The Philanthropic Highwayman Source Analysis Essay

Introduction: Crime Can Make You Famous

Crime can make you famous—or, perhaps more accurately, it can make someone infamous or notorious. But what are the differences between fame and celebrity, on the one hand, and infamy and notoriety on the other? Several scholars insist that they are closer than one might imagine; both are products of a postmodern media culture that commodifies the individual. The processes of fame are certainly not new—one has only to look at the machinery that made figures like Cicero famous, as Leo Braudy explains in The Frenzy of Renown (1997). In a statement that seems resonant with contemporary culture, Cicero claims that the Roman people are, above all, “seekers after glory and greedy of praise” (Braudy, 1997, p. 75). As Robert Garland (2006, p. 5) explains, philosophers like Cicero were brutal in their condemnation of such greed, insisting that “all it took for someone to acquire it was ‘for a stupid and ignorant crowd to shout in unison.’”

Although it would be a mistake to study fame, celebrity, and notoriety as if they were new inventions, it is an equal oversimplification to assume that fame is simply a universal part of human culture or, as Cicero describes it here, a built-in characteristic of the “stupid and ignorant crowd.” Celebrity, as it is now understood, is indigenous to the postindustrial age, dependent on both mass media and consumer culture. What is most relevant for the study of the crime/celebrity interface is the fact that fame and infamy have become more intimately intertwined in contemporary culture. As Schmid (2005, p. 9) argues, there has been a “collapse of the difference between fame and notoriety.” Rojek (2001, p. 10) adds to this, insisting that “[n]otoriety is a sub-branch of celebrity culture, and, arguably, an increasingly important one.” What links the famous and the infamous is their impact on public life, as Rojek economically summarizes: “celebrity = impact on public consciousness” (p. 10).

The study of this collapse between fame and infamy and the theoretical positioning of notoriety as an important fixture in celebrity culture is relatively new and equally rare. Most considerations of notoriety tend to end with condemning the way the mass media glorifies violence for the prurient pleasures of a jeering crowd—particularly with sexualized crimes such as serial murder or sexual assault. While it is certainly an important part of a scholarly approach to crime and celebrity to intervene in discourses that naturalize and sexualize violence, it is important to move beyond condemnation and toward a more nuanced approach to notoriety. The same claim can also be made about the study of celebrity more generally, which must move beyond the consideration of celebrity as symptomatic of social decline and a frivolous public.

Toward a Taxonomy of Crime and Celebrity

As part of a consideration of the complex apparatus of celebrity and its entanglement with transgression, violence, and criminality, it is worth laying down a serviceable taxonomy of crime and celebrity—a genealogy mapping the nodal points between crime and those whose celebrity depends upon it (including the perpetrators, the victims, and the experts). With such an overview, it will be easier to hold a larger picture of the apparatus of celebrity in mind while also focusing on the specificities of crime and celebrity.

Most considerations of fame and celebrity begin by establishing taxonomies of one kind or another, generally categorizing methods for achieving celebrity. In his useful summary of the taxonomies of fame, Turner (2014, pp. 23–24) issues a warning that would serve readers of this section well. He claims that overall, taxonomies of fame “tend to underestimate the importance of the interests of those who consume celebrity, focusing instead on elaborating the character of the celebrity itself” (Turner, 2014, p. 24). His approach is typical of more recent work in celebrity studies, in that he gives attention not only to the characteristics of the celebrities themselves (the celebrity as text), but to the media and industries that produce them and to the people whose lives and behaviors are changed through their interaction with, or consumption of, the celebrity text. He concludes his discussion by calling attention to the fact that notoriety and infamy are “an undeveloped part of the field of celebrity studies” (Turner, 2014, p. 26) and require “another term to organise our discussion of the specificity of the cultural impact of the notorious or criminal figure” (Turner, 2010, pp. 25–26). This article is a step toward developing this terminology, building in particular on the work of scholars such as Rojek (2001), Schmid (2005), and Penfold-Mounce (2009, 2010) on the subject.

Like fame and renown, notoriety and infamy are not defined exclusively by criminal acts, but by the media attention and visibility that they receive. In this way, we might view all these categories under the umbrella term celebrity, which is achieved through media visibility and cemented by the public’s “para-social interactions” (Horton & Wohl, 1956) with the celebrity figure. Likewise, people have similar parasocial interactions with the criminal, the crime, and the victims of that crime—from the outpouring of public grief over the murder of celebrities like John Lennon to more sinister practices of crime tourism. The media storms and moral panics that coalesce around notoriety are primary examples of what Seltzer (1998, p. 2) has dubbed “wound culture” or the “pathological public sphere,” which he defines as a “public fascination with torn and open bodies and torn and opened persons, a collective gathering around shock, trauma, and the wound.” Seltzer’s formulation of a wound culture that celebrates and glamorizes violence reveals the cultural foundations of contemporary notoriety and reminds us that the media and the public are complicit in the process that confers celebrity on violent criminals and their acts.

