Save Lloyd George!

Some important centenaries are marked in 2016 but for Liberals perhaps the most intriguing centenary of all is the one that marks the start of Lloyd George’s term as Prime Minister.

But Lloyd George’s legacy is in danger because the Welsh museum dedicated to him might soon have to close.

Gwynedd Lib Dem Cllr Steve Churchman and his colleagues have been valiantly fighting the closure due to a loss of grant of a mere £27,000. They point out what would be an incalculable loss to their community. We should surely all support their bid to save a precious slice of Liberal history.

As Cllr Churchman explains:

The museum comprises the dedicated museum building, Lloyd George’s uncles workshop, his childhood house and garden, the museum garden and car park and the riverside grave and memorial. It physically cannot be relocated. Many of the treasures are on long-term loan from family members. If the museum is closed then these artefacts will be splashed to the four winds and lost from public sight forever. We also lose an educational facility used by many of the county’s schools.

Marmite was around in Lloyd George’s time but the term Marmite politician is a more recent invention. Like Margaret Thatcher he divides opinion in an extraordinary way. In his brilliant summary about Lloyd George in the book Liberal Leaders Kenneth O Morgan lays it all out before us – corruption, adultery, egotism, meeting Hitler. What’s not to dislike?

And yet Lloyd George’s charisma and (oddly unWelsh) speaking voice still make an impact even on a few bits of grainy footage on Youtube. His fans argue that he was the right man for his times, taking the war effort by the scruff of the neck in an era when total war was completely new. Most breathtakingly the extraordinary reforms he pursued as Chancellor provided not yet a welfare state but at long last a safety net for ordinary working (and non-working) people.

The museum now has a 12 month stay of execution. In theory if every party member gave 50p the museum could be preserved. Let’s help our colleagues save it.

* Ruth Bright has been a councillor in Southwark and Parliamentary Candidate for Hampshire East

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22 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Feb '16 - 1:50pm

    Ruth, good to read your concern and comments.

    I have never been a fan of Lloyd George, illiberal too often, as someone glad to share the same birthday as the much forgotten Sir Henry Campbell – Bannerman, maybe I am biased but he does it for me far more !

    Yes, I feel like you , though , such closures matter.This is a man of great historical significance.I have seen this sort of thing in Nottingham, going back years before any cuts.A lack of interest or enthusiasm for heritage, and history, the one the preservation of the other.

    As a youth I loved history and politics.It was as a small child I also discovered Queen Elizabeth 1 was born on the same day as me as well ! What a surprise !I did not know about the Liberals then or that period in history, but the first world war has been much in the news and amongst the school topics for study.Such museums must be maintained.National organisations should be involved, particularly in Wales, not a large country.

    It baffles me how for the want of paltry sums, these things happen.

  • Lloyd George’s glory days were the People’s Budget of 1909 (even then the notion of Old Age Pensions belonged to Asquith). His Limehouse speech still tingles….. and yes, he had too much charisma to be good for him.

    But frankly, his claim to be ‘The Man who won the War’ is ludicrous – anyone who studies the Maurice affair knows he nearly lost the war by ignoring advice, extending and failing to reinforce the front before the Ludendorff Offensive in March, 1918 – and afterwards being more than a little economical about the actualite. He also claimed credit for convoys – which was far from the truth.

    The great Liberal economist Keynes summed him up thus : ‘Lloyd George was rooted in nothing…. void and without content… a being who lives and feeds on his immediate surroundings’.

    Yes, the museum should continue – as a reminder of his lasting legacy of destroying the Liberal Party in 1918.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Feb '16 - 6:55pm

    I hope the money can be found to save this. Sometimes I think we don’t talk enough about Lloyd George. Maybe because many of us are quite uncomfortable with WW1, but as far as I know Lloyd George was late to the cause in supporting war against Germany and it was initially popular.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Feb '16 - 8:35pm

    John
    Funnily enough , as someone comfortable with the Social Democratic part of our heritage, who is very tough on violent crime and keen on a ban on smoking in public and a great one for looking to the harm principle to warrant punishment of genuine wrongs, I do not use illiberal unless I mean it.I mean it when it comes to his handling of the first world war and his later enthusiasm for early Hitler !

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Feb '16 - 8:37pm

    P.S.
    I do not dismiss his good points !

  • DLG is key part of the history of our nation and as such £27k seems a very paltry sum for the museum to remain open. We live in a society which he, in part helped create – a story worth remembering given that his legacy exists in every payslip (and when we change the clocks…).

    For what it is worth, I have sympathy with the views of Jenkins and Hattersley – DLG’s early greatness soured as entered No.10.

