Britain between the Wars, 1918-1940

By Charles Loch Mowat | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Coming to Rest: 1922-1925

1. THE RETURN OF THE CONSERVATIVES

THE revolt of the Conservative foot-soldiers against most of their leaders -- a revolt which became so large as to leave the leaders stranded without a following -- had been finally over personality and party rather than principle. It determined for the moment the pattern of politics, the old pattern of Conservative, Liberal, Labour. Whether it would remain, however, depended on the testing of parties and the trial of principles (or at least of slogans) in a general election. In the event this settled little; three elections in as many years were needed to demonstrate that it was the old pattern, its colours now rather faded, that the loom was weaving.

Bonar Law, having been elected leader of the Conservatives on October 23, 1922, formed his cabinet forthwith. Lloyd George's cabinet of twenty members was replaced by one of sixteen, six of whom were peers. The new Prime Minister's freedom of choice was limited by the fact that some of the ablest Conservatives, through their loyalty to the Coalition up to its very end, were unavailable for his ministry, which had to be made up of the 'secondclass brains' (though it must be admitted that some of Lloyd George's minor colleagues had been something less than giants). Baldwin was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Curzon Foreign Secretary, Lord Derby Secretary of War, E. F. L. Wood President of the Board of Education, Leopold Amery First Lord of the Admiralty, and Lloyd-Greame President of the Board of Trade. Among ministers outside the Cabinet, and among the undersecretaries, were men like Sir Douglas Hogg,1 Sir Samuel Hoare,2

____________________
1
Douglas Hogg ( 1872-1950), barrister; M.P., 1922-28; attorney general to Prince of Wales, 1920-22; attorney general, 1922-23, 1924-28, lord chancellor, 1928-29, 1935-38, war secretary, 1931-35; Knight, 1922, Baron Hailsham, 1928, viscount, 1929.
2
Samuel Hoare, born 1880, son of first baronet (succeeded, 1915). M.P. for Chelsea, 1910-44; air secretary, 1922-23, 1924-29, 1940; secretary of state for India, 1931-35; foreign secretary, 1935; first lord of the Admiralty, 1936-37; home secretary, 193739; lord privy seal, 1939-40; ambassador to Spain, 1940-44; created Viscount Templewood, 1944.

-143-

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