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What were the major impacts of World War One on British society?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The Great War and British politics.
    1. The political landscape dominated by two main parties.
    2. 1915 - entry of Conservative and Labour politicians.
  3. Impact on the Conservatives.
    1. The advantage of the coalition government.
    2. The Conservatives' fear of a landslide victory of the Left.
  4. Labor party.
    1. The third political party to experience profound changes.
    2. The rise experienced by Trade Unions.
  5. The course taken by politics during World War.
  6. Financing the highly expensive war effort.
  7. The loss of a dominant part in international trade.
  8. The change for the British economy to State intervention.
    1. The railways and mining - taken over by the government.
    2. Long-term consequences.
  9. Psychological impact of the war on the population.
  10. The other major aftermath of the war concerning women.
  11. Conclusion.

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.[51] 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.[52] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] Once the war was over, the Conservatives feared a landslide victory of the Left. [...]


[...] 195; Pugh, State and Society, p Pugh, State and Society, p p Ibid, p Pope, War and Society, p Pugh, The Making of Modern British Politics, p Pugh, State and Society, p A.L. Bowley, Some economic consequences of the Great War (Westport: Hyperion Press, 1979), pp. 106-107. R. Pearce, Britain: Industrial Relations and the Economy 1900-39 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993), pp. 35-36. D. Baines, Onset of Depression' in P. Johnson Twentieth- century Britain: Economic, social and cultural change (London: Longman, 1994), p Lecture notes, Dr A. [...]

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