British History 2M Section 2

  • Created by: Pegeth
  • Created on: 12-04-19 16:45

Economic Issues


Size of war effort required state intervention

  • Massive increase of production- vast amounts of war materials (overall shell production climbed to 187 million), transport and increase supplies of food
  • Pushed up prices at home so Lloyd George extended DORA
  • Ministry of Munitions encouraged development of new weapons like tanks, converted factories to war production and built national factories
  • Key industries came under state control- by 1918 Ministry of Munitions managed 250 factories and controlled almost 4 million workers
  • Ministry of Munitions controlled prices, wages, rationed food, introduced BST and limited opening hours of pubs
  • Department of Food Production set up to increase home grown food, subsidised farmers encouraged women to work and supplied prisoners to work on farms
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Economic Issues

Government spending increased from £200 million to £2600 million in 1918.

Had to borrow £5000 million from the USA  .

Also increased taxation on middle classes as well as income tax.

Economic impact of the war on workers

Food prices rose by ten percent in the first month of war and doubled by 1918

However, workers benefitted from more full time work. Unskilled workers got jobs due to labour shortages

Fall in poor relief improved working class living standards

Middle class and upper class were highly taxed and had to sell estates- 25% of land holdings were sold

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Economic Issues


Working class homes were poor quality; over crowded, lacked basic facilities War worsened housing in two ways:

1. New house building halted during war

2. Demand for munitions workers increased population in already crowded towns; demand but no change in supply led landlords to raise rents

Housing after the war

Housing and Town Planning Act of 1919: encouraged local governments to construct low rent homes for working class

200,000 homes built by 1922 BUT Addison paid £910 per house when real cost was £385= Addison sacked= shortage of 800,000 houses

Poliy of retrenchment; 'Geddes Axe' reccomended cuts of £86 million, reduced to £64 million→ repealed Agriculture Act

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Economic Issues


Trade unions adopted a patriotic stance during war and 'Treasury Agreement' of 1914 specified unions in war work could not strike; Munitions of War Act of 1915 banned strikes for munitions workers

Complaints against 'dilution': allow unskilled workers into jobs

Continued strike activity and trade unions grew stronger→ 8 million members by 1921+ Creation of Transport and General Workers Union led by Ernest Bevin

1919- police strike in Liverpool; May 1920- dockers refused to load a ship with weapons against Bolsheviks, overnment used tanks and troops to end strikes

1919- Lloyd George brought rail strike to an end and averted threat of coal strike in February 1919 by appointing the Sankey Commission to investigate pay and conditions in coal industry= reccomended shorter working days and NATIONALISATION- conservatives refused to do this

Industrial recession in 1921: wages slumped, 86 million working days lost

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Economic Issues


Demand for staple industries declined at end of war: steel- over investment, shipping- over estimated losses of boats in war, coal- other countries supplying more eg Germany + rival energy sources like electricity and oil, textiles- overseas markets lost during war

Restrictions on trade; USA imposed tariffs, Italy became self-sufficent and Russia avoided reliance on capitalist countries

Industries had to cut back→structural unemployment

Position of Britain's trade

  • Before the war, Britain had a favourable trade balance
  • During war: borrowed vast amounts from countries and had to pay back interest- DEBT
  • After war: short increase in exports to countries who could not get britis goods during war but did not last
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Social and cultural impact of war

The role of women during WW1

  • 6 million men joined army so 1 million women entered workforce
  • By 1918 women= one third of workforce
  • Women took over jobs in munitions factories, transport, banks (number of women increased by 600%)
  • Middle class replaced men in administrative jobs and nursing
  • Many women served in armed forces eg. Women's Royal Air Force by 1918 150,000 women serving in army as clerks, mechanics, drivers
  • Working conditions; munitions factories dangerous + many killed in explosions (more than 100 died from handling chemicals)
  • Women had long working hours and had to accept night shifts BUT still better paid than shop work 
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Social and cultural impact of war

Result of war for women

  • Changed Victorian idea that women were passive women became breadwinner; earning more than ever before
  • 1919 Sex Disqualification Act: women could no longer be banned from a job in Civil service based on gender; opened up civil service for women
  • Changes in social fashions eg. short hair and skirts