The following categorization of crime and celebrity offers some specific terminology useful in framing and structuring an analysis of notoriety. Using the Infamous Crime as a starting point, this taxonomy maps out the distinctions between the Celebrity Criminal and the Criminal Celebrity (based on whether he or she was famous before or after committing a crime), considers victimhood (including the Celebrity Victim, the Victimized Celebrity, and the Victim of Celebrity), and concludes with a brief definition of the function of the Celebrity Expert.

Infamous Crimes

Illustrative examples of Infamous Crimes include the following:

Brutal and salacious crimes are generally the most notorious and visible across media. Furthermore, unsolved crimes tend to have the greatest longevity in the public imagination. The Jack the Ripper killings in Victorian Whitechapel are a key example here. We have a name for the now-mythic killer: Jack the Ripper, after the series of over 300 signed letters sent to contemporary newspapers. However, the Ripper’s identity has never been confirmed, and countless films, graphic novels, television documentaries, and true-crime stories have promised to resolve the mystery at the heart of these brutal murders. None, however, have succeeded. Similarly, cases such as the unsolved Zodiac killings (where the killer sent coded letters to newspapers), the Black Dahlia murder, and the 1982 Tylenol poisonings have remained sharp in the public’s mind. Such crimes often contribute to media-framed moral panics, in which the crimes are read as harbingers of timely social problems. Best and Horiuchi (1985) have argued, for example, that the Tylenol poisonings were collapsed in the media into fears around candy tampering at Halloween, creating a false fear among American parents that criminals were poisoning children’s candy.

Generally, for a crime to fit into this category, it must be unsolved and particularly brutal, often sexualized, and sometimes elusive in its motivations. Crimes assigned to the category of serial sexual murder are the most notorious of these types of crimes—and this will be a key case study addressed later. Other types of infamous crimes are those labeled “spree killings” or acts of terrorism, such as the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, and the attacks in Paris in November 2015. In order for a crime to achieve notoriety in this way, it must be mediatized, make a spectacular impact, and result in the deaths of several people.

Unlike crimes perpetrated against single, celebritized victims, such as the Black Dahlia or JonBenet Ramsey (see the discussion of Celebrity Victims later in this article), these killings are noteworthy for the scale of the crime and the “averageness” of the victims. The panic that they generate is due to the possibility that the victims were chosen randomly—the inference being that any citizen could have been similarly victimized.

The Infamous Crime often reveals the slippery border between urban legend and actuality, with media framings and reframing often picking up on the abject and brutal nature of the violence and on the possibility that anyone could be the next victim, as in the case of the Tylenol/Halloween poisonings. In revisiting these murders in ritual ways, media culture exacerbates a sense of risk in its spectators. While crime rates actually might be dropping in the United States, for example, fictions such as these solidify the sense that Americans are living in the crosshairs of inevitable violence.

The Celebrity Criminal

Illustrative examples of Celebrity Criminals include the following:

Celebrity criminals become famous because of the crimes that they have committed. It is this violence that earns them media attention and visibility, separating them from their previous lives of anonymity. Rojek (2001, p. 146) argues that in a media culture where celebrity is framed as perhaps the primary means of individual achievement and validation, “[t]he use of violence may be interpreted as an act of revenge on society for not recognizing the extraordinary qualities of the individual.” He adds that the drive for celebrity should be considered “a factor in precipitating some forms of violent behaviour” (p. 147). This category is widely considered illustrative of the entanglement between celebrity and crime, and most scholarship turns to this category of criminal/crime in their interrogations.

Here, Celebrity Criminals are split into two types—the redeemable and the irredeemable. This dichotomy describes not the crimes, but rather their media framing and inclusion in specific kinds of narratives—for example, childhood trauma, rehabilitation, revenge or closure, and even makeovers. In the first category, one might include charismatic and dashing criminal figures such as highwaymen, pirates, art thieves, and gangsters. Rather than having sadistic violence as their main goal, they are credited with committing crime for altruistic reasons, financial gain, or even for the pleasure of performing such crimes with panache. In the dashing criminal category are quasi-mythological figures such as Robin Hood or the lesser widely known London-based gangsters, the Kray brothers. Also included in the redeemable category are those criminals who might be forgiven for their crimes because they were caught up in events beyond their control or have undergone a genuine rehabilitative process.

Another example of this category might be the “couple on the run,” such as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who are framed (through fiction, journalism, and many widely circulated photographs) as charismatic, in love, and unbound by society’s rules. Undoubtedly, Arthur Penn’s darkly glamorous film Bonnie and Clyde (1967) is responsible for reinforcing this now conventional reading of Parker and Barrow’s crimes. Furthering the Celebrity Criminal’s cinematic legacy is Oliver Stone’s 1994 film Natural Born Killers, which taps into the couple on the run genre and attempts to use its mythic currency to critique the media culture and industries that award serial murderers and spree killers visibility and fame. In her study of crime and celebrity culture, Penfold-Mounce (2009, pp. 83–92) further subdivides the redeemable category into three substrata: the social bandit (e.g., Robin Hood), the criminal hero (e.g., highwaymen), and the underworld exhibitionist (e.g., gangsta rappers) for greater specificity and in order to position them in relation to the formation of the culture industry’s hypermediated reality.