    @Lorenzo

    Even as someone who shares a birthday with DLG, I fully agree with your praide of HCB – the finer of the two Liberals 🙂

  • @ ATF “DLG’s early greatness soured as entered No.10”.

    Up to a point. Did quite well at Munitions in 15/16….. but very dodgy earlier on Marconi and certainly mislead the suffragettes. Would love to know how he could afford to build a house in 1912 near Walton Heath Golf Course which sold for £ 2.5 million in 2010. M.P.’s only started to get paid (£ 400 pa) the previous year.

    @ Lorenzo Not sure what the Social Democrat part of our heritage is. I thought they didn’t like Michael Foot.

  • Ruth Bright 23rd Feb '16 - 9:35pm

    Thank you all so much for your comments. Joe I will check the best destination for the 50ps! Usually I am a very Londoncentric sort of person but in this instance I think the treatment of provincial museums is really shocking when so many London museums are rolling in funds. But then I am eccentric enough to take my kids on holiday to places like Stoke to see the industrial heritage – they will hate me for it one day!

    David Raw – ah the nostalgia! I remember penning many an undergraduate essay on the Maurice debate and the coupon election.

    John Marriott you can’t get away with saying your Grandad knew Ramsay MacDonald and not give us all the gory details!

    Agree with all about Henry Campbell-Bannerman – inspirational, about time for a new biography.

    How come you all share birthdays with such interesting historical figures. I share mine with Acker Bilk which isn’t quite the same!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Good on you, Ruth. Completely agree about CB. A great and lovely man, and yes, time for a new biog.

    The Lloyd George Society (who have a website) know about the Museum situation – and they could organise a fund raiser I’m sure, and Martin Thomas might have a spare bob.

    My birthday coincides with the Dieppe Raid (a fine mess by Mountbatten ? – or a stroke of genius by Peter Fleming to get the latest enigma machine ? Answers on a postcard !!)

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Feb '16 - 10:58pm

    ATF

    That means we are compatible you and me , youre a Capricorn I am a Virgo!A lovely comment , thank you , not so much pride as a bit of a hero worship , Sir Henry was apparently such a nice man !No shame in having the same birthday as DLG, a very important figure, though flawed, who isnt ?!

    David Raw
    That from you, and I read your understandably glowing praise for Baroness Shirley !

    Ruth
    On the topic of your birthday, Acker Bilk and that you seem to feel left out, are you then feeing you are a ” stranger on the shore ?!”

  • nigel hunter 23rd Feb '16 - 11:23pm

    Who are the penny pincher’s refusing the 27 thou? from our history.Could a charity be formed for its support ? after all he is known in the rest of the world.

  • Nigel – the cut is threatened by Gwynedd Council. I understand that Cllr Churchman and others have suggested that the National Museum of Wales might have a role in the future.

    Lorenzo – great tune!

  • John- how wonderful to have that letter in the family. My Grandad was the local butcher to Montgomery and Lady Baden-Powell so I can trace back their household meat orders!

  • nigel hunter 24th Feb '16 - 10:34am

    So its shopping around for a supporter. If the National Welsh Museum drops out what about Cadyw National Trust. There is even crowdfunding.

  • @ Lorenzo Sorry, but he was a talented rogue. His legacy was a bit of early social welfare – and the destruction of the Liberal Party.

  • A somewhat partial view of DLG, Mr Raw. The destruction of the Liberal Party was at least as much Asquith’s fault as DLG (Remember the squiffites?) It was also the result of a pact with the Conservatives that lasted longer than it should have. If you look at the later life of DLG he was a radical to the end. I have seen a U-Tube piece where he was talking about foreign policy and making points that are as relevant today as then. My late father went to a meeting addressed by Lloyd George and said that he was a wonderful radical and fiery speaker even in his later years.

  • DLG was my mother’s MP. I share my birthday with Goebbels.

    Having dealt with that … DLG was deeply flawed. But most of us are.

  • Yes, he could spin a good yarn, Dr Taylor, and to be fair Asquith was not without fault….

    But, very surprised that you, as a Quaker, admire someone who used the Defence of the Realm Act to oppress Conscientious Objectors in such an oppressive fashion. See Cyril Pearce’s book, ‘Comrades in Conscience’ about what happened in Huddersfield.

    Also surprised, as a Social Liberal, that you ignore Keynes view that LG was, “rooted in nothing…. void and without content – a being who lives and feeds on his immediate surroundings”.

    … then there’s his association with Maundy Gregory. From 1917 to 1922, 120 hereditary peers were created. He invented the OBE and handed out 25,000 of them….. at a price with money going to fund LL.G.’s lifestile. In the Life of Brian, he would have been described as ‘A very naughty boy’.

  • Woops typo lifestyle….

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