David Lloyd George

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David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor, OM, PC (Jan. 17, 1863-Mar. 26, 1945), was the British statesman who as leader of the British Liberal Party passed major social-welfare legislation and as Prime Minister (1916-1922) guided the nation through most of First World War and its aftermath. He was a major player at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 that reordered the world after the Great War. He was one of the most powerful and successful prime ministers, but after 1922 his Liberal party disintegrated and he was ineffective in opposition. He was a devout evangelical and an icon of 20th century liberalism as the founder of the welfare state and winner of the First World War.

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Contents

Early career

Lloyd George was born to a Welsh family living temporarily in Manchester, England. His father William George was a Welsh schoolmaster who died when David was three. His mother and her two sons were supported by an uncle, Richard Lloyd (1834-1917), a Baptist minister and Liberal activist in North Wales who became a dominant influence on David.[1] David was active in the Campbellite Baptists, a radical offshoot of the main Baptist denomination. Leaving school at 15 because it was too Anglican, he was largely self-taught. Deciding to be a solicitor, in 1884 he passed his bar examinations. He took an active part in local politics, fighting the landlords and the Church of England in Wales (which was an established church that collected tithes from dissenters and was distinct from the main Church of England.) After his party was badly defeated in 1886 he represented a new generation and rose rapidly in the ranks, winning a seat to Parliament in 1890 as Liberal member for Carnarvon Boroughs, by a mere 18 votes. The fiery orator soon became known for his vigorous attacks on the Conservatives and his championship of prohibition, Welsh nationalism, and disestablishment of the Church of England in Wales. During the Boer War, he bitterly opposed England's policy and was called by some "pro-Boer" and by others "little Englander." From 1905 to 1908 he was a member of Campbell-Bannerman's cabinet as president of the Board of Trade.

He married Margaret (Maggie) Owen (1866–1941), a local farmer's daughter, in 1888. They had five children and lived property she owned in the village of Cricieth, in Wales; the children grew up speaking Welsh. She refused to live in London. After 1912 his secretary Frances Stevenson in London became his mistress and confidant; he married her in 1943 (two years after his first wife died).

People's Budget

In 1908 Herbert Henry Asquith made him chancellor of the exchequer, the number two position in government. His closest ally was Winston Churchill; Lloyd George was the only person who ever dominated Churchill psychologically. In 1909 he introduced his famous budget imposing increased taxes on luxuries, liquor, tobacco, incomes, and land, so that money could be made available for the new welfare programs as well as new battleships. The nation's landowners (well represented in the House of Lords) were intensely angry at the new taxes. In the House of Commons Lloyd George gave a brilliant defense of the budget, which was attacked by the Conservatives. On the stump, most famously in his Limehouse speech, he denounced the Conservatives and the wealthy classes with all his very considerable oratorical power. The budget passed the Commons, but was defeated by the Conservative majority in the House of Lords. The elections of 1910 upheld the Liberal government and the budget finally passed the Lords. Subsequently, the Parliament Bill for social reform and Irish Home Rule, which Lloyd George strongly supported, was passed and the veto power of the House of Lords was greatly curtailed. In 1911 Lloyd George succeeded in putting through Parliament his National Insurance Act, making provision for sickness and invalidism, and this was followed by his Unemployment Insurance Act.

First World War

For the first year of the war he remained chancellor of the exchequer, but when the shortage of the English supply of munitions was revealed and the cabinet was reconstituted as the first coalition ministry in May 1915, Lloyd George was put in charge of the newly created Ministry of Munitions. In this position he was a brilliant success, but he was not at all satisfied with the progress of the war, and late in 1915 he became a strong supporter of general conscription. He put through the conscription act of 1916, and in June he became secretary for war. The fall of Romania increased discontent with Asquith, who was forced out in December 1916. Lloyd George became prime minister at the head of a coalition government, though many Liberals refused to support it. His small war committee, a sort of inner cabinet, proved a great success in speeding up decision and action, and he went on to press for unity of military control among the Allies; this was not really achieved until 1918. This unity, combined with the arrival of American troops somewhat earlier than had been expected, did much to bring the war to a successful conclusion. In his War Memoirs he compared himself to Asquith:[2]

