David Lloyd George

British politician and Prime Minister (1863–1945)

David Lloyd George (17 January 186326 March 1945) was a British politician, who served as Prime Minister of United Kingdom (1916–1922).

A politician is a person with whose politics you don't agree; if you agree with him he's a statesman.

QuotesEdit

1880sEdit

  • I will not say but that I eyed the assembly in a spirit similar to that in which William the Conqueror eyed England on his visit to Edward the Confessor, as the region of his future domain. Oh, vanity!
    • Diary entry after visiting the House of Commons (12 November 1881), quoted in W. R. P. George, The Making of Lloyd George (1976), p. 101

Early political careerEdit

 
A free religion and a free people in a free land.
  • A free religion and a free people in a free land.
    • Speech in Merthyr Tydfil (November 1890), quoted in Thomas Jones, Lloyd George (1951), p. 11
  • Why had Wales made sacrifices in the face of unexampled difficulties and intimidation from squires and agents? It was not to install one statesman in power. It was not to deprive one party of power in order to put another party in power. It was not to transfer the emoluments of office from one statesman to another. No; it was done because Wales had by an overwhelming majority demonstrated its determination to secure its own progress. ... Welsh members wanted nothing for themselves but something for their country, and I do not think they would support a Liberal Ministry, I do not care how illustrious the Minister might be who led it, unless it pledged itself to concede to Wales those great measures of reform on which Wales had set its heart.
    • Speech in Conway after the 1892 general election (c. late July 1892), quoted in Thomas Jones, Lloyd George (1951), pp. 16-17
  • [I believe in Oliver Cromwell] because he was a great fighting Dissenter. He was perhaps the first statesman to recognize that as soon as the Government became a democracy the Churches became directly responsible for any misgovernment. His great idea was to make Christ's law the law of the land, and any obstacle to this he ruthlessly swept away. How he would have dealt with Romish practices now! He said to the priest who babbled his Paternosters in Peterborough Cathedral, "Leave off your fooling and come down, sir." There was the man for the Ritualists (cheers)—worth a wagon-load of Bishops. How he would have dealt with the House of Lords! From the House of Commons he would have removed many a bauble, and he would have shaken his head and said, "The Lord deliver us from Joseph Chamberlain."
    • Speech to the National Council of the Evangelical Free Churches in the City Temple, London, at the celebration of the tercentenary of Oliver Cromwell's birth (25 April 1899), quoted in The Times (26 April 1899), p. 12
  • Mr. Chamberlain is right in so far as he says that things are not well in this country. We cannot feed the hungry with statistics of national prosperity, or stop the pangs of famine by reciting to a man the prodigious number of cheques that pass through the clearing-house. We must therefore propose something better than Mr. Chamberlain.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 January 1904)
  • As our fathers had freed our trade there was another work to accomplish. This was to free the land from the chains of feudalism, the schools from the dominion of the priest, and the people from the deadly grip of drink.
    • Speech in the Plait Hall, Luton (12 October 1904), quoted in The Times (13 October 1904), p. 9

President of the Board of TradeEdit

  • I believe there is a new order coming for the people of this country. It is a quiet but certain revolution.
    • Speech in Bangor, Wales (January 1906), quoted in Thomas Jones, Lloyd George (1951), p. 34
  • [The House of Lords] is the right hon. Gentleman's poodle. It fetches and carries for him. It barks for him. It bites anybody that he sets it on to. And we are told that this is a great revising Chamber, the safeguard of liberty in the country. Talk about mockeries and shams. Was there ever such a sham as that?
    • Speech in the House of Commons (26 June 1907)

Chancellor of the ExchequerEdit

 
Liberty has restraints but no frontiers.
  • Free Trade is a great pacificator. We have had many quarrels, many causes of quarrels, during the last fifty years, but we have not had a single war with any first-class Power. Free Trade is slowly but surely cleaving a path through the dense and dark thicket of armaments to the sunny land of brotherhood amongst nations.
    • Speech in Manchester (21 April 1908), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 43
  • Free Trade may be the alpha, but it is not the omega, of Liberal policy.
    • Speech in Manchester (21 April 1908), quoted in Thomas Jones, Lloyd George (1951), p. 35
  • When I talk about trade and industry, it is not because I think trade and industry are more important than social reform. It is purely because I know that you must make wealth in the country before you can distribute it.
    • Speech in Manchester (21 April 1908), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 46
  • I am a man of the people, bred amongst them, and it has been the greatest joy of my life to have had some part in fighting the battles of the class from whom I am proud to have sprung.
    • Speech in Manchester (21 April 1908), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 46
  • [T]he question of civil equality. We have not yet attained to it in this country—far from it. You will not have established it in this land until the child of the poorest parent shall have the same opportunity for receiving the best education as the child of the richest. ... It will never established so long as you have 500 men nominated by the lottery of birth to exercise the right of thwarting the wishes of the majority of 40 millions of their countrymen in the determination of the best way of governing the country.
    • Speech in Swansea (1 October 1908), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 50
  • British Liberalism is not going to repeat the errors of Continental Liberalism. The fate of Continental Liberalism should warn them of that danger. It has been swept on one side before it had well begun its work, because it refused to adapt itself to new conditions. The Liberalism of the Continent concerned itself exclusively with mending and perfecting the machinery which was to grind corn for the people. It forgot that the people had to live whilst the process was going on, and people saw their lives pass away without anything being accomplished. But British Liberalism has been better advised. It has not abandoned the traditional ambition of the Liberal party to establish freedom and equality; but side by side with this effort it promotes measures for ameliorating the conditions of life for the multitude.
    • Speech in Swansea (1 October 1908), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 51
  • All down history nine-tenths of mankind have been grinding the corn for the remaining tenth, and been paid with the husks and bidden to thank God they had the husk.
    • Remark to Lucy Masterman (early 1909), quoted in Lucy Masterman, C. F. G. Masterman (1939), p. 150
  • We all value too highly the immunity which this country has so long enjoyed from the horrors of an invaded land to endanger it for lack of timely prevision. That immunity at its very lowest has been for generations, and still is, a great national asset. It has undoubtedly given us the tranquillity and the security which has enabled us to build up our great national wealth. It is an essential part of that wealth. At the highest it means an inviolable guarantee for our national freedom and independence... We do not intend to put in jeopardy the naval supremacy which is so essential not only to our national existence, but, in our judgment, to the vital interests of Western civilisation.
  • This, Mr. Emmot, is a war Budget. It is for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness. I cannot help hoping and believing that before this generation has passed away, we shall have advanced a great step towards that good time, when poverty, and the wretchedness and human degradation which always follows in its camp, will be as remote to the people of this country as the wolves which once infested its forests.
  • I do not agree with you that we ought never to have introduced the land clauses in the fourth session. The Party had lost heart. On all hands I was told that enthusiasm had almost disappeared at meetings, and we wanted something to rouse the fighting spirit of our own forces. This the land proposals have undoubtedly succeeded in doing.
    • Letter to J. A. Spender (16 July 1909), quoted in H. V. Emy, 'The Land Campaign: Lloyd George as a Social Reformer, 1909–14', in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: Twelve Essays (1971), p. 43
  • There have been two or three meetings held in the City of London...attended by the same class of people, but not ending up with a resolution promising to pay. On the contrary, we are spending the money, but they won't pay. What has happened since to alter their tone? Simply that we have sent in the bill. We started our four Dreadnoughts. They cost eight millions of money. We promised them four more; they cost another eight millions. Somebody has got to pay, and then these gentlemen say: "Perfectly true; somebody has got to pay, but we would rather that somebody were somebody else". We started building; we wanted money to pay for the building; so we sent the hat round. We sent it round amongst workmen, and the miners and weavers of Derbyshire and Yorkshire, and the Scotchmen of Dumfries, who, like all their countrymen, know the value of money, they all dropped in their coppers. We went round Belgravia, and there has been such a howl ever since that it has well-nigh deafened us.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 144
  • But they say, "It is not so much the Dreadnoughts we object to, it is pensions". If they objected to pensions, why did they promise them? They won elections on the strength of their promises. It is true they never carried them out. Deception is always a pretty contemptible vice, but to deceive the poor is the meanest of all.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 145
 
Deception is always a pretty contemptible vice, but to deceive the poor is the meanest of all.
  • The Budget...is introduced not merely for the purpose of raising barren taxes, but taxes that are fertile, taxes that will bring forth fruit—the security of the country which is paramount in the minds of all. The provision for the aged and deserving poor—was it not time something was done? It is rather a shame for a rich country like ours—probably the richest in the world, if not the richest the world has ever seen—should allow those who have toiled all their days to end in penury and possibly starvation. It is rather hard that an old workman should have to find his way to the gates of the tomb, bleeding and footsore, through the brambles and thorns of poverty. We cut a new path for him—an easier one, a pleasanter one, through fields of waving corn. We are raising money to pay for the new road—aye, and to widen it, so that 200,000 paupers shall be able to join in the march. There are so many in the country blessed by Providence with great wealth, and if there are amongst them men who grudge out of their riches a fair contribution towards the less fortunate of their fellow-countrymen they are very shabby rich men.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 145
  • There is another little tax called the increment tax. For the future what will happen? We mean to value all the land in the kingdom. And here you can draw no distinction between agricultural land and other land, for the simple reason that East and West Ham was agricultural land a few years ago. And if land goes up in the future by hundreds and thousands an acre through the efforts of the community, the community will get 20 per cent. of that increment.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 147
  • Take cases like Golder's Green and other cases of a similar kind where the value of land has gone up in the course, perhaps, of a couple of years through a new tramway or a new railway being opened. ... A few years ago there was a plot of land there which was sold at £160. Last year I went and opened a tube railway there. What was the result? This year that very piece of land has been sold for £2,100—£160 before the railway was opened—before I was there—£2,100 now. My Budget demands 20 per cent. of that.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 148
  • There are many cases where landlords take advantage of the needs of municipalities and even of national needs and of the monopoly which they have got in land in a particular neighbourhood in order to demand extortionate prices. Take the very well-known case of the Duke of Northumberland, when a county council wanted to buy a small plot of land as a site for a school to train the children who in due course would become the men labouring on his property. The rent was quite an insignificant thing; his contribution to the rates I think it was on the basis of 30s. an acre. What did he demand for it for a school? £900 an acre. All we say is this—if it is worth £900, let him pay taxes on £900.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 148
  • Now, all we say is this: "In future you must pay one halfpenny in the pound on the real value of your land. In addition to that, if the value goes up, not owing to your efforts—if you spend money on improving it we will give you credit for it—but if it goes up owing to the industry and the energy of the people living in that locality, one-fifth of that increment shall in future be taken as a toll by the State".
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 150
  • Who is the landlord? The Landlord is a gentleman … who does not earn his wealth. He does not even take the trouble to receive his wealth. He has a host of agents and clerks that receive it for him. He does not even take the trouble to spend his wealth. He has a host of people around him to do the actual spending for him. He never sees it until he comes to enjoy it. His sole function, his chief pride is stately consumption of wealth produced by others.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), pp. 150-151
  • The landlords are receiving eight millions a year by way of royalties. What for? They never deposited the coal in the earth. It was not they who planted these great granite rocks in Wales. Who laid the foundations of the mountains? Was it the landlord? And yet he, by some divine right, demands as his toll—for merely the right for men to risk their lives in hewing these rocks—eight millions a year.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), pp. 153-154
 
The question will be asked whether five hundred men, ordinary men, chosen accidentally from among the unemployed, should override the judgment of millions of people who are engaged in the industry which makes the wealth of the country.
  • [Y]et when the Prime Minister and I knock at the door of these great landlords, and say to them: "Here, you know these poor fellows who have been digging up royalties at the risk of their lives, some of them are old, they have survived the perils of their trade, they are broken, they can earn no more. Won't you give them something towards keeping them out of the workhouse?" they scowl at us. We say, "Only a ha'penny, just a copper". They retort, "You thieves!" And they turn their dogs on to us, and you can hear their bark every morning. If this is an indication of the view taken by these great landlords of their responsibility to the people who, at the risk of life, create their wealth, then I say their day of reckoning is at hand.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), pp. 154-155
  • They go on threatening that if we proceed, they will cut down their benefactions and discharge labour. What kind of labour? What is the labour they are going to choose for dismissal? Are they going to threaten to devastate rural England by feeding and dressing themselves? Are they going to reduce their gamekeepers? Ah, that would be sad! The agricultural labourer and the farmer might then have some part of the game that is fattened by their labour. Also what would happen to you in the season? No week-end shooting with the Duke of Norfolk or anyone.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 155
  • The ownership of land is not merely an enjoyment, it is a stewardship. It has been reckoned as such in the past, and if the owners cease to discharge their functions in seeing to the security and defence of the country, looking after the broken in their villages and in their neighbourhoods, the time will come to reconsider the conditions under which land is held in this country.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 155
  • We are placing burdens on the broadest shoulders. Why should I put burdens on the people? I am one of the children of the people. I was brought up amongst them. I know their trials; and God forbid that I should add one grain of trouble to the anxieties which they bear with such patience and fortitude. When the Prime Minister did me the honour of inviting me to take charge of the National Exchequer at a time of great difficulty, I made up my mind, in framing the Budget which was in front of me, that at any rate no cupboard should be barer, no lot would be harder. By that test I challenge you to judge the Budget.
    • Speech in Limehouse, East London (30 July 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 156
  • I lay down as a proposition that most of the people who work hard for a living in the country belong to the Liberal Party. I would say, and I think, without offence, that most of the people who never worked for a living at all belong to the Tory Party.
    • Speech in Newcastle (9 October 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 160
  • When I come along [to the landlords] and say, "Here, gentlemen, you have escaped long enough, it is your turn now, I want you to pay just 5 per cent. on the £10,000 odd," they reply:—"Five per cent? You are a thief; you are worse, you are an attorney; worst of all, you are a Welshman." That always is the crowning epithet. I do not apologize, and I do not mind telling you that if I could, I would not; I am proud of the little land among the hills... Whenever they hurl my nationality at my head, I say to them, "You Unionists, you hypocrites, Pharisees, you are the people who in every peroration...always talk about our being one kith and kin throughout the Empire...and yet if any man dares to aspire to any position, if he does not belong to the particular nationality which they have dignified by choosing their parents from, they have no use for him." Well, they have got to stand the Welshman now.
    • Speech in Newcastle (9 October 1909), quoted in The Times (11 October 1909), p. 6
 
Who ordained that a few should have the land of Britain as a perquisite, who made 10,000 people owners of the soil and the rest of us trespassers in the land of our birth?
  • Landlords have no nationality; their characteristics are cosmopolitan.
    • Speech in Newcastle (9 October 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 168
  • We want money for the defence of the country, to provide pensions for the old people who have been spending their lives tilling the soil at a very poor pittance, in sinking those mines, and risking their lives, and when they are old we do not want to starve them or humiliate them—and we say what better use can you make of wealth than to use it for the purpose of picking up the broken, healing, curing the sick, bringing a little more light, comfort, and happiness to the aged? These men ought to feel honoured that Providence has given them the chance to put a little into the poor box. And since they will not do it themselves we have got to do it for them.
    • Speech in Newcastle (9 October 1909), quoted in The Times (11 October 1909), p. 6
  • If there is one thing more than another better established about the British Constitution it is this, that the Commons, and the Commons alone, have the complete control of supply and ways and means. And what our fathers established through centuries of struggles and of strife, even of bloodshed, we are not going to be traitors to. Who talks about altering and meddling with the Constitution? The Constitutional Party... As long as the Constitution gave rank and possession and power it was not to be interfered with. As long as it secured even their sports from intrusion, and made interference with them a crime; as long as the Constitution forced royalties and ground-rents and fees, premiums and fines, the black retinue of extraction; as long as it showered writs, and summonses, and injunctions, and distresses, and warrants to enforce them, then the Constitution was inviolate, it was sacred, it was something that was put in the same category as religion, that no man ought to touch, and something that the chivalry of the nation ought to range in defence of. But the moment the Constitution looks round, the moment the Constitution begins to discover that there are millions of people outside the park gates who need attention, then the Constitution is to be torn to pieces. Let them realize what they are doing. They are forcing revolution.
    • Speech in Newcastle (9 October 1909), quoted in The Times (11 October 1909), p. 6
  • The question will be asked, "Should 500 men, ordinary men, chosen accidentally from among the unemployed, override the judgment...of millions of people who are engaged in the industry which makes the wealth of the country?"
    • On the House of Lords, speech in Newcastle (9 October 1909), quoted in The Times (11 October 1909), p. 6
  • Who ordained that a few should have the land of Britain as a perquisite, who made 10,000 people owners of the soil and the rest of us trespassers in the land of our birth?
    • Speech in Newcastle (9 October 1909), quoted in The Times (11 October 1909), p. 6
  • Who is it who is responsible for the scheme of things whereby one man is engaged through life in grinding labour to win a bare and precarious subsistence for himself, and when, at the end of his days, he claims at the hands of the community he served a poor pension of eightpence a day, he can only get it through a revolution, and another man who does not toil receives every hour of the day, every hour of the night, whilst he slumbers, more than his poor neighbour receives in a whole year of toil? Where did the table of that law come from? Whose finger inscribed it? These are the questions that will be asked. The answers are charged with peril for the order of things the Peers represent; but they are fraught with rare and refreshing fruit for the parched lips of the multitude who have been treading the dusty road along which the people have marched through the dark ages which are now merging into the light.
    • Speech in Newcastle (9 October 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), pp. 174-175
  • [Y]et we are told that this great nation, with such a record of splendid achievements in the past and in the present, is unfit to make its own laws, is unfit to control its own finance, and that it is to be placed as if it were a nation of children or lunatics, under the tutelage and guardianship of some other body—and what body? Who are the guardians of this mighty people? Who are they? With all respect, I shall have to make exceptions; but I am speaking of them as a whole. ... They are men who have neither the training, the qualifications, nor the experience which would fit them for such a gigantic task. They are men whose sole qualification—speaking in the main, and for the majority of them—they are simply men whose sole qualification is that they are the first born of persons who had just as little qualification as themselves.
    • Speech to the National Liberal Club (3 December 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), pp. 178-179
  • To invite this Imperial race; this, the greatest commercial nation in the world; this, the nation that has taught the world in the principles of self-government and liberty; to invite this nation itself to sign the decree that declares itself unfit to govern itself without the guardianship of such people, is an insult which I hope will be flung back with ignominy. This is a great issue. It is this: Is this nation to be a free nation and to become a freer one, or is it for all time to be shackled and tethered by tariffs and trusts and monopolies and privileges? That is the issue, and no Liberal will shirk it.
    • Speech to the National Liberal Club (3 December 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 179
 
