How did the war and the problems it bequeathed affect the political parties from 1918 to 1924?

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  • Created on: 18-03-14 09:51

Asquith as Wartime Leader

  • Lost his grip - drank too much 
  • Aloofness annoyed colleagues
  • Unable to adapt - poor choice in Lord Kitchener
  • Shell shortage - tarnised government
  • Defence of the Realm Act 1914 - threat to liberty

Bonar Law (conservative) did not want an election during the war. He contracted Lloyd George to suggest coalition in May 1915.

Asquith given the option of resignation or coalition - chose coalition

  • Lloyd Geroge - Minister of Munitions - very good
  • Cabinet of 23 too big - debated alot (three parties) 
  • Conscription was delayed - as it was a loss of personal freedom - introduced in Jan 1916
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Asquith and Lloyd George Split

  • Coalition continued until Dec 1916. 
  • Lloyd George felt the decision making arrangements needed changing
  • Late Nov 1916 - Bonar Law & Edward Carson met Lloyd Geroge to discuss setting up small war committee of 3 - Asquith to still be PM but not to be in the committee
  • 4th Dec The Times supported Lloyd George's proposal
  • 5th Dec Asquith rejected it, and LG and BL resigned, later Asquith resigned as PM
  • Lloyd George formed a governement (still coalistion) became PM
  • Split led to long term split in the Liberal Party - weak
  • Most Liberals resigned with Asquith
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Labour & WW1

  • Divided as to join the war or not, and conscription - Fabians: for, ILP: against
  • Did not spilt like Liberals over their divisions
  • Ramsay MacDinald resigned as chairman because he was a pacifist - replaced by Arthur Henderson: No deep gulf. Henderson was patient
  • Party allowed MacDonald to retain his seat on the party
  • War Emergency Committee, brough Labour delegates together and became a 'think tank'

WW1 Helped them Grow - giving experience of government

  • Part of the coalitions, in Asquith's Henderson had a cabinet post and in Lloyd George's Henderson was a member of the war cabinet of 5
  • Henderson resigned from the small war cabinet in 1917 - had time to plan for Labour's Future
  • Resigned after dispute with Lloyd George over a visit to Stockholm Conference 
  • Able to concentrate on reorganising Labour - developing ideas 
  • Back in contact with MacDonald - post war reconciliation 
  • Began drawing plans for peace
  • Disassociated itself from the coalition - individual party for the working class
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Labour and the New Social Order: Socialist Constit

Labour's programme spelt out in Sydney Webb's 'Labour And The New Social Order' 

  • Party now stood for:
    • national minimum wage
    • democratic control of industry
    • financial reforms for better welfare services
    • surplus wealth to be employed for the common good

New Constitution of 1918 offered a modernised orgasnisation and social ideology. Suggesting the party was fundermentally a socialist party - never carried this out

  • Labour also benifited from the Full Employment from the war as it placed the unions in a strong position
  • Post war labour party appealed to the socialist faithful and the trade union movemenet 

December 1918 - coupon Election. 

won 63 seats gaining 2 million votes, leaders did not retain their seats. looked like the official progressive party. Much support in industrial and mining districts.

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Post War Problems for Lloyd George

  • Prime Minister without a party
  • Needed to convice the Conservatives that they depended on him
  • Conservatives were predominant in the cabinet - LG followed them
  • Bonar Law kept the Conservatives loyal to the coalition - liked LG

Why did the consevatives want to continue in the coalition?

