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The Origins of the Lloyd George Coalition: The Politics of Social Imperialism, 1900-1918

The Origins of the Lloyd George Coalition: The Politics of Social Imperialism, 1900-1918

Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 430
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    The Origins of the Lloyd George Coalition: The Politics of Social Imperialism, 1900-1918
    Book Description:

    This book examines the intrusion of imperialist modes of thought into the domestic politics of the Edwardian period and the war years. The author analyzes the fusion of social-imperialist ideology with the Lloyd George insurgency in the Liberal Party and reinforces the hypothesis that European imperialism in this era aligned itself with progressive Liberalism to form the chief defense against rising democratic and socialist forces. Major events of the war years such as the collapse of the Liberal Party and the dispute over war aims are shown to be the products of the continuing conflict between these forces rather than merely the result of the circumstances of war.

    The author describes the development of the body of social-imperialist ideas and strategies between the Boer War and the formation of the Lloyd George Coalition of 1916. The political course of the Coalition idea is traced past the crisis of 1910 into the war years and the debate over plans for reconstruction. Thus, the Coalition of 1916 is seen mainly as an outgrowth of the prewar political crisis-a device originally designed as a response to domestic issues and adapted only later to the pressures of war. This original interpretation of the Coalition and its origins establishes the historical significance of social imperialism and places Lloyd George and the British right in new perspective.

    Originally published in 1975.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7098-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Bibliographical Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-28)

    Writing just after the signing of the peace treaty in 1919, Elie Halévy described with strong approval the “Policy of Social Peace” designed by the Lloyd George government to guide the complex process of reconstruction in Great Britain. There were, Halevy claimed, two conflicting approaches to postwar problems that had emerged from the thinking of the war years. The first, the narrow approach, the one most favored by the traditional politicians in the victorious powers, was that the plan of reconstruction should concern itself merely with untangling the confusion caused by the war and, while containing the dangerous turmoil of...

  6. I Liberal-Imperialism
    (pp. 29-47)

    “People talk much of the decay of Liberalism,” Leonard Trevelyan Hobhouse mourned in 1904. By that date the once triumphant party of Gladstone had been denied office, but for the futile interlude of 1892-1895, for nearly twenty years. Gloomier still for the heirs of Gladstone was the fact that with the debacle over the war in South Africa the party had lost even the solace of unity in opposition. The influential imperialist minority led by the former Prime Minister, the Earl of Rosebery, disdained association with either the Radical “pro-Boer” or the moderate critics of the war, invoking as justification...

  7. II The Liberal League and the Policy of National Efficiency
    (pp. 48-72)

    While Hobson urged the consolidation of all the political forces opposed to imperialism as the only defense of the party system and democratic institutions, Rosebery and the Fabians had yet to complete the skeleton of a Liberal-Imperialist doctrine. Although the area of agreement established by Webb’s “Houndsditch” article of September was still extremely general, favorable signs of response from the Liberal-Imperialists encouraged the Webbs, as Beatrice put it, to “insert the Fabian side.”

    Beatrice Webb especially was skeptical about how far the Roseberites were prepared to commit themselves in the direction of Fabian collectivism. Nevertheless, it seemed to her a...

  8. III The Coefficients Club
    (pp. 73-95)

    The end of hostilities in the summer of 1902 brought a temporary subsiding of tension and activity among the imperialist politicians. Between the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging in June and Joseph Chamberlain’s ignition of the tariff question the following May, Rosebery expended only random efforts in advancing the policy of National Efficiency. He had had the distinction of standing for patriotic Liberalism during the war but, while this had not been the only issue dividing him from the official party, he seems to have been at a loss to maintain the advantage of that position and the ardor...

  9. IV The Tariff Reform Movement: “Le revenu c’est l’état”
    (pp. 96-132)

    Between Lord Rosebery and Joseph Chamberlain there was very little personal resemblance or affinity: Rosebery, the model of aristocratic tradition, a contemplative and private man for whom politics was a mere obligation, and the Birmingham manufacturer, clamorously middle-class, self-consciously a public figure and active and ambitious by nature. But if the quality of leadership in late Victorian politics grew out of the habit of being admired, envied, and listened to, then both might be said to possess the right to rule men. Within their respective circles the position of the two men was strikingly similar in some significant respects. Their...