Is this nation to be a free nation and to become a freer one, or is it for all time to be shackled and tethered by tariffs and trusts and monopolies and privileges? That is the issue, and no Liberal will shirk it.
  • You must handle [the House of Lords] a little more firmly, and the time has come for unflinching and resolute action. For my part, I would not remain a member of a Liberal Cabinet one hour unless I knew that the Cabinet had determined not to hold office after the next General Election unless full powers are accorded to it which would enable it to place on the Statute Book of the realm a measure which will ensure that the House of Commons in future can carry, not merely Tory Bills, as it does now, but Liberal and progressive measures in the course of a single Parliament either with or without the sanction of the House of Lords.
    • Speech to the National Liberal Club (3 December 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), pp. 179-180
  • But they have not rejected the Budget; they have only referred it to the people. On what principle do they refer Bills to the people? I remember the election of 1900, when a most powerful member of the Tory Cabinet said that the Nonconformists could vote with absolute safety for the Government, because no question in which they were interested would be raised. In two years there was a Bill destroying the School Boards. There was a Bill which drove Nonconformists into the most passionate opposition. What did the House of Lords do? Did they refer it to the people? Oh no, there was a vast difference between protecting the ground landlords in towns and protecting the village Dissenter. After all, the village Dissenter is too low down in the social scale for such exalted patronage, so he was left to the mercy of a Tory House of Commons without any of this high and powerful protection. Well, the Dissenters, despised as they may be, once upon a time taught a lesson to the House of Lords, and ere another year has passed they will be able to say, "Here endeth the second lesson" .
    • Speech to the National Liberal Club (3 December 1909), quoted in Better Times: Speeches by the Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer (1910), p. 189
  • Four spectres haunt the Poor — Old Age, Accident, Sickness and Unemployment. We are going to exorcise them. We are going to drive hunger from the hearth. We mean to banish the workhouse from the horizon of every workman in the land.
  • Personally I am a sincere advocate of all means which would lead to the settlement of international disputes by methods such as those which civilization has so successfully set up for the adjustment of differences between individuals.
    But I am also bound to say this — that I believe it is essential in the highest interests, not merely of this country, but of the world, that Britain should at all hazards maintain her place and her prestige amongst the Great Powers of the world. Her potent influence has many a time been in the past, and may yet be in the future, invaluable to the cause of human liberty. It has more than once in the past redeemed Continental nations, who are sometimes too apt to forget that service, from overwhelming disaster and even from national extinction. I would make great sacrifices to preserve peace. I conceive that nothing would justify a disturbance of international good will except questions of the gravest national moment. But if a situation were to be forced upon us in which peace could only be preserved by the surrender of the great and beneficent position Britain has won by centuries of heroism and achievement, by allowing Britain to be treated where her interests were vitally affected as if she were of no account in the Cabinet of nations, then I say emphatically that peace at that price would be a humiliation intolerable for a great country like ours to endure.
    • Speech in the Mansion House, London, during the Agadir Crisis (21 July 1911), quoted in The Times (22 July 1911), p. 7
  • What has happened to the monastery? There it was planted in the hills, not merely looking after the spiritual needs of the people, but also their temporal needs... They have all gone. One of these parishes I find to-day with a tithe, and probably the land was owned by gentlemen who, when I was down there twenty years ago, was the anti-disestablishment candidate for that district. What is the good of talking about it? Whoever else has got a right to complain of Parliament not being authorised to deal with this trust; the present Establishment has no right, and the present House of Lords has no right. Property which was used for the sick, for the lame, for the poor, and for education, where has it gone to? ...[T]he bulk of it went to the founders of great families. It is one of the most disgraceful and discreditable records in the history of this country.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Bill to disestablish the Anglican church in Wales (12 May 1912)
  • The Duke of Devonshire issues a circular applying for subscriptions to oppose this Bill, and he charges us with the robbery of God. Why, does he not know—of course he knows—that the very foundations of his fortune are laid deep in sacrilege, fortunes built out of desecrated shrines and pillaged altars... I say that charges of this kind brought against a whole people...ought not to be brought by those whose family trees are laden with the fruits of sacrilege. I am not complaining that ancestors of theirs did it, but they are still in the enjoyment of the same property, and they are subscribing out of that property to leaflets which attack us and call us thieves. What is their story? Look at the whole story of the pillage of the Reformation. They robbed the Catholic Church, they robbed the monasteries, they robbed the altars, they robbed the almshouses, they robbed the poor, and they robbed the dead. Then they come here when we are trying to seek, at any rate to recover some part of this pillaged property for the poor for whom it was originally given, and they venture, with hands dripping with the fat of sacrilege, to accuse us of robbery of God.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Bill to disestablish the Anglican church in Wales (12 May 1912)
  • Ah! there is a great task in front of us... Do you know what is in front of you? A bigger task than democracy has never yet undertaken in this land. You have got to free the land—to free the land that is to this very hour shackled with the chains of feudalism. We have got to free the people from anxieties, the worries, the terrors—terrors that they ought never to be called upon to face—terrors that their children may be crying for bread in this land of plenty. It is our shame. It is a disgrace to this the richest land under the sun that they should want—a contingency which no honest, thrifty man in this land should have to face.
    • Speech in Walthamstow (29 June 1912), quoted in The Times (1 July 1912), p. 10
  • They were now as a party engaged in carrying laboriously uphill the last few columns out of the Gladstonian quarry. ... Foremost among the tasks of Liberalism in the near future was the regeneration of rural life and the emancipation of the land of this country from the paralysing grip of an effete and unprofitable system. ... [The reports into rural life] were startling. When they were published they would prove conclusively that there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of men, women, and children dependent upon the land in this country and engaged in cultivating it, hardworking men and women, who were living under conditions with regard to wages, to housing, as well as hours of labour—conditions which ought to make this great Empire hang its head in shame that such things could be permitted to happen in any corner of its vast dominions, let alone in this country, the centre and source of all its glory.
    • Speech to the National Liberal Club (31 January 1913), quoted in The Times (1 February 1913), p. 8
  • This rich, proud Empire did not pay its children, who had maintained and built up its glory and upon whom they had to depend in future against every foe, enough to keep themselves, their wives, and their children above a state of semi-starvation. (Cries of "Shame.") The land of Britain, which ought to be rearing a virile, healthy, independent, prosperous people, was held under conditions which positively discouraged capital, enterprise, and brains, sapped independence and undermined vitality. The condition of things was one which demanded the immediate attention of every man who loved his native land and who had any heart to sympathize with humanity in despair.
    • Speech to the National Liberal Club (31 January 1913), quoted in The Times (1 February 1913), p. 8
  • I could multiply instances of men, women, and children who have been just snatched from the jaws of the grave by this Act of Parliament, and yet whilst it is walking the streets, hurrying about on its errand of mercy, visiting the sick, healing those who are afflicted with disease, feeding hungry children whose parents have been prostrated by sickness and cannot look after them—whilst it is doing the work of the Man of Nazareth in the stricken homes of Britain, it is being stoned by Tory speakers, reviled, insulted, and spat upon. Their reckoning is piling up. It will soon be demanded at their hands to the last penny by a people who have been misled by them into disdaining one of the greatest gifts the Imperial Parliament has ever delivered to the people of this land.
    • Speech to the Nottinghamshire Miners' Association on the National Insurance Act 1911 (10 August 1913), quoted in The Times (11 August 1913), p. 10
  • Success to your meetings. Future of this country depends on breaking up the land monopoly—it withers the land, depresses wages, destroys independence, and drives millions into dwellings which poison their strength. Godspeed to every effort to put an end to this oppression.
    • Telegram to a national conference to promote the taxation and rating of land held in Cardiff (13 October 1913), quoted in The Times (14 October 1913), p. 10
  • Labourers had diminished, game had tripled. The landlord was no more necessary to agriculture than a gold chain to a watch.
    • Speech (late 1913), quoted in Thomas Jones, Lloyd George (1951), p. 45
  • Even if Germany ever had any idea of challenging our supremacy at sea, the exigencies of the military situation must necessarily put it completely out of her head. Under these circumstances it seems to me that we can afford just quietly to maintain the superiority we possess at present, without making feverish efforts to increase it any further. The Navy is now, according to all impartial testimony, at the height of its efficiency. If we maintain that standard no one can complain, but if we went on spending and swelling its strength, we should wantonly provoke other nations.
    • Interview with the Daily Chronicle (1 January 1914), quoted in Frank Owen, Tempestuous Journey: Lloyd George His Life and Times (1954), p. 254
  • There are always clouds in the international sky. You never get a perfectly blue sky in foreign affairs. And there are clouds even now. But we feel confident that the common sense, the patience, the good-will, the forbearance which enabled us to solve greater and more difficult and more urgent problems last year will enable us to pull through these difficulties at the present moment.
    • Speech at the City of London (17 July 1914), quoted in The Times (18 July 1914), p. 10
  • The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said, in future what are you going to tax when you will want more money? He also not merely assumed but stated that you could not depend upon any economy in armaments. I think that is not so. I think he will find that next year there will be substantial economy without interfering in the slightest degree with the efficiency of the Navy. The expenditure of the last few years has been very largely for the purpose of meeting what is recognised to be a temporary emergency. ... It is very difficult for one nation to arrest this very terrible development. You cannot do it. You cannot when other nations are spending huge sums of money which are not merely weapons of defence, but are equally weapons of attack. I realise that, but the encouraging symptom which I observe is that the movement against it is a cosmopolitan one and an international one. Whether it will bear fruit this year or next year, that I am not sure of, but I am certain that it will come. I can see signs, distinct signs, of reaction throughout the world. Take a neighbour of ours. Our relations are very much better than they were a few years ago. There is none of that snarling which we used to see, more especially in the Press of those two great, I will not say rival nations, but two great Empires. The feeling is better altogether between them. They begin to realise they can co-operate for common ends, and that the points of co-operation are greater and more numerous and more important than the points of possible controversy.
  • I am fighting hard for peace. All the bankers and commercial people are begging us not to intervene. The Governor of the Bank of England said to me with tears in his eyes, “Keep us out of it. We shall all be ruined if we are dragged in!”
    • Remarks to George Riddell, as recorded in Riddell's diary (31 July 1914), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 85
  • The world owes much to little nations and to little men. This theory of bigness—you must have a big empire and a big nation and a big man—well, long legs have their advantage in a retreat. Frederick the Great chose his warriors for their height, and that tradition has become a policy in Germany. Germany applies that ideal to nations. She will only allow six-feet-two nations to stand in the ranks. But all the world owes much to the little five-feet-high nations.
    • Speech in the Queen's Hall, London (19 September 1914), quoted in The Times (20 September 1914), p. 4
  • The Prussian Junker is the road hog of Europe. Small nationalities in his way hurled to the roadside, bleeding and broken; women and children crushed under the wheels of his cruel car; Britain ordered out of his road. All I can say is this. If the old British spirit is alive in British hearts that bully will be torn from his seat. Were he to win it would be the greatest catastrophe that befell democracy since the days of the Holy Alliance and its ascendancy. They think we cannot beat them. It will not be easy. It will be a long job. It will be a terrible war. But in the end we shall march through terror to triumph.
    • Speech in the Queen's Hall, London (19 September 1914), quoted in The Times (20 September 1914), p. 4
  • I should like to see a Welsh Army in the field. I should like to see the race who faced the Normans for hundreds of years in a struggle for freedom, the race that helped to win Crecy, the race that fought for a generation under Glendower, against the greatest captain in Europe—I should like to see that race go and give a taste of its quality in this great struggle in Europe.
    • Speech in the Queen's Hall, London (19 September 1914), quoted in The Times (20 September 1914), p. 4
  • The stern hand of fate has scourged us to an elevation where we can see the great everlasting things that matter for a nation—the great peaks of honour we had forgotten—Duty, Patriotism, and—clad in glittering white—the great pinnacle of Sacrifice, pointing like a rugged finger to Heaven.
    • Speech in the Queen's Hall, London (19 September 1914), quoted in The Times (20 September 1914), p. 4
  • What are ten, twenty, or thirty millions when the British Empire is at stake? This is an artillery war. We must have every gun we can lay hands upon.
    • Quoted in Lord Riddell's diary entry (13 October 1914), J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (London: The Athlone Press, 1986), p. 92
  • A ramshackle old empire.
    • Speech of 1914; quoted in The Brunswick and Coburg Leader (16 October 1914). The "empire" mentioned is Austria-Hungary.
  • [Lloyd George] was still pessimistic about the war—said we were fighting better brains than our own—that there was not one really first-class man on our side. The Germans had shown that they had better training than we, and he knew the value of training—he had seen examples of it in the House of Commons, when Labour members competed against men of better education than themselves—they were just as good fellows, but they hadn't the training. And [Lloyd George] says that it is training that is wanting on our side—among the generals. He says our soldiers are the best in Europe, but they are being wantonly sacrificed because those in authority do not know how to make the best use of them.
    • Frances Stevenson's diary entry (16 December 1914), A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 17
  • I do not believe Great Britain has ever yet done anything like what she could do in the matter of increasing her war equipment. Great things have been accomplished in the last few months, but I sincerely believe that we could double our effective energies if we organised our factories thoroughly. All the engineering works of the country ought to be turned on to the production of war material. The population ought to be prepared to suffer all sorts of deprivations and even hardships whilst this process is going on. As to America, I feel confident from what I have heard that we have tapped only a small percentage of this great available reserve of supply.
    • Memorandum to the Cabinet (22 February 1915), quoted in War Memoirs, Volume I (1938), p. 101
  • The Government were on the look-out for a good, strong business man, with some push and go in him, who will be able to put the thing through.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (9 March 1915) on the Defence of the Realm (Amendment) Bill, quoted in The Times (10 March 1915), p. 14

Minister of MunitionsEdit

 
It is a strange irony, but no small compensation, that the making of weapons of destruction should afford the occasion to humanise industry.
  • We won and saved our liberties in this land on more than one occasion by compulsory service. France saved the liberty she had won in the great Revolution from the fangs of tyrannical military empires purely by compulsory service; the great Republic of the West won its independence and saved its national existence by compulsory service, and two of the greatest countries of Europe to-day—France and Italy—are defending their national existence and liberties by means of compulsory service. It has been the greatest weapon in the hands of Democracy many a time for the winning and preservation of freedom.
    • Speech in Manchester (3 June 1915), quoted in The Times (4 June 1915), p. 9
  • We are are a very individualistic nation. ... Individualism has its merits in producing strong, independent, virile nations; but in war individualism has its manifold defects. ... [T]he nation has not yet concentrated one-half of its industrial strength on the problem of carrying this great conflict through successfully. It is a war of munitions. We are fighting against the best organized community in the world—the best organized, whether for war or for peace—and we have been employing too much of the haphazard, leisurely, go-as-you-please methods which, believe me, would not have enabled us to maintain our place as a nation, even in peace, very much longer.
    • Speech in Manchester (3 June 1915), quoted in The Times (4 June 1915), p. 9
  • The Government can lose the war without you; they cannot win it without you.
    • Speech to the Trades Union Congress in Bristol (9 September 1915), quoted in The Times (10 September 1915), p. 9
  • You have practically taken over the whole of the engineering works of this country and controlled them by the State. I have seen resolutions passed from time to time at Trade Union Congresses [laughter] about nationalising the industries of this country. We have done it. [Cheers and laughter.]
    • Speech to the Trades Union Congress in Bristol (9 September 1915), quoted in War Memoirs: Volume I (1938), p. 186
  • What we stint in materials we squander in lives... What you spare in money you spill in blood.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (20 December 1915)
  • I wonder whether it will not be too late? Ah! two fatal words of this War! Too late in moving here. Too late in arriving there. Too late in coming to this decision. Too late in starting with enterprises. Too late in preparing. In this War the footsteps of the Allied forces have been dogged by the mocking spectre of "Too Late"; and unless we quicken our movements damnation will fall on the sacred cause for which so much gallant blood has flowed.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (20 December 1915)
  • It is a strange irony, but no small compensation, that the making of weapons of destruction should afford the occasion to humanise industry. Yet such is the case. Old prejudices have vanished, new ideas are abroad; employers and workers, the public and the State, are favourable to new methods. This opportunity must not be allowed to slip. It may well be that, when the tumult of war is a distant echo, and the making of munitions a nightmare of the past, the effort now being made to soften asperities, to secure the welfare of the workers, and to build a bridge of sympathy and understanding between employer and employed, will have left behind results of permanent and enduring value to the workers, to the nation and to mankind at large.
    • Speech (February 1916), quoted in War Memoirs, Volume I (1938), pp. 209-210
  • I have been told that I am a traitor to Liberal principles because I supported Conscription. ... Every great democracy which has been challenged, which has had its liberties menaced, has defended itself by resort to compulsion, from Greece downwards. Washington won independence for America by compulsory measures; they defended it in 1812 by compulsory measures. Lincoln...proclaimed the principle of "Government of the People, by the People, for the People," and he kept it alive by Conscription. In the French Revolution the French people defended their newly-obtained liberties against every effort of the Monarchists by compulsion. ... France is defending her country to-day by Conscription. In Italy the Italian Democracy are seeking to redeem their enthralled brethren by compulsion.
    • Speech in the House of Commons during the Second Reading of the Bill introducing compulsory military service (4 May 1916)
  • I have always been sympathetic to the claims of Ulster, and as a Protestant Nonconformist I have a thorough appreciation of the Ulster anxieties about Home Rule.
    • Letter to R. J. Lynn (5 June 1916), quoted in M. C. Rast, 'The Ulster Unionists "On Velvet": Home Rule and Partition in the Lloyd George Proposals, 1916', American Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 14 (2017), p. 117

Secretary of State for WarEdit

  • The British soldier is a good sportsman. He enlisted in this war in a sporting spirit—in the best sense of that term. He went in to see fair play to a small nation trampled upon by a bully. He is fighting for fair play. He has fought as a good sportsman. By the thousands he has died a good sportsman. He has never asked anything more than a sporting chance. He has not always had that. When he couldn't get it, he didn't quit. He played the game. He didn’t squeal, and he has certainly never asked anyone to squeal for him. Under the circumstances the British, now that the fortunes of the game have turned a bit, are not disposed to stop because of the squealing done by Germans or done for Germans by probably well-meaning but misguided sympathizers and humanitarians... During these months when it seemed the finish of the British Army might come quickly, Germany elected to make this a fight to a finish with England. The British soldier was ridiculed and held in contempt. Now we intend to see that Germany has her way. The fight must be to a finish—to a knock-out.
    • Interview with Roy Howard of the United Press of America (28 September 1916), quoted in The Times (29 September 1916), p. 7
  • Any intervention now would be a triumph for Germany! A military triumph! A war triumph! Intervention would have been for us a military disaster. Has the Secretary of State for War no right to express an opinion upon a thing which would be a military disaster? That is what I did, and I do not withdraw a single syllable. It was essential. I could tell the hon. Member how timely it was. I can tell the hon. Member it was not merely the expression of my own opinion, but the expression of the opinion of the Cabinet, of the War Committee, and of our military advisers. It was the opinion of every ally. I can understand men who conscientiously object to all wars. I can understand men who say you will never redeem humanity except by passive endurance of every evil. I can understand men, even—although I do not appreciate the strength of their arguments—who say they do not approve of this particular war. That is not my view, but I can understand it, and it requires courage to say so. But what I cannot understand, what I cannot appreciate, what I cannot respect, is when men preface their speeches by saying they believe in the war, they believe in its origin, they believe in its objects and its cause, and during the time the enemy were in the ascendant never said a word about peace; but the moment our gallant troops are climbing through endurance and suffering up the path of ascendancy begin to howl with the enemy.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (11 October 1916)
  • As you are aware, on several occasions during the last two years I have deemed it my duty to express profound dissatisfaction with the Government's method of conducting the War. Many a time, with the road to victory open in front of us, we have delayed and hesitated whilst the enemy were erecting barriers that finally checked the approach. There has been delay, hesitation, lack of forethought and vision; I have endeavoured repeatedly to warn the Government of the dangers, both verbally and in written memoranda and letters, which I crave your leave now to publish if my action is challenged; but I have either failed to secure decisions or I have secured them when it was too late to avert the evils... We have thrown away opportunity after opportunity, and I am convinced, after deep and anxious reflection, that it is my duty to leave the Government in order to inform the people of the real condition of affairs, and to give them an opportunity, before it is too late, to save their native land from a disaster which is inevitable if the present methods are longer persisted in. As all delay is fatal in war, I place my office without further parley at your disposal.
    • Letter to H. H. Asquith (5 December 1916), quoted in War Memoirs, Volume I (1938), pp. 593-594
  • He won't fight the Germans but he will fight for Office.
    • His opinion of Asquith's attempts to stay in power during the political crisis that ousted him from the premiership, recorded in Frances Stevenson's diary (5 December 1916), quoted in Frances Stevenson, Lloyd George: A Diary, ed. A. J. P. Taylor (1971), p. 133

Prime MinisterEdit

 
The correspondents don't write and the censorship wouldn't pass the truth. What they do send is not the war, but just a pretty picture of the war with everybody doing gallant deeds. The thing is horrible and beyond human nature to bear and I feel I can't go on with this bloody business.
  • Haig does not care how many men he loses. He just squanders the lives of these boys. I mean to save some of them in the future. He seems to think they are his property. I am their trustee. I will never let him rest. I will raise the subject again & again until I nag him out of it—until he knows that as soon as the casualty lists get large he will get nothing but black looks and scowls and awkward questions... I should have backed Nievelle against Haig. Nievelle has proved himself to be a Man at Verdun; & when you get a Man against one who has not proved himself, why, you back the Man!
    • Remarks to Frances Stevenson (15 January 1917), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 139
  • The old hide-bound Liberalism was played out; the Newcastle programme [of 1891] had been realised. The task now was to build up the country.
    • Remarks to C. P. Scott (26 January 1917), quoted in Trevor Wilson (ed.), The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911-1928 (1970), p. 257
  • Do these things for the sake of your country during the war. Do them for the sake of your country after the war. When the smoke of this great conflict has been dissolved in the atmosphere we breathe there will reappear a new Britain. It will be the old country still, but it will be a new country. Its commerce will be new, its trade will be new, its industries will be new. There will be new conditions of life and of toil, for capital and for labour alike, and there will be new relations between both of them and for ever. (Cheers.) But there will be new ideas, there will be a new outlook, there will be a new character in the land. The men and women of this country will be burnt into fine building material for the new Britain in the fiery kilns of the war. It will not merely be the millions of men who, please God! will come back from the battlefield to enjoy the victory which they have won by their bravery—a finer foundation I would not want for the new country, but it will not be merely that—the Britain that is to be will depend also upon what will be done now by the many more millions who remain at home. There are rare epochs in the history of the world when in a few raging years the character, the destiny, of the whole race is determined for unknown ages. This is one. The winter wheat is being sown. It is better, it is surer, it is more bountiful in its harvest than when it is sown in the soft spring time. There are many storms to pass through, there are many frosts to endure, before the land brings forth its green promise. But let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. (Loud cheers.)
    • Speech in his constituency of Carnavon Boroughs (3 February 1917), quoted in The Times (5 February 1917), p. 12
  • [Lloyd George] was very pleased last night, for he had given the soldiers a dressing-down in the morning. He was dealing with Haig's demand for more men & informed them that Haig would get no more than had already been decided upon. 'He does not make the best use of his men. Let him learn to make better use of them. There is no danger now on land. The danger is on sea'.
    • Frances Stevenson's diary entry (14 February 1917), A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 144
  • Twenty years after the Corn Laws were abolished in this country we produced twice as much wheat as we imported... Since then four or five million acres of arable land have become pasture, and about half the agricultural population—the agricultural labouring population—has emigrated to the Colonies. No doubt the State showed a lamentable indifference to the importance of the agricultural industry and to the very life of the nation, and that is a mistake which must never be repeated. No civilised country in the world spent less on agriculture, or even spent so little on agriculture, either directly or indirectly, as we did.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (23 February 1917)
  • The country is alive now as it has never been before to the essential value of agriculture to the community, and whatever befalls it will never again be neglected by any Government. The War, at any rate, has taught us one lesson—that the preservation of our essential industries is as important a part of the national defences as the maintenance of our Army or our Navy. So much will I say about food production.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (23 February 1917)
  • [I]n the northeastern portion of Ireland you have a population as hostile to Irish rule as the rest of Ireland is to British rule, yea, and as ready to rebel against this as the rest of Ireland is against British rule. ... As alien in blood, in religious faith, in traditions, in outlook—as alien from the rest of Ireland in this respect as the inhabitants of Fife or Aberdeen. It is no use mincing words. Let us have a clear understanding. To place them under national rule against their will would be as glaring an outrage on the principles of liberty and self-government as the denial of self-government would be for the rest of Ireland.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 March 1917)
  • It is impossible in words to describe our sense of gratitude and the thrill of pride with which we always think about the way in which the Empire came to our assistance when we risked the life of these islands upon the struggle for liberty in Europe.
    • Statement to the Imperial War Cabinet (20 March 1917), quoted in War Memoirs, Volume I (1938), p. 1055
  • To be ready for 1918 means victory, and it is a victory in which the British Empire will lead. It will easily then be the first Power in the world. And I rejoice in that not merely for selfish reasons, but because with all its faults, the British Empire is the truest representative of freedom—in the spirit even more than in the letter, of its institutions. We are here representing a great many races. Even in the United Kingdom there are three or four different races, and the Dominions and more especially India, represent a very considerable number of races. Of their free will they have come together to tender spontaneously their assistance to the Empire in this great struggle. That I regard as the triumph of the spirit and tradition of British institutions; and therefore, when I foresee that in 1918, with a special effort on the part of all of us, we shall be able to win not merely a great triumph, but to win it through the agency of the British Empire, I feel that it is worth our while to take steps to organise the Empire now, and to enable it to attain the heights of noble achievement and influence in the glorious task which is set before it.
    • Statement to the Imperial War Cabinet (20 March 1917), quoted in War Memoirs, Volume I (1938), p. 1057
  • [Proportional representation is a] device for defeating democracy, the principle of which was that the majority should rule, and for bringing faddists of all kinds into Parliament, and establishing groups and disintegrating parties.
    • Remarks to C. P. Scott (3 April 1917), in Trevor Wilson (ed.), The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911-1928 (1970), p. 274
  • If anything were required to convert me to the need for Scottish Home Rule, I think it was that solitary experience I had upon a Private Bill Committee... [P]urely local, and if I may say purely provincial questions ought to be delegated to purely provincial and—I am not afraid to use the word—national assemblies.
    • Remarks to a deputation of the Parliamentary Committee of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (23 October 1917), quoted in The Times (25 October 1917), p. 3
  • "I warn you", said Lloyd George, "that I am in a very pacifist temper". I listened last night, at a dinner given to Philip Gibbs on his return from the front, to the most impressive and moving description from him of what the war really means that I have heard. Even an audience of hardened politicians and journalists was strongly affected. The thing is horrible and beyond human nature to bear and "I feel I can't go on with this bloody business: I would rather resign."
    • Remarks to C. P. Scott as recorded in his diary (28 December 1917), in Trevor Wilson (ed.), The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911-1928 (1970), p. 324
  • The statistics given me by Sir Auckland Geddes are most disquieting. They show that the physique of the people of this country is far from what it should be, particularly in the agricultural districts where the inhabitants should be the strongest. That is due to low wages, malnutrition and housing. It will have to be put right after the war. I have always stood during the whole of my life for the under-dog. I have not changed, and am going still to fight his battle.
    • Remarks to George Riddell (13/14 August 1918), J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 233
  • [W]e must profit by the lessons of the war. ... [T]he first lesson it has taught is the immense importance of maintaining the solidarity of the British Empire. (Cheers.) It has rendered a service to humanity the magnitude of which will appear greater and greater as this generation recedes into the past. ... This Empire has never been such a power for good. To suggest that such an organization could fall to pieces after the war would be a crime against civilization. ... The British Empire will be needed after peace to keep wrongs in check. Its mere word will count more next time than it did the last. For the enemy know now what they have got to deal with.
    • Speech in Manchester (12 September 1918), quoted in The Times (13 September 1918), p. 8
  • What is the next great lesson of the war? It is that if Britain has to be thoroughly equipped to meet any emergencies of either war or peace it must take a more constant and a more intelligent interest in the health and fitness of the people. ... I solemnly warn my fellow-countrymen that you cannot maintain an A1 Empire with a C3 population. (Cheers.) Unless this lesson is learned the war is in vain. Remember that the health of the people is the secret of national efficiency and national recuperation.
    • Speech in Manchester (12 September 1918), quoted in The Times (13 September 1918), p. 8
  • The State must help to promote and encourage production. ... There must be none of that shrinking from national organization, national production, and national assistance. Germany never made that mistake. Take the most important of national industries, agriculture. Agriculture in the past has been overlooked in this country. It has been neglected, with the result that we have been dependent very largely on lands across the seas for our food. We have realized during the war the perils of this position. ... It is in the highest interests of the community that the land in this country should be cultivated to its fullest capacity, and I doubt whether there is a civilized country in the whole world where agriculture has received less attention at the hands of the State. ... The cultivation of the land is the basis of national strength and prosperity.
    • Speech in Manchester (12 September 1918), quoted in The Times (13 September 1918), p. 8
  • [T]he shielding of industries which have been demonstrated by the war to be essential to the very life of the nation. I remember when I was appointed Minister of Munitions I found there were industries essential to national defence which had been very largely captured by our enemies. ... [T]hese essential key industries shall be preserved after the war, not because we anticipate another war, but because we are less likely to have another war if they know that we are quite ready for any challenge on a just ground.
    • Speech in Manchester (12 September 1918), quoted in The Times (13 September 1918), p. 8
  • Wilson is adopting a dangerous line. He wants to pose as the great arbiter of the war. His Fourteen Points are very dangerous. He speaks of the freedom of the seas. That would involve the abolition of the right of search and seizure, and the blockade. We shall not agree to that. Such a change would not suit this country. Wilson does not see that by laying down terms without consulting the Allies, he is making their position very difficult. He had no right to reply to the German Note without consultation, and I insisted upon a cablegram being sent to him. The position is very disturbing.
    • Remarks to George Riddell (10 October 1918), J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 240
  • I have already accepted the policy of Imperial preference...to the effect that a preference will be given on existing duties and on any duties which may subsequently be imposed. On this subject I think there is no difference of opinion between us. ... I am prepared to say that the key industries on which the life of the nation depends must be preserved. I am prepared to say also that, in order to keep up the present standard of production and develop it to the utmost extent possible, it is necessary that security should be give against the unfair competition to which our industries have been in the past subjected by the dumping of goods below the actual cost of production. ... I shall look at every problem simply from the point of view of what is the best method of securing the objects at which we are aiming without any regard to theoretical opinions about Free Trade or Tariff Reform.
    • Letter to Bonar Law (2 November 1918), quoted in The Times (18 November 1918), p. 4
  • Great Britain would spend her last guinea to keep a navy superior to that of the United States or any other power.
    • Quoted in Colonel Edward House's diary entry (4 November 1918), quoted in Charles Seymour (ed.), The Intimate Papers of Colonel House. Volume IV (1928), p. 180
 
