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Lloyd George Assignment

I believe this statement to be true to a certain extent because Lloyd George’s inability to adapt certainly was one factor in his downfall, but not the only one. It is undeniable that Lloyd George did have a huge, unquestionable amount of power through the duration of his office in wartime. Acts passed such as the DORA and nationalisation of the staple industries, as well other emergency wartime legislation gave the government and in particular Lloyd George a never before seen influence over peoples lives. Subsequently, after war stopped his power was reduced significantly.

Obviously during the war his main concern had been foreign affairs and trying to win the war, a cause all the coalition would agree with. However, now the war was over, Lloyd George now had domestic affairs to worry about. Being a liberal PM in charge of a Conservative dominated cabinet this was always going to be hard, as Conservatives and Liberals do not share the same ideologies. Inevitably there was a disagreement about economic matters, soon after the war. Lloyd George wanted to keep public spending high to fund social reforms such as his ‘homes fit for heroes’ programme and Fishers educational reforms.

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The Conservatives completely disagreed with this, and put together a committee headed by Sir Eric Geddes, to discuss possible cuts with the treasury, this was nicknamed ‘Geddes Axe’, which due to Conservative pressure Lloyd George was forced to ‘swing’ in 1922. This was not what Lloyd George was used to, in wartime he had been allowed to have a very hands on, almost presidential style, often making decisions without consulting his cabinet. But now he and his cabinet had different aims and ideologies, so his decisions were not often not reflecting the opinions of the majority of his own cabinet.

This meant policies were being associated with the Tories that they didn’t actually agree, this was in their opinion tarnishing their reputation as well as scandals associated with his personal life. The most notorious being the peerage scandal, in which Lloyd George sold peerages for his own financial gain, in order to fund later political campaigns. The Conservatives thought this unacceptable, and perhaps they saw his as too blatantly corrupt and such a liability, that it was better to dump him, than carry on with him.

Another factor, which culminated in his forced resignation, was the resignation of Andrew Bonar-Law, whose position in cabinet was crucial for the working relationship between the two parties. This was not important during wartime, as a time of national unity was needed, differences in opinion about domestic policies were sidelined in order for one united effort to win the war. I believe this to be the main reason of his downfall, even after the war he continued with his presidential style of government, often making rash and important decisions without the backing of the cabinet.

The Anglo-Irish Treaty and Versailles Treaty angered the Conservatives, the latter deemed too lenient. Also in the ‘Chanak’ crisis he almost started a war with Turkey pointlessly without consent of the cabinet, purely because of his own pan-Greek stance. Due to problems with the economy and the failure of his reforms, Lloyd George was not as popular as he had been previously especially as he had been during the war, (soon after the war he was called. ‘The man who won the war’).

So as he had clashed so many times with the Conservatives over varying issues, and made many rash decisions without their consent, they agreed that they no longer needed him as their head and eventually ditched him at the Carlton Club meeting in 1922. Ultimately, although not the only reason, I believe Lloyd George’s inability to adapt to the needs of a peacetime government, was the most important factor, which led to his downfall. Because although, during peacetime, a completely different style was needed, he continued as he had done throughout the war.

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