  10. V Lloyd George and the Tariff Reformers
    (pp. 133-145)

    If mere patriotic ardor and energy were enough to move masses and to acquire political power, the Compatriots might have made of the Tariff Reform movement the greatest single force in British political life. As we have seen, once the need was felt for a compelling Tariff Reform doctrine, they went about erecting one with feverish industry—though perhaps with a good deal more hammering than design. In the short history of the Social-Imperialist movement, in which the younger men were always the most forward, a number of prominent figures had been recruited in the role of the architect and...

  11. VI The Budget and the Peers
    (pp. 146-171)

    The budget debacle of 1909 contained two simultaneous assaults, apparently moving in opposite directions; one by the activist Tariff Reform section of the Unionists, strong in their party but leaderless, against the entrenched Liberals; and by Lloyd George against the “Dukes.” Garvin on one side and Lloyd George on the other represented insurgent blocs which were considerably in advance of the main bodies of their parties. The Tariff Reformers were forced to rely heavily on extraparliamentary agitation and propaganda because they had never succeeded in getting an open endorsement of Protection from Balfour and the party, who feared the “dear...

  12. VII The Lloyd George Plan
    (pp. 172-210)

    The King returned from Biarritz on the day the budget was carried in the House of Commons. Two weeks later he was dead. Two days after the royal death on 6 May 1910, Garvin published an elaborate plan for an immediate Constitutional Conference, warning that the bitter conflict over the budget and the Veto Bill was “threatening the very bases of the nation’s institutions.” Expressing a widely felt anxiety, he added that “social unrest at home and the German menace abroad were national dangers which the politicians could no longer ignore, whatever their constitutional differences.”¹

    On the same day, newspapers...

  13. VIII The Coalition Plan in the Prewar Crisis
    (pp. 211-249)

    Sharing a hymnbook with Balfour at the investiture of the Prince of Wales after the collapse of his 1910 coalition plan, Lloyd George imparted a last confidence to the harassed Unionist leader: “… looking into the future,” he whispered, “I know that our glorified grocers will be more hostile to social reform than your backwoodsmen.”¹ The two men, opposites in birth, education, and temperament, had never established a rapport either privately or politically. Their acquaintance was one of mixed admiration and puzzled exasperation with one another. At the time of the investiture, the chancellor had not yet admitted that his...

  14. IX The Rise and Fall of the First Coalition
    (pp. 250-279)

    The only successful effort to implement the Lloyd George plan came after two years of war, six years from the conception of the plan, with the formation of the National Coalition government in December of 1916. It was constructed in three progressive stages through a complicated process of Cabinet reconstructions, resignations, press campaigns, and intrigues. Yet it has been suggested by one who played an important part in the process, that amid the shifting policies and conflicting personalities of the war the “idea of Coalition” provided the clue to much that otherwise would be mysterious or even incomprehensible.¹

    The first...

  15. X Lloyd George’s Estrangement
    (pp. 280-305)

    Of all the peculiar mixtures of men thrown together by political accident, one of the oddest of this century was surely the unstable tandem of Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. Between the two it would seem that the imagined pool of British political genius was nearly drained before the century was half finished. While it is easy to account for their resemblance as leaders in the two great wars, with all the atavistic magic that role attaches to a man, or as the two most sensational failures of the century as peacetime politicians, the similarities distort the profound contrasts in...

  16. XI “Advocates of Another Method”
    (pp. 306-335)

    Any judgment on the Lloyd George coalition must depend primarily on the successes and failures of its first two years. It was first of all a war government, deriving its sanction and most of the public support for its extraordinary executive powers from the commitment to an all-out war effort and unconditional victory. Judged solely on that commitment, the Lloyd George government of 1917-1918 was undisputably a success—the grosser blunders of the previous two years were generally avoided, the executive war machinery was streamlined and, though the “knockout blow” was never delivered, an unconditional surrender was won. While it...

  17. XII The Coalition Government
    (pp. 336-370)

    The significance of the conflict over the War Committee depends ultimately upon whether we see it mainly as a disputewithinthe Cabinet about the size and personnel of the new committee, and the Prime Minister’s relation to it, or whether the labyrinth of memos, meetings, and rumors and the mass of daily correspondence which has given rise to so many conflicting interpretations of the event is not, as Lord Beaverbrook once suggested, merely a narrow circle of light in a darkened room, dominant but diminishing as the main lights go on. The former view tends to make Lloyd George...

  18. Appendix A. Memo: Campaign Literature
    (pp. 371-374)
  19. Appendix B. The Criccieth Memorandum
    (pp. 375-386)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 387-408)
  21. Index
    (pp. 409-416)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 417-417)