This book examines the intrusion of imperialist modes of thought into the domestic politics of the Edwardian period and the war years. The author analyzes the fusion of social-imperialist ideology with the Lloyd George insurgency in the Liberal Party and reinforces the hypothesis that European imperialism in this era aligned itself with progressive Liberalism to form the chief defense against rising democratic and socialist forces. Major events of the war years such as the collapse of the Liberal Party and the dispute over war aims are shown to be the products of the continuing conflict between these forces rather than merely the result of the circumstances of war.
The author describes the development of the body of social-imperialist ideas and strategies between the Boer War and the formation of the Lloyd George Coalition of 1916. The political course of the Coalition idea is traced past the crisis of 1910 into the war years and the debate over plans for reconstruction. Thus, the Coalition of 1916 is seen mainly as an outgrowth of the prewar political crisis—a device originally designed as a response to domestic issues and adapted only later to the pressures of war. This original interpretation of the Coalition and its origins establishes the historical significance of social imperialism and places Lloyd George and the British right in new perspective.
Originally published in 1975.
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