The finest eloquence is that which gets things done; the worst is that which delays them.
  • At eleven o’clock this morning came to an end the cruellest and most terrible War that has ever scourged mankind. I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (11 November 1918)
  • What is our task? To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in.
    • Speech in Wolverhampton (23 November 1918), quoted in The Times (25 November 1918), p. 13
  • [W]hat about those people whom we received without question for years to our shores (Voices.—“Send them back”), who, after we did so and gave them equal rights with the sons and daughters of our own households, abused hospitality to betray the land that received them; to plot against its security, to spy upon it, and to supply information and weapons that enabled the Prussian War Lords to inflict, not punishment, but to inflict damage and injury, on the land which had received them. Never again! (Mr. Lloyd George here banged the table in front of him, and the audience cheered vociferously.)
    • Speech in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (29 November 1918), quoted in The Times (30 November 1918), p. 6
  • There is one point I had overlooked as to the question of the responsibility for the invasion of Belgium and the conduct of the war. The Government asked the Attorney-General to refer the question to some of the greatest jurists in this country. They have investigated it, and have come finally to the conclusion quite unanimously that in their judgment the Kaiser was guilty of an indictable offence for which he ought to be held responsible.
    • Speech in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (29 November 1918), quoted in The Times (30 November 1918), p. 6
  • Trial of the Kaiser; punishment of those responsible for atrocities; fullest indemnities from Germany; Britain for the British, socially and industrially; rehabilitation of those broken in the war; and a happier country for all.
    • Election programme contained in a foreword to an official list of Coalition candidates, quoted in The Times (11 December 1918), p. 8
  • [T]he question of indemnity. (Cheers.) Who is to foot the bill? (A voice—“Germany.”) I am again going to talk to you quite frankly about this. By the jurisprudence of every civilized country in the world, in any lawsuit the loser pays. It is not a question of vengeance, it is a question of justice.
    • Speech in Colston Hall, Bristol (11 December 1918), quoted in The Times (12 December 1918), p. 6
  • I have always said we will exact the last penny we can out of Germany up to the limit of her capacity, but I am not going to mislead the public on the question of the capacity until I know more about it, and I am not going to do it in order to win votes. It is not right; it is not fair; it is not straightforward; and it is not honest. If Germany has a greater capacity, she must pay to the very last penny.
    • Speech in Colston Hall, Bristol (11 December 1918), quoted in The Times (12 December 1918), p. 6
  • The Labour Party is being run by the extreme pacifist, Bolshevist group... What they really believed in was Bolshevism... I named one or two of them—Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, Mr. Snowden, Mr. Smillie, and others... [S]upposing they had had their way? (Cries of "Ah!") What would have happened? (A voice:—"We should have lost the war.") Belgium would have been overrun, France would have been overrun, Germany now would have had the whole Continent of Europe right under its cruel heel, the Channel ports would have been in the hands of the Germans...we should have been the slaves and the bondmen of Germany if we had listened to these men—and they are the real Labour Party at the present moment... I venture to say it would not be safe to entrust the destinies of a great Empire to their charge.
    • Speech in the Public Baths, Old Kent Road (13 December 1918), quoted in The Times (14 December 1918), p. 6
  • The finest eloquence is that which gets things done; the worst is that which delays them.
    • Speech at the Paris Peace Conference (January 1919)
  • By these atrocities, almost unparalleled in the black record of Turkish rule, the Armenian population was reduced in numbers by well over one million… If we succeeded in defeating this inhuman empire, one essential condition of the peace we should impose was the redemption of the Armenian valleys forever from the bloody misrule with which they had been stained by the infamies of the Turk.
    • Statement at the peace conference
  • I am making a good fight for the old country & there is no one but me who could do it.
    • Remarks to Frances Stevenson (11 March 1919), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 171
  • We must make, if we can, an enduring peace. That is why I feel so strongly regarding the proposal to hand over two million Germans to the Poles, who are an inferior people so far as concerns the experience and capacity for government. We do not want to create another Alsace-Lorraine.
    • Remarks to George Riddell (28 March 1919), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 262
  • The truth is that we have got our way. We have got most of the things we set out to get. If you had told the British people twelve months ago that they would have secured what they have, they would have laughed you to scorn. The German Navy has been handed over; the German mercantile shipping has been handed over, and the German colonies have been given up. One of our chief trade competitors has been most seriously crippled and our Allies are about to become her biggest creditors. That is no small achievement. In addition, we have destroyed the menace to our Indian possessions.
    • Remarks to George Riddell (30 March 1919), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 263
  • I had to tell him quite plainly that the Belgians had lost only 16,000 men in the war, and that, when all was said, Belgium had not made greater sacrifices than Great Britain. The truth is that we are always called upon to foot the bill. When anything has to be done it is "Old England" that has to do it. If the Rumanians have to be supplied with food and credits have to be given, in the final result England has to stand the racket. It is time that we again told the world what we have done. These things tend to be forgotten. Our policy is quite clear but imperfectly understood. We mean that the French shall have coal in the Saar Valley and that the Poles shall have access to the sea through Danzig; but we don't want to create a condition of affairs that will be likely to lead to another war. We don't want to place millions of Germans under the domination of the French and the Poles. That would not be for their benefit, and what is the use of setting up a lot of Alsace-Lorraines?
    • Remarks to George Riddell (31 March 1919), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), pp. 263-264
  • Those insolent Germans made me very angry yesterday. I don't know when I have been more angry. Their conduct showed that the old German is still there. Your Brockdorff-Rantzaus will ruin Germany's chances of reconstruction. But the strange thing is that the Americans and ourselves felt more angry than the French and Italians. I asked old Clemenceau why. He said, "Because we are accustomed to their insolence. We have had to bear it for fifty years. It is new to you and therefore it makes you angry".
    • Remarks to George Riddell (8 May 1919), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 275. At the presentation of the Versailles Treaty the day before, the German delegate Count Brockdorff-Rantzau unexpectedly made a speech sitting down that was regarded as tactless
  • In so far as territories have been taken away from Germany, it is a restoration. Alsace-Lorraine—forcibly taken away from the land to which its population were deeply attached. Is it an injustice to restore them to their country? Schleswig-Holstein—the meanest of the Hohenzollern frauds; robbing a poor, small, helpless country, with a pretence that you are not doing it, and then retaining that land against the wishes of the population for fifty or sixty years. I am glad the opportunity has come for restoring Schleswig-Holstein. Poland—torn to bits, to feed the carnivorous greed of Russian, Austrian, and Prussian autocracy. This Treaty has re-knit the torn flag of Poland, which is now waving over a free and a united people; and it will have to be defended, not merely with gallantry, but with wisdom. For Poland is indeed in a perilous position, between a Germany shorn of her prey and an unknown Russia which has not yet emerged. All these territorial adjustments of which we have heard are restorations. Take Danzig—a free city, forcibly incorporated in the Kingdom of Prussia. They are all territories that ought not to belong to Germany, and they are now restored to the independence of which they have been deprived by Prussian aggression.
  • I ask anyone to point to any territorial change we made in respect to Germany in Europe which is in the least an injustice, judged by any principle of fairness.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Treaty of Versailles (3 July 1919)
  • I come now to the question of reparation. Are the terms we have imposed unjust to Germany? If the whole cost of the War, all the costs incurred by every country that has been forced into war by the action of Germany, had been thrown upon Germany, it would have been in accord with every principle of civilised jurisprudence in the world. There was but one limit to the justice and the wisdom of the reparation we claimed, and that was the limit of Germany's capacity to pay. ... Is there anything unjust in imposing upon Germany those payments? I do not believe anyone could claim it to be unjust. Certainly no one could claim that it was unjust unless he believed that the justice of the War was on the side of Germany.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Treaty of Versailles (3 July 1919)
  • Having regard to the use which Germany made of her great army, is there anything unjust in scattering that army, disarming it, making it incapable of repeating the injury which it has inflicted upon the world?
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Treaty of Versailles (3 July 1919)
  • [P]unishment for offences against the laws of war. There is a longer category than the House may imagine. Some of them are incredible—I could not have believed it had it not been that the evidence was overwhelming. I should not have thought any nation with a pretence to civilisation could have committed such atrocities. I am not going into the categories, and I should not care to enumerate them, but they ought to be punished. Officers who are guilty of these things in a moment of arrogance, feeling that their power to do what they please is irresistible, ought to know in future that they will be held personally responsible. War is horrible enough without committing these unlicensed infamies upon rules which are quite cruel enough as they are. ... They will get fair play, and they have no right to more. What injustice is there in that? What undue harshness is there in it? It is the averting of it, and making it impossible for the future.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Treaty of Versailles (3 July 1919)
  • Is it unjust that we should, in our economic terms, make it clear that Germany is not to take advantage of wanton destruction of the trade machinery of her rivals in Belgium and in France, in order to get ahead in the competitive race for business? Money does not put that right. You cannot get machinery in a year or, perhaps, two years, and meanwhile Germany, which has never been devastated, would be going a head. We had to put in clauses for protection against that. What injustice is there in that?
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Treaty of Versailles (3 July 1919)
  • We were determined, at any rate, that this Treaty should not be a scrap of paper. What are the guarantees? The first is the disarmament of Germany. The German Army was the foundation and corner stone of Prussian policy. You had to scatter it, disperse it, disarm it—to make it impossible for it to come together again, to make it impossible to equip such an army. ... Those who have read the Treaty know the steps we have taken to make it impossible for Germany to have great factories and arsenals which at any moment she could turn on for the equipment of a great force. ... We, therefore, regard the disarmament of Germany—the reduction of her army, the destruction of her arsenals, the taking away of her guns—as one of the foremost guarantees for peace which you could exact in the Treaty.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Treaty of Versailles (3 July 1919)
  • [T]he League of Nations will be of no value unless it has behind it the sanction of strong nations, prepared at a moment's notice to stop aggression. Otherwise the League of Nations will be a scrap of paper.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Treaty of Versailles (3 July 1919)
  • I come to the last and the greatest guarantee of all—that is, the League of Nations. ... [This] great and hopeful experiment is only rendered possible by the other conditions. ... Without disarmament, without the indication which this War has given that the nations of the world are determined at all costs to enforce respect for treaties, the League of Nations would be just like other Conventions in the past—something that would be blown away by the first gust of war or of any fierce dispute between the nations. It is this War, it is the Treaty that concludes this War, which will make the League of Nations possible. ... There are many things the world has realised and is prepared to take into account and to provide against. This League of Nations is an attempt to do it by some less barbarous methods than war. Let us try it. I beg this country to try it seriously, and to try it in earnest. It is due to mankind that we should try it. Anything except the horror of the last four and a half years!
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Treaty of Versailles (3 July 1919)
  • Take Article 12 of this Covenant: "The Members of the League"—which means the nations of the earth—"agree that if there should arise between them any dispute likely to lead to a rupture, they will submit the matter either to arbitration or to inquiry." ... Supposing that had been in existence in 1914, it would have been difficult for Germany and Austria to have gone to War. They could not have done it, and, if they had, America would have been in on the first day, not three years afterwards, which would have...made all the difference. You could not have had the War in 1914 had the League of Nations been in existence. With this machinery I am not going to say you will never have war. Man is a savage animal. ... If it avert one war, the League of Nations will have justified itself. If you let one generation pass without the blood of millions being spilt, and without the agony which fills so many homes, the League of Nations will have been justified. I beg no one to sneer at the League of Nations. Let us try it. I believe it will succeed in stopping something. It may not stop everything. The world has gone from war to war, until at last we have despaired of stopping it. But society with all its organisations has not stopped every crime. What it does is that it makes crime difficult or unsuccessful, and that is what the League of Nations will do. Therefore I look to it with hope and with confidence.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Treaty of Versailles (3 July 1919)
  • Dumping is the exporting to this country of goods from a foreign land under the cost—beneath the price at which they are sold in their own country. There could be only one object in doing that, and that is to make war upon a particular industry in our country. That is unfair. ... In the interests of fairness, as well as in the interests of British industry as a whole, the Government have decided to submit to Parliament proposals which will effectively deal with dumping in the sense in which I have defined it.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (18 August 1919)
  • Many of the young Conservatives, particularly the young officers who have returned from the Front, are most democratic in their views and anxious for reform. The so-called Liberal Party consists mostly of plutocrats like Runciman and Cowdray who have no sympathy whatever with the aspirations of the mass of the people.
    • Remarks to George Riddell (2 November 1919), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 295
  • I sometimes wish that I were in the Labour Party. I would tear down all these institutions!
    • On landlords, said to Frances Stevenson (17 December 1919), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 193
 
Not badly, considering I was seated between Jesus Christ and Napoleon.
  • Winston [Churchill] is the only remaining specimen of a real Tory.
    • Remarks to Frances Stevenson (17 January 1920), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 197
  • You do not declare war on rebels.
    • On the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence; minute-sheet on Ireland (30 April 1920), quoted in D. G. Boyce, 'How to Settle the Irish Question: Lloyd George and Ireland 1916–21', in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: Twelve Essays (1971), p. 149
  • We ought not to stint anything that is necessary in order to crush the rebellion.
    • Letter to Bonar Law (10 May 1920), quoted in D. G. Boyce, 'How to Settle the Irish Question: Lloyd George and Ireland 1916–21', in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: Twelve Essays (1971), pp. 150-151
  • If it is a question of setting up an independent Irish Republic in this small group of islands, that is a thing we could only accept if we were absolutely beaten to the ground. We take the same view exactly of the position as President Lincoln took of the attempt of the Southern States to claim secession. There were men in this country who thought he ought to have recognised the Southern States. Lincoln, one of the greatest democratic figures who ever lived in the world, took a different view. History has justified Lincoln. I have met Southerners whose fathers fought and suffered for what they regarded as liberty, who now admit that Lincoln was right. Therefore it is no use my giving any hope that it is even possible to discuss any policy of reconciliation which involves the recognition of an independent Republic of Ireland.
    • Reply to a deputation of railwaymen (17 June 1920), quoted in The Times (21 June 1920), p. 5
  • The Turks very nearly brought about our defeat in the war. It was a near thing. You cannot trust them and they are a decadent race. The Greeks, on the other hand, are our friends, and they are a rising people... We must secure Constantinople and the Dardanelles. You cannot do that effectively without crushing the Turkish power.
    • Remarks to George Riddell (26 June 1920), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), pp. 315-316
  • You cannot in the existing state of Ireland punish a policeman who shoots a man whom he has every reason to suspect is concerned with the police murders. This kind of thing can only be met by reprisals.
    • Remarks to H. A. L. Fisher (24 September 1920), quoted in D. G. Boyce, Englishmen and Irish Troubles: British Public Opinion and the Making of Irish Policy 1918–1922 (1972), p. 55, n.
  • Let us be fair to these gallant men who are doing their duty in Ireland. Here you stand by your police and you protect them against any uniforms, and you are right. It is all very well for people who are sitting comfortably at home here, secured from assassins and depredators through the protection of the police, to turn round and pompously criticise them about outrages and discipline when they are defending themselves.
    • Speech in Carnarvon (9 October 1920), quoted in The Times (11 October 1920), p. 16
  • The police feel that the time has come for them to defend themselves, and that is what is called reprisals in Ireland.
    • Speech in Carnarvon (9 October 1920), quoted in The Times (11 October 1920), p. 16
  • Do you know that Ireland was our worry during the war? ... Ireland was a real peril. They were in touch with German submarines. There it stands at the gateway of Britain... And we are to hand over Ireland to be made a base of the submarine fleet, and we are to trust to luck in our next war. Was there ever such lunacy proposed by anybody? ... Don't you take these risks. This is a great country, a great country; it has done more for human freedom than any other country; don't risk its destinies and its future through any folly or through any fear of any gang in Ireland. We saw the great country through at gigantic cost. We are not going to quail before a combination of a handful of assassins in any part of the British Empire. Hand our ports over in Ireland, the gateway of Great Britain? They might starve us. No!
    • Speech in Carnarvon (9 October 1920), quoted in The Times (11 October 1920), p. 16
  • I happen to belong to a little nationality. So do you, and we are a real nationality. I have been listening to Welsh music... I have been listening to a Welsh address which every one of you understands. Go to a County Council in Ireland and, I have no doubt, Mr. Arthur Griffith would be presented with an address written in Gaelic which neither he nor anybody else in the place would understand... It is a sham and a fraud, the whole of this nationality.
    • Speech in Carnarvon (9 October 1920), quoted in The Times (11 October 1920), p. 16
  • There we have witnessed a spectacle of organised assassination, of the most cowardly character. Firing at men who were unsuspecting, firing from men who were dressed in the garb of peaceable citizens, and who are treated as such by the officers of the law; firing from behind—cowardly murder. Unless I am mistaken, by the steps we have taken we have murder by the throat.
    • On the Irish Republican Army; speech at the Guildhall, London (9 November 1920), quoted in The Times (10 November 1920), p. 8
  • There will be no real peace in Ireland, there will be no conciliation until this murder conspiracy is scattered... In vast tracts of Ireland the police were practically interned in their barracks. They dared not come out. Terror was triumphant! ... When the Government were ready, we struck the terror, and the terrorists are now complaining of terror.
    • Speech at the Guildhall, London (9 November 1920), quoted in The Times (10 November 1920), p. 8
  • The men who indulge in these murders say it is war. If it is war, they, at any rate, cannot complain if we apply some of the rules of war... Until this conspiracy is suppressed there is no hope of real peace or conciliation in Ireland, and every one desires peace and conciliation—on fair terms; fair to Ireland, yes, but fair to Britain... You must break the terror before you get peace.
    • Speech at the Guildhall, London (9 November 1920), quoted in The Times (10 November 1920), p. 8
  • We are offering Ireland not subjection but equality, not servitude but partnership—an honourable partnership, a partnership in the greatest Empire in the world—a partnership in that Empire in the greatest day of its glory.
    • Speech at the Guildhall, London (9 November 1920), quoted in The Times (10 November 1920), p. 8
  • Beaverbrook suggests that we should withdraw from Ireland. I think I shall have to go for him in the House. I don't believe that the British people would tolerate such pusillanimous conduct!
    • Remarks to George Riddell (20 November 1920), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 328
  • The League of Nations is the greatest humbug in history. They cannot even protect a little nation like Armenia. They do nothing but pass useless resolutions.
    • Remarks to George Riddell (18 December 1920), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 330
  • [Lloyd George] said that Harding's speech on American naval aspirations made him feel that he would pawn his shirt rather than allow America to dominate the seas. If this was to be the outcome of the League of Nations propaganda, he was sorry for the world and in particular for America.
    • Remarks to George Riddell as recorded in his diary (1 January 1921), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 332
  • The question is whether the people of this country are prepared to go on for twelve months... I see no alternative but to fight it out... A republic at our doors is unthinkable.
    • Remarks to George Riddell on Ireland (3 April 1921), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 340
  • [Lloyd George] then went on to say that the Imperial Conference had had a meeting that morning, and that he, Smuts, Hughes and Massey did not intend to allow the British Empire to take a back seat. Gt Britain had won the war. She had made enormous sacrifices in men and money, and they were quite determined that she should not be overshadowed by America.
    • Remarks to George Riddell as recorded in his diary (July 1921), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 347
  • The B[ritish] E[mpire] is a sisterhood of nations—the greatest in the world. Look at this table: There sits Africa—English and Boer; there sits Canada—French, Scotch & English; there sits Australia, representing many races—even Maoris; there sits India; here sit the representatives of England, Scotland & Wales; all we ask you to do is to take your place in this sisterhood of free nations. It is an invitation, Mr. De Valera: we invite you here.
    • Remarks to Frances Stevenson as recorded in her diary (14 July 1921), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), pp. 227-228
  • [Lloyd George] saw [Eamon de Valera] again on Friday [15 July]... He (DeV.) insisted that what the people of Ireland wanted was a republic, & asked [Lloyd George] if the name of republic could not be conceded at any rate. [Lloyd George] replied that that was just what they cold not have—that the people of this country would not tolerate it after all that had happened. 'There must be some other word', said [Lloyd George]. 'After all, it is not an Irish word. What is the word for republic in Irish?' 'Poblacht', was DeV.'s reply. 'That merely means "people",' said [Lloyd George]. 'Isn't there another word?' 'Saorstaat', said DeV. 'Very well', said [Lloyd George]. 'Why do you insist upon Republic? Saorstaat is good enough!' [Lloyd George] said that for the first time DeV. simply roared with laughter.
    • Frances Stevenson's diary entry (18 July 1921), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 228
  • [Lloyd George] had a not too satisfactory interview with [Eamon de Valera] yesterday. ... After DeV. had read the terms he told [Lloyd George] he could not advise his people to accept them. 'Very well, Mr. DeV.', was [Lloyd George]'s answer, 'then there is only one thing more left for us to discuss'. 'What is that?', asked DeV. 'The time for the truce to come to an end', said [Lloyd George]. [Lloyd George] says DeV. went perfectly white, and had difficulty controlling his agitation. ... [Lloyd George] says that if they refuse there is only one thing to be done—to reconquer Ireland.
    • Frances Stevenson's diary entry (22 July 1921), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), pp. 230-231
 
We are offering Ireland not subjection but equality, not servitude but partnership.
  • When trade is slack, you paint your factory and get it ready for new business. That is what we ought to be doing.
    • Remarks to George Riddell (8 October 1921), quoted in Lord Riddell's Intimate Diary of the Peace Conference and After, 1918–1923 (1933), p. 328
  • I am not going to bind myself to the cart-tail of a lot of capitalists. It may be unpleasant to take the money of one plutocrat in exchange for an honour, but when all is said, nothing very serious happens. Whereas if a political party is financed by great trade interests, who want something for their money, the result is certain to be very serious, as no public question would be considered on its merits.
    • Remarks to George Riddell (2 July 1922), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 370
  • I shall make it quite plain that if there is to be an enquiry, it will have to begin with Lord Salisbury's administration, or at any rate with Arthur Balfour's. ... I don't defend the system, but I have done merely what other Prime Ministers have done, and I am going to make it clear that if I am going down, I am going to bring the temple down with me. I am not going to be sacrificed by people and the descendants of people who have been engaged in carrying on precisely the same system.
    • On his sale of honours, said to George Riddell (8 July 1922), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 371
  • The position is most serious... You say that the country will not stand for a fresh war. I disagree. The country will willingly support our action regarding the Straits by force of arms if need be.
    • On the Chanak Crisis, said to George Riddell (24 September 1922), quoted in J. M. McEwen (ed.), The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (1986), p. 376
  • He is the best living embodiment of the Liberal doctrine that quality is not hereditary.
    • On Viscount Gladstone, the son of W. E. Gladstone; speech to the Manchester Reform Club (14 October 1922), quoted in The Times (16 October 1922), p. 17
  • It is always a mistake to threaten unless you mean it, and it is because not merely we threatened, but we meant it, and the Turks knew that we meant it, that you have peace now.
    • On the Chanak Crisis; speech to the Manchester Reform Club (14 October 1922), quoted in The Times (16 October 1922), p. 17
  • I have had many friends—Conservatives, Liberals, yes, and multitudes of those who hold no attachment to any party. I cast myself on the people whose cause I have never betrayed during the thirty-two years of a strenuous public life. They are a just and generous people, and to those who have done their best to render them service, and I claim to have rendered them service, they will see fair play. I am not afraid of the future.
    • Speech to the Manchester Reform Club (14 October 1922), quoted in The Times (16 October 1922), p. 17

