Fatal Fortnight: Arthur Ponsonby and the Fight for British Neutrality 1914

Fatal Fortnight: Arthur Ponsonby and the Fight for British Neutrality 1914

Duncan Marlor

Language: English

Pages: 256


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Much has been published about how Britain's ruling circle came to its decision for war in 1914 but little about what rank and file Members of Parliament thought and did as the continental 'Armageddon' drew closer. Fatal Fortnight tells the story of Arthur Ponsonby, and his backbench Liberal Foreign Affairs Committee. The book describes the suspense around Parliament as the skies darkened. It tells how, after the Foreign Secretary made his proposal that Britain should go in, Ponsonby's friend Philip Morrell stood up and called for a general debate, in the teeth of the fury of those who wanted Britain to get straight into the war. It describes how the neutralists, led by Ponsonby, made their passionate case in the fateful hours as Britain hung between peace and war.

The book looks at the concealment from Parliament of the military understanding with France, and the issues of war and democracy which are still with us today. It re-examines the arguments and reflects on how the world might have been had the 1914 decision gone a different way.

Alongside the political drama a human story emerges of how family support for Ponsonby and his allies sustained them as the world closed in.

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Progressive politics. He feared that the Liberal Government would ditch Liberal principles and the wishes of its backbenchers. In his diary on Monday 27 July he recorded a conversation with Percy Illingworth, the Liberal Chief Whip. Scott had read that morning’s Times editorial and suspected correctly that it was inspired by the Foreign Office. If the Government did call for war entry, Scott was contemplating using the Guardian’s influence on the left to get it turned out. There would be ‘an end.

For employees of works shut down by strike action. Pringle was withering: I view with suspicion any alliance between the two front benches. But I think there is occasion for even more suspicion when we find a triple alliance between the two front benches and the honourable member for Pontefract.20 The MP disliked the way collusion between the Government and Opposition front benches shut out the viewpoint of Liberal Radicals. Pringle had been at a Liberal rally in London on Wednesday, which.

For another four years. Even the spluttering end after vast loss of life, with ‘victory’ for some and exhaustion for most, would not be the end of the malignity. There were the deep physical, psychological and economic scars. And dragon’s teeth had been sown. In later years these would sprout grotesque new forms of tyranny and a re-run of world war – in effect a continuation of it –with aerial destruction of civilian populations, genocide and slavery. And civil wars would erupt as long-term.

From the other side. This produced a retort from Henry: I hope no such statement as that will be made. I sat in that part of the House and the Foreign Secretary was cheered time after time. Honourable Members above the gangway were in complete sympathy with him.21 This drew Liberal shouts of ‘Withdraw!’ The fact the there was some Liberal support for Grey is indicated in the diary of Leo Amery, who comments that, ‘[Grey] was received by his own party very much better than apparently the.

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