British Politics 1918 - 1964

An overview of British politics from 1918 - 1964 

AQA History A2 (Unit 3J) 

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David Lloyd George Government

1918 - COALITION (some liberals and Conservatives) 

Liberals split 

1. Asquith = Laissez Fair 

2. Lloyd George = Wealfair Reforms 

Policies of DLG Government 

1918 - Education Act (School Age Raised) 

1918 - Free Trade 

1919 - Housing Act (continued in 1923 and 1924) 

1921 - Irish Settlement 

1922 - Geddis Axe

1920/21 - National Insurance, war widows pensions and OAPs raised

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Fall of DLG

Fall of David Lloyd George 

-Instability of the Coalition, No common goal, incapable of effective action

-Honours Scandal 1922 (selling honours) 

-Chanak Affair 1922 ('We are not the words police man' Bonar Law) 

-Resignation of Bonar Law, lost support of back benchers, Calton Club

- Torys wanted to dump DLG

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Decline of the Liberals

Did the Liberals Fall because of DLG? 

Yes - Fell because of DLG...

-Against Free Trade

-Not home rule in Irlend

-Torys wanted to 'dump' him

-Unpopular because of the Geddis Axe


-Honours Scandle

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Decline of the Liberals

No - There were extenal Factors 

-Liberals were split, weak and united 

-Lost support of Bonar Law and the Tory backbenchers

-Representation of the Peoples Act (women tend to vote Tory, working class vote Labour) 

-Electoral System, 2 party politics, first past the post

-Irish Question 

-Economy, high unemployment, trade union unrest 

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Conservatives 1918 - 1924


-Torys used him to gain power ('man who won the war', was an effective spokesman, had influence in politices) 

-DLG fell, Torys dropped him, Carlton Club 

1922 election 

Bonar Law won - however he became ill so Baldwin took over (1923) 


-Good public speaker 

-Had an appealing nature

-Used media to contect with the electorate 

-Believed he didn't had support to be PM so held election in 1924 

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First Labour Government

Ramsay MacDonad - PM 1924

-In office, didn't have a majority - MacDonald played to this, resisted demands from the left and gained experience for the Labour party

-Seen as incompetent and insensitive

Work of the Government 

-Social reforms - OAP was raised, unemployment benefit raised, state scholarships introduced

-Housing acts - houses to rent not bought

-Poor industrial relations 

-Foreign policy, French leave the Ruhr, New German Currency 

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Fall of the Labour Party

-Campbell Affair, Labour interfering with justice

-Daily Mail Letter, Letter from the Zinoviev (Bolshevik) to G.B Communists urging a revolute 

-Labour seen as corrupt, associated with Communism 

-Labour Votes moved, Red Scare, Torys won the election 

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Conservative Party 1924 - 1929

Baldwin PM

-Majority of 200 seets

-Churchill = Chancellor

-Austin Chaimberlain = Foreign Secretary

-Aim "Binding together of all classes of our people" (impressed left wing MPs)

-Good industrial relationships 

-Peace and compromise

-Bad economic decisions 

-General Strike

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General Strike 1925

4 causes 

-Trade Union militancy - triple alliance (miners, railwaymen and transport workers)

-Economic depression - Gold standard, unemployment, fall in exports

-Fear of Communism - Russian Letter to the Daily Mail 

-Coal Industry - Wages cut and hours increased, only disputes, increased comepition from Europe 

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Baldwin and the General Strike

-Baldwin paid a subsady to compensate the wage fall - red friday 1925

-"got rid of Churchill', (stopped him from wanting to kill the strikers so gave him a desk job)

-Army called in to help do the jobs that we on strike 

-Communists arrested

-Sympathy Strikers leave and Trade Unions call of strike 

-Miners are forced to return to work

Outcome - 

-Better relations with Trade Unions

-Miners lost and pay is still reduced to more working hours 

-Trade Act 1927 - Sympay striking is band

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Baldwin and Government reforms

1925 - return to the Gold standard 

1926 - BBC created 

1926 -Central electrity board

1927 - Trade Dispuits Act 

1928 - Represenation of the Peoples Act II (women can vote on the same terms as men) 

1929 - Local government act (more responsibility for roads, health, child wealfair)

Benefits and Pensions are aslo reformed 

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The Second Labour Government 1929

Mac Donald - PM

(Churchill wildness years)

-Had a minority again

-First women minister (Margaret Bonfield) 