It is the celebrity of the irredeemable criminal, which Penfold-Mounce labels the “iniquitous criminal” (2009, p. 90), that is the most lasting and the most contentious. This type of celebrated criminality continues to spark heated debate regarding the ways in which the media and the public become complicit in the process of notoriety. In this category are serial murderers such as Ted Bundy and Peter Sutcliffe (also known as the “Yorkshire Ripper”), spree killers such as Charles Manson or the Columbine shooters (Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold), and terrorists such as Ted Kaczynski (also known as the “Unabomber”). Other types of criminals that might be included in this category are dictators such as Adolf Hitler, assassins such as John Wilkes Booth, insurgents and traitors such as Benedict Arnold and Guy Fawkes, and large-scale fraudsters such as Charles Ponzi (after whom the “Ponzi scheme” is named) and Bernard Madoff. As a caveat regarding the oversimplification that taxonomies such as this can produce, it should be noted that fraud can be considered a redeemable crime, and traitors can likewise be framed as heroic revolutionaries. It is the serial sexual murderer that is the most visible and most notable type of irredeemable or “iniquitous” Celebrity Criminal; and this figure notably functions as a key intersection point between celebrity and crime.

The Criminal Celebrity

Illustrative examples of Criminal Celebrities include the following:

The Criminal Celebrity category describes those who are already in the public eye and commit acts of crime or transgression that disrupt their established celebrity status. Like the Celebrity Criminal, public figures can commit crimes that are unforgivable, such as Savile, who was labeled a “prolific, predatory” sex offender by Scotland Yard (Halliday, 2014). These crimes and their media-framed aftermaths are infinitely devastating for the victims and their loved ones; and any studies of crime and celebrity must always bear in mind that even though these are media events, they are also personal tragedies that should be treated with respect and sensitivity.

These crimes also have an effect on the system of celebrity because fans and supporters are caught up in a dissonance between their previous admiration and their condemnation of the irredeemable crime. This represents troubling paradigmatic shifts for the erstwhile fan of the Criminal Celebrity, completely reorienting (and at times retrospectively pathologizing) the parasocial relationship that they have with the celebrity. Here, Jonathan Gray’s work on “anti-fandom” (2003) is useful, as Jones (forthcoming) explains in her study of fan reactions to the guilty plea of Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins to several sexual offenses against children. While this effect is certainly less immediate than the situation of the victims of the crimes themselves, it is an understudied aspect of criminal celebrity that is relevant to its study.

While there is little scholarship on the tension felt by the former fans of Criminal Celebrities, there has been considerable media anxiety around the effects that viewing crime and violence might have on audiences. The 1993 James Bulger murder (in which the 2-year-old Bulger was murdered by two 10-year-old boys, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables—reputedly inspired by a horror film that they had seen) is axiomatic, and it is best categorized as an “Infamous Crime” according to this taxonomy. For further consideration on children as both perpetrators and victims of crimes, see Smith and Sueda (2008). The Bulger case is often viewed in association with the earlier media panic around the distribution of violent videotapes, known as the “video nasties” scandal. The panic around the distribution of films on VHS, and the campaign headed by Mary Whitehouse in response, led to the 1984 Video Recordings Act, which ensured that films released on video in the United Kingdom are classified (according to the age appropriate for viewership) by the British Board of Film Classification looking at representations of violence, drug use, sexuality, or “imitable behavior” (http://www.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification).

An American example of the debate around the public consumption of crime concerns the 1995 trial of former football star O. J. Simpson, its media coverage, and the instrumental role that it played in establishing the popularity of the Court TV network (now truTV). Brian Lowry (2014) at Variety is one of many media critics who condemned Court TV as a “corrosive influence on the legal system, politics and other institutions.” In addition to the celebrity cases broadcast on Court TV, the early 1990s saw the success of reality crime programming such as the Fox television shows Cops (1989–) and America’s Most Wanted (1988–) and the BBC’s Crimewatch (1984–). This type of program helped to establish reality shows as a mode of entertainment that has come to dominate Anglo-American television.

The fact that the advent of reality television began with true crime programming is worth considering in an analysis of crime and celebrity. The almost unprecedented popularity of Netflix’s 2015 docuseries Making a Murderer, which traces Steve Avery’s exoneration for one crime and subsequent conviction of another, proves that television true-crime formats continue to be important to the apparatus of celebrity. The complex symbiotic relationship between reality television and the processes of celebrity is coming under increasing scholarly scrutiny—one example is Brenda R. Weber’s Makeover TV: Selfhood, Citizenship, and Celebrity (2009).

In addition to, and separate from, the violent and irredeemable crimes committed by public figures mentioned here, the category of Criminal Celebrity includes drug- and alcohol-related crimes, including theft and public mischief. Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson’s admission of drug use and film star Winona Ryder’s 2001 shoplifting arrest are useful examples. Other noteworthy examples include former child stars, such as Amanda Bynes, Justin Bieber, and Macaulay Culkin, who were charged with offenses such as drunk driving, theft, and drug possession. These types of celebrities are often positioned as transgressive because of or in direct response to their lifetime spent in the media—thus, they more accurately belong to the category of “Victims of Celebrity” (discussed later in this article).

