To What Extent Was Britain On The Verge Of A Civil War In 1914?


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The years approaching 1914 were particularly difficult for the Liberal government. Not only had there been controversy over the 1909 budget and the constitutional crisis, but the government were also under pressure from trade union militancy, the women’s movement and the problems with Ireland. There was certainly a great deal of unrest in both England and Ireland at this time, but historians disagree over how serious the threats to law and order actually were. To what extent Britain was on the verge of a civil war at this time is open to debate.
A substantial challenge for the liberals, and somewhat a threat to law and order was the period of trade union militancy which really ...

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in Tonypandy, Churchill brought in the military to crush uprisings, which led to sympathy strikes in other pits. Though, as T.O. Lloyd points out, these early strikes did not seriously affect the Liberal government (evidence of which is shown in the 1910 election results), the worst was yet to come.
In 1911 a Dockers strike in Southampton and subsequent sympathy strikes in other ports led to widespread rioting, looting and bloodshed. Troops were brought in by the government in the South Wales coal strike (October 1910- June 1911) and soldiers opened fir near Llanelli, killing two men. This led to immediate outrage, and by introducing armed forces into an industrial dispute, the government were just asking for trouble. Asquith said that he would use ‘all the crowns forces’ against strikers, which only made the trade unions more determined. The cabinet had no idea of what a strike was actually like, they were too easily frightened and ready to assume things could be controlled ...

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series of short strikes, and although the Triple Alliance of the National Union of Railwaymen, Transport Workers Federation and Miners Federation were planning a massive strike for 1914 -which George Dangerfield felt would have stood Britain on the verge of revolution and anarchy- this was prevented when Britain entered the First World War.

This period of trade union militancy had given rise to syndicalism, which, as Lloyd expressed, was one of the few attempts to apply an anarchist version of socialism in Britain. It can also be noted that in the years before 1914, membership of the T.U.C. increased considerably, from 1 648 000 in 1910 to 2 232 000 by 1913.

Although trade union ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 5/14/2004 08:30:00 AM
Category: World History
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2059
Pages: 8

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