There are certain indispensable qualities essential to the Chief Minister of the Crown in a great war. . . . Such a minister must have courage, composure, and judgment. All this Mr. Asquith possessed in a superlative degree. . . . But a war minister must also have vision, imagination and initiative--he must show untiring assiduity, must exercise constant oversight and supervision of every sphere of war activity, must possess driving force to energize this activity, must be in continuous consultation with experts, official and unofficial, as to the best means of utilising the resources of the country in conjunction with the Allies for the achievement of victory. If to this can be added a flair for conducting a great fight, then you have an ideal War Minister.

Versailles Treaty

A pleased Lloyd George brings an Easter egg to Britain in the form of the Versailles Peace Treaty, April 1919

Before going as peace delegate to the Paris Peace Conference, Lloyd George strengthened his position by winning the Khaki Election held in December 1918 amidst all the bitterness and fervid hero worship of the end of the war. At Versailles, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson of the U.S. and Georges Clemenceau of France concluded the peace, with Lloyd George, on the whole, on the side of generosity and moderation. the final Treaty of Versailles (1919) imposed huge reparations on Germany, created numerous small weak states in eastern Europe, and set up the League of Nations to head off future wars. It angered the Germans and was one reason for the rise of Hitler.

From 1919 to 1922 his government steadily weakened, as the result of the railway and other strikes, of spending that irked the Conservatives, and economies that alienated the radicals; conditions in Ireland were appalling, yet no one liked the peace treaty of 1921 granting the Irish Free State Dominion status.

The Conservatives were increasingly restless under Lloyd George's leadership, but it was the failure of his foreign policy that brought about his defeat. His pro-Greek policy was a failure because of the Turkish victory of 1922, and the Chanak declaration nearly involving Britain in war. The Conservatives revolted at this, Lloyd George resigned, and Andrew Bonar Law became prime minister.

Opposition leader

In opposition Lloyd George was not at all effective, partly because the Liberal Party had too few seats to be effective, partly because the Asquith Liberals wing of the party did not like Lloyd George, and partly because the Labour Party was taking over his liberal program of relief and reform.

Nevertheless, in the economic depression of the 1930s, Lloyd George was the only political leader to put forward new and constructive ideas for dealing with unemployment. he consulted with major Liberal economists John Maynard Keynes and William Beveridge, whose proposals became national policy in the 1940s. In foreign affairs he supported the policy of appeasement, and held an unusually favourable opinion of Adolf Hitler.

He twice refused to join Churchill's wartime cabinet. In 1944 he was made the first Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor. His well-regarded memoirs include War Memoirs (6 vols., 1933-1936) and The Truth About the Peace Treaty (2 vols., 1938). He left an estate of £141,147 derived mostly from book royalties.

See also

Further reading

  • Gilbert, Bentley Brinkerhoff. David Lloyd George: A Political Life: The Architect of Change 1863-1912 (1987); David Lloyd George: A Political Life: Organizer of Victory, 1912-1916 (1992). standard scholarly biography
  • Grigg, John. Lloyd George 4 vols. (1973-2002), Whitbread Award winner; the most detailed biography; ends Nov. 1918
    • The young Lloyd George (1973); Lloyd George: the people's champion, 1902–1911 (1978); Lloyd George: from peace to war, 1912–1916 (1985); Lloyd George: war leader, 1916–1918 (2002)
  • Jones, Thomas. Lloyd George 1951. short and well-regarded online edition
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. "George, David Lloyd, first Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor (1863–1945)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; online
  • Taylor, A. J. P. Lloyd George: rise and fall (1961)