Economic Problems - from the return to the Gold Standard 

-Exports were uncompetative due to a high exchange value

-High interest rates 

-High unemployment

-Wall Street Crash 1929

-Export values fall by half after Wall Street Crash

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Unemployment and Labour

Mosley suggested a solution for the high unemployment 

Monsely Memorandams (ideas from Keynes) 

-Rationalisation and efficency 


-Increased Pensions

-Premote expansion 

-encourage early retierment 

-more credict used to provide public works

Was rejected by the Cabinate

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Fall of Labour 1931

1931 - Debate on government cuts on expenditure 

This was not popular with Labour MPs

Labour was meant to protect those with small incomes

Labour Party spilt over cuts 

leads to the National Government

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National Government

Forgein Policy 

Indian Policy 

- Governmen of India Act 1935

- Self Govt. but G.B control

Rearmament 1935

Hitler and Germany 

- Appeasment

-Passive = Baldwin

-Active = Chaimberlin

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National Government


Low interest rates 

- Lowered from 6% to 2% = cheep money

- Encourage business expansion

1930s poverty 

-unemployment (wasn't directly tackled)

Growth in consumer goods 

-Large numbers of cars, holidays, retail goods


-Duties on foreign imported goods

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Abdication Crisis

-Edward wanted to marry Wallis Simpson (She was divored twice)

-Opposition to his preposal of marriage 

3 options for Edward 

1.   Edwards and Mrs. Simpson marry and she becomes the queen (a royal marriage)

2.   Edward and Mrs. Simpson marry but she doesn’t become queen and instead she receives a courtesy title (a monogenetic marriage)

3.    Edward abdicates and any heirs he might father also lose the inherence of the throne. Edward can make any martial decisions without further constitutional implications. 

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Conclusion of the Abdication Crisis

Baldwin gathered Attlee, Churchill and Sinclair (agreed on option 3) 

Churchill disagreed and didn't support the government

Rumours that all in support of the king were going to support the King and create a "kings party" lead by Churchill

This Rumour wasn't proven

However damanged the King and Churchills appearance 

King abdicated 5th Decemeber 

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Shape of G.Bs politics pre WWII


1918 - 1922 = David Lloyd George Coalition 

1922 - 1924 = Conservative Govt. Bonar Law (1922-23) Baldwin (1923-24)

1924 = Labour Govt. MacDonald

1924 - 1929 = Conservative Govt. Baldwin 

1929 - 1931 = Labour Govt. MacDonald 

1931 - 1935 = National Govt. MacDonald (1931-35) Baldwin (1935)

1935 - 1939 = National Govt. Baldwin (1935-1937) Chainberlin (1937-41)

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Pre War economy


- 1 million unemployed, 10% of insured workforce

- 1925 return to the Gold Standard (Churchill) 

- 1926 General Srike

- 1929 Wall Street Crash


- Great Depression

- Mass unemployment (3 million in 1932)

- Growth of comsumer goods 

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War Time Politics

Fall of Chainmberlain 

- Not a war time PM

- High Unemployment

- Appeasment had failed

- Attlee wouldn't support Chaimberlian in a coalition 

- Lost support of the backbenchers

Churchill becomes PM 1941

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Coalition Government 1941 - 1945

- Rationing

- Evacuees

- Better working conditions (reconstruction and reform) 

- Health improves (free school meals and war time diet) 

- Development of the Beverage Report (costs worry Torys) 

- Health and Education white papers

1945 election - 

- Labour won (Attlee) 

- Coalition ends 

- Churchill not a peace time leader

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Why didn't the Tory's win in 1945?

Response to the Beverage Report 

- Torys Spilt over wealfair reforms as there was a fear of high taxes

- Not trusted by the electorate for social change 

Blamed for Appeasement 

Churchill had no message 

- Only warned about collectivisim 

- Lack of funds to campaign 

- Not a party man, good as a war leader, not strong in peace times

Lack of policy making 

- Reconstruction wasn't addressed

- Lack of policey making on home affairs 

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Labour and Wealfare State

Suggested that ... Government had responsibility for the citizens and their well being in 4 fields

1. Social security 

-National Insurance Act 1946, Benefits, OAP, unemployment and sickness cover

2. Health 

-G.Ps, N.H.S, free for all at the point of delivery 

-Universal Free health care


-Council house, suberbs created 


-Leaving age raised, comprehensive system intoduced

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Nationalisation Labour Govt.

