IN OPPOSITION 1923-45
BY the autumn of 1923 Lloyd George had come to address himself to two political tasks: the reunion of the Liberal party and the provision for it of dynamic policies. In the following years he filled in his days with journalism, parliamentary activities, the intimate conduct of detailed investigations into domestic social problems, and campaigns in support of the conclusions reached in a series of published reports. They were also years of party bickering and of repeated and dreary attempts at merging the two Liberal camps, at consultation and common parliamentary action.
The retirement of Bonar Law from the Premiership in May of 1923 had released Lloyd George from the personal considerations dictated by their former close companionship. Forbearance had touched the limits of prudence. No pledge had been given which extended to Bonar Law's successors. Baldwin, now Prime Minister, believing that Lloyd George was going Protectionist and about to take Chamberlain and Birkenhead with him, had announced a fortnight before Lloyd George returned from America that in order to conquer unemployment he would need to protect the home market. This entailed an early appeal to the electorate, for Bonar Law had promised that there should be no interference with fiscal policy without a mandate from the nation.
Before leaving the ship on which he returned from the United States Lloyd George declared himself to a group of journalists to be an unswerving Free Trader. At Manchester, on the previous 28 April, he had said: 'If there is going to be a fight about Free Trade, and I believe it, let us clear the decks; let us get rid of the McKenna tariff, the Paris Resolutions, and the Safeguarding of Industries Act. We had each of us his reasons for consenting to these propositions at the time and I am sure neither Mr. Asquith nor I would have done it without adequate cause.' It was in this fiscal field that the restoration of unity was found possible.