ideas of anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism.
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Working women

  • 6 mill men in armed forces - 1 million women entered workforce - 250,000 moved to wartime jobs
  • 1918, women = 1/3 of workforce
  • 1918 - 80% of workforce in shell factories was female.
  • transport - >ed 18,000 1914 to 117,000 1918. 
  • banking and finance - >ed 600% 
  • 1000s women filled labour shortage in agriculture. 
  • women workers in shipbuilding and engineering. 
  • MC - young women replaced men in admin jobs and entered nursing 
  • Served in armed forces-  auxiliary services 
  • Many killed or injured in shell,factory explosions - 100> from diseases contracted 
  • long hours and night shift - disrupted family life 
  • better paid than domestic service
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Working women

  • efforts of women of vital importance to success of war effort 
  • contribution challenged Victorian view of women 
  • Many women became the main breadwinner. 
  • Many MC women often experienced some financial independence 
  • 1919 -Sex Disqualification Act opened up Civil Service, local government and jury service to women.
  • Changes in women's fashions by the end of the war - shorter skirts & hairstyle
  • did not always receive the same pay as men 
  • in women workers was seen as transitory rather than permanent social change
  • 1918 - many women returned to pre-war jobs or homes. 
  • 1921 - %age of women in workforce same as 1911.
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Women's suffrage before 1914

  • 1897 - National Union of Women's Suffrage (Suffragists) founded Millicent Fawcett. 
  • Believed in non-violent methods - petitions to parliament, pamphlets
  • and meetings. 
  • Women's Social and Political Union ('Suffragettes') formed in Manchester 1903 by Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst & daughters - believed in direct action - demonstrations, posters and violence 
  • chained themselves to railings & hunger strikes when arrested - forced feeding 1909. 
  • In 1910-11, Co~ciliation Bill - gave some women the vote. 
  • activity suspended Asquith did not deliver promises. 
  • 1912-14 campiagns > extreme - > hunger strikes - 'Cat and Mouse Act' 1913
  • Burned down buildings, inc. LG's house. 
  • I1913 - Emily Davison committed suicide at Epsom racecourse. 
  • 1914 - NUWSS had 50,000 members
  • WSPU smaller but made national impact.
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Votes for Women

  • suffrage campaign convinced policians & press that existing situation unfair
  • violence of suffragettes - > opposition  
  • suffragette campaign ended 1914  fully supported the war.
  • suffrage campaigns suspended in wartime as woman
  •  gave vote to women 30> married to householder
  • women not given vote on equal terms untill 1928
  • Pre-war expansion of female employment & suffragist + suffragette campaigns played part in gaining vote 
  • war may have delayed the granting of votes for women.
  • Lib and Lab feared property-based franchise for women would benefit Cons - offset 1918 - extended vote to all men.
  • 1918 Act didnt bring transformation of politics.
  • Most women in munitions factories too young to receuive vote
  • Few women selected as parliamentary candidates & < elected as MPs. 
  • Most women voters > conservative & moderate than men
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