One further subcategory to examine here is the Transgressive Celebrity; that is, those celebrities who do not break the law and are not convicted of any specific crimes, but are famous for pushing at the boundaries of morality and transgressing acceptable social behavior. Director Woody Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his longtime partner Mia Farrow, is one example. Rojek (2001), among others, has argued that transgression and excess are intrinsic to celebrity and that vicariously living such rebellious transgression through the celebrity provides the public consistent pleasure.

Transgressive celebrities and so-called trainwreck or meltdown celebrities (e.g., Bynes, Britney Spears, and Owen Wilson) reveal the sadistic aspects of the pathological public sphere and our desire to see the spectacle of psychological unravelling. As many feminist scholars, such as Negra and Holmes (2008), have outlined, discourses around transgressive and trainwreck celebrities are distinctly gendered, framing male celebrities (e.g., Wilson) using narratives of forgiveness while treating their (often younger) female counterparts with impatient disgust (e.g., Bynes).

The Celebrity Victim

Illustrative examples of Celebrity Victims include the following:

Just as criminals become celebrities because of their acts of violence, the victims of crime are simultaneously thrust into the media spotlight. These people become celebrities not because of what they have done, but by what was done to them—their celebrity frozen at the moment of their violent deaths. Celebrity Victims have no control over their image and its dissemination and, even if they survive their victimization, they are often pigeonholed as victims by the media or by lobbyists looking to capitalize on public shock to push their agendas. Arguably, they are revictimized by the apparatus of celebrity, which replays their victimization for public consumption. Nils Christie’s conceptualization of an ideal victim (1986) is a useful starting point for exploring why certain types of victims become the object of media focus (e.g., children such as JonBenet Ramsey) and others are ignored. The celebritized victimhood described in this category, however, does not trade exclusively on idealism, but frustrates the stereotype of the ideal victim by almost compulsively focusing on the ways in which a victim is both ideal and somehow guilty (particularly in the case of female victims).

Murder victim Elizabeth Short, who was dubbed “the Black Dahlia” by the media, is a primary example of the Celebrity Victim—and the images and scenario of her mutilation and murder have been replayed across the media, from novels (e.g., James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia) to true-crime television programming, and films (e.g., Brian De Palma’s 2006 feature film on the subject). The Black Dahlia case reveals the disturbing gender politics involved in framing Celebrity Victims, as discussions and coverage frequently hinge on Short’s sexual promiscuity. The intense scrutiny of the sexuality of the victim is also a cornerstone of the Ripper case, whose victims were prostitutes.

As feminist scholars such as Walkowitz (1992), Caputi (1987), and Cameron and Frazer (1987) have highlighted, the bodies of female murder victims become focal points for the sexualization of violence while their lives and victimization are marginalized by the details of the crime. Feminist inquiries into female victimhood, such as those mentioned here, are important contributions to the scholarship around notorious crimes and criminals. For studies considering the gender politics of female perpetrators, see Fatal Women: Lesbian Sexuality and the Mark of Aggression (Hart, 1994) and Killing Women: The Visual Culture of Gender and Violence (Lord & Burfoot, 2006). Furthermore, Davies, Francis, and Greer’s (2007) edited collection Victims, Crime, and Society brings together considerations of the ways in which race, gender, and class inform society’s notions of victimhood.

As in the gender politics of female violence and victimization, other Celebrity Victims can become figureheads (or ignition points) for wider sociopolitical issues of their times. The primary example is Rodney King, an African American whose assault at the hands of white LAPD officers was recorded on a home video camera in 1991. King’s beating, its public display, and the subsequent acquittal of the officers who attacked him sparked a series of race riots in Los Angeles in 1992. King’s celebrity, and the frequently repeated images of his victimization (and his beaten body), have become potent symbols of systematic racial inequality in the United States.

In her consideration of the culture of crime in the U.S. media, Rapping (2003, pp. 236–251) argues that the Celebrity Victim (epitomized by America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh) has become instrumental in establishing the utopian, revenge-based logic of the American victims’ rights movement, which supplants discourses of rehabilitation or redemption of criminals. She insists that this movement separates America into two categories: “those who prey on others and those who ‘fight back’” (Rapping, 2003, p. 243). In such a scenario, the narrative of the Celebrity Victim-hero who fights back becomes a powerful media story—an extension, perhaps, of Christie’s ideal victim. Again, the longevity and success of Walsh’s program is testament to the lucrative resonance of the revenge story.