Leader of the National Liberal PartyEdit

  • I have never concealed...that my sympathies were always democratic and progressive... [M]y upbringing, my sympathy, my whole bent of mind is democratic... I was concerned for the difficulties of this land, education for the people, housing difficulties, disarmament, peace with Ireland, liberty to Irishmen, and more liberty in India. These are not things that sound well in Mayfair, and they do not make especial appeal to Belgravia. And the revolt began. You have only got to follow out what I have said, and you will see the revolt began there.
    • Speech in the Majestic Cinema, Leeds (21 October 1922), quoted in The Times (23 October 1922), pp. 16-17
  • This reactionary mutiny, which culminated at the Carlton Club this week, if it received a majority of the votes of this country...whatever they may say before the election, they will want to carry out their "Diehard" programme. That is what they went out for... I stand where I was—I stand for some sound progress.
    • Speech in the Majestic Cinema, Leeds (21 October 1922), quoted in The Times (23 October 1922), p. 17
  • I stand as a Liberal pure and simple... I go for Free Trade pure and simple... If Bonar Law gets a majority we shall have five years of reaction.
    • Remarks to C. P. Scott during the general election campaign (23 October 1922), quoted in The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911–1928, ed. Trevor Wilson (1970), pp. 429-430
  • I have been in favour of all men who believe in the principle upon which our prosperity has been built—free, private enterprise—of men who are opposed to revolutionary proposals, and who are equally opposed to reactionary proposals, because, believe me, they are only the reverse of the same medal, acting together for the purpose of bearing the country through the gigantic difficulties which have been left as an inheritance by the war.
    • Speech to the National Liberal Party in the Hotel Victoria (25 October 1922), quoted in The Times (26 October 1922), p. 8
  • They have got rid of me for a time...but it will only be for a time. I am out to fight in exactly the same cause to which I have consecrated my strength during the whole of my life—the cause of the people, the downtrodden and the oppressed. I hope that the people will stand with me in fighting the great battle of liberty and progress.
    • Speech at Cardiff station (9 November 1922), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 35
  • In the war we had got out of the danger of the military spirit in Europe trampling upon human liberty, and were now confronted with a menace from inside our own country—such a menace as had destroyed Russia. That menace was an attack upon the very life-blood of Britain, and unless it was arrested at the start, the whole fabric of the commerce, trade, and prosperity of this country would come down and Britain the mighty, whose name ringed round the earth, would become a poor thing.
    • Speech in Haverfordwest (10 November 1922), quoted in The Times (11 November 1922), p. 12
  • I am against class government, whether it is high or low. You have one party today that puts class first; there is another that puts party first, and there is not a pin to choose between them. Let us put the country first. Reaction is as dangerous as revolution because it leads to revolution.
    • Speech in Swansea (10 November 1922), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 35
  • When you are out on a voyage, the tranquillity does not depend upon the ship, but upon the sea... It is not a policy, it is a yawn.
    • On the Conservative leader Bonar Law's election slogan, "Tranquillity"; speech in the Stoll Picture Theatre, Kingsway (4 November 1922), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 34
  • Avoid the extremists and Socialists, but do let us avoid the extreme of "standstillism." You want a strong group of independent men, freed from party ties, strong enough to insist on a steady middle course, free from all extremes. Pursue the steady middle course.
    • Speech in the Stoll Picture Theatre, Kingsway (4 November 1922), quoted in The Times (6 November 1922), p. 10
  • [I appeal to Labour supporters] to vote against themselves; it will be the greatest service to their class in getting their minds away from false ideals. Russia is a wreck. For God's sake do not let us do the same thing in this country.
    • Speech in Pembroke (9 November 1922), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 35
  • There is no British minister who has ever devoted so much energy, made more liberal provision for the misfortunes of the wage-earning class than I have done.
    • Speech in Llanelli (11 November 1922), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 35
  • The issue was whether they were going to maintain our present economic structure, with improvements ameliorating its asperities gradually and cautiously, or whether they were going to pull the whole thing down, to put the whole of our commerce and industry into the melting-pot, at a moment when everything depended on credit and confidence, and absolutely destroy these things by committing the country to a wild series of proposals. Put compendiously, the proposal of the Labour Party was, "The nation is suffering from lack of capital; let us take what there is." (Laughter.) The old idea of bleeding a patient, abandoned by the medical profession, was taken up by the Labour Party. Even the doctors never bled a patient who was suffering from anaemia, yet that was what the Labour Party proposed. It was the stupidest programme ever put before the electorate.
    • Speech in Bristol (14 November 1922), quoted in The Times (15 November 1922), p. 14
  • I prefer to call them [Labour] the Socialist Party, because I consider we are a better Labour Party than they are. I don't believe their programme is to the interests of Labour, but to its detriment.
    • Speech in Bolton (14 November 1922), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 35
  • Asquith and his party have no positive policy, no fighting policy. That came out at the election. But for the Liberal party a fighting policy is essential... The real ground of attack is the Land. On that the Tories would be bound to make a stand and you would have a real battle with an unanswerable case.
    • Remarks to C. P. Scott (6 December 1922), quoted in The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911–1928, ed. Trevor Wilson (1970), p. 434
  • The British interests in the straits are supreme and it seems to me they are being given away for a frog-pie. I prefer the good old British beef!
    • Letter to Lord Hardinge during the Lausanne Conference (7 December 1922), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 66
  • Of all the bigotries that savage the human temper there is none so stupid as the anti-Semitic. It has no basis in reason; it is not rooted in faith; it aspires to no ideal; it is just one of those dank and unwholesome weeds that grow in the morass of racial hatred.
    • Is it Peace? (1923), p. 246
  • There is a growing feeling among the masses of the people that what they regard as the "comfortable" classes have not been in a great hurry to rescue the under dog... You have got this enormous electorate behind asking "What are you going to do?" If Liberalism won't do it they will find their instrument. They are finding it. While we are slinging poisoned arrows at each other Labour is walking off with the ark of the covenant.
    • Speech to the Scottish Liberal Club in Edinburgh (2 March 1923), quoted in The Times (3 March 1923), p. 12
  • The mission of Liberalism is to hurry up redress. "Sunshine for your grandchildren" is a bad electoral programme. People want to feel and see the light and warmth before their lives are past, and they mean to have what they want. If Liberalism cannot supply it they will get it from some other party.
    • Speech to the Scottish Liberal Club in Edinburgh (2 March 1923), quoted in The Times (3 March 1923), p. 12
  • They may criticise my Government as much as they like, but as long as we were in office we prevented the Turks from going to Constantinople, the French from going into the Ruhr, and the American hand from coming into our till. Now they have all got there.
    • Remarks to Lord D'Abernon (28 March 1923), quoted in Lord D'Abernon, An Ambassador of Peace, Vol. II (1929), p. 185
  • I have come here just to give my view of the task of Liberalism... I put it in one simple sentence, "Fair play for the under dog".
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • There must be a greater co-partnership between Capital and Labour if you are to get the best out of both.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • Capital has been made for man, and not man for Capital.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • Slums must be eliminated. They ought to have no place in modern civilisation. They are an eyesore, a corruption. They putrefy and poison the air. A great Empire like ours ought to be too proud to have them among us, and therefore I put that amongst the first duties of Liberalism—to have a housing policy which will not merely complete the deficiency in the number of houses which are available, but which will eradicate slumdom out of British civilisation, and in order to do that we have to take a bold step forward and to run risks which in the end will be the salvation of the people of this country.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • We have the most fertile soil in Europe. In spite of that, there is not a civilised country in Europe that makes as little use of its land for enriching the people as Great Britain... [T]he first duty of Liberalism is to undertake the task of so reforming our land system that the inheritance of the people in the soil should be utilised for the benefit of the people to the fullest extent.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • The brains of the people are the most productive of all soils, and cultivated very unequally... There is more class favouritism here than in almost anything... A highly educated community is a community that enriches the whole of the land... One of the things that Liberalism has to see to is that education, opportunities and facilities for the development of the brain and intellect of the best should be without regard to their origin.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • We are wasting our Empire. It is the richest Empire in the world...but it is an undeveloped Empire... There is no party that has such interest in developing the Empire as the Liberal Party. The strength and unity of the Empire were due to Liberal ideals. But for Liberalism there would have been no Empire... The British Empire stands in the world for peace, for right, for freedom, for fair play. It is the great fair-play Empire of the world... It ought to be the special task of Liberalism to make this Empire stronger, and stronger, and stronger, because it is the hope of mankind today.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • As far as I can see, it is the only Empire that takes risks for humanity. There are men who fight for the flag, and rightly should do it for their national interest, but this is the one Empire that goes out armed for right, for freedom. It is the interest of Liberalism to make it strong. That I put as one of the chief items of any Liberal policy I would have anything to do with.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • The other dangers are from Socialism and Fascism. The menace of the latter is not an obvious one, but it is a very real one. You just look at the newspapers which practically created the present Government. You listen to the whispers that are going on—the admiration for Fascism, for its leadership, for its policy, the sort of hint that this is the way, that Signor Mussolini has shown the path for us here, not by concessions, not by giving way to the working classes, but by force—in the words of Signor Mussolini, "The people are tired of liberty." Are they? If they are, then God help them, and their children will live to regret it. There is nothing which is worth selling your freedom for.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • If you want to know what Socialism is, I think you can get it for 1½d.—a copy of that legislation which is known as "Dora"—a most severe and repellent lady, and we are well rid of her.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • Nothing struck me so much in the war as the disappearance of the individual, of the human being... I saw what the State machine was, that it destroyed the individual, absorbed him to itself, and I said, "Give me Liberty." That is what a complete Socialistic State would mean, once you carried it out. That is why I am a Liberal and not a Socialist. Socialism would enslave labour. For its own benefit, its own advantage, Socialism would in the end enslave labour. Liberalism has made labour free, and it is its business to preserve the freedom of labour.
    • Speech to the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of the League of Young Liberals in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester (28 April 1923), quoted in The Times (30 April 1923), p. 17
  • Luckily, you have Britain up to its armpits in salt water, and therefore alone remaining cool.
    • Speech in Llanfairfechan (22 May 1923), quoted in The Times (23 May 1923), p. 12
  • The white sheet of repentance is a very poor substitute for a mainsail.
    • On the reunion of the Liberal Party; speech to the Oxford University New Reform Club (22 June 1923), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 69
  • You do not deal with these evils by saying, "Let us unite together and fight Socialism". This a poor, sorry, sterile and selfish policy.
    • Speech to the Oxford University New Reform Club (22 June 1923), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 69
  • Industrial countries are...engaged in improving their machinery, in order to save labour and increase production... The moment peace is restored in Europe, and the exchanges are stabilised...[y]ou will then be face to face with the real rivalry and the competition... I fear that the period of depression is going to be prolonged... we are in for a long period of depression such as we have not seen in our lifetime.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (16 July 1923)
  • The French would never have dared to do what they have done had it not been for the fall of the Coalition.
  • He had always felt that they thought that in him they had a kindred spirit. That was true. Their great men were the men he admired; some of their greatest men were the men from whom he had drawn inspiration, notably Abraham Lincoln. The next day he was to start on a journey to see a country which he regarded as the great miracle of the West, where man had risen from the dead past to a new hope.
    • Speech to the American Society in London at the Savoy Hotel, London, before his tour of the United States (28 September 1923), quoted in The Times (29 September 1923), p. 6
  • I think it is an insult to the intelligence of the nation to feed starving industries with the mildewed straw of last century, out of which, so far as I can see, every grain of statesmanship has been beaten.
    • Response to the Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin's policy of protectionism; statement in Southampton upon his return from the United States (9 November 1923), quoted in The Times (10 November 1923), p. 8
  • Liberalism stands for the safe middle course.
    • Speech at Crewe station during the general election campaign (23 November 1923), quoted in The Times (24 November 1923), p. 8
  • The hope of the future would be found in a party of sane progress. The present danger was to identify progress with the Socialist Party... It was important, therefore, that they had revived a party which represented sound, sensible, rational progress.
    • Speech in Leeds (27 November 1923), quoted in The Times (28 November 1923), p. 18
  • It was a dire alternative for a country to have a choice between tariff reform, which destroyed its industries, and Socialism and Communism, which destroyed the whole fabric upon which prosperity was based... It amounted to a choice of which they were going to cut—the carotid artery of foreign trade or the jugular vein of capital.
    • Speech in Leeds (27 November 1923), quoted in The Times (28 November 1923), p. 18
  • In this election we have killed Protection and destroyed reaction. It now remains to us to make sure that at the next election, which cannot be long delayed, we shall put before the people a programme of well-considered and soundly-constructed social reform which shall kill the crudities of Socialism.
    • Message to Weekly Westminster, quoted in the Manchester Guardian (14 December 1923), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 79
  • The Western skies are already black with the flight of capital seeking safety beyond the Atlantic. The fright is real. There has been nothing like it since horror filled the streets of Rome at the approach of Attila.
    • Article in the Daily Chronicle shortly before the Labour Party formed its first government (5 January 1924), quoted in The Times (8 January 1924), p. 13
  • He repeated the view...that the only possible course, under present conditions, for the Liberal party was to back the Labour party whole-heartedly to the full extent open to it, and in concert with it to reap a full harvest of Radical reform.
    • Remarks to C. P. Scott, as recorded in his diary (5 January 1924), quoted in The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911–1928, ed. Trevor Wilson (1970), p. 449
  • The cant of it was nauseating. Even the petrol fumes of the quenched revolutionary torch will serve our nostrils well by cleansing the air of the sickening incense burnt by those departed worshippers of their own image.
    • On a speech by Stanley Baldwin; article in the Daily Chronicle (2 February 1924), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 84
  • My right hon. Friend says she [Germany] is in such a condition that she cannot possibly pay [reparations]. No, she cannot pay us. She is to pay France in full. Everything goes to France, everything goes to Italy, everything goes to Belgium; but, forsooth, she has not the capacity to pay Great Britain. I object. We were equal in the sacrifices we had to make, and I think it is about time that someone should stand up for the rights of Great Britain.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 March 1924)
  • It was a treaty which might have been signed by a vanquished Power as far as British interests were concerned.
    • Speech in the House of Commons against the Treaty of Lausanne (9 April 1924), quoted in The Times (10 April 1924), p. 7
  • A far-seeing manufacturer utilizes periods of slackness to repair his machinery, to re-equip his workshop, and generally to put his factory in order; so that when prosperity comes he will be in as good a position as his keenest competitor to take advantage of the boom. I suggest that the nation ought to follow that wise example, and that this is the time to do so. Let us overhaul our national equipment in all directions—men and material—so as to be ready...to meet any rival on equal or better terms in the markets of the world.
    • 'The Statesman's Task', The Nation and Athenæum (12 April 1924), quoted in John Campbell, 'The Renewal of Liberalism: Liberalism without Liberals', in Gillian Peele and Chris Cook (eds.), The Politics of Reappraisal, 1918–1939 (1975), pp. 97-98
  • We are not taking full advantage of the assets at our command. Capital and labour are alike strangled by vested prejudices and traditions. Both are capable of producing infinitely more wealth for the benefit of the community than they are now creating. It is of no avail to spend time on distribution if production lags behind the common need. The best means of achieving production seems to be the most urgent task of our industrial and political leaders at this hour.
    • 'The Statesman's Task', The Nation and Athenæum (12 April 1924), quoted in John Campbell, 'The Renewal of Liberalism: Liberalism without Liberals', in Gillian Peele and Chris Cook (eds.), The Politics of Reappraisal, 1918–1939 (1975), p. 98
  • The question was whether the Liberal Party was going to be merely a political party which is "the Keeper of the Doctrines." Its sole business would be to see that no man should stray. It would become purely a political sect, strictly, sternly, severely, painfully orthodox, and painfully select. If that was to be its rôle it would dwindle from generation to generation and decade to decade, until it would only have representation amongst the more tenacious races, to one of which he belonged.
    • Speech in Oxford Town Hall (6 August 1924), quoted in The Times (7 August 1924), p. 14
  • If Toryism stands alone, fighting the extremists of the Socialist Party, it will not be long before the existing order is overthrown.
    • Speech in Queen's Hall, Langham Place, opening the Liberal Party's election campaign (14 October 1924), quoted in The Times (15 October 1924), p. 10
  • Before they [Labour] came in unemployment was gradually improving year by year. Since they have been in it has gone up. Before they came in the cost of living was going down. It has gone up. Since they came in the number of houses that had been built for the workmen had gone down and their cost gone up. Before they came in the export trade of this country was gradually but steadily improving. Have you seen the last returns? They are going down. If this is what Mr. Ramsay MacDonald means by a Labour success, Heaven save this country any more Socialist triumphs.
    • Speech in Queen's Hall, Langham Place (14 October 1924), quoted in The Times (15 October 1924), p. 10
  • The time has come for Liberalism to resume the leadership of progress—to lead away the masses from the chimeras of Karl Marx and the nightmares of Lenin, and to carry on the great task to which Gladstone and Bright devoted their noble lives.
    • Speech in Queen's Hall, Langham Place (14 October 1924), quoted in The Times (15 October 1924), p. 10
  • [The Labour government] flung away the opportunity. They flung away a Heaven-given opening. What for? Not in order to emancipate the land, not in order to find work for the unemployed, not in order to build homes for the houseless, but in order to commit the taxation of this country to a gigantic loan to a number of fanatical visionaries who are ruining the great land of Russia.
    • Speech in Pembroke Dock (23 October 1924), quoted in The Times (24 October 1924), p. 16
  • This is a Government of to-morrow. ... It is all swagger and pose, and no action. Let it be done. No, he cannot do it, he is too busy doing other things. Russia must come first. No time to carry schemes for the unemployed, no time to deal with profiteering in food and in materials for building. ... Yet there was time for a Russian loan. Moscow first, and Camberwell afterwards.
    • Speech in Camberwell, London, on Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Government (27 October 1924), quoted in The Times (28 October 1924), p. 8

Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of CommonsEdit

  • Toryism would confiscate, in the interests of a private monopoly, the produce of the industry, the toil, the capital, the risk and the effort of others. Socialism would also confiscate, in the interests of a State monopoly, the efforts of the individual. Liberalism stands for a free opportunity for the individual to do the best for himself and the nation.
    • Speech in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh (20 December 1924), quoted in The Times (22 December 1924), p. 12
  • Britain is Liberal; Britain is not Tory; Britain is not Socialist; Britain is not standstill; Britain is not revolutionary; Britain is sanely progressive. It means to go on, but not to go over. Therefore the temper of Britain is Liberal.
    • Speech in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh (20 December 1924), quoted in The Times (22 December 1924), p. 12
  • If you scratch a Conservative, you find a Fascist.
    • Speech to the London Young Liberal Federation in the National Liberal Club (5 January 1925), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 109
  • The one thing this country would not stand from a Tory Government was Toryism.
    • Speech in the Albert Hall (30 January 1925), quoted in The Times (31 January 1925), p. 8
  • Socialism means the community in bonds. If you establish a Socialist community it means the most comprehensive, universal, and pervasive tyranny that this country has ever seen, the flaw that enters into everything in all the relations of life. It is like the sand of the desert. It gets into your food, your clothes, your machinery, the very air you breathe. They are all gritty with regulations, orders, decrees, rules. That is what Socialism means. You cannot trust liberty to Socialism. The only hope of liberty is in Liberalism, for Liberalism alone believes in it.
    • Speech in the Albert Hall (30 January 1925), quoted in The Times (31 January 1925), p. 8
  • The world year by year is spinning rapidly away from that evil environment and the frenzy, carnage, and savagery. The firmament is clearing. The springtime of Liberalism is at hand, and with due labour we shall reap the harvest in season.
    • Speech in the Albert Hall (30 January 1925), quoted in The Times (31 January 1925), p. 8
  • It is no use simply saying, "Little children, love one another," if one set of children can get nearly all the toffee and the others have very little.
    • Speech in the House of Commons in response to Stanley Baldwin's "Give peace in our time, O Lord" speech (26 March 1925)
  • Honestly, I cannot see how you are going to overcome these factors unless there is some determination by the nation as a whole to grip the problem and face it and deal with it as we dealt with the problems of the War, with courage, with initiative and, above all, without fear of departing from the ordinary channels. The thing that saved us in the War was that we were not afraid of doing something that had never been done before, and you will never get away from it... Honestly, if I had been there another three years, I should have learned something new. I am sick of this slavish adhesion to the Coalition policy.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on economic policy (14 May 1925)
  • The action of the Government which had had the most disastrous effect on British trade was their premature and precipitate restoration of the gold standard before our credit was ripe for that departure. It had made sterling dearer and thus artificially put up the price of British goods in the neutral markets, where we were already competing on very narrow margins with our trade rivals. At this very hour coalowners and miners had been driven to the brink of a yawning chasm of strife, largely through this deed of egregious recklessness by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
    • Speech to the Eastern Counties Liberal Federation in Wisbech (10 July 1925), quoted in The Times (11 July 1925), p. 16
  • The [Conservative] Government seemed hopeless and confused and without purpose... Unfortunately, the men who ought to be awake were slumbering, and in their dreams they babbled incoherencies about good will and subsidies... There had never been a more pitiful exhibition than that made by the Prime Minister in the debate on unemployment.
    • Speech to the Eastern Counties Liberal Federation in Wisbech (10 July 1925), quoted in The Times (11 July 1925), p. 16
  • This is a Vote to spend £58,000,000 in protection of our trade routes. Our trade routes are in danger, but they are not in danger from navies. ... They are not naval, they are not military, they are not aerial; they are industrial, and the First Lord of the Admiralty has within the last few days been brought face to face with far and away the greatest danger to our trade routes. It is not in the Pacific; it is at home. It is no use sweeping the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean in order to see whether you can somehow or other find dangers to guard against. The danger is yawning in front of us, and the Government are marching into it, scanning the horizon with telescope glued to one eye, and the other closed.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (29 July 1925)
  • Quite frankly, the Government were afraid of facing cold steel... The Home Secretary has been delivering a great many speeches recently about the Red peril. It really is no use barking at the Red Flag every time it cracks in the wind, whilst his chief is engaged in humbly gliding the flag staff—and with standard gold. Really it is very sad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer assisting in that operation. He was very eager to fight the Reds on the Volga. I am very sorry to see him running away from them on the Thames and leaving his purse behind.
    • Speech in the House of Commons after the government announced it had appointed the Samuel Commission in order to avert a general strike (6 August 1925)
  • At the last Election hon. Members opposite were very gallantly fighting against the flaming apostles of Zinovieff and beating them badly. To-night they are being herded into the Red Lobby. The hand that directs them will be the hand of the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury, but the voice that compels them is the voice of Mr. Cook.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 August 1925)
  • Russia can play the fool and survive because no Government can destroy her natural resources, but if you have the anarchy which Bolshevism and revolution brings in this country, we shall be inevitably ruined.
    • Speech in Stockport Town Hall (11 September 1925), quoted in The Times (14 September 1925), p. 14
  • I know the expense of this would not pay 1 per cent. interest. Perhaps not, but it would pay better than doles to rot men in idleness, and their work would leave the national estate for ever richer. On every account the best exchange for the workless is an exchange of the green doors of the Labour Bureau for the green fields of Britain.
    • Speech in Killerton Park, near Exeter, opening the Liberal land campaign (17 September 1925), quoted in The Times (18 September 1925), p. 14
  • If it is right that the State should resume its authority over the land for the purposes of burying the dead, it is surely also right that it should exercise its ownership where it is necessary it should do so to feed the living.
    • Speech in Killerton Park, near Exeter, opening the Liberal land campaign (17 September 1925), quoted in The Times (18 September 1925), p. 14
  • This is not the time to add one torch to the flame of discontent in this land. I speak with solemnity, watching what is going on in the industrial centres. For Heaven's sake, do not let us drive the farm labourer into the ranks of those in rebellion against society.
    • Speech in Killerton Park, near Exeter, opening the Liberal land campaign (17 September 1925), quoted in The Times (18 September 1925), p. 14
  • Restore the village life of England to its original brilliancy and glory. Every labourer should have half an acre as a right.
    • Speech in Killerton Park, near Exeter, opening the Liberal land campaign (17 September 1925), quoted in The Times (18 September 1925), p. 14
  • I appeal that these proposals should be examined, and, if found to be wise, adopted and carried out in that spirit of high and fearless patriotism and resolution which lifted this nation to such heights of endeavour and success but seven years ago.
    • Speech in Killerton Park, near Exeter, opening the Liberal land campaign (17 September 1925), quoted in The Times (18 September 1925), p. 14
  • Many Liberals who voted Conservative at the last General Election thought the country was in danger from Communism. But the greatest danger from Communism is that we should mismanage our affairs and that we will end in bankruptcy. I am not afraid of Communist orators or leaflets. I am not even afraid of the Russian subsidies to them; but I am afraid of such a muddle of our affairs that the working classes in despair will take anything.
    • Speech in Nairn (10 October 1925), quoted in The Times (12 October 1925), p. 11
  • Until we have disarmament in Europe, no treaties will avail to prevent war. The temptation would be too great. If there is one Power with overwhelming force where its claims can be established easily and readily, the temptation will be to resort to the battlefield and not to the court of arbitration. It is therefore vital that there should be disarmament.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (18 November 1925)
  • This is a direct attack on one class in the community, and that the largest, and the class that can least afford it.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the government's Economy Bill, which reduced the government's contribution to Health and Unemployment Insurance (22 April 1926)
  • We are met together this afternoon under the shadow of a grave industrial conflict of unknown magnitude. Apart altogether from the merits of the dispute, every citizen will feel it his duty to support the Government of to-day in the maintenance of order and in the organizing and facilitating of the essential services of the nation. (Cheers.) The country must come first always and all the time. It is very deplorable and all the more deplorable because in my honest judgment it was unnecessary.
    • Speech in Cambridge on the General Strike (1 May 1926), quoted in The Times (3 May 1926), p. 9
  • There is no revolutionary purpose animating the union leaders, who are now in charge... The whole influence of the strike leaders will be exerted in the interests of law and order. Let us trust that a settlement will be reached whilst calm and restraint are being maintained on both sides. There are grave risks in the whole situation. I put my faith on British coolness and in the British Parliament.
    • Article on the General Strike published in American newspapers (9 May 1926), quoted in The Liberal Magazine, vol. 34 (1926), p. 362
  • I...cannot see my way to join in declarations which condemn the General Strike while refraining from criticism of the Government, who are equally, if not more, responsible... I prefer the Liberal policy of trusting to conciliation rather than to force.
    • Letter to Godfrey Collins, explaining why he refused to attend a meeting of the Liberal Shadow Cabinet (10 May 1926), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 139
  • I was convinced that the general strike had no revolutionary purpose and that it was not designed to overthrow our institutions, although if persevered in...it might have had that effect. But its aim was entirely to express sympathy and give support to men in another union who were fighting to maintain a standard of life which was certainly not too high for men engaged in so dangerous and often so deadly a trade. However much I disapprove of this weapon, I could not work myself to a pitch of righteous anger against men who, however mistakenly, however unwisely, however wrongly, were acting from no selfish or destructive impulse, but were risking their own livelihood to help their comrades in a desperate plight.
    • Speech in Llandudno on the General Strike (26 May 1926), quoted in The Times (27 May 1926), p. 8
  • I was walking peacefully along my path when suddenly I was assailed by an angry bull of excommunication.
    • Speech in the Manchester Reform Club on Asquith's rebuke to Lloyd George for not attending the Liberal Shadow Cabinet meeting on 10 May (5 June 1926), quoted in The Times (7 June 1926), p. 8
  • But they say they cannot put up any longer with me as a colleague. It is a serious thing to split the Liberal Party on whether I am a more attractive colleague than Mr. Pringle. Why am I not? ... I tell you what it is. It is my instability. Now that is an old charge that has always been brought against any man who is alive. It is only the stick-in-the-muds that are stable.
    • Speech in the Manchester Reform Club (5 June 1926), quoted in The Times (7 June 1926), p. 8
  • I see the carrying of [Irish] Home Rule is ascribed to others. I cannot allow that. Home Rule was put through by me entirely, and I don't mind telling you that I sacrificed my Premiership to carrying through Home Rule.
    • Speech in the Manchester Reform Club (5 June 1926), quoted in The Times (7 June 1926), p. 8
  • There is only one question of principle, and upon that I stand, and that is if they mean to drum a man out of the Liberal Party because he has erred on the side of conciliation with millions of British workmen in a great dispute, on that proposition I fight right through to the end.
    • Speech in the Manchester Reform Club (5 June 1926), quoted in The Times (7 June 1926), p. 8
  • The inequalities of society at the present moment were far too great to continue. There were certain essentials to material well-being that every man, woman, and child was entitled to... He regarded as the minima: adequate food, raiment, air, shelter, light—he meant the light of Heaven—to maintain a healthy existence—sound education...reasonable leisure for recreation, for enjoyment, and culture. This country could afford to supply them to all its citizens.
    • Speech to the Oxford University Liberal Club at the Oxford Union (15 June 1926), quoted in The Times (16 June 1926), p. 18
  • What was the use of talking about freedom if they had millions of people tethered to slums?
    • Speech to the Oxford University Liberal Club at the Oxford Union (15 June 1926), quoted in The Times (16 June 1926), p. 18
  • There was something fundamentally wrong with our economic system. It was based upon injustice and could not last.
    • Speech to the Welsh National Liberal Federation in Rhyl (9 July 1926), quoted in The Times (10 July 1926), p. 16
  • If we had been as ready in 1924 with definite concrete proposals as we are today, we could have gone to the Labour Party and said: "Here are our proposals with regard to the land, electricity, and the mines, and the condition of our support is that you should deal with them." We should have now been in the third year of carrying out a great programme of social reform instead of being in the horrible muddle we are in at the present moment. Are we going to get another chance? I think we are.
    • Valedictory address to the Liberal Summer School in Oxford Town Hall (30 July 1926), quoted in The Times (31 July 1926), p. 17
  • No. A Liberal I was born and a Liberal I die. I will not join Labour.
    • Remarks to Tom Clarke, the editor of the Daily News (14 October 1926), quoted in Tom Clarke, My Lloyd George Diary (1939), p. 23

