Account for the Downfall of Lloyd George Essay

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Account for the Downfall of the Lloyd George Coalition in 1922

In 1918 the Lloyd George coalition looked to be very secure, with a 400 + seat majority cabinet. After the First World War, he was the politician who best embodied a new mood of confidence and determination. Medlicott claimed he ‘was one of the ablest in Britain’ and others spoke of him as ‘The man who won the war’. Yet by October 1922, all of this came to a dramatic end in the Carlton club meeting. When Lloyd George became Prime Minister in 1916, he headed an all-party coalition; and replaced his former liberal boss HH Asquith. However, the liberals were now split and the division was not to be healed until the party had done more within British politics. Lloyd George was effectively a ‘prime minister without a party’; he couldn’t rely on back bench support, and didn’t have much in common with the conservative MP’s, which he needed to change for his own survival. This wasn’t an easy task at all; the conservative’s won 478 seats, which was much higher than Lloyd George’s 335, there was no doubt that they won the 1918 election with a good 70% and so on their own they had a respectable majority. It was also apparent that the conservative leader at the time, Bonar Law, only saw the coalition as a temporary arrangement anyway because Lloyd George was only necessary to them for as long as he commanded popular support with the voting public. So by 1922, the conservatives were ready to leave the coalition. David Lloyd George was desperate to hold on to their support so his final solution was to attempt to achieve a ‘fusion’ party. However, this backfired as many conservatives actually felt that this could lead to the destruction of their party, and his Liberals refused anyway. So, Lloyd George was left dependent upon conservative backbencher support, which was highly unlikely considering the coalition was seen as a ‘marriage of front benchers’, and many backbenchers disliked the way Lloyd George handled things. Firstly, was his anti-imperialism shown through the challenge he faced in Ireland after the First World War, from Sinn Fein and its armed allies in the newly formed Irish Republican Army. Initially, Lloyd George tried to defeat republican terrorism by force, by using the violence of ‘the Black and Tans’. In the Summer of 1921 however, he reversed the policy embarking on negotiations with Sinn Fein representatives. The search for a settlement with open foes of the British empire aroused the fury of the conservative party’s right wing, and it took all the authority of the conservative coalition ministers to persuade the party’s November 1921 conference to accept the idea of a compromise solution. They also disliked his wasteful policies, for example ‘Addison’s housing act’, which obliged all local authorities to ensure that people were decently housed. This was a major issue when in April 1921, Britain was hit by a slump that saw exports fall to 47.9% of the 1920 figures and 2 million people were left unemployed. Addison’s housing subsidies were withdrawn and it was clear that government budgets were being wasted on policies that would drain them of money. He also achieved a great loss of support at the treaty of Versailles, as people felt he was lenient towards Germany even though he claimed they should be punished - this was probably because in private he felt Germany was the only country that could prevent the spread of communism from Russia, which was a view many people would have disagreed with. The most damaging for Lloyd George however was an event out of Britain, the Chanak affair. The Turks threatened to take back by force, territories they had