This period was the most tumultuous of Churchill’s long and chequered career. It began with his appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty, a post he accepted with alacrity and one he enjoyed thoroughly. The Agadir Crisis of July 1911 opened his eyes to the dangers of the European situation, at which point he dropped all his former objections to higher military spending. Indeed, quarrels with Lloyd George over his increased naval estimates severely strained their political relationship, and was viewed as just one indication of a growing conflict with some Liberal policies. Further evidence of this shift was his attitude to Irish Home Rule, the dominating domestic issue of this time. As Ireland was arming itself for civil war Churchill visited Belfast in 1912, causing a riot in the process, to speak in support of the government’s legislation. But his sympathies for the Unionists were always a cause for suspicion among his Liberal colleagues. It was not until his willingness to use force during the Curragh ‘mutiny’ in 1914 that some of his colleagues were convinced of his support for the settlement. Naturally this episode also aroused memories of his treatment of strikers only the year before, reaffirming his growing reputation as an authoritarian.
However, his more liberal tendency caused him to secure a modest pay rise for ordinary and able seamen (the first since 1857) and to