One could argue that World War One did not have a huge impact on British society compared to the Second World War. However, the conflict was soon called the Great War' in Britain, and it was the first time that the whole society was involved in the war effort. A new type of war had reached Europe: the total war'. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that every component of British society was actually altered by the war. Thus, the essay will assess the major impacts of the conflict on Britain, starting with the effects on politics and then on the economy. Finally, it will look at the aftermath on the society itself. Before the war broke out, the political landscape was widely dominated by two main parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Labour was playing a very limited role at that time. By the beginning of the war, the Liberals were in power, Asquith being Prime Minister. The Conservatives and even some Liberals soon criticized him for not properly leading the war e.g. because of the dramatic shortage of shells.
[...] Even if this emancipation was temporary and partial, the women -and the men- definitely realized they were capable to achieve the same work as men and earn a living without them. Moreover, the war offered women a say in politics for the first time, since a large part of them was granted the franchise in 1918 as a kind of ‘reward' for their efficient contribution to the war effort. To conclude, the Great War had important and long-term impacts on British society. [...]
[...] Thus, because of the political events that had occurred during the war, the Liberals have never recovered their position of one of the two main parties. The war had a totally different impact on the Conservatives. Firstly, they took a big advantage of the Coalition government formed in 1915. Indeed, it enabled them to partially return to office after a decade of Liberal governments, while not risking losing the elections that were to take place in 1915. Moreover, after the armistice the Conservatives could claim that they had participated to the victory of Britain and her allies just like the other parties. They even found themselves more reinforced by the outcome of the conflict than the others, since they were the only ones that had always advocated the entry into war without hesitation and showed the fieriest sense of patriotism, taking the opportunity to accuse the Liberals and Labour to lack commitment. Once the war was over, the Conservatives feared a landslide victory of the Left. [...]
[...] Pugh, The Making of Modern British Politics 1867-1945 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 3rd edition, 2002), p Lynch, Lloyd George, pp. 78-80. Ibid, pp. 86-88, p Ibid, pp. 101-104. Pugh, The Making of Modern British Politics, p Ibid, pp. 74-75, p Lynch, Lloyd George, p. 191; Pugh, State and Society, p. 153-154. Lynch, Lloyd George, pp. 103-104; Pugh, State and Society, p Pugh, State and Society, p. 154; Pugh, p R. Pope, War and Society in Britain 1899-1948 (Harlow: Longman, 1991), p. [...]
[...] In other words, it was something that Britain had never experienced. By the end of the war, over 5 million British men had served in the armed forces, of whom more than were killed and almost 2.5 million injured. 46.3 per cent of English and Welsh males aged from fifteen to forty-nine in 1911 had been enlisted. The vast majority of the casualties were junior officers under thirty, constrained to lead the attacks once out of the trenches. Even though there were quite few British casualties compared to other countries, they had a great psychological impact on the population, anybody being traumatized by the sudden death of their relatives, friends or neighbours. Even if they were spared, lots of soldiers remained unable to go back to their previous way of life for being seriously mutilated or shocked by what they experienced. The imbalance between the female and the male populations was accentuated by the war: there was a surplus of almost 2 million women regarding the number of men. All these impacts ended in instituting the notion of a ‘Lost Generation' amongst British society. The other major aftermath of the war on British society concerned women. [...]
[...] Britain: Industrial Relations and the Economy 1900-39 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993). Pope, R. War and Society in Britain 1899-1948 (Harlow: Longman, 1991). Pugh, M. State and Society: British Political and Social History 1870- 1992 (London: Edward Arnold, 1994). Pugh, M. The Making of Modern British Politics 1867-1945 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 3rd edition, 2002). M. Pugh, State and Society: British Political and Social History 1870- 1992 (London: Edward Arnold, 1994), p M. Lynch, Lloyd George and the Liberal Dilemma (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993), p p Lynch, Lloyd George, pp. [...]
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