Lloyd George as Old Moore

Me. David Lloyd George is one of the mainstays and props of the Liberal Government. It is claimed for him by his paymasters, not only that he is a very Solomon of statesmanly wisdom, but also that he is the type, if not the spirit incarnate, of democracy. According to these, the masters whom he serves, the far-seeing acumen of this “little Welsh lawyer” is equalled only by his democratic candour, his persistent and irrepressible veracity in all his dealings with “the people.”

Of course, it is not for the opponent of the master class and their hirelings to quarrel with the statement that the intellectual capacity of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and his veracity are on a par. It is more to the point to present the reader with material which might enable him to form an opinion for himself regarding the relative capacity of the Lloyd Georgian mental powers and his capacity for controlling one of them—his imagination.

The following extracts are taken from “Parliamentary Debates” (Vol. 65, No. 105), and occur in the process of the official report of the debates which took place in the House of Commons on July 23, 1914.

[Mr. Lloyd George.] “My hon. Friend has referred also to the question of armaments. The right hon. Gentleman the member for West Birmingham said, in future what are you going to tax when you want more money ? He also not merely assumed but stated that you could not depend upon any economy in armament? I think that is not so. I think he will find that next year there will be a 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. I think there are symptoms, not merely here but in other lands, not merely that the industrial classes, but that the financial interests of the world are getting alarmed. I have always thought you could not arrest them by mere political moves against them and by mere political criticism. I have always thought you could not arrest them by motives of humanity, and I regret that that is so. I am firmly of opinion that they will only be arrested when the great financial interests of the world begin to realise what a menace they are to capital, to property, to industry, to the prosperity of the world, and I think they are beginning to realise it. …
“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 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. All this is to the good.”

Now, then. Mr. Lloyd George, the particularly brilliant star of the Liberal constellation, as late as July 23rd saw “signs, distinct signs” of a reaction against armaments that led him to prophesy “substantial economy” in armaments next year. This, mark, was three weeks after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife—the historic event which provided for Austria the opportunity to present her ultimatum to Servia—it was, in fact, the very day on which the ultimatum was launched.

Mr. Lloyd George, as a member of the British Cabinet, can be held to have very early and complete information concerning international political events. On the 23rd of July, and for some days before, the signs and portents were, to the man in the street, indicative of anything but that “reaction throughout the world” against armaments which the Liberal lawyer professed to be impressed with. Was the Chancellor’s intellect, then, despite the advantage of his inside knowledge of things from Marconies downward, not equal to the task of reading correctly the omens so obvious to other people, or was his florid imagination playing him tricks ? In other words, was he, when he declared that he could see “distinct signs” of a reaction throughout the world against armaments, and that he thought that in respect of these “next year there will be substantial economy “—was he when he expressed himself thus, merely a fool or simply a liar ?

Whichever the answer may be, the diary of the next few days following Mr. Lloyd George’s windy speech in the House of Commons, is hardly such as to bring to the prophet “honour in his own country.” For instance :

July 23.—”I think there are symptoms, not merely here but in other lands . . .”—Mr.Lloyd George in the Commons.
July 23.—Austrian ultimatum to Servia.
„ 28. —Austria declares war.
Aug. 1.— Germany declares war on Russia.
„ 4.—Gt. Britain declares war on Germany.
„ 6.—Austria declares war on Russia.
„ 12.—Britain declares war on Austria.
„ 16.—Japs present ultimatum to Germany.

One other point may be usefully noticed here. The hired spokesman of the ruling class—the class who establish and control the armaments of the world—says that in his opinion armaments cannot be arrested by “motives of “humanity,” but only by the fear that they are a “menace to capital, to property, to industry, to the prosperity of the world ” (meaning, of course, by “the world,” the capitalists, for whom alone he speaks).

That motives of humanity will never lead the master class to disarm is quite true. It is the blood of the workers which, in the main, pays the red levy of war. As long as working-class life and suffering are the coin in which war is paid for, our masters will be ready enough for butchery on the grand scale. It is significant how light-heartedly they launch a hundred thousand working men into the field of death, and call for further hundreds of thousands. Such material costs them nothing. How different, however, was their tone when they were called upon to “build against Germany” ! Then our masters went crawling and whining to their German rivals, like whipped curs, begging and praying for cessation of “the mad race for armaments.” It is the cost of war they do not like —the “blood” they do not mind (it is not theirs), but the treasure—ah! that is a very different matter.

Motives of humanity ! No, they have never counted for much in any ruling class—and never will. Plimsoll proved that true of a previous generation—Lloyd George with his new load line for ships proved it true of this generation. The safety and continuous growth of their property are all that our masters are concerned with, and that is the real meaning of Mr. Lloyd George’s words.


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