  • Lloyd George successful war leader
  • 1918 representation of the peoples act - electorate trebled (working classes) 
  • Thought they needed Lloyd Georges popularity to defeat the Labour Party

Problems: Ireland, Domestic problems - Social Reforms

Lloyd George wanted to keep on with social reforms started before WW1 - conservatives in the coalition not in favour. Geddes Axe Forced Lloyd George's Governement to spend less (Sir Eric Geddes a businessman working with governement recomended cuts totalling £86 million - Lloyd George in a weak position

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Growth in Opposition to Lloyd George

  • Chanak Crisis in Turkey showed splits between Lloyd George and the Conservatives
  • Concerns that Lloyd George's style of government was presidential - not consulting
  • Well founded rumors about his private life
  • Charges of Financial Corruption - selling of honors scandle 

The Carlton Club Meeting

19th August 1922 - Austen Chamberlain (conservative leader) called meeting. Said Conservatives couldnt win without the coalition - fight the Labour party.

Stanley Baldwin made a impressive speech saying LG would split the Conservatives the way he did the Liberals. Bonar Law also said he too felt the future of the Conservative party was under threat. Vital figurehead for rallying conservatives.

Vote 187 to 87 for the conservatives to fight alone.

Chamberlain resigned as party leader. Lloyd Geroge resigned as PM and Bonar Law became PM

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Elections 1922 and 1923

Election November 1922 - Bonar Law PM

  • Conservatives 347 
  • Labour 142 In May 1922 Law resigned (ill health) replaced by Stanley Baldwin
  • Asquith Lib 60
  • Lloyd George  57

Election December 1923 - Stanley Baldwin PM 

Wanted to introduce tariff reforms, not before consulting the people

  • Conservatives 258 (lost majority)
  • Labour 191
  • Liberals 159 (united over free trade)

Baldwin could not cope and soon resigned. King called for Labour as the 2nd biggest party to form a government. The first Labour Government was formed

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The First Labour Government 1924

  • Many people feared Labour, thought that they would -
    • attack private property
    • Post office savings would be seized
    • Women would be nationalised
    • Free love declared as official policy
  • PM Ramsey MacDonald was from humble origin like most of the cabinet. Not sympathetic to left wing party members wanted Labour to be respectable and show that it could govern the county
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The Government's Record

  • Not very different from that of Conservative and Liberal - same rituals 
  • Only minor reforms -
    • unemploymentbenefits improved - no seriouse attempt to reduce it
    • old age pentions increased 
    • £28 millionallocated to public works 
    • Taxes on basic foods were cut
  • Dockers, tramdrivers, railworkers, and builders all strike during this period
  • Wheatley's Housing Act - most significant achievements £9 million to build council houses 500,000 built over the next 10 years as a result of the scheme
  • Success in foeign affairs with MacDinals involved in the Dawes Plan, the withdrawal of the French Troops from the Ruhr and the League of Nations
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Labour Government Decline and Fall

  • MacDonald attempted to negotiate with the soviet union - gave opposition opportunity to lable Labour as pro-communist
  • He also proposed a commercial treaty giving loands of £30 million to soviet government in turn for compensation to British investors who lost assests in Bolshevik Revolution
  • J R Campbell (editor of workers weekly) wrote an article calling on troops not to let themselves be used against strikers - Government did not press charges - open to claims that it was being manipulated by exteme left elements
  • Conservatives and Liberals united in defeat of the Labour Goverment in the House of Commons
  • MacDonald had to call another election after only 9 months in power.

The Zinoviev Letter

  • Election campain Labour was identified with the 'red menace' 
  • Daily mail published a letter from Zinoviev (leading Bolshevik) to the British Communist Party calling for revolution - consevatives used this to attact
  • Letter probably had limited impact on the election - many considered it forgery by an exiled opponent of the Russian Revolution - meant to tarnish Labour's Image
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1924 Election

  • Letter gave Labour a plausible excuse for defeat - Labour spokesmen maintained it was forged
  • Real losers were Liberal - shared the vote had fallen from 30% in 1922 to less that 18% in 1924. Fighting 3 elections in 2 years strained resources and they no longer seemed capable of government
  • Conservatives 419 seats
  • Labour 151 seats
  • Liberals  40 seats

Labour had shown that they were capable of government but if they had been in power longer, the tensions in the party would have been exposed

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