Domestic impact of war: politics

Domestic impact of war: politics

Political Repercussions of War

  • The World War had profound impact on British politics, with both immediate and long-lasting changes.

  • The war prompted the formation of a coalition government, bringing together political rivals. This united effort facilitated effective war management.

  • The war effort led to a centralisation of power, as the government assumed control over vital aspects of society and economy, such as production, prices, and labour laws.

  • The chartering of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour highlighted the government’s emerging role in the health and employment sectors, respectively.

  • The needs of the war highlighted social inequalities, prompting significant social reforms like the ‘Homes for Heroes’ scheme and education reforms, which laid the groundwork for the welfare state.

Franchise Reform and Women’s Suffrage

  • World War I played a significant role in prompting changes in the franchise system. The Representation of People Act (1918) extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and women over 30, vastly increasing the electorate.

  • The war also had unexpected benefits in the suffrage movement. Women’s significant contributions in the war effort led to their enfranchisement, culminating in the Equal Franchise Act in 1928, where women achieved the same voting rights as men.

Impact on Labour Movement

  • The war in effect sped up the transformation of the Labour Party into a serious contender for power. Their pro-worker stance resonated with the masses, especially as war-related economic hardships increased.

  • The Labour Party’s measured approach to war, and their role in the post-war Coalitions, significantly increased their credibility, leading the way for their first government in 1924.

The Irish Question

  • The question of Ireland’s future was brought to a head with the Easter Rising of 1916, which although crushed, significantly increased sympathy for Irish self-governance.

  • This precipitated the calling of a partition in 1921, which introduced the geographic divide of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that exists to this day.