Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 February 2009
David Lloyd George was a great war-time prime minister. There seems to be little doubt about this, but his was leadership has been so extolled by his supporters that adverse criticism sometimes smacks of heresy. Nevertheless criticism is warranted which, whilst not attacking the man, will qualify the myth. What follows is a critical examiniation of Lloyd George and his Irish policy in 1918.
1 George, David Lloyd, War Memoirs (London: Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1933), II, 1009.Google Scholar
3 Wimborne, to George, Lloyd, 2 10. 1916, Lloyd George MSS, E3/9/1, Beaverbrook Library, London.Google Scholar
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8 War Cabinet meeting 282A, 26 Nov. 1917, Cabinet records 23/13, Public Records Office, London (hereafter cited as CAB). In this paper the term ‘War Cabinet’ refers not to the small group of between five and seven members of the government who formed an inner committee, the War Cabinet proper, to conduct the war, but to all rhose attending their meetings and contributing to their decisions. The composition of this larger group varied between and even during meetings, depending on the issue discussed.
10 War Cabinet 385, 6 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6.
13 War Cabinet 374 (12) and 375 (2), 27 Mar. 1918, CAB 23/5; George, Lloyd, op. cir. vol. 5, pp. 2666–7.Google Scholar
15 Memorandum by Campbell, , 30 Mar. 1918, G.T. paper 4101, CAB 24/47; War Cabinet meeting 376 (5 and 6), 28 Mar. 1918, CAB 23/5.Google Scholar
16 The great importance which the British Government attached to American opinion is described in Ward, Alan J., Ireland and Anglo-American Relations, 1899–1921 (London: London School of Economics and Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), ch. 7.Google Scholar
17 War Cabinet 376 (6), 28 Mar. 1918, CAB 23/5. Only Lord Milner objected to the delay. He wanted nothing to impede the supply of replacements to the army in France.
18 General Wilson, , C.I.G.S., to Secretary of the War Cabinet, 29 Mar. 1918, G.T. paper 4065, CAB 24/46.Google Scholar
25 War Cabinet 389 (9), 11 Apr. 1918, and 392 (13), 16 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6. The ‘Committee on the Government of Ireland Amendment Bill’ was composed of Long, Duke, Curzon, Barnes, Smuts, Austen Chamberlain, Addison (Minister of Reconstruction), Fisher (President of the Board of Education), Hewart (Solicitor-General), Cave (Home Secretary). All the members of the War Cabinet proper were members ex officio. It appears to have met four times. See Kendle, John, ‘Federalism and the Irish Problem in 1918’, History, LVI, 187 (06 1971), 207–30.Google Scholar
26 Long, to George, Lloyd, 18 Apr. 1918Google Scholar, Lloyd George MSS, F32/5/23; War Cabinet 397 (7), 23 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6. See also Gwynn, , op. cit. p. 170Google Scholar; Ward, Alan J., ‘Frewen's Anglo-American campaign for federalism, 1910–1921’, Irish Historical Studies, xv, 59 (03 1967), 256–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and Kendle, , op. cit. pp. 220–1.Google Scholar
32 Frederick Guest, M.P., surveyed the reactions of members of parliament to Shortt's appointment and reported to George, Lloyd on 3 May 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F21/2/20. Duke had expected ro leave the Chief Secretary post earlier. He felt that Ireland was sufficiently quiet on 22 Mar. to make the change, but when the crisis developed he stayed on. By then he was at cross purposes with the prime minister and Lord French. See Lloyd George MSS, F37/4/47.Google Scholar
33 War Cabinet meetings 392, 398 (9), 16 and 24 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6.
34 Long to Reading, encl. in Balfour to Reading (telegs.), 16 and 17 May 1918, Balfour MSS, 49741. A memorandum by Thompson, Basil of the Home Office, 22 May 1918, made it clear for the prime minister that none of the documents had been obtained from the U.S.A. and that there was virtually no new evidence. See Lloyd George MSS, F46/9/1.Google Scholar
35 Reading to Long (teleg.), 20 May 1918, Balfour MSS, 49741.
37 War Cabinet meetings 414A, 22 May 1918, CAB 23/14; 416 and 417 (1), 23 and 24 May 1918, CAB 23/6. See also Britain, Great, Documents relative to the Sinn Fein movement, Cmd. 1108, xxix, 429, 1921.Google Scholar It is strange that the ‘German conspiracy’ has gone unchallenged in so many books on Lloyd George and this period. Taylor, A. J. P. does challenge it in his English History, 1914–1945 (London: Oxford University Press, 1965), p. 104. He states that the government invented the plot, but the cabinet records indicate that members of the government, including the prime minister, did believe in the German conspiracy, notwithstanding the lack of evidence.Google Scholar
38 Macardle, Dorothy, The Irish Republic (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1965), pp. 253–7.Google Scholar
39 French, to George, Lloyd, 30 May 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F48/6/13; War Cabinet 505 (9), 21 Nov. 1918, CAB 23/8.Google Scholar
40 War Cabinet 408A (2), 10 May 1918, CAB 23/14, and 412 (18), 15 May 1918, CAB 23/6.
42 War Cabinet 408 (11), 10 May 1918, CAB 23/6.
43 War Cabinet 406 (4), 7 May 1918, CAB 23/6.
44 War Cabinet 421 (6), 30 May 1918, CAB 23/6.
45 Secret meetings, no numbers, 5 and 6 June 1918, CAB 23/17.
47 G.T. paper 4808, CAB 24/54, and War Cabinet 433 (1), 19 June 1918, CAB 23/6.
48 See Balfour MSS, 49743, for correspondence involving Derby, Balfour, Logue and Hankey and the issue of Irishmen serving in France.
49 War Cabinet 433 (2), 19 June 1918, CAB 23/6.
51 War Cabinet 453 (7), 29 July 1918, CAB 23/7; Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 5th series, vol. 109, 29 07 1918, cols. 85 ff.Google Scholar
53 Copy of French to Long end. in B. FitzGerald to J. T. Davies, Lloyd George MSS, F48/6/15.
55 War Cabinet 453 (7), 29 July 1918, CAB 23/7.
66 War Cabinet 453 (7), 29 July 1918, CAB 23/7.
67 Davies, Joseph, The Prime Minister's Secretariat, 1916–1920 (Newport, Wales: R. H. Johns, 1951), p. 187. W. G. S. Adams was Gladstone Professor of Political Theory and Institutions at Oxford University. See Lloyd George MSS, F63.Google Scholar
68 Wilson, Trevor (ed.), The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911–1928 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1970), pp. 342–3.Google Scholar
70 Plunkett sent reports to the king, President Wilson and others as well as the prime minister. He blamed the failure of the conference on the decision to conscript the Irish although it had long been doomed by Sinn Fein's rapid growth and Ulster's intransigence. See Lloyd George MSS, F64, and Plunkett's own papers at the Plunkett Foundation for Cooperative Studies, London. See also McDowell, , op. cit. passim.Google Scholar
71 Somervell, D. C., The Reign of King George V: An English Chronicle (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1935), p. 271.Google Scholar