Leader of the Liberal PartyEdit

  • The Chinese were highly civilised when the ancient Britons, to whom he belonged, were barbarian. This was an old, enlightened, and vast community of hard-working people, yet they were deprived of rights enjoyed by some of the smallest nations in the world that only a few centuries ago emerged from savagery.
    • Speech in Bradford (4 December 1926), quoted in The Times (6 December 1926), p. 9
  • He...burst into an enthusiastic defence of the system of raising Party funds by the sale of honours. "You and I," he said, "know perfectly well it is a far cleaner method of filling the Party chest than the methods used in the United States or the Socialist Party." He complained that the Socialist Party was a trade union party solely because of the power of the trade unions to withhold funds. "In America the steel trusts supported one political party, and the cotton people supported another. This placed political parties under the domination of great financial interests and trusts." "Here," said Mr. Lloyd George, "a man gives £40,000 to the Party and gets a baronetcy. If he comes to the Leader of the Party and says I subscribe largely to the Party funds, you must do this or that, we can tell him to go to the devil. The attachment of the brewers to the Conservative Party was the closest approach," said Mr. Lloyd George, "to political corruption in this country. The worst of it is that you cannot defend it in public, but it keeps politics far cleaner than any other method of raising funds."
    • Remarks to J. C. C. Davidson as recorded by Davidson (1927), quoted in Robert Rhodes James, Memoirs of a Conservative: J. C. C. Davidson's Memoirs and Papers, 1910–1937 (1969), p. 279
  • What is the trouble in Europe today? Immediately after the War the danger was Communism. The danger today is an aggressive nationalism. It is the trouble which you get in Italy and South-Eastern Europe. It is the trouble which you get in the Balkans. It is the trouble which you have got on the Eastern Frontier of Germany, where there is a much more powerful party than the Communist party in favour of aggressive action. That is the trouble today, and into this troubled Europe...you throw this stone, this bone of contention. It is a leap in the dark and a leap into a whirlpool.
  • It was an old struggle that Liberalism stood for. There was the great battle of Naseby when that great Liberal leader Oliver Cromwell planted the standard of liberty, fought a very good by-election for liberty, and won.
    • Speech in Hinckley during the Bosworth by-election campaign (30 May 1927), quoted in The Times (31 May 1927), p. 18
  • As long as you have these huge armaments in the world, arbitration and conciliation will be made quite impossible, and that is common sense, because if you have a nation that has got overwhelming power behind it, it is intolerant, it is impatient of argument and of conference. That is really what led very largely to the Great War.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (24 November 1927)
  • We are not in the moral position to enforce disarmament in Europe until we cut down our own expenditure at home... I say, quite frankly, that we must take the same risks for peace as we took for war. You must take some risks. Personally, I do not see where the risks are. I do not see an enemy on the horizon. These enemies do not develop very suddenly. They develop over a whole course of years; but I do not see where the enemy is now.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (24 November 1927)
  • I am making no predictions and the Prime Minister is wise in taking that line, but I am perfectly certain that nothing will enable the German Empire for a generation or two to get anywhere near the same position of dominant force and menace that it was in before the War. I do not say they desire it—I do not believe there is any such desire in Germany at the present moment.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (27 March 1928)
  • I have come all this distance and am prepared to face thousands of miners in the rain and to say I have done more for them than any of the Labour Party.
  • Liberty is not merely a privilege to be conferred; it is a habit to be acquired.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (10 May 1928)
  • Liberty has restraints but no frontiers.
    • International Liberal Conference (July 1928)
  • Sincerity is the surest road to confidence.
    • Speech at Aberystwyth (3 August 1928)
  • A great party is not an errand boy to fetch and carry little parcels in one interest here, a class there, a section somewhere else. It is a great army carrying on behind the pillar of fire that leads the nation to the Promised Land.
    • Speech to the Welsh Liberal Summer School in Aberystwyth (3 August 1928), quoted in The Times (4 August 1928), p. 7
  • The continued occupation of the Rhineland after the Germans had carried out their obligations was an infringement of a solemn treaty. Germany had carried out in letter and in spirit the whole of her engagements with regard to disarmament. What had the Allies done? Nothing... The Anglo-French Pact was the most sinister event since the War.
    • Speech in Yarmouth (12 October 1928), quoted in The Times (13 October 1928), p. 7
  • Germany has carried out her obligations. She was to reduce her army to 100,000. She was to scrap her great artillery and all her machinery of war. ... Germany had carried out her obligations. That was over three years ago. What have we done? What have the Allies done to carry out that obligation? ... Disarmament is the only guarantee of safety. ... Germany is demanding, and rightly demanding, that we should now carry out our obligations, seeing that she has carried out her's. ... The whole of the British Empire signed that bond, every part of it. When it is asked to carry it out, what is it to say? Is it to say, "We are treating you exactly as we are treating France—you with your army of 100,000 and France with her army of millions"? Is the British Empire to say, "We are treating you impartially and fairly"? Shall Caesar send a lie?
    • Speech in the House of Commons (13 November 1928)
  • If it is not reserved for me to lead the people for whom I have fought all my life to the promised land, I shall feel a pang of disappointment.
    • Letter to Frances Stevenson (22 January 1929), quoted in My Darling Pussy: The Letters of Lloyd George and Frances Stevenson, 1913–41, ed. A. J. P. Taylor (1975), p. 114
  • If the nation entrusts the Liberal Party at the next General Election with the responsibilities of Government, we are ready with schemes of work which we can put immediately into operation—work of a kind which is not merely useful in itself, but essential to the well-being of the nation. The work put in hand will reduce the terrible figures of the workless in the course of a single year to normal proportions, and will, when completed, enrich the nation and equip it for successfully competing with all its rivals in the business of the world. These plans will not add one penny to national or local taxation. It will require a great and sustained effort to redeem this pledge, but some of us sitting at this table have succeeded in putting through even greater and more difficult tasks when the interests of the nation were involved.
    • Speech in the Connaught Rooms (1 March 1929), quoted in The Times (2 March 1929), p. 7
  • The Labour Party cannot make up its mind whether to treat the Liberal plan as a freak or to claim its paternity. Mr. Thomas has said it is an absurd abortion, but Mr. Henderson says it is the child of the Labour Party. Mr. MacDonald, as usual tries to have it both ways. He says—often in the same speech—"This is a stunted thing." Then looking at it fondly, he says, "This is my child."
    • Speech in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, on the Liberal Party's "Orange Book", We Can Conquer Unemployment (12 April 1929), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 226
  • There happened to be a very severe winter on the Continent of Europe. Frost destroyed all their cabbages. The Germans found their broccoli withered, and they began to think of some more equable climate. They heard that in Cornwall broccoli still grew, so they ordered a few. (Laughter.) So the Prime Minister says: 'Trade is reviving.' (Laughter.) The next thing he said was, 'Negroes are beginning to take to bicycles'. What a programme! A few hampers of broccoli for frost-bitten Germans, a consignment of push-bicycles for enterprising niggers, and keeping down the wages of the British workmen. (Laughter.) There was a popular song, "Wait till the Clouds Roll By". That seemed to be Mr. Baldwin's election song.
    • Speech in Brynmawr (26 April 1929), quoted in The Times (27 April 1929), p. 14
  • Europe and the world are spending hundreds of millions perfecting the mechanism of slaughter. Pacts of peace, covenants, treaties galore, all fixed on bayonets, and the biting steel is gleaming through it. Women must put an end to that... You cannot trust men altogether, not where fighting is concerned... The woman is the maker of peace.
    • Speech to a Liberal "Women of Britain" Demonstration in the Albert Hall (9 May 1929), quoted in The Times (10 May 1929), p. 9
  • Mr. MacDonald...said I promised to make this a land fit for heroes. I ask Mr. MacDonald if he will point out the place, time, and occasion when I promised to make this a land fit for heroes. I say quite frankly that I may have my defects, but I am no braggard. If I boasted I was going to make this a land fit for heroes I would be a sheer blusterer. No one man can do that and I never promised it. What I did do, speaking after the War, on a purely non-political occasion at Wolverhampton, where there were Labour, Conservative, and Liberal adherents, was to refer to the great heroism of our troops and say, "Let us all do our best to make this a land fit for heroes to live in." That was not a pledge I gave; it was an appeal.
    • Speech in Bangor (25 May 1929), quoted in The Times (27 May 1929), p. 8
  • He taunted me because I said that the proposals were not sufficiently bold. Bold! They are timid, pusillanimous and unintelligent.
    • Speech in the House of Commons addressing the Labour government minister who had responsibility for unemployment, J. H. Thomas (4 November 1929)
  • What were those practical difficulties? The first was that never in the history of India had India or any part of it, any of its many peoples and nations, ever enjoyed the slightest measure of democratic self-government until 1919. The second is that 95 per cent. of the population is illiterate. What is the third? That there are as many different races, nationalities and languages in India as there are in the whole of Europe. To talk about India as a unit, as if it were one people, is to display an ignorance of the elementary facts of the case. There has never been unity in India except under the rule of a conqueror.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 November 1929)
  • It is an incredibly bad Bill. It is really an incredible Bill at all for the Labour Government to have introduced. It contains, in my judgment, the worst features of Socialism and individualism without the redeeming features of either. It is State interference without State protection. It has all the greed of individualism without any of the stimulus of competition... The Bill is a complete surrender to one interest—a complete surrender—without regard to the general interest of the community.
  • All taxation must be a tax upon industry.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (16 April 1930)
  • In this Parliament you have the Labour Government with millions of the working population of the country behind it. If this Parliament fails—and unless some strong and energetic action is taken it must fail—then Parliament itself will be discredited among the whole of the working population of this country. They will not believe any longer in the old inadequate windmill set up by Simon de Montfort to mill the corn for the people, and they may be incited to do their own milling in their own way.
    • Speech in Caernarvon (12 June 1930), quoted in The Times (13 June 1930), p. 16
  • Whatever the Government undertake, let them undertake it boldly, like men who believe in it. It is no use doing little things in a big situation. When you have got a big emergency you must have big remedies applied with a great spirit of enterprise, with daring, with all the qualities that have made this country great. If the Government do that, I do not care what Government they are—Liberal, Conservative, Labour, or what not—I am for my country every time, and I stand up for it.
    • Speech in Tenby, Pembrokeshire (25 October 1930), quoted in The Times (27 October 1930), p. 14
  • Are you going to land in the sleepy hollow of Baldwinism or in the quagmire of protection?
    • Speech to Liberal candidates in the National Liberal Club (5 December 1930), quoted in The Times (6 December 1930), p. 14
  • We have had two Baldwin Governments... The mischief they have done not merely remains, but continues to spread. That terrible debt settlement—we are only now beginning to realise what it means. We were lassoed fast to American finance. What is the result? We have been dragged over the course by the wild horses of Wall Street. That gold standard settlement—premature, ill thought out. (A voice.—"No.") My friend there will never go into the new Jerusalem unless he is quite sure the golden gates are there and that the streets are really paved with the gold standard. (Laughter.) It is rather a mockery for our export trade to be kicked down the ladder, even with golden slippers. (Laughter.)
    • Speech to Liberal candidates in the National Liberal Club (5 December 1930), quoted in The Times (6 December 1930), p. 14
  • The prospect of Liberalism is a prospect of enduring service of a high order for the nation and for this generation. Office, power, and emoluments are not everything for a party. If they were, then faith would be a vain thing indeed for multitudes of men and women. When the history of these times comes to be written it will be recorded that in these days Liberalism stood between Britain and irretrievable blunder; that, but for Liberalism, this great country would have been consigned to the degradation of that most selfish and sordid aspect of nationalism which is represented by the haggling, grasping, clawing of tariffs. That, I think, we should be able with wisdom to save the nation from.
    • Speech to Liberal candidates in the National Liberal Club (5 December 1930), quoted in The Times (6 December 1930), p. 14
  • The influence of Liberalism is not merely restraining. It will be recorded how, even in the days of its discomfiture, the Liberal Party undertook the surveying and prospecting of the surest paths to further progress; how it pointed these paths out to the nation and encouraged the Government boldly to tread them.
    • Speech to Liberal candidates in the National Liberal Club (5 December 1930), quoted in The Times (6 December 1930), p. 14
  • I want to urge him again not to be too frightened of the City of London. Since the War the City of London has been invariably wrong in advising the Government, not merely in the advice which it gave us, and the advice which it gave to the late Government, but in the advice it is giving now. ... [D]o not let the Government run away the moment a few volleys are fired from the City of London. It may save them trouble for a short time but no progressive Government can survive long under the protection of the white flag.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (12 February 1931)

Leader of the Independent LiberalsEdit

  • If I am to die, I would rather die fighting on the left.
    • Remark to Herbert Samuel, explaining his opposition to Liberal politicians joining the National Government (5 October 1931), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 301
  • Upon their casting vote depends the question whether Britain is to continue its honourable career as a pioneer in the path of human progress which, on the whole, it has pursued so nobly for generations, or whether it is in one leap to spring backward over 80 years and place itself on a level with the protectionist countries of the Continent of Europe, with their low wages, taxed food, fettered industries, and policy of international antagonisms, which interfere with prosperity and imperil the peace of the world. ... Free trade is at issue. ... I appeal fervently to Liberals not to walk straight into this booby trap set for them by the protectionists merely because it is decorated by the Union Jack.
    • Election address (25 October 1931), quoted in The Times (26 October 1931), p. 14
  • [Lloyd George] said they [the British] would have to make up their minds whether they were going to give the Indians what they wanted, or handle the situation. The trouble was that, although the Englishman talked about handling things, when the Government tackled the question the nation got up in arms about the methods, which would have to be like the Black and Tans in Ireland. In that case anyone could come along and shoot a defenceless officer in bed, or his wife, but immediately the assassin was hounded out there was a hue and cry from some of our own people. There was a curious sentiment in the English.
    • Remarks to A. J. Sylvester, as recorded in Sylvester's diary (15 December 1931), quoted in Colin Cross (ed.), Life with Lloyd George. The Diary of A. J. Sylvester 1931-45 (1975), p. 65
  • Our more serious devastation was invisible—the shattering of our export trade through our being cut off for over four years from our normal overseas markets. We were the largest international traders in the world and were, therefore, more vulnerable in this respect than any other country. Our customers had been driven either to secure their supplies from rival sources or to start manufacturing for themselves. Indeed, our export trade has never recovered from the War, as the derelict factories of our industrial districts bear melancholy witness. While world trade had by 1927 risen to 120 per cent of the pre-war level, British export trade was only 83 per cent of its pre-war height. That is our real devastated area.
    • The Truth about Reparations and War-Debts (1932), pp. 8-9
  • When one recalls the lessons of 1814, 1870 and 1914-18 it is not to be wondered at that those who dwell within daily sight of the scars due to the tearing wounds inflicted by Teutonic hands on their living land should have a natural apprehension lest the same calamities should befall again. Stripped of some of its richest provinces, Germany has still a population 50 per cent above that of France. The German is industrious, intelligent and resourceful, and although he is poor to-day such qualities soon make riches. He will therefore, so Frenchmen realise, once more become a formidable menace. The Teuton is on the French nerves. This accounts for the anxiety to keep him chained by Treaties, impoverished by levies, and overawed by armaments.
    • The Truth about Reparations and War-Debts (1932), p. 68
  • [L]et us meanwhile do something for our country, and not always be looking forward to something happening just round the corner. Do not let this country be like that Pompeian slave just discovered in Italy who was found among the ruins clutching the leather bag of his savings. Utilise them!
    • Speech in the House of Commons (12 July 1932)
  • Death is the most convenient time to tax rich people.
    • In Lord Riddell's Intimate Diary of the Peace Conference and After, 1918-1923 (1933)
  • All the trouble that had arisen in Europe had come from a flagrant breach of the undertaking to disarm by all the victors except one. ... He knew that there had been horrible atrocities in Germany, and they all deplored and condemned them, but a country passing through a revolution was always liable to ghastly episodes owing to the administration of justice being seized here and there by an infuriated rebel. He was neither a Nazi nor a Fascist nor a Communist. If the Powers succeeded in overthrowing Nazism in Germany, what would follow? Not a Conservative, Socialist or Liberal régime, but extreme Communism. Surely that could not be their objective.
    • Speech in Barmouth (22 September 1933), quoted in The Times (23 September 1933), p. 7
  • They condemn him [Hitler] for persecuting the Jews, but he has not shown half the ferocity which Cromwell showed towards the Irish Catholics—as for instance, in the siege of the fortress of Drogheda and the burning alive of its inmates.
    • Remarks to Frances Stevenson, as recorded in Stevenson's diary (6 November 1934), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 287
  • [Lloyd George] talked of Gladstone, and how he [Lloyd George] had attacked him in his very early days in the House of Commons on the Clergy Discipline Bill. ... When [Lloyd George] went down to Wales afterwards, & the more proper folk reproached him for his attack on Gladstone, he said: 'I give you the same reply that Cromwell gave, "If I meet the King in battle, I will fire my pistol at him".' [Lloyd George] says that he thinks Gladstone as a Churchman had a fundamental dislike for Dissenters. ... 'I admire him, but I never liked him', is [Lloyd George]'s qualifying comment always.
    • Remarks to Frances Stevenson, as recorded in Stevenson's diary (16 November 1934), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 291
 