Bibliography

Biographies

  • Creiger, Don M. Bounder from Wales: Lloyd George's Career Before the First World War. U of Missouri Press, 1976.
  • Fry, Michael G. Lloyd George and Foreign Policy. Vol. 1: The Education of a Statesman: 1890-1916. Montreal, 1977.
  • Gilbert, Bentley Brinkerhoff. David Lloyd George: A Political Life: The Architect of Change 1863-1912 (1987); David Lloyd George: A Political Life: Organizer of Victory, 1912-1916 (1992). standard scholarly biography
  • Grigg, John. Lloyd George 4 vols. (1973-2002), Whitbread Award winner; the most detailed biography; ends Nov. 1918
    • The young Lloyd George (1973); Lloyd George: the people's champion, 1902–1911 (1978); Lloyd George: from peace to war, 1912–1916 (1985); Lloyd George: war leader, 1916–1918 (2002)
  • Jones, Thomas. Lloyd George 1951. short and well-regarded online edition
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. "George, David Lloyd, first Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor (1863–1945)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; online
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. Lloyd George. 1974.
  • Owen, Frank. Tempestuous Journey: Lloyd George, His Life and Times. 1955. popular history online edition
  • Rowland, Peter. David Lloyd George: A Biography (1976), 872pp, detailed but lacking interpretation or synthesis
  • Taylor, A. J. P. Lloyd George: rise and fall (1961)

