Britain's Locust Years: 1918-1940

Britain's Locust Years: 1918-1940

Britain's Locust Years: 1918-1940

Britain's Locust Years: 1918-1940

Excerpt

The Coalition Election Manifesto, had confidently announced that: 'the knell of military autocracy has sounded for ever'; and in the third week of January of 1919 Mr. Lloyd George, accompanied by a train-load of secretaries and advisers, arrived in Paris to discuss with the representatives of some twenty-six allied and associated powers the arrangements necessary to implement this promise. Just over a hundred years before Lord Castlereagh, setting off to Vienna on a not dissimilar mission, had summarised Great Britain's objects as 'Peace and a just equilibrium in Europe'. It would have been as well if Lloyd George's brief had been as severely confined within a vague and harmless generalisation and he had not had his supporters' pledge to 'Make Germany Pay' hung around his neck. He himself had been scrupulously careful to raise no false hopes. 'I have always said we will exact the last penny we can out of Germany', he had told his constituents, 'up to the limit of her capacity, but I am not going to mislead the public on the question of her capacity until I know more about it.' But he left behind him in Westminster some four hundred supporters who had specifically pledged that Germany should be made to pay, 'to the uttermost farthing', for the whole cost of the war. The megalomaniac Lord Northcliffe, outraged because he had been refused a seat on the British peace delegation, had gone over into opposition, and The Times and Daily Mail were at one with the Conservatives in Parliament that there should be no weakening on this demand; and it was out of this demand that there grew in the end almost all the troubles later associated with the Treaty of Versailles.

Reparations, however, were not the immediate problem confronting . . .

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