The Victimized Celebrity

Illustrative examples of Victimized Celebrities include the following:

Where the Celebrity Victim becomes famous because of the violence perpetrated against them (and perhaps because of their willingness to “fight back”), the Victimized Celebrity is already in the public eye before the crime occurs—in a manner that mirrors the parallel/distinction between Celebrity Criminal and the Criminal Celebrity. Unlike Celebrity Victims, whose fame is restricted to their violent deaths, the Victimized Celebrity can retain a celebrity persona with meanings beyond their victimhood (their music, political legacies, etc.) As with the previous category, the victimhood of the Victimized Celebrity can become a symbolic standard for certain issues or for the formation of communities (e.g., the conspiracy theories that surround JFK’s murder).

Victimized Celebrity, Crime, and Public Memory

The moment when a crime is committed against a famous person, particularly if it involves their violent death, it becomes a communal historical memory—a place of traumatic witnessing that binds people together and delineates an important shared memory. The almost ritual question of “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” is testament to this process. When this kind of violent event is caught on camera (like Rodney King’s beating, the assassination of JFK, or the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks), it has a greater currency in culture, particularly in the current media culture, where videos may be shared with ease among global communities. These communities of trauma are certainly part of Seltzer’s wound culture mentioned earlier, but scholarship around trauma and memory is useful for a more in-depth theorization of this process of community formation based on the shared experience of violent crimes. Scholars such as Caruth (1995, 1996), Kaplan (2005), and Sturken (2007) represent a solid starting point for an exploration of large-scale criminal events and trauma.

Victims of Celebrity

Illustrative examples of Victims of Celebrity include the following:

While not necessarily a crime, this tangential category of Victims of Celebrity describes those already in the public eye who have suffered mental health issues (or even committed suicide), for which celebrity and its insistent media visibility are assumed to be contributing factors. The spectacle of the Victim of Celebrity has proven to be infinitely fascinating to the public—and the prevalence of so-called trainwreck celebrities exemplifies this. Although perhaps the connection may not be clear at first, this type of celebrity victim is a further illustrative example of Seltzer’s pathological public sphere—here, we see the spectacle of the individual acting out of acute psychological distress, often in displays of public intoxication or in the distribution of amateur sex tapes. There is a significant element of schadenfreude at play, as the public delights in its ability to both revere and condemn the celebrity figure. There is a distinct (and gendered) pleasure in watching the godlike elite of the celebrity sphere fall from grace, and the public’s admiration is always tinged with an edge of bitterness. Rojek suggests that “hatred is never far from the surface of adulation because the fan’s desire for consummation is doomed to fail” (Redmond & Holmes, 2007, p. 171). Schmid (2005, p. 6) is more forceful in his identification of the sharp edge of the public’s consumption of celebrity, claiming that “the public’s relation to the celebrity is also characterised by resentment, even violent hatred.”

The Celebrity Expert

Illustrative examples of the Celebrity Expert include the following:

The Celebrity Expert is almost always absent from considerations of the intersection between crime and celebrity, but it should be remembered that criminologists, profilers, and crime journalists called upon to explain violent crime across the media receive a large measure of celebrity themselves. It should also be remembered that the Celebrity Expert depends no less on violence for their fame as the criminals and victims that they analyze. As scholars, we must go some way toward acknowledging that our research and reputations are building on these violent acts as well.

The Celebrity Expert is particularly well suited to televisual celebrity, often called upon during the true-crime documentary to provide new evidence on an infamous unsolved crime. The glut of television programming on the subject of Jack the Ripper is evidence of the ubiquity of this form of crime story and of the importance of the Celebrity Expert in framing such stories and containing their grotesque violence (Cornwell hosts one such program on British television in 2002).

A key example of the Celebrity Expert is consulting detective Sherlock Holmes—global transmedia brand and currently the lynchpin of a successful BBC series with an intense fan following. Although Holmes is a fictional character (created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), he is currently perhaps the most renowned forensic expert. The Guinness Book of World Records awarded Holmes the title of “most portrayed literary human character in film and TV” in 2012 (Guinness World Records News), In fact, his fictional status reveals the importance of the feedback loop between fact and fiction (filtered through the media) inherent to the process of celebrity.

Sir Edmond Locard, one of the pioneering figures of professionalized forensic science and founder of the Lyon forensics laboratory, cites Holmes as an important inspiration—“Sherlock Holmes was the first to realize the importance of dust. I merely copied his methods” (Berg, 1970, p. 448). Likewise, Doyle mentions prominent figures in forensic science, such as Alphonse Bertillon, developer of the system of criminal identification known as anthropometry (Doyle, 1992, pp. 235–236). This self-conscious play between fact and fiction does not detract from Holmes’s status as a celebrity expert—rather, it has solidified his transmedia expert status.

The serial killer (from Hannibal Lector to Jack the Ripper) is likewise illustrative of the blurry line between the real and the fabricated. However, where these killers might seem to be types of folk devils, Holmes’s hyperreal expertise provides a reassuring framework of logic and rationality to counter the atavistic threat of the criminal. Both function as reinforcing parts of the same system of notorious criminality, as do their nonfictional counterparts.

If celebrity can most usefully be described not as a state of being, or even as a kind of culture, but as a process, then what follows next are detailed considerations of two current cultural practices of criminal celebrity: the forensic framing of stories about crime and the lucrative crime tourism and memorabilia industries.

