To what Extent was the fall of the 1918-22 Coalition Government due to economic factors Essay
The fall of the Coalition Government was due to economic factors, but there were other factors that contributed to the fall. The problem with Ireland, the Foreign Policy and the parties and politics also caused the fall. The coalition was firstly formed because of a number of factors; the conservatives were low on confidence and thought that they could use Lloyd George’s personality to help them get into power. There was also lots of problems to sort out after the war and it was seen that these could have been dealt with easier in a coalition.
The main part of this essay will be split up into three sections; one will talk about the economy, one about the foreign affairs and one about internal politics. There will then be a conclusion. The fall of the economy is the main theme of the essay. World War 1 had major effects on Britain’s economy. By the end of the war a total of 745 000 Britons had been killed and 1. 6 million Britons had been wounded. This obviously meat that when it came Britain recovering from war and trying to get back to normal there were less people available for work because of injury or death.
3. 5 million people were receiving some form of pension or supportive allowance, so a large amount of government money was being used up on this. Britain were also owed a lot of money by Russia and needed this money to pay back the U. S. but Russia weren’t paying up. The unemployment levels were rising extremely high and by 1921 the figure for unemployed was over 2 million. This meant that people would have been discontent with the government and their actions.
The war meant that lots of munitions and arms would have needed to be produced, however there was an over-investment in all of this, which was a waste of government money. All of these factors had harmed the economy and led to inflation, which in-turn led to the British public being unhappy with the government and Lloyd George was becoming more and more unpopular. Foreign affairs contributed to the fall of the coalition government as well. This includes the Foreign Policy and the Irish question. The Irish question was the most troublesome political problem the coalition faced.
It was a very violent problem as violence was used a lot of the time by the Irish, this violence harmed Lloyd George’s reputation as Prime Minister because he took the blame. On “Bloody Sunday”, 14 Britons were shot dead and British troops had fired on an unarmed crowd killing another 12. In Ireland, almost 1000 people were killed between January 1919 and July 1921. This is an example of the violence and why it tarnished Lloyd George’s reputation. England lost Ireland and this was a big blow to its empire.
Foreign policy was a concern throughout the few years for the coalition; it was always another worry and another problem along with all the rest. There were problems with the Treaty of Versailles because the Liberals thought it was too harsh on Germany but the Conservatives thought it was too lenient. So here there was an argument caused. Lloyd George’s foreign policy was aimed at reconciling France and Germany and bringing the Soviet Union back into World Affairs. However these failed and the French’s hate for Germany was still just as strong.
The treaty of Sevres which was signed with Turkey meant that most of the Ottoman empire was distributed to the victors of World War 1. This treaty was considered far too harsh and a conflict was made between Britain and Turkey. Chanak also caused harm to the coalition. Because Lloyd George was pro-Greek and the conservatives were pro-Turkey, George had offended them and was risking war at a time when morale was low and no-one wanted another war. Internal politics is the last factor which helped cause the fall of the coalition government. Parties and politics and the “Coupon Election” are the main points.
The “Coupon Election” was an electoral act that existed between Lloyd George and his Conservative party allies. 2 Liberal parties were split down the middle into Lloyd George’s Liberals in the coalition and Asquith’s Liberals outside of the coalition. During the coalition and the coupon election Lloyd George had a great partnership with Andrew Bonar Law. During the coupon election Law was of great help to George and when he resigned in 1921 Lloyd George was left in a vulnerable position and the problems of the coalition got even greater.
The way the parties were structured at this time is this final reason for the fall. Basically the Liberals should have been the opposition leadership to the Conservatives and were up until they split into two parties; Coalition liberals and Asquith’s Liberals. This split allowed Ramsey MacDonald’s Labour party to “leap-frog” the Liberals and become the opposition leadership and the Labour party’s support was increasing which was a problem for the coalition. The communist party were only a small party without a lot of support and were really unable to influence the elections.
The economy was the main factor for the fall of the coalition government, more so than any of the others discussed. However the other factors which were discussed were also important in the fall of the government. The other factors just made the situation for the coalition government worse and the economy couldn’t be dealt with because of all these other problems. The Honours Scandal, used as excuse by the Conservatives to end the coalition, did not bring about the fall on its own.
Honours Scandal was where people could donate money to a political party and therefore receive a title i. e. Lord. Lloyd George didn’t use it correctly and gave titles to just about anyone requesting them. The Conservatives had had enough of Lloyd George and wanted to get rid of him, and the Honours Scandal gave them a convenient excuse to get rid of him. The end of the coalition was significant as a whole because it meant the end of them for a long period of time. There wasn’t another coalition that decade.