Limitations to social change:

  • Still a strong emphasis on women's traditional roles eg. bringing up children and nursing the wounded
  • Still 1.2 million domestic servants in 1918, most women
  • Women excluded from jobs such as coal mining
  • Did not always receive same pay as men
  • Increase in women workers seen as temporary
  • By 1921, % of women working was little different from what it was in 1911
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Reform of the Franchise

The war overcame objections to womens right to vote

1918 Representation of the People Act:

  • All men over 21 can vote
  • Property owning women over 30 or married to a member of the local government could vote

Working class women, who had big impact on war effort, could still not vote

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Unions and Labour

Trade unions gained power during war, when more workers needed

BUT co-operated with government banning strikes + accepting dilution

Miner's strike of 1921:

  • Government control of mines ended in March 1921; refused to nationalise
  • Mine owners cut wages to compete with foreign imports
  • 1st April 1921, national miner's strike began + had potential to become a general strike with rail and transport workers
  • Lloyd George personally intervened and split the alliance
  • Rail/ transport workers backed out
  • Miners striked alone until July 1921 when they returned to work + pay cuts 20% lower than in 1914
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Cultural change

War challenged social beliefs: increased social mobility + changes to women's social and political positions

BUT still class divisions: eg. working class women= munitions factories, middle class= nursing. class divisions in army; rich men became officers

Still bonding over the death toll in war

Churches gained influence: chaplains for army, churchmen needed for burials, some churchmen opposed the war eg. pope promoted peace

War also questioned Western superiority

Art: created culture which rejected the war + ideas of modernism

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Issues of patriotism and conscientious objectors

Outbreak of war created patriotism: had been fed into Britain through naval race with Germany + promoted idea that Germany was Britain's enemy→ 1 million men volunteered by 1914

Patriotism= government propaganda→ urged people to save resources + request government loans. Used figures like British Bulldog to evoke patriotism

No-Consciption Fellowship: set up in 1915 and won 'conscience clause'→gave men to be exempt from military service

Consciencious Objectors (COs) refused to fight due to:

  • Religious reasons eg. Quakers believed in pacifism
  • Political reasons eg. socialists saw WW1 as an imperialist war
  • Moral reasons eg. No-Conscription Fellowship formed by Brockway and Allen

CO had to go to local tribunal to give his reasons; if declined they would be sent to front

Of 16,000 CO's, 10,000 did work that did not involve fighting eg. ambulances BUT 6312 absolutists imprisoned

'conchies' seen as cowardly→white feathers

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Effects of the trenches

Conflict was from trenches; began with an artillery barrage then troops went 'over the top' to capture the other sides trench by going across No Man's land

Apart from risking death in attacks, soldiers faced poison gas, shrapnel + poor living conditions eg. mud, lice, rats

Days were monotonous; soldiers wrote laters and kept guard

Of 6 million men in armed forces, 750 000 killed + 2 million injured

Most survivors experienced shell shock + adjusting to civilian life was difficult due to mental trauma

Artists tried to convey horror, contested with traditional glorification pre-1914

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The Easter Rising

  • Group of 10,000 men broke away from National Volunteers (used to be IV) with MacNeill as leader
  • Small number of commanders planned uprising on Easter eg. James Connolly; wanted to set up an independent Irish Republic
  • Signed a proclamatiopn announcing Irish Republic
  • 1000 armed rebels seized Dublin Post Office on Easter Monday, post office destroyed and fierce fighting occurred 
  • 450 people died 


  • Rising was a failure; did not attract much public support and was easily quashed by the British Army (condemned by Catholic church+ nationalists)
  • 15 people who signed proclamation executed; became martyrs
  • 75 Nationalists sentenced to life imprisonemnt and 3500 arrested
  • Increased support for Sinn Fein, decreased support for nationalists- NOW WANTED A REPUBLIC NOT JUST HOME RULE
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Politics of Easter Rising

Lloyd George made a 'Heads of Agreement'; home rule to 26 counties in Southern Ireland 

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