Public ownership of Private enterprise (little Tory opposition) 

1946 - 

Bank of England

Civil Anviation 

1947 -




1948 - 


Gass and Electricty 

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Finances after the war

Loans from the USA

$3,750 million over 50 years at 2% interest 

Sterling more freely convertable to the dollar

Help the working class

- Taxes on income fell 

- Upper Class taxes increased

1946 - production was back to pre war levels, exports doubled, more employment, low interest rates = ECONOMIC BOOM 

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1947 Year of Crisis

Bad winter... 

Decline in Coal and electricty - Fuel crisis - low production - unemployment 

Loss of exports - Dollar Drain - convertability o fthe sterling 


Economic - govt. cuts on imports, expenditure and raitions introduced, high unemployment 

Poltical - govt. reshuffle, anti - Attlee plot failed 

Labour popularity failed 

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Attlee Govt. Success or Failure ?

Success - 

- Housing improvements = Toilets, electricty, prefab houses, bigger, council houses, suberbs                                                                                       

- NHS = healthcare for all, public hospitles and GPs, 

- Rationing = healthy population

- Education = Leaving age raised, more teachers, comprehensive schools 

- Benefits = lower taxes for working class, wealfair state, OAPs,                                                                                                                                                                                 

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Attlee Govt. Success or Failure ?


- Harsh Winter = rations (lost middleclass support), electrical, coal and gass supplies low, effects public moral, devaled pound                                               

-Foreign Policy =  Didn't join the European stee alliance, Korean War, Atomic Bomb                                                                                               

-Economic managment = Loans from the USA, Nationalisation = poor planning, rise in imports, fall in exports, balance of payments problem                                                                                

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1951 election

Conservatives Won 

- 1947 industrial charter (Butler), showed Torys comitted to wealfair state

- Liberals fall votes move to Conservatives

- Reorgainsation and modernised as a party 

- More members (young conservatives) 

- Labour had a harsh winter - effected their votes

- First past the post 

- Labour spilt over percription charges 

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Britain and foreign policy

Cold War - Fear of communism, GB and the USA, Starlings growing power in the east 

Collinies - 1947 Indian Independence, Attlee supported, Churchill against

Suez - Eden, G.B and France went to war with Eygpt, Eden lost public support, USA forced G.B out of war, G.B start to loose place in the world 

NATO - Northan Atlantic Treaty Organisation, defence policey

Coal and Steel Community - Attlee unsure if GB should join (didn't join), thought it would effect nationalisation 

USA - Payments from WWII wanted back, G.B cut off from atomic bomb research 

GB unsure which way to turn: 

USA                                            Collines                                   Europe 

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Tory policies

             Churchill 1951 - 1955                          Eden 1955 - 1957 

Economic - Full employment, end of rations, low taxes, 'stop go', mixed economy

Consensous - Continuation of Labour's policies, wealfair state and nationalisation 

Soical - Wealfare State, housing boom, increased consumer goods, rise in living standards 

Trade Unions - Conciliation and Arbitration 

Cold War - Fear of communison, growth in Russia 

Suez Crisis - Eden, invades Egypt, loose support of USA, Eden resigns 

MacMillian PM in 1957 

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Post war continuity or change?

Continuity ... 

- Continued decline of the liberals

- Conservative domanance

- Media continyes to grow

- Deskilling in industres 

- Womens pay and hours stay the same

- Class conflict 

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Post war continuity or change?


- Direct tax

- Global position 

- Immigration 

- Decline in traditional industries

- Universal welfair provisions

- Home improvements and Living conditions

- Stop Go cycle 

- End of rations 

- Women in work 

- Rise in wages 

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British Politics 1939 - 1964 summary


1939 - 1941 = Chamberlian 

1941 - 1945 = Coaltion govt. Churchill 

1945 - 1951 = Labour, Attlee

1951 - 1955 = Conservatives, Churchill 

1955 - 1957 = Conservatives, Eden

1957 - 1963 = Conservatives, MacMillian

1963 - 1964 = Conservatives, Douglas - Home

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Elly Burgess

*Geddes axe


so much info..lord knows if I am going to remember all this..but my revision is being based on it...good luck for anyone taking the 1918-1964 exam paper -____- I have a funny feeling I will die 


found this as a really useful overview to help me remember all the details of my revision notes 

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