Death is the most convenient time to tax rich people.
  • How do you propose to deal with this twofold problem [of unemployment]? I give exactly the same answer as President Roosevelt gave Congress the other day. I would find work for the workless instead of doles, and I am as convinced as he is that it can be done.
    • Speech in Bangor launching "Lloyd George's New Deal" (17 January 1935), quoted in The Times (18 January 1935), p. 7
  • I propose that where private enterprise has been proved to be palpably unable, under present conditions...to solve our national difficulties and fulfil our national needs unaided by the State, the administrative and financial resources of the nation as a whole should be made responsible for setting on foot and supporting those developments in town and country which would bring into fruitful activity our undeveloped resources and opportunities.
    • Speech in Bangor launching "Lloyd George's New Deal" (17 January 1935), quoted in The Times (18 January 1935), p. 7
  • [Lloyd George] said the Czar only got his deserts—he had ignored the just pleas of the peasants & had shot them down ruthlessly when they came unarmed to him in 1905.
    • Remarks to Frances Stevenson, as recorded in Stevenson's diary (7 February 1935), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 300
  • I regret very much...that the Government seem to ignore completely one of the most important elements in the defence of the realm, and that is the provision of food. We came nearer to defeat [in the First World War] owing to food shortage than we did from anything else. I cannot understand why, when they are thinking out the whole problem of war and possible dangers, that the greatest danger of all seems to have been left out of account.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (10 March 1936)
  • Never have I had such great minds around me—Smuts, Balfour, Bonar Law...and Curzon. Curzon was perhaps not a great man, but he was a supreme Civil Servant. Compared to these men, the front benches of today are pigmies.
    • Remarks to Harold Nicolson, as recorded in Nicolson's diary (6 July 1936), quoted in Harold Nicolson, Diaries and Letters, 1930-1939, ed. Nigel Nicolson (1966), p. 268.
  • He [Hitler] is a very great man. "Fuhrer" is the proper name for him, for he is a born leader, yes, and statesman.
    • Remarks to A. J. Sylvester, as recorded in Sylvester's diary (4 September 1936), quoted in Colin Cross (ed.), Life with Lloyd George. The Diary of A. J. Sylvester 1931-45 (1975), p. 148
  • Ah, Mein Kampf is a Magna Charta.
    • Remarks to A. J. Sylvester, as recorded in Sylvester's diary (6 September 1936), quoted in Colin Cross (ed.), Life with Lloyd George. The Diary of A. J. Sylvester 1931-45 (1975), p. 151
  • I have just returned from a visit to Germany. … I have now seen the famous German leader and also something of the great change he has effected. Whatever one may think of his methods — and they are certainly not those of a Parliamentary country — there can be no doubt that he has achieved a marvellous transformation in the spirit of the people, in their attitude towards each other, and in their social and economic outlook.
    One man has accomplished this miracle. He is a born leader of men. A magnetic dynamic personality with a single-minded purpose, a resolute will, and a dauntless heart. He is the national Leader. He is also securing them against that constant dread of starvation which is one of the most poignant memories of the last years of the war and the first years of the Peace. The establishment of a German hegemony in Europe which was the aim and dream of the old prewar militarism, is not even on the horizon of Nazism.
    • As quoted in The Daily Express (17 November 1936)
  • The outlook had become still more threatening since the Pact of Munich. So far from that notorious surrender purchasing appeasement, it had encouraged the dictators to a greater display of insolence. ... Three years ago we discovered that our armaments in essentials for our defence had fallen far behind those of Germany, Italy, and Japan. It was a piece of criminal negligence. ... During the past two years the dictators had, through our lack of foresight, through the gross stupidity of our national leaders, cleverly but relentlessly succeeded in placing the British Empire and France in the most dangerous strategical position which they had ever been situated.
    • Speech in Llandudno (19 January 1939), quoted in The Times (20 January 1939), p. 14
  • I still look forward to an awakening in the national spirit of Britain and France which will rouse and inspire democracy throughout the world to a great combined effort to save liberty from utter overthrow in our generation.
    • Speech in Llandudno (19 January 1939), quoted in The Times (20 January 1939), p. 14
  • The Treaty of Versailles was not carried out by those who dictated it. A good deal of the trouble was due to that fact. We were dealing with Governments in Germany which were democratic Governments, based on a democratic franchise, with democratic statesmen, and it is because we did not carry out the undertakings we had given to those democratic Governments that Hitler came into power. ... The solid promise that we gave...that if Germany disarmed, we should immediately follow her example, was not carried out, and there is no Government that is more responsible for that than the present National Government which came into power in 1931.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (9 May 1940)
  • Hitler is a prodigious genius.
    • Remarks to A. J. Sylvester, as recorded in Sylvester's diary (7 July 1940), quoted in Colin Cross (ed.), Life with Lloyd George. The Diary of A. J. Sylvester 1931-45 (1975), p. 275
  • Anyhow, it is a different situation now to what it was then; Clemenceau had power; I shall wait until Winston is bust.
    • Remarks to A. J. Sylvester, as recorded in Sylvester's diary (3 October 1940), quoted in Colin Cross (ed.), Life with Lloyd George. The Diary of A. J. Sylvester 1931-45 (1975), p. 281
  • [Lloyd George] told me he did not see how we could get successfully through this war..."It is clear that that damn fool Neville [Chamberlain] never gave a thought to that question - whether we would win - when he declared war. I am not against war, but I am against war when we have no chance of winning."
    • Remarks to A. J. Sylvester, as recorded in Sylvester's diary (24 January 1941), quoted in Colin Cross (ed.), Life with Lloyd George. The Diary of A. J. Sylvester 1931-45 (1975), p. 287
  • Quite frankly, I think Hitler will win. I do not say that Hitler will be able to invade this country. It is a very difficult channel to cross. Lots of people have tried it, including Napoleon...I would not have gone to war without having Russia on our side. It was an idiotic thing to do.
    • Remarks to A. J. Sylvester, as recorded in Sylvester's diary (26 November 1941), quoted in Colin Cross (ed.), Life with Lloyd George. The Diary of A. J. Sylvester 1931-45 (1975), pp. 296-298

War Memoirs (1938)Edit

Originally published in six volumes between 1933 and 1936; the revised edition in two volumes was published in 1938.
  • [T]he rapid march of scientific discovery...made me feel that it was quite within the realm of possibility that one day there might be an invention which would neutralise our [naval] superiority, and reduce us to equality with, if not inferiority to, our neighbours. ... In such an event our position would be one of complete helplessness in the face of an invader with a powerful army. ... We had two fundamental weaknesses in such a contingency. The first was that our army was too insignificant to stand up against the gigantic forces on the Continent. The second was that we were so overwhelmingly dependent upon overseas supplies for our food, that if these were cut off we should, within a few months, be brought to the very verge of starvation. It was this consideration amongst others that always led me to urge that we ought to devote more thought to the development of the resources of British soil.
    • Volume I, p. 20
  • In the year 1910 we were beset by an accumulation of grave issues—rapidly becoming graver. ... It was becoming evident to discerning eyes that the Party and Parliamentary system was unequal to coping with them. ... The shadow of unemployment was rising ominously above the horizon. Our international rivals were forging ahead at a great rate and jeopardising our hold on the foreign trade which had contributed to the phenomenal prosperity of the previous half-century, and of which we had made such a muddled and selfish use. Our working population, crushed into dingy and mean streets, with no assurance that they would not be deprived of their daily bread by ill-health or trade fluctuations, were becoming sullen with discontent. Whilst we were growing more dependent on overseas supplies for our food, our soil was gradually going out of cultivation. The life of the countryside was wilting away and we were becoming dangerously over-industrialised. Excessive indulgence in alcoholic drinks was undermining the health and efficiency of a considerable section of the population. The Irish controversy was poisoning our relations with the United States of America. A great Constitutional struggle over the House of Lords threatened revolution at home, another threatened civil war at our doors in Ireland. Great nations were arming feverishly for an apprehended struggle into which we might be drawn by some visible or invisible ties, interests, or sympathies. Were we prepared for all the terrifying contingencies?
    • Volume I, p. 21
  • Britain was the one Power in Europe that had never yet been beaten in a European war. With her immunity from attack, with her immense fleet manned by the most skilful seamen in the world, with her enormous resources, she could be reckoned upon to wear down any Power. Had Britain been able to throw into the scale a well-equipped army of a million men to support her fleet, Germany would have hesitated before she rejected terms of peace and thus brought the British Empire into the conflict on the side of her enemies.
    • Volume I, p. 44
  • There were many of us who could hardly believe that those responsible for guiding the destiny of Germany would be so fatuous as deliberately to provoke the hostility of the British Empire with its inexhaustible reserves and with its grim tenacity of purpose once it engaged in a struggle.
    • Volume I, p. 44
  • We sat at the green table in the famous [Cabinet] room where so many historic decisions had been taken in the past. It was not then a very well-lighted room, and my recollection is that the lights had not all been turned on, and in the dimness you might imagine the shades of the great British statesmen of the past taking part in a conference which meant so much to the Empire, to the building up of which they had devoted their lives—Chatham, Pitt, Fox, Castlereagh, Canning, Peel, Palmerston, Disraeli, Gladstone. In that simple, unadorned, almost dingy room they also had pondered over the problems which had perplexed their day. But never had they been confronted with so tremendous a decision as that with which British Ministers there faced in these early days of August, 1914.
    • Volume I, p. 47
  • The men drawn from that class who attained pre-eminence, like Palmerston, Randolph Churchill, Salisbury and Balfour, threw themselves into the arduous conflicts of politics and fought their way to the top, giving and taking on the way the blows that hammer character.
    • Volume I, p. 60
  • Modern warfare, we discovered, was to a far greater extent than ever before a conflict of chemists and manufacturers. Man-power, it is true, was indispensable, and generalship will always, whatever the conditions, have a vital part to play. But troops, however brave and well led, were powerless under modern conditions unless equipped with adequate and up-to-date artillery (with masses of explosive shell), machine-guns, aircraft and other supplies. Against enemy machine-gun posts and wire entanglements the most gallant and best-led men could only throw away their precious lives in successive waves of heroic martyrdom. Their costly sacrifice could avail nothing for the winning of victory.
    • Volume I, p. 78
  • It would have been an unspeakable crime to divide the nation when even united it could barely be saved from defeat, so formidable was the foe we had challenged. The Conservatives were led by men of high character and capacity whose patriotism was above suspicion—Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Balfour, Lord Lansdowne, Sir Edward Carson, and Lord Curzon. Such men were much too high minded to desire electoral victory bought at such a cost to their country. Liberals will admit that their actions throughout the War were dictated by the highest motives of patriotism and that during that period they were willing to sink all Party dealing and rivalries and maintain their opponents in full possession of power so long as that power was wielded in the achievement of victory for their country's banner.
    • Volume I, pp. 130-131
  • There was an undoubted advantage from the point of view of national unity in having a Liberal rather than a Tory Government in power when war was declared. There was a further advantage in having a Government at the head of affairs which had the support of Labour. This secured the adhesion of the great Labour organisations whose action and sympathetic aid was essential to its vigorous prosecution. Had Labour been hostile the War could not have been carried on effectively. Had Labour been lukewarm victory would have been secured with increased and increasing difficulty. The most prominent and influential leaders of trade unionism worked for victory throughout the War. Without their help it could not have been achieved. But beyond and above all these considerations, as a factor in the attainment of national unity, was the circumstance that the War had been declared by a party which by tradition and training regarded war with the deepest aversion, and has more especially since the days of Gladstone, Cobden and Bright, regarded itself as specially charged with the promotion of the cause of peace.
    • Volume I, p. 131
  • Mr. M'Kenna's administration of the Home Office provoked much dissatisfaction, and not merely on the Unionist benches. His policy towards residents of enemy extraction in this country was thought to be too protective, too indifferent to the dangers which might arise from espionage. The country was all camp and arsenal, and valuable information for the enemy was visible everywhere without speering or spying... Whilst administering the letter of his trust, he showed too clearly that he had no sympathy with its spirit. And the nation was uneasy. Its sons were falling, and information was undoubtedly getting through from the shores of Britain which helped the enemy in the slaughter. Subsequent events proved that intelligence of great value to the enemy percolated to Germany through the agency of persons living unmolested in England under Mr. M'Kenna's indulgent regime. War is a ruthless business and those who wage it cannot afford to be too discriminating. The nation was right in thinking that this was not the time to risk the national security on glib pedantries.
    • Volume I, p. 132
  • I felt as I reviewed all the circumstances of the national situation, and realised beyond a shadow of doubt the supreme and vital importance of a proper supply of munitions for our success in the war, and remembered the insistence with which I had urged this upon the Government, that I was in honour bound to accept if the Prime Minister thought I was the man best fitted for this post. I made my decision; and I never had cause to regret it. As I look back today upon the problems which were then presented to me, the extraordinary difficulties that surrounded the work which I took in hand, my own inexperience in that kind of work, the chaos and tangle with which I was confronted, I feel that in many ways the creation of the Ministry of Munitions was the most formidable task I ever undertook.
    • Volume I, p. 144
  • I have been a pretty hard worker all my life, from boyhood right up to the present day. But I have never worked harder than during the period when I was carrying through the organisation of our munition supplies—not even during my Premiership, strenuous and arduous as those years were.
    • Volume I, p. 170
  • Quite the most difficult problem in regard to labour was that of securing their wholehearted co-operation in the urgent task of munition production—by sticking in the same workshop, keeping good time, working steadily and avoiding strikes; and in particular by consenting to those relaxations of their trade union rules which would make possible an extensive dilution of skilled by unskilled workers, and a considerable use of overtime in cases of emergency.
    • Volume I, p. 176
  • One of the most serious obstacles encountered in the way of increasing the output of munitions was the heavy drinking in certain areas. France had dealt drastically with the problem by prohibiting absinthe: Russia by forbidding vodka... It is difficult for us today to realise how seriously excessive drinking contributed to diminish the output. Britain today is a much more sober country than it has ever been in my memory. There is still a good deal of heavy drinking, drunkenness still occurs, and the national health suffers from it, but the sight of a drunken man or woman reeling down the street has grown a rare spectacle, and the consumption of alcohol has fallen off very heavily. The discipline and restriction compelled by the exigencies of the War is largely responsible for this salutary change. This must ever be counted as one of the good things occasionally garnered from things evil. The memory of pre-war conditions is growing fainter, and it is becoming quite hard to remind oneself of the very different state of affairs which too often prevailed then. Cases of drunkenness appearing before the courts were three times as numerous in pre-war years as they are now. The quantity of spirits (alcoholic content) drunk in 1913 was two and a half times what it is today.
    • Volume I, p. 192
  • The Allied strategy in France had been a sanguinary mistake which nearly brought us to irretrievable defeat. When it failed the High Commands had no rational alternative to propose. The Allied generals were completely baffled by the decision of the Germans to dig in. They could think of nothing better than the sacrifice of millions of men in a hopeless effort to break through. Even then they had not worked out what mechanical aid was necessary to carry out such an operation, nor had they given any real systematic thought to the methods of providing their armies with the requisite machinery for putting into effect their hazy and crazy plans. How crazy were their ideas at this stage can be ascertained by reading the painful story of a succession of foolish offensives which for years were to mow down the flower of British and French youth by the million in vain efforts to rush machine guns, skilfully concealed and effectively protected. The primary responsibility for success or failure rested with Governments, and they could not shuffle off any part of that responsibility by pleading that they had placed their trust in experts who were obviously unequal to their task.
    • Volume I, pp. 214-215
  • I felt a special obligation to see that the men who volunteered to face death for their country's honour, should be equipped with the best their country could provide them with in order to fight its battles, and that the most effective use should be made of their valour in the battlefield. The events of the last few months had shaken any confidence I ever had in the wisdom of military leadership and I was full of apprehension lest the flower of Britain's youth should be mown down through professional rigidity, narrowness and lack of vision.
    • Volume I, p. 215
  • Our bane throughout those early periods of the War was the incurable tendency of a number of people in high places to argue that measures vitally necessary for the success of our effort could not, for some reason or other, be taken. Thus we were told that the outside firms could not learn to make munitions; that the finances of the country could not stand the strain of our total effort, that the men needed for our Army could not be spared from industry; that gunners could not be trained to operate our programme of big guns; that the country would not stand conscription; that volunteers would not fight beside pressed men; and so on. Every one of these arguments was falsified by the event. Unhappily, each one of these objections served for a greater or less time to hold up and paralyse the efforts we should have been making to win the War. The advice of these prophets of the impossible cost us months and years of prolonged warfare, and hundreds and thousands of British lives.
    • Volume I, p. 434
  • There is no greater mistake than to try to leap an abyss in two jumps.
    • Volume I, p. 445
  • War has always been fatal to Liberalism. "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform" have no meaning in war. Moreover, a nation, to make war effectively, must be prepared to surrender individual right and freedom for the time being. If the war is prolonged, that submission becomes a habit. Victory is the triumph of force and not of reason. After every great war there is a period during which belligerent nations incline to divide into two extreme camps—roughly known as revolutionary and reactionary. In that temper Liberalism is at a disadvantage. That is why it is today at a discount throughout Europe. Even in America its doctrines assume the form of a dictatorship. The temporary collapse of the Liberal Party in this country was inevitable from the moment it became responsible for the initiation and conduct of a great war. The instinct of the ordinary Liberal in that respect was sound. The War therefore made him uneasy.
    • Volume I, p. 448
  • 1914 was a catastrophe for Liberalism. That was unfortunate, but the issues at stake were too big for treatment in terms of party interests. The challenge to international right and freedom was so tremendous that Liberalism—above all Liberalism—could not shirk it.
    • Volume I, p. 448
  • By the autumn of 1916 the food position was becoming increasingly alarming and grave, and its handling by the Government was a most conspicuous example of its hesitancies. The increasing shortage of shipping made the food position doubly grave, dependent as we were upon ships for most of our food supplies... On 10th March, 1916, I raised this issue anew by urging on the War Committee that the aim we ought to keep in view in the matter of food supplies was that this country should as far as possible be self-contained. To this end the Board of Agriculture ought to be armed with drastic powers to improve the production of food so as to reduce our dependence on imports. Every possible acre ought to be cultivated against the prospective extension of the submarine campaign. I suggested the utilisation of machinery on a large scale. The plan, however, must be a national one.
    • Volume I, p. 576
  • I realised that if the submarine menace were not checked (and there seemed at that moment no expectancy that anything could prevent it from increasing in gravity) the War as far as we were concerned might end in starvation for this country.
    • Volume I, p. 578
  • A paralysis of will seemed to have seized the Government. Whatever the subject, it was impossible to get a move on. I am not sure that this palsy did not account for the unanimity of the Cabinet on the question of rejecting overtures for Peace. These would have meant action. The pacifist element were easily persuaded to do nothing. The Government was getting into that nervous condition where they could neither wage war nor negotiate peace.
    • Volume I, p. 580
  • It is hard for me to convey an adequate picture of the sense of frustration and tangled impotence which oppressed me during those closing months of 1916. There are nightmares in which one welters amid a web of fettering strands and obstacles, and watches, wide-eyed, some doom approaching against which the strangled throat cannot force a sound of protest or appeal. The ineffectiveness and irresolution of our leadership in those dark weeks bred something of this nightmare feeling.
    • Volume I, p. 581
  • There was at this time a whole series of developments and problems which were being paltered with or shelved... Firm handling of them was vital to our prospects of success, and I grew increasingly convinced that it was my duty as a responsible Minister to dispel this miasma of indecision and force these matters to a definite issue, even at the risk of resignation from the Ministry and a subsequent public exposure of the ineptitude of the Allied war direction.
    • Volume I, p. 581
  • The letter was a complete repudiation of the agreement he [H. H. Asquith] had entered into with me on Sunday and confirmed in writing on Monday. He had reached his decision to go back on his word without giving me an opportunity of further discussion with him. He saw all the critics. He resolutely refused to see me although he had promised to do so. Had I gone back on my word I know the nature of the comment that would have been passed on me by those who worked with frenzy to persuade Mr. Asquith to break faith. How it would have fitted into that legend of distrust which they so assiduously worked up for years, and which seems to be their sole article of unwavering faith!
    • Volume I, pp. 592-593
  • I neither sought nor desired the Premiership... However, Mr. Bonar Law refused to listen to our combined entreaties, and I had to undertake the terrible responsibility of Premiership in a muddled war, with at least half my own party and more than half the Labour Party bitterly hostile, and a considerable section of the Tory Party—including most of their leaders—suspicious and distrustful.
    • Volume I, p. 596
  • There was a tragic bitterness about the situation which developed through those days, and which forced a cleavage between me and colleagues with most of whom I had for long years been working in the happiest and most fruitful collaboration—a cleavage later on aggravated and perpetuated by the malice of petty-minded men with baneful effects on the future political development of our country.
    • Volume I, p. 597-598
  • [T]here is no doubt that my influence in the Liberal Party suffered severely from my neglect to put my case before opinions had hardened and prejudices had been created. Misrepresentations were soon broadcast throughout the land, and time was given for them to strike root in the soil, and when I regained leisure it was too late to eradicate them. Most of this work was done privately at confidential gatherings of Liberal associations throughout the country. Missionaries were dispatched from Headquarters at Abingdon Street to every district to spread tendentious reports of the origin, motives and methods of the crisis. At secret conclaves much could be said which the presence of a newspaper reporter would have checked. Some salient facts were suppressed; others were distorted, and when I resumed my political activities after the War was over, I was amazed at the beliefs that were current as to what had really happened.
    • Volume I, pp. 598-599
  • With a criminal prodigality we had squandered the superior man-power that had been at our disposal. We had also weakened our resources and strengthened those of the enemy by our failure to gain alliances that would have been ours for the asking, and by manoeuvring at least one potential ally to the other side. Our diplomacy was a timid and nervous thing, frightened of America, too shy to tackle Greece, and leaving the Turks and Bulgarians entirely to the allurements of the Germans. Sir William Robertson complained of the undoubted fact that the soldiers had received no help from diplomacy.
    • Volume I, p. 618
  • Bold diplomacy, backed by proper strategy and effective military action, would have enabled us in the early months of the War to call into being a great Balkan Confederation on the side of the Allies, which would have added 1,500,000 to our fighting forces... Peace with victory might have been ours in 1916 if we had pursued such a course. It would have meant contenting ourselves with holding the Germans on the Western Front, rather than trying to smash through there; it would have meant sending the men, who later on were slain in vain attacks in France and Flanders, to strengthen the forces of a Balkan Confederation for an assault upon the weakest part of the Central Powers' defence; it would have meant sending part of the munitions blazed away in France to assist Russia and the Balkan States. Recently I was told in conversation by a distinguished German who held an exalted position in the government of his country during the War: "That is what we were always afraid you would do!" Nothing pleased them better than to see us mass our forces for attack in the impregnable west while we allowed ourselves to be out-manoeuvred at every turn in the vulnerable east. We hammered at the breastplate of Achilles and neglected his heel. And we called it sometimes "striking at the vital parts" and sometimes "attrition."
    • Volume I, pp. 618-619
  • When I came to consider what the Liberal quota of the Ministry was to be, I was confronted with the resolution carried by all the Liberal Ministers at a meeting to which I was not summoned, binding each and all not to serve under me. This decision was responsible for the disastrous split in the Liberal Party which diminished its influence, paralysed its energies, and distracted its purpose for all the years that have ensued since 1916. Even to this day it poisons relations between men whose cordial co-operation is essential to the well-being of Liberalism. It deflects judgment upon every issue. Yet however disastrous it was to the future strength of the Party, from the point of view of the efficiency of the Government as a war instrument, the decision arrived at by the official leaders of the Party to decline association with the new Government was an undoubted advantage.
    • Volume I, p. 635
  • In a war of this order, sea power was the key to ultimate victory so long as either party could manage just to hold their own on land. If we maintained control of the seas without actually breaking on shore, the Central Powers could in the end be starved into surrender... Potential famine was therefore the most powerful weapon in the army of the belligerents. As long as Britain kept her rule over the waves, neither she nor her Allies could be beaten by any shortage of food or essential material for waging war. On the other hand, the Central Powers could not win if they were cut off from the resources of the great world outside. It was a ruthless calculation, but war is organised cruelty. Those who think they can restrict its barbarities will find in the end that savagery is of its essence and that civilised warfare only means that men have changed the instruments and methods of torture.
    • Volume I, p. 649
  • I am now approaching the narrowest and the most threatening gorge in the mad voyage, with one particularly jagged rock right in the middle of the stream and to all appearances barring the way. In the end it was the German boat that crashed against it and was broken to pieces, but I shudder to think that this experience was almost ours. The submarine campaign proved the ruin of Germany. It is a horrifying thought that it very nearly achieved the destruction of Britain’s sea power, with all that such a disaster would have meant to the fortunes of the Alliance and of humanity. We are all too apt, on looking back upon Germany's submarine campaign, to regard it as one of her most fatuous blunders. It is true that it turned out to be the fatal error which precipitated her ultimate defeat. But it was a miscalculation only by a margin which might have been on the other side. There were weeks when the German leaders had truthful reports which gave them confident assurance of success, while giving Britain and her Allies cause for an anxiety which at one stage reached the depths of alarm. There were times when some of our most cautious leaders thought we might be beaten and that we would do well to make peace whilst our ships were afloat.
    • Volume I, p. 667
  • If Britannia ruled the waves, she did it with a shaky trident in the days before the submarine was overcome.
    • Volume I, p. 675
  • There is no wrath like the cold fury of the professional spirit proved wrong by outsiders, and no folly comparable to its reactions under such conditions.
    • Volume I, p. 694
  • The difficulties experienced by the War Cabinet in handling this problem are inherent in all war operations when civilian opinion clashes with that of the experts. Naval science and strategy are matters very remote from the lay comprehension, and the aura of authority glistened round the heads of the Naval High Command. Whenever I urged the adoption of the convoy system, I was met...with the blank wall of assertion that the experts of the Admiralty knew on technical grounds that it was impossible. That is a very difficult argument to counter. A persistence of a few more weeks in their refusal to listen to advice from outside would have meant irretrievable ruin for the Allies. Neptune's trident would have been snatched out of Britannia's hands by the ravening monster of the great deep. It was not the first time in this War that the lesson was driven home—luckily in time—that no great national enterprise can be carried through successfully in peace or in war except by a trustful co-operation between expert and layman—tendered freely by both, welcomed cordially by both.
    • Volume I, pp. 695-696
  • The enemy unquestionably reckoned on being able by a campaign of frightfulness to intimidate our sailors from putting to sea. No other explanation is possible of the numerous cases of brutality and outrage that were perpetrated—presumably by express order of the High Command—against defenceless men after their vessels had been torpedoed and sunk. The firing on and scuttling of open boats at sea, and triumphant proclamation of ships "spurlos versenkt"—sunk without trace, their whole crews being drowned mercilessly—were all intended to shake the morale of British seamen and make them unwilling to sign on for further voyages. But in this object the German Navy was completely unsuccessful.
    • Volume I, p. 706
  • It was Britain's grandest struggle on the seas—in its magnitude—in its intensity—in the issues that depended upon it. There were thousands of ships engaged in it, from the great battleships down to the smallest patrol boats—from the stately liners to the dogged tramps and the plucky little trawlers. Even the pleasure boats joined in. The battle was fought in every ocean, and on every trade route. Never were the skill, the daring and the endurance of British sailors put to so stern a test; never was the superiority of their seamanship so triumphantly established. The deadly net that sought to envelop the Allied arms and leave them at the mercy of the Prussian sword was torn to shreds by the mariners of Britain. The great Allied triumph of 1917 was the gradual beating off of the submarine attack. This was the real decision of the War, for the sea front turned out to be the decisive flank in the gigantic battlefield. Here victory rested with the Allies, or rather with Britain. The moment the War became a struggle, not to beat the foe in a fight, but first to exhaust his strength and then to beat his defences down, the sea became inevitably the determining factor.
    • Volume I, p. 711
  • The food question ultimately decided the issue of this war. It was directly responsible for the downfall of Russia, finally it was the element that led to the collapse of Austria and Germany. Indirectly it was responsible for bringing America into the War, since Germany's indiscriminate submarine warfare was her answer to our blockade... Here in Britain, whilst we were short of shipping for imperative war demands and our food supplies from overseas were becoming more and more precarious, we were allowing our own fertile soil to go out of cultivation without making an effort keep up its yield of essential food. What is the explanation of so obtuse, and general a neglect of this vital war front?
    • Volume I, p. 755
  • Somewhat optimistically, as events in the last few years have shown, I declared that "the country is alive now as it has never been before to the essential value of agriculture to the community, and whatever befalls it will never again be neglected by a Government." It is still difficult to wean the urban population from a rooted habit of regarding the countryside as a picnicking ground, whose accessible amenities are restricted by fences and often destroyed by cultivation. They have not yet acquired a real comprehension of the essential importance of the land of the country to its security, its permanent prosperity and contentment.
    • Volume I, p. 766
  • The [Food Production] Department had done its work with surprising efficiency, and had enabled us to carry on through the most critical moments of the War until we reached victory. Without the extra millions of tons of home-grown food which it secured, the nation would have gone hungry in 1918. It would certainly have been compelled to tighten its belt several holes. The only alternative would have been a peace of failure, preceded or followed by revolution.
    • Volume I, p. 785
  • The deep-rooted tradition of personal liberty which has long held sway in Britain made it a matter of the greatest difficulty for the Government to secure general consent for the exercise of its common-law right to call on all its citizens to carry out such tasks as it might lay on them for the national security.
    • Volume I, p. 802
  • It is difficult for Britons to realise what Verdun means to France. The world can show no battlefield to correspond to it. On those heights Gaul and Teuton had, from the blizzards of February [1916] to the snows of the following December, been fighting out a racial feud which had existed for thousands of years. The concentrated fury of ages raged and tore, shattered and killed for ten months in one intensive struggle which has no parallel in the history of human savagery. The very road that carried the reinforcements, the guns and the shells that redeemed Verdun, is to this hour for Frenchmen the Via Sacra of their country.
  • The State arrogated to itself the supreme right to direct, control, divert, restrict, or even suppress any industry wherever the national interest called for any action. Sometimes it exercised all these powers. Direct production in old, extended, and improvised arsenals increased enormously, and the numbers of State employees multiplied manifold... New factories and workshops employing scores of thousands of workers were set up by the State to produce guns, shells, explosives, bombs, aeroplanes, and every kind of war material. In most of these the management was under the direction of State officials, and incidentally, in economy and efficiency these men were an acknowledged success. Hundreds of other factories and workshops were commandeered by the State for war work, but neither the ownership nor the management was changed... The general policy of these concerns was subordinated to the decision of the Government to place the interests of State and war first and foremost. Subject to that principle the owners retained the management of their businesses. The same policy was pursued with the production and distribution of food. The means of production and distribution were left in private hands so long as the owners conformed to the demands and orders of the State. The system was neither Stalin nor Roosevelt. It fell short of the former's ideas, but went beyond those of the latter. Many still think that it was more practical than either. It certainly produced prompter results, and that is what matters most in war.
    • Volume II, pp. 1143-1144
  • There can be no question that one outstanding reason for the high level of loyalty and patriotic effort which the people of this country maintained was the attitude and conduct of King George V.
    • Volume II, p. 1162
  • The first commandment of the true French patriot is: "Thou shalt have no other gods but France." It is a type or quality of patriotism which springs more naturally from the soil of France than that of any other land. Are Englishmen also not patriots? Yes, they are, but with them patriotism is a duty, with Frenchmen it is a fanaticism.
    • Volume II, pp. 1200-1201
  • The fundamental error of the Allied strategy up to the present has been the refusal of their war direction to recognise the fact that the European battlefield is one and indivisible. A corollary to this error has been the concentration of the strongest armies on the attacking of the strongest fronts, whilst the weakest fronts have been left to the less well-equipped armies. We have thus allowed the Balkans to be captured by the Central Powers... Austria and Turkey, which might by well-directed blows have been overthrown in 1915 or 1916, have been regarded by France and England as mere "side-shows" having no bearing upon the general result of the campaign. This narrow and unimaginative conception of our military strategy will, I predict, always be pointed to as the reason why the Allies in spite or their overwhelming preponderance, have been so successfully held at bay by an enemy considerably inferior in numbers. The question is whether it is too late even now to retrieve the consequence of mistake.
    • Volume II, pp. 1284-1285
  • If the whole truth, as it was known at the time to the military staffs, had been exposed before the members of the War Committee, the Flanders offensive would have been turned down.
    • Volume II, p. 1297
  • I felt that the fatal error which had been committed in the present war had been continually to attack where the enemy was strongest. Surely, it was a mistake to deliberately aim our spear against the thickest part of the enemy's armour.
    • Volume II, p. 1302
  • If success was achieved on the Italian Front, I believed that victory in the War was assured. A separate peace with Austria would then be practicable, and having eliminated Austria from the War, Germany would be at our mercy.
    • Volume II, p. 1302
  • It is, of course, a matter of history that our military advisers, in face of this appeal from me, still decided to adhere to their view as to the feasibility of the Flanders offensive. Could I have gone behind these exalted Commanders and conducted independent investigations on the spot into the facts and conditions? ... Profound though my own apprehensions of failure were, I was a layman and in matters of military strategy did not possess the knowledge and training that would justify me in overriding soldiers of such standing and experience. Accordingly, the soldiers had their way. And it is one of the bitter ironies of war that I, who have been ruthlessly assailed in books, in the Press and in speeches for "interfering with the soldiers" should carry with me as my most painful regret the memory that on this issue I did not justify that charge.
    • Volume II, p. 1304
  • Artillery became bogged, tanks stuck in the mire, unwounded men by the hundreds and wounded men by the thousands sank beyond recovery into the filth. It is a comment upon the intelligence with which the whole plan had been conceived and prepared, that after the ridge had been reached it was an essential part of the plan that masses of cavalry were intended to thunder across this impassable bog to complete the rout of a fleeing enemy. For months, hundreds of thousands of British troops fought through this slough. They sheltered and they slept in mud-holes. When they squelched along, they were shot down into the slush; if wounded, they were drowned in the slime: but the survivors still crept and dragged onward for four months from shell-hole to shell-hole, with their rifles and machine-guns choked with Flemish ooze, advancing about a mile a month. It was a tragedy of heroic endurance enacted in mud, and the British Press rang with praises of the ruthless courage, untiring calm and undaunted tenacity—of the Commander-in-Chief!
  • There were two courses open to Sir Douglas Haig. One was to go to the Cabinet and admit that the campaign was a complete failure based on an absurd miscalculation of essential facts. He would have to own up that the criticism directed against the scheme by the Prime Minister had been justified by the event. The other course was to persevere stubbornly with his attacks, knowing that at the worst he would gain some ground, with a chance that one day the enemy morale might break and that opportunity would then come for exploiting a defeat. He gambled on the latter chance rather than face the dread alternative of a confession of failure to the politicians.
    • Volume II, p. 1311
  • Politicians are liable to be attacked from every flank—simultaneously. They are suspicious, subtle, crafty and designing, and at the same time they are gullible, simple and foolish.
    • Volume II, p. 1314
  • It is said that I ought to have taken the risks and stopped the carnage. Let me confess that there were, and still are, moments when I am of the same opinion. But let those who are inclined to condemn me and the War Cabinet for not taking the hazard, weigh carefully and fairly the conditions at that time. Passchendaele could not have been stopped without dismissing Sir Douglas Haig. Sir William Robertson would have resigned. Had both disappeared without any preliminary fuss which would have rattled the Army, there would have been a sense of relief amongst all the fighting men from one end of the line to the other. But I could not have done it without the assent of the Cabinet.
    • Volume II, p. 1315
  • G.H.Q. substituted the policy of "wearing down the enemy" as the primary purpose of their strategy. How did that thrive? We lost 400,000 men in our direct and subsidiary attacks. The enemy did not lose on the whole British Front during that period 250,000 men. Our losses were nearly five to every three of the Germans. In their Verdun offensive, the Germans had the excuse that they were slaying five Frenchmen for every three they lost. We could not claim that measure of justification for our persistence in the Passchendaele folly.
    • Volume II, p. 1321
  • The departure from time-honoured ideas as to the duty of personal observation is due either to an exaggerated estimate of the importance of the individual General, or to an under-estimate of the qualities of the officers available to take the places of superiors in rank who have fallen. The price paid in this War for immunity to Generals was prodigious. No one suggests that it is the duty of Generals to lead their men up to the barbed wire, through the mud, whilst machine-guns are playing upon them. But, had men high up in military rank, ordering or continuing an offensive, been obliged by the exigencies of duty to view for themselves something of the character of the terrain of attack and the nature of the operation they were ordering their officers and men to undertake, the fatuous assaults of the Somme, Monchy, Bullecourt, the Chemin des Dames and Passchendaele would never have occurred; or at any rate one such experience would have been enough.
    • Volume II, p. 1323
  • The men who persisted in the Passchendaele assaults could not have known the conditions under which their orders had to be executed. It is an insult to their intelligence, let alone their humanity, to believe otherwise. I have quoted reputable evidence to prove that some of them had no idea of the actual state of the ground which they commanded tanks and troops to cross. Gough knew and passed his knowledge on to Haig. It seems to have made no impression on the latter's obsessed mind. His apologists quote his obduracy as a proof of the sublime courage that disdained obstacles and dangers. The fact that they were obstacles and dangers which had to be faced only by others and not himself would not, I feel sure, weigh with him. Had he been a humble officer he would have faced them without quaking. No one ever cast a doubt on his personal courage. But it demanded a much higher courage to own up that he had been guilty of a grave error of judgment—that the operation he had planned was an impossible one—that, in fact, he had been wrong and the subordinate generals and interfering politicians had been right.
    • Volume II, p. 1323
  • I was privileged, whilst this horrible battle was proceeding, to have a talk with one of Haig's most prominent military advisers, who afterwards owned that he had no idea of the conditions under which the battle was fought. I entreated him once more to reconsider the prospects of this venture in the light of what had actually happened. But he also was imbued with the relentlessness of his Chief. He treated me as a stupid civilian who knew nothing of war. When I alluded to the terrible casualties, he reminded me in Hotspur strain that you could not expect to make war without death and wounds. When I pointed to the wet season which had soaked the ground and made it unfit for the passage of tanks, artillery, or men, he said: Battles could not be stopped like tennis matches for a shower. Here again was Mars, but, I thought, Mars under an umbrella.
    • Volume II, p. 1324
  • The fact remains, that but for the distraction of Passchendaele, Turkey might have been forced to make peace, and the Black Sea might have been opened to Russia and Roumania.
    • Volume II, p. 1332
  • I have not received a single letter from any one who took any part in the actual fighting at Passchendaele which contradicts any of my statements, or suggests that the picture which I have endeavoured to paint is an exaggerated one.
    • Volume II, p. 1342
  • Lenin was not concerned about democratic government. His main purpose was the social and economic emancipation of the worker under any form of government that would be most suited to achieve that end. The Bolsheviks were numerically a small party, drawn almost entirely from amongst the town workers, and their grip on power was not based on any principle of majority rule, gauged by the counting of heads, but on the right of the strongest, measured in terms of firm will, dear purpose and armed force. The peasants acquiesced with the patient docility of a people accustomed for generations to autocratic rule.
    • Volume II, p. 1885
  • [N]o one can doubt that Lenin was one of the greatest leaders of men ever thrown up in any epoch.
    • Volume II, p. 1887
  • The restoration of Belgium had become for us symbolic of the insistence on just dealings between nations and the suppressing of ruthless aggression by the strong against the weak. If aggression had been allowed to profit, to hold and keep its booty, it would have been an acknowledgment on the part of Britain either of hopeless defeat or utter dishonour.
    • Volume II, p. 1931
  • Evidence of such a kind, from German sources of undeniable authority, makes it clear that at no time prior to the autumn of 1918 could we have concluded a satisfactory peace with Germany. Ludendorff would have nothing to do with any terms which would involve complete restoration of Belgium.
    • Volume II, p. 1933
  • I never concealed from myself or my colleagues that I thought Sir Douglas Haig was intellectually and temperamentally unequal to the command of an Army of millions fighting battles on fields which were invisible to any Commander.
    • Volume II, p. 2014
  • It is not too much to say that when the Great War broke out our Generals had the most important lessons of their art to learn. Before they began they had much to unlearn. Their brains were cluttered with useless lumber, packed in every niche and corner.
    • Volume II, p. 2038
  • Generals were in every essential particular inadequately prepared for the contingencies which confronted them in this War. Had they been men of genius—which they were not—they could have adapted themselves more quickly and effectively to the new conditions of war. They were not equipped with that superiority in brains or experience over an amateur steeped in the incidents and needs of the War which would justify the attitude they struck and the note of assured pastmastership they adopted towards all criticism or suggestion from outside or below.
    • Volume II, p. 2038
  • Independent thinking is not encouraged in a professional Army. It is a form of mutiny. Obedience is the supreme virtue. Theirs not to reason why. Orders are to be carried out and not canvassed. Criticism is insubordination. The object of discipline is to accustom men to respond to a command instantly, by instant action, without thought of effect or consequence. There were many intelligent officers and men who knew that the orders given them during the War were utterly stupid and must have been given by Staffs who had no understanding of the conditions. But orders were orders. And with their men they went to a doom they foresaw was inevitable. Such an instinctive obedience to the word of command is essential to the efficiency of a body of men who have to face terror, death or mutilation in the discharge of their terrible duties. But a long course of mental subservience and suppression cramps the development and suppleness of the intellect. It makes "an officer and a gentleman" but it is not conducive to the building up of an alert, adaptable and resourceful leader of men.
    • Volume II, p. 2041
  • There was no conspicuous officer in the Army who seemed to be better qualified for the Highest Command than Haig. That is to say, there was no outstanding General fit for so overwhelming a position as the command of a force five times as great as the largest army ever commanded by Napoleon, and many more times the size of any army led by Alexander, Hannibal or Caesar. I have no doubt these great men would have risen to the occasion, but such highly gifted men as the British Army possessed were consigned to the mud by orders of men superior in rank but inferior in capacity, who themselves kept at a safe distance from the slime which they had chosen as the terrain where their plans were to operate.
    • Volume II, p. 2042

