The role of David Lloyd George at the Paris Peace Conference

The role of David Lloyd George at the Paris Peace Conference

The Treaty of Versailles, signed on January 18th 1919, was an attempt by the victorious powers to put an end to the First World War. Dominated by the “Big Three’, consisting of America, France and Britain, the talks ultimately became a forum for conflicting interests and compromises; an exercise in expediency rather than a genuine attempt at a solid solution. However, while it is easy to look back with hindsight and make judgements on this “most abused and the least perused document of history” , the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George performed to the best of his abilities, and arguably achieved each of his aims. This essay is an analytical look at his role at Versailles, his decisions and the reasoning behind them in order to determine the degree of success with which he can be awarded. Prior to the Paris Peace Conference, and indeed prior to the First World War, the relationship between Britain and Germany was an ambiguous one. Whilst the two had an almost symbiotic relationship dependent on exports, there existed a lasting rivalry between them, most notably on the naval front wherein Germany posed a serious threat to Britain’s long-term domination of the sea. Following the war, Britain, whilst territorially unscathed, had lost many men through combat and also had to shoulder a large percentage of the debt incurred by the allies. Economically the country was on a knife edge: exports were at an all time low due to outdated factories, high tariffs and foreign competition, whilst unemployment was at an all time high. With this in mind, it is perhaps easy to see the self-preserving attitude with which Lloyd George entered Versailles. Britain was not only economically unbalanced, the public also had a great political influence. Mass unemployment, threats to the British empirical reputation and severe economic downturn all translated into a popular desire for revenge against the alleged German “war-mongers’. Th…


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