Coalition Government 1916–1922

Coalition Government 1916–1922

The Coalition Government of David Lloyd George came to power in the United Kingdom in December 1916, replacing the earlier wartime coalition under H.H. Asquith, which had been held responsible for reverses during the Great War. Those Liberals who continued to support Asquith served as the Opposition. The Government continued in power after the end of the war, though Lloyd George was increasingly reliant on the Conservatives for support. After several scandals including allegations of the sale of honours, the Conservatives withdrew their support after a meeting of the Carlton Club in 1922, and Andrew Bonar Law formed a government.

This was the last ever Liberal government to this day. The liberals moved into the third place in the two horse race of Britain's 'first past the post' system. This was due to many reasons, one being the rise of Labour. The Labour party had recently been formed, and strongly appealed to the working classes. Also, the Liberals had lost their distinctive appeal. Labour now talked about internationalism, social justice, pacifism, a fair deal for the working man etc. The Tories were also using Liberal rhetoric, as they championed 'free trade'. The Liberals were losing many supporters, with the middle classes becoming more comfortable with the conservatives and the avuncular Stanley Baldwin. The working classes now saw their 'natural home' in the Labour party. Lloyd George also lost the support of the proletariat, due to him deftly turning the 'Tripple Alliance' into the 'Cripple Alliance', in order to escape a General Strike.

Also the coalition broke down due to the Conservatives. They only joined the coalition to receive reflected glory from 'the man who won the war'. When they had ceased with their 'political vampirism' the coalition broke down.

The Liberals, once again, tried to crawl back into second place, by supporting the first Labour Government in 1924, but Lloyd George failed to demand that Macdonald introduced Proportional Representation, and so once again Lloyd George failed the Liberals. So since then the Liberals under numerous different leaders have not been able to gain enough votes to get back into government, the only votes they have received over the past eighty years have just been 'protest votes'. The failure of the Liberal's, despite Loyd George's best efforts, can be summarised in the careers of his own children, his son became a Tory MP, and his daughter a Labour MP.

Members of the Cabinet are in bold face. Members of the War Cabinet, 6 December 1916 to 31 October 1919, are indicated.

Source: D. Butler and G. Butler, "Twentieth Century British Political Facts" (Macmillan, 2000)

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