Forensic Framings and the Celebrity Expert

The late 1990s and early 2000s were marked by a turn to the forensic in Anglo-American popular culture. The cultural phenomenon was most visible on American television, with crime dramas such as CSI (on CBS, 2000–2015), NCIS (CBS, 2003–), and Bones (Fox, 2005–) dominating broadcast airwaves. The obsession with all things forensic extended beyond television to include other media, such as film (The Silence of the Lambs, The Bone Collector); popular literature (the novels of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs, and true-crime books such as those written by the former FBI profiler Douglas); and video games (the Sherlock Holmes series and those affiliated with the CSI franchise). The rise of forensic interest is not limited to media and their perceived impact (e.g., the so-called CSI Effect). The nostalgic version of forensic science favored by these narratives (infused with Enlightenment-era rationalism) is equally visible in disparate spaces, ranging from the museum (e.g., the touring “CSI Experience” Exhibit) to the cookbook [e.g., Patricia Cornwell’s Food to Die For (2001)].

The Celebrity Expert is certainly not limited to the field of forensic science—see, for example, “teledons” such as Professor Brian Cox and Professor Mary Beard or talk show experts like Dr. Phil McGraw. The forensic expert is one of the most ubiquitous of the Celebrity Experts in the current mediascape. This section will answer the following questions: Who are celebrity forensic experts, and what functions do they perform in relation to the celebrity status of the criminal?

The credentials of the celebrity forensic expert are varied and not always linked to formal academic training or professional experience. For example, one of the most vocal experts has been former crime journalist and author Patricia Cornwell, particularly in her search for the identity of Jack the Ripper. Her ambitiously titled 2002 book Portrait of a Killer: Jack The Ripper—Case Closed and her television documentary (Stalking the Ripper) offer closure to this infamous crime using modern forensic techniques such as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) profiling. In this way, Cornwell’s Ripper narrative is similar to many others, calling up new forensic technologies and forensic experts to solve this Infamous Crime of 1888—she makes a case that Impressionist painter Walter Sickert was the Ripper. Typical also is the framework of Cornwell’s expertise, based largely on her research for fictional novels (in which her lead character is Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a forensic pathologist). This is a further example of the system of celebrity revealing a hyperreal feedback loop—Cornwell’s knowledge of crime fiction makes her an expert on factual crime (the character of Richard Castle on ABC’s Castle is a further example of this phenomenon). Her ability to tell stories about crime makes her effective at revealing hidden truths through the illuminating technologies and narrative logic of forensic science.

Cornwell’s Stalking the Ripper documentary is unique in giving voice to the neoliberal position of the Celebrity Expert (for an analysis of the intersection between forensic expertise and neoliberalism, see Byers & Johnson, 2009). During the show’s opening sequence, Cornwell gives her reasons for pursuing the Ripper case:

I believe we owe it to society and to the victims to pursue the Ripper cases and that takes laypeople like me because Scotland Yard, they’ve got active cases to investigate. They’re certainly not going to investigate a 112-year-old case for which there will be no prosecution and which would cost a lot of money.

She frames herself (as the media often frames the Celebrity Expert) as a philanthropist, taking on the personal, emotional, and financial costs of investigating crime in the face of an overburdened justice system that cannot prioritize the historical Infamous Crime. Resonating with the logic of the victims’ rights movement, Celebrity Experts can function as an embodiment of neoliberal justice. They are often private citizens who step in to do what the government, through lack of resources, cannot. They can “fight back” and provide hypotheses of closure through their forensic framing of crime. This is a distinctly comforting process for spectators (i.e., the fantasy that forensic science can explain or contain violence crime), even as it contributes to the celebrity status of the criminal and provides an excuse to revisit horrific and sensationalized crimes. Despite her mandate to find justice for the victims, Cornwell’s television show opens with sensation: a detailed recreation of the murder of Mary Kelly that includes archival crime scene photography of her mutilated corpse.

There are many ways of looking at the role of Celebrity Experts. Their personal investigations can raise awareness of violent crime and remind the public that an Infamous Crime always has murdered victims at its core. Further interest and visibility might encourage resources to be assigned to otherwise cold cases. As Schmid (2005, pp. 3–4) reminds readers in his analysis of the serial murder “fan” industry of murderabilia, “an attitude of moral neutrality towards that industry” is essential for an analysis of “the conditions that allowed for the emergence of that culture.”

The Celebrity Forensic Expert has diverse credentials but always provides a rational framework for identifying criminals and their motivations. Their framing of violent crime through science can effectively neutralize the gothic horror of a crime and the incomprehensibility of its perpetrator(s). Forensic science, and the forensic expert, can provide a kind of “alibi” (Weissmann & Boyle, 2007, p. 92) that permits spectators to simultaneously enjoy the almost pornographic sensationalism of Criminal Celebrity without guilt because they are learning from the voice of the expert. The many forensic framings of Infamous Crimes raise public awareness of the victims while reinforcing the celebrity status of the criminal. Researchers must consider these many tensions in their analyses if they are to investigate the role of the expert in the economy of notoriety and celebrity.

