Polly Toynbee has been at the herbal cigarettes again , if this latest offering in the Guardian is anything to go by !
What is it about David Lloyd George that has Polly and other assorted Lefties go all weak at the knees when they think of him ?
Could it be his priapic caperings with any passing secretary or housemaid within a 5-mile radius ? Or his major role in the Campbell-Bannerman/Asquith government's suppression of the Suffragettes ? Too anti-feminist , perhaps ?
His eager participation in that same cabinet which , by secret diplomacy , allied Britain to France and Tsarist Russia thus forcing us into a disastrous war in the name of an "ethical foreign policy"?
What about his conduct of the First World War ? He was Minister for War during most of the Somme campaign and Prime Minister during the disastrous Passchendaele and Arras offensives , nearly bringing us to defeat by his refusal to commit re-inforcements in early 1918 . No ? Doesn't fit the Leftie myth that all the dead soldiers in that war were British poets who were personally shot in the head by the evil officer-class , the aristocracy or the Royal Family ?
His attempt to start World War 2 early in 1922 at Chanak , an act which nearly brought down the British Empire and , thankfully , did bring down him ? No. Middle-Eastern adventures are just the done thing .
His consistent under-mining of the authority of the Commander-in-Chief , Sir Douglas Haig during the war and his subsequently successful attempt to blacken Haig's name (and by extension that of the whole army) thus diverting attention from his own responsibility as mere Prime Minister at the time ? Getting closer . Damien McBride , Peter Mandelson and Tony Bliar would be proud . He was the original "pretty straight kinda guy" .
No ! What Polly and her comrades really love is that Lloyd George was the Chancellor of the Exchequer who brought about the Welfare State in a series of budgets . That the scheme was modelled on that introduced by Bismarck in Germany some 25 years before (as a deliberate attempt to buy off working class disaffection) is ignored . As is the relatively low level of the benefits on offer through these reforms and the fact they were aimed mostly at working men , excluding women and children .
New taxes were put on the cars and petrol of the well-off, and there was a walloping tax on liquor licenses - plus death duties, stamp duties and a tax on unearned income. Imagine the political shock - and consider how little of that bold spirit New Labour has ever shown.
Polly enthuses , before calling for "A Lloyd George class war" .
Reminds me of the Rorschach inkblot test . Doesn't matter what shape the ink blot is , it's what the patient thinks it represents .
Which is almost the same as the historian John Terraine's view of Lloyd George .
"Principles , military or political , held out little appeal to a temperament which has been described at different times as 'quicksilver','disingenuous' or just 'shifty'.'The Smoke and The Fire" p.94 .
How very dog-end Liberal (and dog-end NuLabour).