Specialized studies

  • Adams, R.J.Q. Arms and the Wizard: Lloyd George and the Ministry of Munitions. 1978.
  • Adams, R. J. Q. "Andrew Bonar Law and the Fall of the Asquith Coalition: the December 1916 Cabinet Crisis." Canadian Journal of History 1997 32(2): 185-200. Issn: 0008-4107 Fulltext: in Ebsco
  • Adams, W.S. "Lloyd George and the Labour Movement," Past and Present No. 3 (Feb., 1953), pp. 55-64 in JSTOR
  • Lord Beaverbrook. The Decline and Fall of Lloyd George 1963 online edition
  • Bennett, G.H. "Lloyd George, Curzon and the Control of British Foreign Policy 1919-22," The Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol. 45, 1999 online edition
  • Cregier, Don M. "The Murder of the British Liberal Party," The History Teacher Vol. 3, No. 4 (May, 1970), pp. 27-36 online edition, blames Asquith, Lloyd George and the voters
  • Ehrman, John. "Lloyd George and Churchill as War Ministers," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5th Ser., Vol. 11 (1961), pp. 101-115 in JSTOR
  • Fair, John D. "Politicians, Historians, and the War: A Reassessment of the Political Crisis of December 1916," The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 49, No. 3, On Demand Supplement. (Sep., 1977), pp. D1329-D1343. in JSTOR
  • French, David. The Strategy of the Lloyd George Coalition, 1916-1918. Oxford University Press, 1995 online edition
  • Fry, Michael. "Political Change in Britain, August 1914 to December 1916: Lloyd George Replaces Asquith: The Issues Underlying the Drama," The Historical Journal Vol. 31, No. 3 (Sep., 1988), pp. 609-627 in JSTOR
  • Gilbert, Bentley B. "David Lloyd George: The Reform of British Landholding and the Budget of 1914," The Historical Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Mar., 1978), pp. 117-141 in JSTOR
  • Gilbert, Bentley Brinkerhoff. "David Lloyd George: Land, The Budget, and Social Reform," The American Historical Review Vol. 81, No. 5 (Dec., 1976), pp. 1058-1066 in JSTOR
  • Hankey, Lord. The Supreme Command, 1914-1918. 2 vols. 1961.
  • Havighurst, Alfred F. Twentieth-Century Britain. 1966. standard survey online edition
  • Hazlehurst, Cameron. "Asquith as Prime Minister, 1908-1916," The English Historical Review Vol. 85, No. 336 (Jul., 1970), pp. 502-531 in JSTOR
  • Kernek, Sterling J. "Distractions of Peace during War: The Lloyd George Government's Reactions to Woodrow Wilson, December, 1916-November, 1918," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Ser., Vol. 65, No. 2 (1975), pp. 1-117 online edition
  • Keynes, John Maynard, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920) famous criticism by leading economist full text online
  • Lentin, Antony. Lloyd George and the Lost Peace: From Versailles to Hitler, 1919-1940 (2001)
    • Lentin, Antony. "Maynard Keynes and the ‘Bamboozlement’ of Woodrow Wilson: What Really Happened at Paris?" Diplomacy & Statecraft, Dec 2004, Vol. 15 Issue 4, pp 725-763, explains why veterans pensions were included in reparations
  • Macmillan, Margaret. Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War (2002), 538pp; a standard scholarly history of Versailles treaty
  • Macmillan, Margaret, and Richard Holbrooke. Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (2003) influential study excerpt and text search
  • Millman, Brock. "A Counsel of Despair: British Strategy and War Aims, 1917-18." Journal of Contemporary History2001 36(2): 241-270. Issn: 0022-0094 in Jstor
  • Millman, Brock. "The Lloyd George War Government, 1917-18" Totalitarian Movements & Political Religions Winter 2002, Vol. 3 Issue 3, p 99-127; sees proto-fascism
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. "Lloyd George's Premiership: A Study in 'Prime Ministerial Government.'" The Historical Journal 13 (March 1970). in JSTOR
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. "Lloyd George and Germany." Historical Journal 1996 39(3): 755-766. Issn: 0018-246xin Jstor
  • Mowat, Sharles Loch. Britain between the Wars, 1918-1940 (1955) 694 pp; online edition
  • Murray, Bruce K. "The Politics of the 'People's Budget'", The Historical Journal Vol. 16, No. 3 (Sep., 1973), pp. 555-570 in JSTOR
  • Owen, Frank. Tempestuous Journey: Lloyd George, His Life and Times 1955.
  • Powell, David. British Politics, 1910-1935: The Crisis of the Party System 2004
  • Taylor, A. J. P. English History, 1914-1945. 1965, standard political history of the era
  • Taylor, A. J. P., ed., Lloyd George: twelve essays (1971). essays by scholars
  • Turner, John. British Politics and the Great War: Coalition and Conflict, 1915-1918 (1992)
  • Wilson, Trevor. The Downfall of the Liberal Party 1914-1935. 1966.
  • Wilson, Trevor. "The Coupon and the British General Election of 1918," The Journal of Modern History Vol. 36, No. 1 (Mar., 1964), pp. 28-42 in JSTOR
  • Woodward, David R. Lloyd George and the Generals F. Cass, 2004. online edition
  • Woodward, Sir Llewellyn. Great Britain and the War of 1914-1918. 1967.
  • Wrigley, Chris. David Lloyd George and the British Labour Movement: Peace and War (1976)

Primary sources

  • Cross, Colin, ed. Life with Lloyd George: The Diary of A.J. Sylvester 1975.
  • Lloyd George, David. The Truth About the Peace Treaties. 2 vols. (1938) vol 1 online
  • Lloyd George, David, War Memoirs of David Lloyd George. 2 vols. (1933). An unusually long, detailed and candid record.
  • Lloyd George, David. The Great Crusade: Extracts from Speeches Delivered During the War (1918) 307 pages online edition
    • George W. Egerton, "The Lloyd George War Memoirs: A Study in the Politics of Memory," The Journal of Modern History Vol. 60, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 55-94 in JSTOR
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. ed. Lloyd George Family Letters, 1885-1936. 1973.
  • Taylor, A. J. P. ed. My Darling Pussy: The Letters of Lloyd George and Frances Stevenson. 1975.
  • Taylor, A. J. P. ed. Lloyd George: A Diary by Frances Stevenson. 1971.

Notes

  1. He added his uncle's surname to become Lloyd George. His surname is usually given as Lloyd George and sometimes as George.
  2. Lloyd George, War Memoirs v 1 p 602
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