Crime Tourism and the Murderabilia Industry

When a crime becomes famous (or infamous), it no longer functions exclusively as an event or an act—it becomes a place to visit and to map, and provides tourists with tangible souvenirs, in an uncanny echo of the serial killer’s propensity to collect. The murderabilia industry (in which fans can buy items associated with Celebrity Criminals) and crime tourism (which offers tours or reconstructions of infamous crime scenes) are straightforward examples of how Criminal Celebrity can be profitable—not merely in accruing visibility, but in measurable financial terms. It is, furthermore, an example of an intersection with the kinds of fan practices normally associated with more socially sanctioned forms of celebrity (e.g., collecting autographs), suggesting that notoriety is not merely a footnote to the system of celebrity, but an entrenched part of it.

Beginning in 1977, many U.S. states and the federal government enacted “Son of Sam” laws, named after the serial killer David Berkowitz, that were designed to ensure that criminals do not profit financially from telling the stories of their crimes. In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the New York version of this law violated the First Amendment (California likewise overturned its law in 2002). Subsequently, New York and other states amended their laws to specifically ban profit derived from the crime itself, and this process of amendment continued with the establishment of the Victims of Crime Act of 1984. Some states’ versions of the Son of Sam laws include amendments regarding the trade of murderabilia (e.g., Texas), but this is not true everywhere. Therefore, it is possible to bypass these laws, particularly with online sales. In response, Senator John Cornyn of Texas has tried several times to pass an act banning the sale of murderabilia, most recently in 2013 (known as the “Stop the Sale of Murderabilia Act”). Central to the debates around Son of Sam laws is whether such laws impinge on the constitutional right of free speech, as well as the issue of how one might police a semimobile, globalized online industry.

The murderabilia industry is a by-product of notoriety and its literal commodification. Many newspaper interviews with murderabilia collectors and vendors describe their motives for collecting as historical or curatorial. They suggest that collectors want to archive a significant part of history for an interested public or for their private collection. David Schmid begins his discussion of murderabilia by quoting Rick Staton, one of the largest collectors and vendors of murderabilia in the United States. Staton suggests that everyone is fascinated by murder, even those who vocally condemn it. Staton wonders, “Am I the one who is so abnormal, or am I pretty normal?” (Schmid, 2005, p. 3). The desire not only to see where a crime was committed (e.g., murder tourism), but to own a talismanic object associated with violent crime, is integral to how notoriety functions in consumer culture. Murderabilia collections allow people to experience a material connection to the Celebrity Criminal and the Infamous Crime. The display and accumulation of this collection contributes to the status (and perhaps vicarious notoriety) of the collector. It also parallels the archival impulse of both the serial killer and the forensic investigator (Steenberg, 2013, pp. 142–148). Thus, the collection and dealing of murderabilia are logical, if controversial, extensions of celebrity culture.

Philip R. Stone has written extensively on tourist practices related to violence and death, also known as dark tourism or thanatourism. Crime tourism can be read as a subsection of these wider dark tourism practices. In one article, Stone (2006, p. 146) argues that dark tourism exists along “a fluid spectrum of intensity,” with the darkest of these places being ones where death and suffering have taken place (e.g., the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau) and the lightest being those such as the London Dungeon, whose aims are to entertain rather than memorialize. What studies of dark tourism reveal are the ways in which all shades of darkness have been fully integrated into an economy wherein they are profitable products. The apparatus of celebrity underpins the success of many of these sites—from the scenes of Infamous Crimes (e.g., Jack the Ripper tours) to the shrines of Victimized Celebrities (e.g., the memorial to Princess Diana at Kensington Palace).

Several fictional feature films use dark tourism and the collection of murderabilia in their narratives. The 2001 Ridley Scott film Hannibal opens with a wealthy collector buying items associated with the serial killer known as Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lector. This collector turns out to be a former victim of Lector’s, whose collecting is framed as part of his pathological drive for revenge. In a similarly obsessive manner, journalist Brian Kessler in the film Kalifornia (Sena, 1993) takes a road trip across the United States visiting sites associated with infamous serial murderers in order to write a coffee table book about them. The plot sees Kessler teaming up with serial killer Early Grayce, with tragic consequences. The collecting and touring characters in these films are framed as obsessive and troubled, and their practices of serial killer fandom are treated as personal weaknesses, more aligned with copycat killers [e.g., Copycat (Amiel, 1995)], rather than a fixture of a long-standing celebrity industry. An argument can be made that serial killer fictions—from television series like Criminal Minds (CBS, 2005–) to gothic crime novels and movies like The Silence of the Lambs—are extensions of the murderabilia industry itself, contributing to the celebrity of the serial killer and profiting from stories of sexualized murder.