UndatedEdit

  • A politician is a person with whose politics you don't agree; if you agree with him he's a statesman.
    • As quoted in The British System of Government (1965) by Dilwyn Thomas
  • As we came away we ran into Lloyd George. Turning to me he said: "What are you going to do, my boy, when you grow up?" "I'm going into the Navy, sir," I replied. He frowned. "There are many greater storms in politics. If it's piracy you want, with broadsides, boarding parties, walking the plank and blood on the deck, this is the place." His words had gone home. That evening I confided to my father that what Lloyd George had said had decided my life. It would be politics for me.
    • Recounted by Julian Amery, Approach March: A Venture in Autobiography (1973)
  • Ah, on the water, I presume.


MisattributedEdit

  • The centuries rarely produce a genius. It is our bad luck that the great genius of our era was granted to the Turkish nation. We could not beat Mustafa Kemal.
    • Lloyd George is portrayed as saying this, as George Nathaniel Curzon was making a complaint against Raymond Poincaré in the Turkish TV series, Kurtuluş (1994), but no prior citation of such a statement has yet been found.

Quotes about Lloyd GeorgeEdit

 
I feel his charm and recognize his genius; but he is full of emotion without heart, brilliant without intellect, and a gambler without foresight. ~ Margot Asquith
 
Lloyd George was a wonderful orator. I have heard my father say that when he came to address meetings in Scotland you had to hold on to your seat not to be carried away. ~ Jennie Lee, Baroness Lee of Asheridge
 
What Lloyd George failed to understand was no man, however gifted, is a major political power in himself. He can teach, he can preach, he can make a significant contribution, but power politics is a struggle between social forces, not a duel between individuals. ~ Jennie Lee, Baroness Lee of Asheridge
 
