Kenneth O. Morgan

Kenneth O. Morgan Consensus and Disunity: The Lloyd George Coalition Government 1918-1922 has just been published. He is a fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford.

The Tories’ Death-Wish

Kenneth O. Morgan, 15 May 1980

‘What baffles one is the persistence of the party in a cause that was politically so calamitous.’ These perceptive words by Lord Blake, the foremost historian of the Conservative Party, aptly sum up the handling of the issues of protective tariffs and imperial preference by the Conservative or Unionist Party between 1903 and 1914. These Edwardian years were dominated by the Liberals, and especially by Lloyd George’s populistic brand of democratic radicalism and social reform. Yet the story is not so much one of the Liberals outplaying their sluggish rivals with a skilful display of virtuosity, as of the Tories, with resolute and impacable persistence, shooting through their own goal. The electoral landslide of January 1906 was almost entirely the product of Unionist mistakes, even though a Liberal majority of some dimensions was highly probable. The speed with which the deep divisions within Liberal ranks over the Boer War were healed was entirely due to the incompetence of their opponents. Saddled with the Dear Loaf and Rome on the Rates, with Chinese Slavery and Taff Vale, with Randlords and Landlords, Unionist candidates in constituency after constituency went down to inevitable and grinding defeat. Food taxes were their supreme liability, one fully exploited by the Liberals, who were able to point to recent improvements in the terms of trade, through an export-led boom.

Churchill’s Jackal

Kenneth O. Morgan, 24 January 1980

‘It’s just that he isn’t a real person. He isn’t a human being at all.’ This verdict on Rex Mottram in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited conveys something of the despairing bafflement of contemporaries towards the real-life right-wing politician on whom Mottram was modelled – Brendan Bracken. Even in the political fluidity of the Thirties and the Second World War, Bracken, with his self-created and well-advertised mystique as a man of mystery, taxed to the limit the Tories’ appetite for self-made adventurers, already fully tested in the past by such as Disraeli and ‘F.E.’

Up the Garden Path: Michael Foot

R.W. Johnson, 26 April 2007

One day in 1993, I found myself on a bus in Oxford with Michael Foot. He looked shambolic even by my standards – donkey jacket, stick, long hair all over the place. But nobody minded. You...

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The Road to 1989

Paul Addison, 21 February 1991

Kenneth Morgan’s history of our times is both rewarding and frustrating. It is rewarding on government and politics since 1945, and frustrating on social and economic structure. Between the...

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Coalition Phobia

Brian Harrison, 4 June 1987

If there is a third successive Conservative election victory this summer, Labour will plunge once more into debating its own history. Not reluctantly, because as Kenneth Morgan points out, the...

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When Neil Kinnock was in his pram

Paul Addison, 5 April 1984

To people over a certain age, the politics of the 1940s are still a burning issue. Talk to them of Attlee, and the sparks of old controversies fly up as though Neil Kinnock were still in his...

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Modern Wales

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 November 1981

Whereas for Scotland national identity has been emphasised and preserved by formal governmental and legal structures, in Wales these have had to be created and have mostly not been permanent. Welshmen,...

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Middle Way

Paul Addison, 6 December 1979

In the first half of the 20th century, Britain experienced two peacetime coalitions: the Lloyd George Government of 1918, and Ramsay MacDonald’s ‘National Government’ of 1931....

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