Lloyd George and PMQs – Lib Dems defend their history knowledge

There’s been discussion this morning – sparked by a tweet from Labour blogger Hopi Sen – about whether Lloyd George was indeed the last Liberal to face Prime Minister’s Questions.

Hopi questioned the Lib Dem claim that Nick Clegg, when he stands in for David Cameron today, will be the first Liberal leader since 1922 to lead PMQs – he commented:

Asquith last Liberal _leader_ to take Qs. Also PMQ’s began in ’61 so no-one did em in 22.

The Lib Dem press office have been quick to refute Hopi’s suggestion that the party is ignorant of its own history, issuing the following statement:

The modern type of Prime minister’s Questions only dates from 1961. Lloyd George was the most recent Prime Minister to be a Liberal at that time (Churchill having joined the Conservatives before being PM).

The Coalition fell in October 1922 but the house rose in August.On 4 August questions that had been addressed to the Prime Minister were answered by Neville Chamberlain. (Presumably Lloyd George was absent). On 3 August he answered the questions himself.

Here is a link to the sitting of 3 August. http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/sittings/1922/aug/03

He made a statement on air defence, continued with questions on the royal commission on the distribution of honours. The final questions were the following exchange on the League of Nations:

The names of the representatives of the British Government at the meeting of the League of Nations at Geneva are my Noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward).
§ Lord R. CECIL
Can the right hon. Gentleman reply to the last part of my question, as to whether he himself will be able to attend at any part of the proceedings? Does he realise that it will be quite possible for him to go only for two or three days, and to deliver a speech on disarmament or some other question of great international importance.
There I am leaving myself in the hands of the representatives of the Government. The same suggestion was put to me by them, and I am leaving myself in their hands and shall wait their further suggestion.
Is it not more necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to remain in this distressful country?
§ Viscountess ASTOR
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether a woman will be sent in an advisory capacity?

Honour satisfied?

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This entry was posted in PMQs.


  • What is it with Lib Dem blogs? Where one goes they all seem to follow like a flock of starlings. They all blogged on Zac Goldsmith, the upstart! With the same vide and now its Nick Clegg doing PMQ (W.ill you all have the same video later today if he does well?) Are you all being told what to do by some orchestrating body? Do you think that constant repetition like that will make people believe it rather than just bore them to death?

  • Dont you think that a Lib Dem doing PMQs might be of quite a bit of interest to LIb Dem blogs?

  • Dave Hennigan 21st Jul '10 - 12:45pm

    Thought Straw was appalling, even Speaker Bercow had enough. Clegg was OK but not great, watching on the BBC, it’s interesting that they started the programme with Tom Brake, then after PMQs he was gone. So the first time a Liberal has got up at the Despatch Box and answered for Prime Minister since the Twenties and the BBC get rid of our pundit, what is the sense in that?

    It’s a little like interviewing the losing manager in the FA Cup Final and not the winning one… Oh yes, the BBC has been doing that with Alex Ferguson for years!

  • Ferguson fell out with the BBC ages ago, quite spectacularly which is why he wont do interviews with him.

    Nick was alright but not brilliant, was better with the backbenchers but then they asked proper questions. Is it Labours new policy to be more bothered about one PRIVATE business then public services or government cuts ect? Seemed like it the way Jack Straw went on and on about Forgemasters again.

  • That should be “with them” clearly.

  • Dave Hennigan 21st Jul '10 - 1:17pm

    I know Laura, the point was that it felt like that. That said, Alex Ferguson missing interviews doesn’t upset me unduly. Was laughing in 2005, when Ferguson joined Blair, Woolas etc. at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in Oldham for a Labour rally. He promptly did an interview with the Beeb – he’d forgotten his sporting spats, concentrating on his tribal, Glasgow politics!

  • Mboy: Yes I think that that a Lib Dem doing PMQs would be of interest to Lib Dem Bloggers but not add nauseum, and what are they going to do anyway read each other’s self congratulatory blogs? As I say it gives the impression that there is an orchestrating body behind them as in the case of Zac Goldsmith. But when I mentioned Michael Brown they all clamed up. Wonder why? Any ideas on that one Mboy?

  • Thanks for the link. I see that back in 1922 the UK Govt had committed itself to spend £2m on 500 new aircraft, but was requiring that 45 per cent of the £2m had to come from internal efficiency savings… plus ca change!

  • Munguin: You mean, you think that Lib Dem bloggers might be biased in favour of the Lib Dems? Quick! Hold the front page!

  • Stuart: yes indeed stop the press! Or not as the case may be. Lib Dems Navel gazing? Never!

  • Richard Grayson 21st Jul '10 - 3:37pm

    I’m afraid the press office were wrong about one thing: Neville Chamberlain answering questions in place of Lloyd George on 4 August 1922. That was in fact Austen Chamberlain, Neville’s half-brother, and then the Leader of the Conservative Party, a post he resigned when the coalition fell apart. Austen was Leader of the House and thus naturally stepped into the role. Neville was a backbencher at the time and so would not have been appropriate.

  • If we’re talking about learning from history, I wonder what lessons, if any, Labour will learn from military adventurism in the Middle East… as today’s Mirror report starts, “The Iraq war led to a massive surge in terror threats against the UK putting thousands at risk, a former MI5 spymaster revealed yesterday.”

    Hopi Sen, you don’t seem to have blogged about that perhaps more important historical lesson.

  • Hopi – what destroyed the Liberal Party in the 1920s wasn’t so much the coalition – it was that the Party effectively split into two competing factions who would field competing election candidates, with Lloyd George as leader of the Coalition Liberals and Asquith as leader of the Non-Coalition Liberals. It was this split – not the fact of the Liberals going into Coalition – which was most wounding to the Liberal Party’s survival, coupled with the (correct) decision in 1918 to give working class men the vote which by its very nature increased the electoral chances of the Labour Party.

    Need I remind you that just a year after that coalition fell, when the Asquithian and Lloyd George wings of the Party put aside their differences on 1923 and ran as a united party on the issue of free trade, the Liberal vote actually went up?

  • A Liberal-Tory-Labour coalition was formed in May 1915 with Asquith as Prime Minister and the Liberals having the majority of cabinet posts. When Lloyd George became Prime Minister in December 1916, the coalition became Tory dominated.

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