First World War: Wartime Politics

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Asquith's failings

  • Thought the war would be won by Christmas and it would be primarily naval
  • Lost his grip by 1914: was accused of being drunk and his aloofness infuriated his colleagues
  • Unable to adapt: Changed none of his Cabinet except introducing the inept Lord Kitchener as Secretary of State for War
  • Asquith proclaimed it was 'business as usual'
  • Soon became clear change was needed in 1915 with shell shortages and the Gallipoli disaster
  • Coalition was pretty much forced on Asquith

Coalition of 1915-16

  • DLG became Minister of Munitions: Introduced the Munitions of War Act giving him control of armament factories and outlawing strikes and lock-outs
  • Coalition was joined by leading Cons. and Lab's Arthur Henderson
  • 23 Cabinet Ministers: too many
  • Cons. distrusted the Libs., slowing down the war effort and delaying conscription as Asquith would not accept such a denial of personal freedom
  • Failure of the Battle of the Somme led to major calls for him to resign and be replaced by DLG, who had taken of as SoSfW after Kitchener's death
  • Suggested that a three man War Cabinet be set up with DLG as chairman, Asquith refused
  • Chose to resign instead, refusing to serve under somene else

Why DLG took over

  • 'Like substituting dynamite for a damp squib'
  • DLG got…


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