British History: Lloyd George's wartime coalition

Revision cards covering Britain's domestic and political issues 1916-1918, AS History.

Lloyd George's Wartime coalition 1916-1918

Key dates

1914 (August) Start of the First World War: Asquith's Liberal GVT in office

1915 (May) Coalition formed, LG as minister of munitions

1916 (April) Easter Rising in Dublin (July-Nov) Battle of the Somme

December Asquith resigns, LG as PM.

1917 Germans began unrestricted submarine warfare

1918 (Feb) Representation of the People Act and Labour constitution

1919 (28th June) Signing of the Treaty of Versailles

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LG's Wartime Coalition 1916-1918

Key Dates  

1920 Agricultural Act, guarantees minimum prices

          Unemployment Insurance Act, covering almost 12 million people

1921 (April) Threatened General Strike by Triple Alliance

6th December Anglo-Irish Treaty signed

1922 Feb Geddes Axe, cuts of £64 million

April Genoa conference a failure

July Honours Scandal

19th Oct. Carlton Club meeting, resignation of LG, Bonar Law as PM.


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LG wartime coalition

June 1916 Kitchener dies, LG takes over as Secretary for War

  • LG suggested setting up a 3 man war cabinet, with himself at the head and Asquith still PM: Asquith refused,  LG threatened to resign.  Conservatives said they would not be in coalition without LG. Asquith resigned.
  • December 1916 LG becomes PM. Liberals split, some Asquith, some LG.
  • 'Subsituting dynamite for a damp squib'
  • Garden suburbs. LG more president than PM?
  • Minimum wage for farm labourers and POWs to collect harvest.
  • Rationing, one meatless day per week, licensing hours etc.
  • German U-boat campaign 3.3 million tons of shipping lost between Feb and June 1917.
  • LG Convoy system.August down to 200,000 tonnes shipping loss compared to 850,000 in April.



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LG coalition situation after WW1

LG 'man who won the war for Britain'

  • Pre-war excellent record in social welfare: 1908 introduced OAPs, 1911 National Insurance Act provided medical and unemployment insurance for the lowest paid workers.
  • Conservatives rode on the back of the success of LG. Not won an election since 1902.
  • During war a common goal united LG and the Cons, but neither paused to consider whether they would be able to work together in peacetime. LG PM without a party, a puppet of the Cons.
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Maurice Debate May 1918

Asquith led an attack on LG's handling of the war, May 1918

  • General Maurice publicly accused LG of distorting the figures of troop strength to suggest that the British Army in France was stronger than it actually was.
  • Asquith sided with Maurice to justify introducing a vote of no confidence in the coalition.
  • LG claimed the figures he had been sent were provided by Maurice himself. This was a distortion but LG's defence was so convincing it made Asquith look like a troublemaker who was causing unnecessary trouble at a time of great national danger.

Significance: Confirmed Liberal split as irrevocable.


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Coupon Election December 1918

  • At the end of the war Bonar Law and LG agreed to carry on the coalition into peactetime.
  • A letter carrying both their signatures was sent to all those candidates who declared themselves supporters of the coalition.
  • Nicknamed 'the coupon' as a reference to rationing coupons in the war.

RESULTS: Coalition total 478          Others: Labour: 63

Coalition Con: 335 seats                      Asuith Libs: 28

Coalition Liberal: 133 seats                          Cons: 23

Coalition Labour: 10 seats

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