David Lloyd George was the best-hated statesman of his time, as well as the best loved, ~ David Low
  • He became Minister [of Munitions], in part, because of his ambition, his self-confidence that he alone was the man for the difficult job. Other character-assets from which wartime Britain benefited were his ruthless energy and drive and his ability to dispense with established procedures without looking back. He demanded of his men of push and go the same qualities: they were required to produce what was needed as quickly as possible and without regard for the suspended "rules of the game"... The Ministry of Munitions under Lloyd George...did indeed deliver the goods as no agency had done before.
    • R. J. Q. Adams, Arms and the Wizard: Lloyd George and the Ministry of Munitions, 1915–1916 (1978), pp. 150-151, 179
  • He infused his subordinates with a spirit, born of a great and frustrated urge to serve the war effort in an active fashion. It might be called an excitement, a dynamic energy which was harnessed simply to overwhelm and engulf the problems which confronted it... The wizardry which admirers and critics alike have seen in the work of the greatest war minister Britain had witnessed since the days of Chatham was not, of course, wizardry at all. With all the power and genius which had once made him the premier social reformer of his day, Lloyd George became what democracies require from time to time: the man of peace who went to war.
    • R. J. Q. Adams, Arms and the Wizard: Lloyd George and the Ministry of Munitions, 1915–1916 (1978), p. 189
  • I feel very bitter about Lloyd George; his is the kind of character I mind most, because I feel his charm and recognize his genius; but he is full of emotion without heart, brilliant without intellect, and a gambler without foresight. He has reduced our prestige and stirred up resentment by his folly — in India, Egypt, Ireland, Poland, Russia, America, and France.
  • The Prime Minister was described this morning in The Times, in the words of a distinguished aristocrat, as a live wire. He was described to me, and to others, in more steady language, by the Lord Chancellor, as a dynamic force, and I accept those words. He is a dynamic force, and it is from that very fact that our troubles, in our opinion, arise. A dynamic force is a very terrible thing; it may crush you, but it is not necessarily right. It is owing to that dynamic force, and that remarkable personality, that the Liberal Party, to which he formerly belonged, had been smashed to pieces; and it is my firm conviction that, in time, the same thing will happen to our party.
    • Stanley Baldwin, speech at the Carlton Club meeting (19 October 1922), quoted in The Times (20 October 1922), p. 8. At this meeting of Conservative MPs at the Carlton Club, the Lloyd George Coalition Government was rejected by 185 votes to 88 and Lloyd George resigned as Prime Minister.
  • All through his career, except during the War, he has done no end of harm, and his Versailles peace was iniquitous and his conduct after the peace execrable.
  • David Lloyd George excelled even the ruck of politicians in his desire for what he thought was fame, as well as his extravagant greed for money. The two things do not usually go together but in his case it was difficult to say which was the stronger. He fully achieved both. Lloyd George began as a small Nonconformist Radical member of Parliament. He was a fluent speaker and appealed strongly to the audiences which in an earlier generation had also been appealed to by Spurgeon, Moody and Sankey and people of that kind. He may possibly like other men of the sort who enter public life had some sort of convictions when he begun, but he had certainly lost them by the year 1900 and was purely on the make.
  • I regarded the Rt. Hon. Gentleman at that time [1910] as an unscrupulous political charlatan and I have not at any time since seen cause to alter my opinion.
  • [David Lloyd George during the Chanak crisis] had challenged the armed might and the genius of Kemal with a few battalions—and won. It was the last occasion on which Great Britain stood up to a potential aggressor before the outbreak of the second World War.
  • When I asked John Buchan, who was by no means his blind admirer, what he felt about him as a War Minister, he replied: "I put him in the class of Cromwell and Chatham."
  • It was ironical that Lloyd George, when he gave the vote to women in 1919 (though even then not on the same terms as men) declared that they deserved it for their war service and this was widely accepted as the explanation of their success in 1919. I regard this as a myth. I believed they would have won the vote earlier and on better terms if there had been no war. If the General Election due in 1915 had taken place there is little doubt that the supporters of women's suffrage would have been in a majority in the House of Commons.
  • [T]he political gifts that he offered to his country in his sixties were scarcely, if it all, less brilliant than those that had propelled him to the...Premiership in his early fifties. His determination to improve the life of the mass of the people was as strong, simple and sincere as in his youth... [and] this consistent purpose was still backed by the same adventurously open mind, creative imagination, inexhaustible application and compelling oratory. His ability to synthesize ideas from different sources resulted in the most practical programme of social reconstruction produced between the wars. Almost alone among politicians...Lloyd George grasped the facts, the causes and the implications of the national economic decline which began to manifest itself after 1918; unerringly, he seized on the means offered by the new economics by which it might be arrested. But his dynamic alternative was rejected: the men who replaced him presided passively over fifteen wasted years, a loss which all the feverish efforts of post-war Governments have been unable to recover... His exclusion from office after 1922 was the country's loss.
    • John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), pp. 312-313
  • He is a wonderful man. How he accomplishes so much and stands so much strain, I do not know. When I look round, I do not see who could replace him. His courage, power of work, power of decision, and urbanity are remarkable. He must possess a marvellous constitution.
    • Edward Carson, remarks to George Riddell (11 January 1918), quoted in The Riddell Diaries 1908–1923, ed. J. M. McEwen (1986), p. 213
  • There was a third contestant in the electoral field of 1929. This was Lloyd George who had “won the War” by his galvanising leadership plus a prodigal expenditure of public money. Now...he proposed an energetic and grandiose programme of public works to “conquer unemployment”. Neither Mr. Baldwin nor Mr. MacDonald viewed Mr. Lloyd George with favour. ... His offence was supremely that he wanted to do something. Both Mr. Baldwin and Mr. MacDonald had already fallen once from the premiership by reason of doing a foolish thing; henceforth they were resolved to sit fast and do absolutely nothing. Thus it came about that this May morning the Tory Premier and the Leader of the Socialist Opposition chatted on Crewe Station. ... As they parted Mr. MacDonald remarked, “Well, whatever happens we shall keep out the Welshman.” In this Mr. Baldwin and Mr. MacDonald succeeded. They kept Lloyd George out. The national misfortune is that for the next eight years they kept themselves in.
  • Winston described LG as the greatest political genius of the day. He says LG has more political insight than any other statesman. He told me that he and LG had resolved upon the necessity for a constructive social policy.
    • Winston Churchill, remarks to George Riddell as recorded in his diary (June 1911), quoted in The Riddell Diaries 1908–1923, ed. J. M. McEwen (1986), p. 24
  • He was the greatest master of the art of getting things done and of putting things through that I ever knew; in fact no British politician in my day has possessed half his competence as a mover of men and affairs. When the English history of the first quarter of the twentieth century is written, it will be seen that the greater part of our fortunes in peace and in war were shaped by this one man. It was he who gave to orthodox Liberalism the entirely new inflexion of an ardent social policy. All the great schemes of insurance have entered for ever into the life of the British people, originated or flowed from him. He it was who cast our finances intently upon the line of progressive taxation of wealth as an equalizing factor in the social system. He it was who in the darkest year of the War seized the supreme power and wielded it undauntedly till overwhelming victory was won. He it was who for good or for ill settled the Irish question, or at least shifted it out of the main path of the British Empire.
  • The Coalition Government of 1918 onwards really was pretty bad, and it is a discreditable episode in our history that Lloyd George, a great man who came into public life as a great Radical and who, as his later history showed, retained so much of real radicalism in his heart, should at that moment, of all moments, have chosen to hang on to personal power at the price of giving way to the worst elements in the community — only to be cast out by the Tories like an old shoe, when he had served his purpose, killed the Liberal Party, and deceived the working class so thoroughly that they would never trust him again.
  • I am very certain that his visit to America has been a piece of good fortune for both his country and our own, and for the cause of international accord. During his stay among us, though it has been all too brief, Mr. Lloyd George has voiced the appeal for that better understanding among the nations which must be at the base of all good relations. It has been a fine thing for our people to become better acquainted with this eminent leader in civilization's struggle to maintain itself, and I hope he will feel, when he leaves us a few days hence, that his effort in bringing his message to us has not been an entirely vain one.
    • Calvin Coolidge, letter to the chairman of the Overseas Writers (28 October 1923), quoted in The Times (29 October 1923), p. 12
  • In 1920 I met Lenin. I was a very difficult person to get on with, and Lenin advised me—I remember it so well—to study David Lloyd George. He held the opinion that David Lloyd George was the greatest political leader this country had known.
  • My father took me to a dinner of the Honorable Cymmrodorion Society — a Welsh literary club — where Lloyd George, then Secretary for War, and W. M. Hughes, the Australian Prime Minister, both spoke. Hughes was perky, dry, and to the point; Lloyd George was up in the air in one of his "glory of the Welsh hills" speeches. The power of his rhetoric amazed me. The substance of the speech might be commonplace, idle and false, but I had to fight hard against abandoning myself with the rest of his audience. He sucked power from his listeners and spurted it back at them. Afterwards, my father introduced me to Lloyd George, and when I looked closely at his eyes they seemed like those of a sleep-walker.
  • The Briton who made the deepest impression on me was Lloyd George. Eden speaks a repulsive, affected type of English, but Lloyd George was a pure orator, and a man of tremendous breadth of vision. What he has written on the Treaty of Versailles will endure for ever. He was the first man to declare that the Treaty would lead inevitably to another war. The idea that a people like the German people can be destroyed is madness, he said. Britain, he added, had no alternative but to live on terms of friendship with Germany.
    • Adolf Hitler (22 August 1942), quoted in Hitler's Table Talk, 1941–1944, ed. Gerhard L. Weinberg (2008), p. 497
  • Sincere congratulations. No one has done more to bring about this splendid victory than you.
    • Colonel House, telegram to Lloyd George on the day of the Armistice (11 November 1918), quoted in The Times (12 November 1918), p. 9
  • Dawson and I have often exchanged intimacies about Ll.G. whom we both regard as the most remarkable figure of our acquaintance. S. B. and J.R.M. got on together because they both hate and fear Ll.G. He is rarely for long out of their minds. The speeches they make, the times they make them, especially when the House is sitting, are largely determined in relation to the movements of Ll.G. known or guessed.
    • Thomas Jones, diary entry (20 June 1929), quoted in Thomas Jones, Whitehall Diary, Volume II: 1926–1930, ed. Keith Middlemas (1969), p. 190
  • I told S. B. of how when the other day L. G. was singing the praises of Stalin, Megan had asked her father if there were a revolution on which side would he be. He replied: "With the Revolutionists, of course." Megan asked, "Whom would you shoot?" L. G. "Well, would it be worth while shooting anybody? There are Ramsay and Baldwin—but they are such worms, such insects." Megan, "But you'd have to shoot somebody." L. G. "Well, of course, there is Montagu Norman."
    • Thomas Jones, diary entry (3 July 1932), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters, 1931–1950 (1954), p. 45
  • To see the British Prime Minister watching the company, with six or seven senses not available to ordinary men, judging character, motive, and subconscious impulse, perceiving what each was thinking and even what each was going to say next, and compounding with telepathic instinct the argument or appeal best suited to the vanity, weakness, or self-interest of his immediate auditor, was to realize that the poor President would be playing blind man's buff in that party.
  • How can I convey to the reader who does not know him any just impression of this extraordinary figure of our time, this syren, this goat-footed bard, this half-human visitor to our age from the hag-ridden magic and enchanted woods of Celtic antiquity?
  • Lloyd George is rooted in nothing: he is void and without content; he lives and feeds on his immediate surroundings; he is an instrument and a player at the same time which plays on the company and is played on by them too; he is a prism, as I have heard him described, which collects light and distorts it and is most brilliant if the light comes from many quarters at once; a vampire and a medium in one.
  • The nation needs for leadership something more than the lawyer's power of putting his case and managing the Court and jury. It needs force, foresight, the glow of conviction and the sense of disciplined energy... Only Mr. Lloyd George had "that glow in the soul" so necessary for victory.
    • Cosmo Gordon Lang, notebook entry (August 1915), quoted in J. G. Lockhart, Cosmo Gordon Lang (1949), pp. 251-252
  • Why don't you join the Labour Party? 'Labour and the Nation' is only Socialism reduced to everyday expedients. You are willing as an outsider to help us to put these expedients into operation. Your help would be invaluable, as one of us... People have said you are opportunist, and will take any line that suits you. At times I have thought and said so. But these past months' experience and your observations last night compel me to believe you are sincere as any of your critics... I want you in the best place for doing good work, and that I am sure is in the Labour Party... [Y]our coming would crown a progressive life.
    • George Lansbury to Lloyd George (13 February 1931), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 283
  • He can be Prime Minister for life if he likes.
    • Bonar Law, remarks after the 1918 general election (December 1918), quoted in Lord Beaverbrook, Men and Power, 1917–1918 (1956), p. 325
  • I at least will never forget, and will always be ready to assert, that in my view in the greatest crisis of our history he did a service for which the nation can never be too grateful.
    • Bonar Law, speech to the National Unionist Association in the Hotel Cecil (23 October 1922), quoted in The Times (24 October 1922), p. 18
  • Lloyd George was a wonderful orator. I have heard my father say that when he came to address meetings in Scotland you had to hold on to your seat not to be carried away. And in his early years he was deeply concerned to make life more tolerable for the poor. He fought for his social security legislation with all his boundless energy and adroitness; the only thing he was not prepared to do for the poor was to become one of them. He needed money, lots of money, to maintain a home for his wife and family in Wales and another in England for his secretary, who became his mistress.
    In our part of the world Lloyd George was no hero. We did not forgive or forget the Khaki Election of 1918. Nor his treatment of pacifists during the war. Nor the Marconi Scandal. Nor the way he played fast and loose with the Suffragette Movement, doing nothing to oppose forceful feeding or to undo the notorious Cat and Mouse Act.
    What Lloyd George failed to understand was no man, however gifted, is a major political power in himself. He can teach, he can preach, he can make a significant contribution, but power politics is a struggle between social forces, not a duel between individuals. Once the war was over the Tories had no more use for him. He was an outsider, an upstart Welsh lawyer who had got above himself.
  • David Lloyd George was the best-hated statesman of his time, as well as the best loved. The former I have good reason to know; every time I made a pointed cartoon against him, it brought batches of approving letters from all the haters. Looking at Lloyd George's pink and hilarious, head thrown back, generous mouth open to its fullest extent, shouting with laughter at one of his own jokes, I thought I could see how it was that his haters hated him. He must have been poison to the old school tie brigade, coming to the House an outsider, bright, energetic, irrepressible, ruthless, mastering with ease the House of Commons procedure, applying all the Celtic tricks in the bag, with a talent for intrigue that only occasionally got away from him.
    I always had the greatest difficulty in making Lloyd George sinister in a cartoon. Every time I drew him, however critical the comment, I had to be careful or he would spring off the drawing-board a lovable cherubic little chap.
    I found the only effective way of putting him definitely in the wrong in a cartoon was by misplacing this quality in sardonic incongruity — by surrounding the comedian with tragedy.
  • The Parliament of 1924–9 was dominated by a few leading personalities, of whom by far the most exciting to a new Member like myself was Lloyd George. ... When he rose to speak, the House filled up. ... To us young Members, who had never or seldom heard him, it was a stirring experience. ... [H]e kept us all enthralled. I can see him now: the wonderful head, the great mane of white hair...; the expressive features, changing rapidly from fierce anger to that enchanting smile, not confined to the mouth, but spreading to his cheeks and eyes; above all, the beautiful hands, an actor's or an artist's hands, by the smallest movement of which he could make you see the picture he was trying to paint.
  • What Baldwin failed to understand was the genius of the greatest war leader that Britain had known since Chatham, only destined to be equalled and surpassed by Churchill. With Lloyd George's departure, a certain dynamic energy disappeared from Whitehall, which never returned until Churchill took control.
  • Lloyd George's strengths were more remarkable than his weaknesses. For he really did try to answer the questions that mattered. He saw, more clearly than any other political leader, that Britain could survive in a changing world only if she changed herself... [H]is answers cut across the "false dichotomy" [between capitalism and socialism]. They were neither "capitalist" nor "socialist"; they were designed to use the power of the state to make capitalism work properly. As such, they were much more modern in conception than anything else on offer at the time. But in the climate generated by the struggle between "capitalism" and "socialism" they did not look modern. They looked irrelevant, opportunistic and, in an odd way, out of date. So, by a terrible paradox, the most creative and adventurous statesman of the day, who might have resolved the progressive dilemma if he had had the chance, appeared to most of his countrymen as a querulous and self-seeking voice from the past.
    • David Marquand, The Progressive Dilemma: From Lloyd George to Blair (1991; rev. ed. 1999), p. 37
  • Lloyd George, the hero of the First World War, had also been a lone wolf in Parliament. Baldwin hated and feared him, and the Tory Party treated him as a brilliant back number. The Labour Party deeply distrusted him because of the Black and Tans and as the author of the Versailles Treaty. Nobody I ever knew had his skill or brilliance as a natural leader in bad times and yet he could do nothing but manoeuvre. ... He continued to put forward schemes for economic reconstruction such as those on which he had fought the election of 1929. If he had been listened to, England would have been saved from ten years of miserable deflating. Walking in his orchard at Churt he would tell me of his plans for another New Deal.
    • Kingsley Martin, Editor: A Second Volume of Autobiography, 1931–45 (1968), p. 294
  • When Lloyd George came back to the party, ideas came back to the party.
    • Charles Masterman, quoted in Lucy Masterman, C. F. G. Masterman A Biography (1968), pp. 345–346
  • The greatest War Minister since Chatham.
    • Alfred Milner, quoted in Thomas Jones, Lloyd George (1951), p. 283
  • This wide view of his position and responsibilities is reflected throughout his career as Minister of Munitions, and his vision of the character and probable length of the conflict that lay ahead not only had a profound effect on the munitions programmes actually adopted in his period, but enabled the Ministry to meet much larger programmes later on. He laid the foundations of the Ministry's productive capacity on a scale so vast that it was almost sufficient—as far as guns, gun ammunition, rifles, machine guns, and trench warfare supplies were concerned—to carry the country to the end of the war.
    • Ministry of Munitions, History of the Ministry of Munitions: General Organisation for Munitions Supply (1918), p. 12
  • Everything I have said of our success is a tribute to him. He chose the great leaders of industry who formed the pivots of our machine. He formulated the needs of the moment to labour, and persuaded them to agree to meet our necessities. He realised the scope which our operations should embrace in all the essentials of the production of munitions, and his tireless energy and vigorous personality were the inspiration of the whole vast fabric.
    • Edwin Montagu on Lloyd George's record as Minister of Munitions; speech in the House of Commons (15 August 1916)
  • His political career...is now increasingly being subjected to searching revision. More and more, the criticisms hurled at him seem hard to sustain. Above all, it is difficult to see in him just the "rootless opportunist", "vampire and medium in one" portrayed by Keynes and others. In methods, certainly, he was endlessly flexible, often deliberately indirect. But opportunism of method was always linked to general consistency of objectives. Indeed, it could be argued that his career was determined by long-term objectives to a degree unusual among British politicians. He was steadfast in his sympathy for the national cause of Wales. He was consistent in his concern for social reform... He was consistent in his belief that Britain ought to be made a more democratic and egalitarian society. He was consistent in his view that British imperial and foreign policy should be linked to the search for international harmony. The architect of victory in 1918, he was essentially a conciliator, a man of peace. His objectives, then, were consistent and progressive.
  • [H]e's got what Carlyle said of the Hindu god—he has a fire in his belly, but his weakness is looseness of mind. ... Principles! Do you talk to me of his principles? What are they? But he is not dishonest, he's only tricky. Some shabbiness perhaps.
    • John Morley's remarks to John Hartman Morgan (15 February 1918), quoted in J. H. Morgan, John, Viscount Morley: An Appreciation and Some Reminiscences (1924), p. 41
  • It was during this period [c. 1929] that I grew to know Lloyd George well and to appreciate gifts unique in his generation, which at this conjunction of events at home and abroad might again have been of immeasurable benefit to our country. This was not to be allowed in any situation short of the catastrophic. All the dull people combined to get Lloyd George down. They succeeded—but they got the country further down: the epitaph of an epoch.
  • Lloyd George himself was then [January 1919] at the height of his powers and prestige, the "man who won the war". His appearance was striking: the fine head, piercing blue eyes, a great mane of hair, already nearly white, more than offset his small stature. "L.G." was the sort of man people admired or loathed; there were no half measures either in him or in people's opinion of him. He was above all things clever, with a mind extraordinarily quick and versatile. With this went a buoyancy and courage that were almost brazen, a tendency to ruthlessness and tyrannical behaviour, and a readiness of decision and action which terrified some, but carried others to heights they would never have scaled alone. With him, the end was more important than the means: his methods were personal, improvised, and on occasion unscrupulous; he liked to cut through the rules. There was also a sort of sixth sense, a "medium-like sensibility" to persons around him, a personal charm and intuition which anticipated thoughts and saw the quickest way to persuade an adversary or tackle a problem. He was a genius with a double dose of everything, good and bad; he could do as well with his left hand as his right. Yet it was wrong to deduce from all this, as Keynes did, that he was "rooted in nothing" and without principles. A deep patriotism was his, and a hatred of oppression.
  • Thus ended the [Lloyd George] Coalition. And thus ended the reign of the great ones, the giants of the Edwardian era and of the war; and the rule of the pygmies, of the "second-class brains" began, to continue until 1940. Lloyd George remained in public life, admired, distrusted, unused, and stonily watched the country sink in the hopeless morass of depression and unemployment, while lesser men frittered away Britain's power in the world. "We have no one of that calibre now," sadly remarked a high official in 1938.
  • The only two men who really seem to understand that we are at war are Winston and Lloyd George. Both have faults which disgust one peculiarly at the present time, but there is a reality about them and they are in earnest, which the others aren't.
    • F. S. Oliver, letter to his brother (4 March 1915), quoted in The Anvil of War: Letters Between F. S. Oliver & His Brother, 1914–1918, ed. Stephen Gwynn (1936), p. 92
  • There followed a scene of drama when, with passionate voice and pointing finger the young Welshman assailed the Father of the House across the floor. "Better to have slightly dearer coal than cheaper colliers," flamed Bevan. "... We say that you cannot get from the already dry veins of the miners new blood to revivify the industry. Their veins are already shrunken white, and we are asking you to be, for once, decent to the miners ... not to use all your Parliamentary skill, all your rhetoric, in an act of pure demagogy to expose the mining community of this country to another few years of misery." Lloyd George sat opposite, listening intently, crossing and re-crossing his legs. It was one of the very few times that veteran journalists of the Press Gallery could ever remember having seen Lloyd George obviously disconcerted. Said one of them: "He was confronted with the ghost of his own angry youth."
    • Frank Owen, Tempestuous Journey: Lloyd George His Life and Times (1954), pp. 714-715
  • He is a remarkable combination of forces; a poet, an orator and a man of action. His energy, power of work, and power of recuperation are remarkable. He has an extraordinary memory, imagination, and the art of getting at the root of a matter. ... He possess every sort of courage, daring, patience, bravery in the face of personal danger and in the face of responsibility. ... He has no respect for tradition or convention. He is always ready to examine, scrap, or revise established theories and practices. These qualities give him unlimited confidence in himself. He has a remarkably quick, alert and logical mind, which makes him very effective in debate. He is one of the craftiest of men, and his extraordinary charm of manner not only wins him friends, but does much to soften the asperities of his opponents and enemies. He is full of humour and a born actor. His oratory has a wide range. On the whole he is a good judge of men.
    • George Riddell, diary entry (13 August 1917), quoted in The Riddell Diaries 1908–1923, ed. J. M. McEwen (1986), p. 194
  • He is anxious to improve labour conditions, but he is not really in sympathy with labour. As I have always said, he does not understand the point of view of the worker. Just now he is angry about the strikes and keen on putting the strikers into the Army. They stand in the way of the prosecution of the war, and so must be coerced. He says very little concerning the commercial and manufacturing classes who have been, and are, making fortunes out of the war.
    • George Riddell, diary entry (22 September 1918), quoted in The Riddell Diaries 1908–1923, ed. J. M. McEwen (1986), p. 237
  • L[loyd] G[eorge] with all his powers does not understand or sympathise with working men. His point of view is that of the solicitor or shopkeeper. The general attitude of the upper and middle classes is that "you must give these fellows a lesson".
    • George Riddell, diary entry (5 October 1919), quoted in The Riddell Diaries 1908–1923, ed. J. M. McEwen (1986), p. 293
  • I notice that L[loyd] G[eorge] is steadily veering over to the Tory point of view. ... He is also at heart opposed to the claims of Labour, and would like to fight the working classes if he dared. He knows they do not trust him and he dislikes their independent spirit.
    • George Riddell, diary entry (27 March 1920), quoted in The Riddell Diaries 1908–1923, ed. J. M. McEwen (1986), p. 309
  • In a sense it is not my affair, but as one of your admirers and sympathisers I wish to congratulate you upon the action that has been taken in getting a Coalition Cabinet, and especially upon your part therein. More than all I wish to congratulate you upon what you have done in connection with this war. When the War is over, you will again take up the work of dealing with the Labour question, with Irish Home Rule, with many other matters. But the prime business at present for you to do is to save your country; and I admire the single-hearted manner with which you have devoted yourself to this great duty.
    • Theodore Roosevelt to David Lloyd George (1 June 1915), quoted in David Lloyd George, War Memoirs: Volume I (1938), p. 145
  • Give my heartiest regards to Lloyd George. Do tell him I admire him immensely. I have always fundamentally agreed with his social program, but I wish it supplemented by Lord Roberts's external program. Nevertheless, my agreement with him in program is small compared with the fact that I so greatly admire the character he is now showing in this great crisis.
  • I believe that there are millions of people in this country who think that unemployment is far more important than political parties, and they would vote for any man regardless of party, if they believed he would do the job. I am not flattering you when I say that you are the only person capable of carrying this job through, and I want to make the people feel that just as the country needed you in the war, they need you in their jobs.
    • Seebohm Rowntree to Lloyd George (8 February 1929), quoted in Asa Briggs, Social Thought and Social Action: A Study of the Work of Seebohm Rowntree, 1871–1954 (1974), p. 207
  • Lloyd George was the most effective popular advocate of Liberalism—the only man perhaps who could really fire the party and win over the masses of unorganized voters.
    • C. P. Scott, diary entry (1 July 1923), quoted in The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911–1928, ed. Trevor Wilson (1970), p. 442
  • He is nothing if not a Radical yet circumstances have made him appear as the leader of the right wing of the party—of the "bad Liberals". I put it to him that he had really nothing in common with these people and that the only course open to him was to lead the Radicals. That is what he wants to do, but meanwhile his supporters in the party are on the Right and his opponents on the Left. Asquith who is really a Whig is accepted as a better Liberal than he.
    • C. P. Scott, diary entry (27–30 November 1924), quoted in The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911–1928, ed. Trevor Wilson (1970), p. 472
  • Lloyd George had a passion to win the war which none of the other members of the Cabinet seemed even to understand.
  • He could talk about the world history of his own time and about the future with a beautiful detachment. I have always remembered one night in the great drawing-room of the Antibes hotel.... L.G. was talking of his place in history. Of how he would be regarded mainly as one of those who tried to soften the class-struggle. And people who wanted the class-struggle naked would come down against him, and others would be for. He would get some attention for his part in the Great War — the 1914-1918 war (this conversation took place in 1938). But nothing of that counted much, L.G. was saying, against the great movements in history. None of our struggles mattered much, wars or revolutions or what you will, as compared with the sheer biological and geographical facts. Whatever happened, in two hundred years, perhaps sooner, the balance of the world would have changed. The industrialization of Russia was taking place: India would follow: perhaps China, within a hundred years.... Whatever Government presided over the operations, these changes would make our local concerns look no more significant than the Wars of the Roses.
  • The most amazing thing about D. since he went out of Office is his gradual conquest of Labour. At first they had a regular system of howling him down, and boasted that they would break his authority in the House... But gradually the interruptions became less frequent, & their attitude more friendly, as they saw that he was really the same D. and prepared to fight for the underdog... Now he speaks almost as the Leader of the Opposition, with the Labour & Liberal benches around him, the former hanging on his words and loud in their praises. The other day after a similar performance, Kirkwood and Jack Jones said in the Lobby that he was the real leader of the Labour Party.
    • Frances Stevenson, diary entry (1 April 1926), quoted in Frances Stevenson, Lloyd George: A Diary, ed. A. J. P. Taylor (1971), pp. 244-245
  • The Labour people are pleased with him. He has proved more of a friend to them than Ramsay MacDonald, who got cold feet... When D. spoke in the House the first week of the [general] strike, the Labour people cheered him. Hartshorn overheard Ramsay MacDonald say to those next to him, "There they go, b..... fools, cheering him again." The Labour Party have been getting more and more friendly to D. all the session... D.'s idea is to go definitely towards the Left, and gradually to co-ordinate and consolidate all the progressive forces in the country, against the Conservative and reactionary forces.
    • Frances Stevenson, diary entry (15 May 1926), quoted in Frances Stevenson, Lloyd George: A Diary, ed. A. J. P. Taylor (1971), pp. 245-246
  • At Geneva other countries would have agreed not to use aeroplanes for bombing purposes, but we insisted on reserving the right, as D. puts it, to bomb niggers! Whereupon the whole thing fell through, & we add 5 millions to our air armaments expenditure.
    • Frances Stevenson, Countess Lloyd George of Dwyfor on David Lloyd George's comment on Ramsay MacDonald's Government's stance in armament talks, in a diary entry (9 March 1934), as published in Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), p. 259. This seems to be the earliest source for such a statement, although variants apparently derived from it have sometimes been presented as a direct quote of Lloyd George specifically supporting such a policy. The actual quotation of Stevenson, despite the usage of a racist vernacular, is ambiguous and may indicate a disapproval of both the government's policy and its costs, as at that point Lloyd George had been out of office for 12 years.
  • His own achievements were on the highest level. He inaugurated the welfare state. He broke the power of the House of Lords. He led the country to victory in the First World War. He mastered the social and political perils which followed that war. He ended the age-old feud between Ireland and Great Britain. When cast out of office he continued to put forward policies in both economics and foreign affairs wiser and more constructive than those of his feeble successors.
    • A. J. P. Taylor, 'Introduction', Kenneth O. Morgan, Lloyd George (1974), p. 7
  • Count up all his faults, set against them what he achieved, and it is difficult to resist the feeling that Lloyd George was the greatest ruler of England since Oliver Cromwell.
    • A. J. P. Taylor, 'Introduction', Kenneth O. Morgan, Lloyd George (1974), p. 8
  • Mr. George is recognised to-day as the finest Parliamentarian that Wales has yet sent to the House of Commons, for with infinitely little resources he has "scored" repeatedly over the "strongest Government of modern times". Sir William Harcourt paid the young member for Caernarvon a handsome compliment publicly on the floor of the House for the way in which he has fought the Tory Government; but even stronger expressions of admiration have been used by politicians on both sides of the House in private. Mr. Lloyd George not only has shown an intimate knowledge of the rules of the House, a readiness in debate, and a keen perception of the weak points of the Tory case, but he has been able, by this pluck and resolution, to do more than any other man to infuse a new courage into the Liberal ranks, and to discredit the methods and the policy of an overbearing majority.

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