‘Lloyd George fell from power in 1922 because of his style of government after 1918. ’ To what extent do you agree with this view? Lloyd George was dominant in politics in 1918. The First World War resulted in an increase in his popularity and in the coalition he was a valuable asset to the conservative party. Various factors, his style of government and its effect on the conservatives, the conservative attitude towards him and finally his poor decisions in policymaking brought about his downfall.
These factors collectively led to his downfall, however in the end, the conservatives decided to abandon him because he had outlived his usefulness due to his tarnished reputation and growing unpopularity. Lloyd George’s style of government can be described as presidential in which he was extremely interventionist evident by the fact that he made foreign policy without consulting Lord Curzon who was the foreign minister at the time. He also bypassed the cabinet at every opportunity such as in the Chanak crisis.
The conventional conservatives accepted such a system during the war but in peacetime such a style of government was not necessary. Lloyd George’s unconventional ways were not very popular with the conservatives and it can be argued such a system weakened his relations with them. Another consequence of such a system was that a mistake could be blamed entirely upon Lloyd George as did happen in the Chanak crisis where due to misjudgment he nearly started a war with the Turks failing to take into account the public mood which in turn decreased his popularity alone.
However, in 1921 the conservatives still supported Lloyd George in the Anglo – Irish treaty, proof that it did not alienate him as the top conservatives and the cabinet was still loyal to the coalition, most of the criticism he received was by backbenchers who were effectively controlled by Bonar Law. Lloyd George’s bypassing of the cabinet may also have been viewed by the public as rash decision making, further decreasing public popularity. Even though some conservatives criticized Lloyd George’s government style they did not alienate him.
It may have contributed in their disapproval of him when Bonar Law’s effective leadership was no longer present to keep them loyal, but his style of government alone would not be enough to cause Lloyd George’s downfall. This is therefore just a contributory factor in his downfall. Conservative attitude towards Lloyd George was very important if he wished to stay in power as he lacked a party base and was in a coalition with a conservative majority.
Due to this Lloyd George had to concede to the conservatives at times as he did when they demanded that cuts be made and that Lloyd George agree to the Geddes axe. This was a mistake as it led to him earning a reputation of not fulfilling promises of reconstruction and led to a decline in popularity. The conservatives only needed Lloyd George as long as he was popular with the people and therefore an asset to them, his gradual decline in popularity led to the conservatives questioning his worth.
His policies also went against what they stood for the most part and even though they remained loyal to the coalition due to Bonar Law, cracks appeared when Austen Chamberlain replaced him as leader of conservatives. However, it can argued that the conservatives were being pragmatic in letting Lloyd George introduce some social reform, especially since working class had received the vote. This did not deter backbenchers and die hards who grew in number and in criticism of Lloyd George’s policies, which culminated in the formation of the anti-waste league who won two by-elections, evidence that they held influence.
As Lloyd George’s unpopularity grew so did the conservative attitude change towards him except in the senior members, which also led to the fear that a split may emerge over loyalty to the coalition. The reckless sale of honors to undeserving figures also worsened their relations. Lloyd George’s policies along with his growing unpopularity led to a change in conservative attitude. They criticized his handling of the Chanak crisis and resented his solution to the Irish problem.
The change in conservative attitude towards him from viewing him as an asset to the thought that they did not need him to govern anymore was a major fact in Lloyd George’s downfall. Lloyd George’s policies were not helped by the post war economy, his policy of reconstruction had to be abandoned tarnishing his reputation and caused the creation of the anti waste league. The conservatives vastly supported his policy at first but due to his presidential style of government all the mistakes were blamed on him with the conservatives barely eceiving any criticism. The conservatives and unionists resented his policy on Ireland. It also in the short term led to violence and damaged his credibility in the eyes of the public. There was mass unemployment and threat of strikes as the trade unions grew, causing further disruption. Lloyd George also kept taxation at wartime level, which was unpopular with lower classes, which consequently led to the working class electorate to support Labour in big cities like Sheffield.
It can be argued that his policies and decision making led to a decrease in his popularity and worsening of relations with the conservatives. Even though his policies were successful at first the poor economy ensured that they could not be implemented fully leading to frustration in the public who expected Lloyd George to deliver on his promises. Britain had lost most of its export markets after the war and therefore it had a reduced income, policies such as the insurance act only put further strain on the economy.
Early success with housing and industrial relations were overshadowed by economic problems, which Lloyd George failed to address. In the end his policies did not help the economy, if not worsen it, this caused decline in popularity and therefore alienation from the conservatives. To conclude, to stay in power Lloyd George had to please the conservatives while maintaining popularity amongst the public, his style of government while displeasing to a few conservatives, did not cause much alienation. It was only a contributory factor which led to his downfall.
His policies played a major role in his downfall as it led to decline in popularity and was no longer an asset to the conservatives. Conservative attitude also played a part, who at first did not think they would win election without Lloyd George, but the defeat of a coalition candidate by an independent conservative assured them they could win without him. Lloyd George therefore fell from power as his policies were not popular in the long term due to n ailing economy and this led to alienation from the conservatives.