Murderabilia collections and crime tourism have certain continuities with other celebrity collection practices, but they can be interpreted as their pathological end point. As with all mediations of serial murder, such practices can be used as proof of the negative consequences of a culture that is aligned toward celebrity—including notoriety. Using serial crime in this representative way (as an excessive expression of otherwise established cultural conditions) is in line with the way that some feminist scholars have characterized the notoriety of the serial killer as a vicious end point of a sliding scale of patriarchal masculinity. Deborah Cameron (1994, p. 151) argues that serial killers “are extraordinary and grotesque, but they are grotesque in the image of the culture that produces them: They are a pathological symptom of a certain kind of masculinity that in its less obviously malignant forms is a requirement of patriarchal culture.” These arguments suggest that the act of murderabilia collection might not be limited to the personal obsessions of one troubled person, but rather that it may be closely related to more banal practices of a celebrity-attuned culture.

The Serial Killer: Some Conclusions

It is around the figure of the serial killer that many of the issues around crime and celebrity coalesce—from the commodification of violence in postindustrial capitalism to the complex process of identity negotiation embodied by the celebrity figure. Schmid (2005, p. 24) argues that the serial murderer is a key cultural myth of postmodern America—“as quintessentially American a figure as the cowboy.” He pushes the importance of the serial killer even further, arguing that “the concept of ‘fame’ has evolved in ways that not only allow for the existence of criminal celebrities such as the serial killer but also make the serial killer the exemplary modern celebrity” (Schmid, 2005, p. 4).

Although the serial killer is a fluid, mythic figure that can be reframed and remediated to fit an ideological agenda (Jenkins, 1994), there are certain characteristics that are consistently associated with the serial murderer. Firstly, serial killers are almost always men, which is why this text uses ‘he’ to describe the figure. Feminist analyses have placed the masculinity of the serial killer at the forefront of their analyses (e.g. Cameron and Frazer 1987). Schmid (2005, pp. 66–101) maps these conventional features, which include the sexual nature of the crimes, the mobility of the killer through the American freeway system, and the large scale of the crimes. He traces these beliefs to a press conference held by the FBI and the Justice Department held on October 26, 1983, in Washington, D.C., that publicized the FBI’s research on serial crime. These definitions were cemented by the explosion of media coverage that followed. He argues that the FBI mobilized the threat of the serial killer in order to legitimize its expertise in a manner that resonates with its earlier strategies of dealing with organized crime.

The influential former FBI criminal profiler Robert Ressler is often cited as the originator of the term serial killer, which he claims was inspired by the system of delayed gratification inherent to film serials (1992, p. 33):

Now that I look back on that naming event, I think that what was also in my mind were the serial adventures we used to see on Saturday at the movies (the one I liked best was the Phantom). Each week, you’d be lured back to see another episode, because at the end of each one there was a cliff-hanger. In dramatic terms, this wasn’t a satisfactory ending, because it increased, not lessened the tension. The same dissatisfaction occurs in the minds of serial killers. The very act of killing leaves the murderer hanging, because it isn’t as perfect as his fantasy.

Yet again, the connection to the film industry reveals the mediated nature of the serial killer almost from the moment that he is identified as a threat.

It must be noted that even though Ressler and the FBI did not specifically define the serial killer until the 1980s, killers who committed crimes commiserate with that now-conventionalized modus operandi were in operation outside the United States and much earlier. Jack the Ripper is often described as the first serial killer, and his brutal crimes against women are in line with our postmodern expectations of serial killers. The motives of these murders, as Ressler indicates, are to feed an elaborate and often sexual fantasy—see Ressler, Burgess, and Douglas (1993) for a more detailed account of the FBI’s definition of serial murder and its motivational model. The agency’s motivational model has been thoroughly integrated into popular definitions of the serial killer, and it establishes the serial killer as a type of person—now infamous not only for what he has done, but for what he is.

While there are many related facets of the mediated serial killer to analyze, this article will conclude with one of the figure’s most significant defining characteristics—his anonymity and typicality. Seltzer (1998, p. 128) flags the ways in which serial killers are generally described as strangely ordinary, with a “tendency to blend into others or melt into the background.” In these descriptions, Seltzer sees the serial killer as an empty person filled up with communal fantasies of a violence-centered wound culture: “[H]is interior states are nothing but outer or social forces and fantasies turned outside in: the subject, as it were, flooded by the social and its collective fantasies” (1998, p. 128). This reading of the serial killer as enacting fantasies belonging to the public resonates with the formulation of the celebrity as extraordinarily ordinary or, as Dyer (2011, p. 43) summarizes, “stars represent what are taken to be people typical of this society.” If the star is an embodiment of the typical, then the serial killer is a dark double.

While the forensic framing of notoriety can provide a kind of pedagogical “alibi” for the more prurient pleasures available, then the mythos of the serial killer (and the related practice of murderabilia) as it is generally portrayed in Anglo-American media provides a kind of “escape hatch” (McKinney, cited in Schmid, 2005, p. 136) that deflects focus from the tragic consequences of violence. Schmid proposes that the vast majority of serial killer fictions provide such escape hatches for their audiences, although he also highlights exceptional texts that work to undermine the spectacle of serial murder and confront the audience with victimhood [e.g., the Belgian film Man Bites Dog (Velvaux, Bonzel, & Poelvoorde, 1992)].

This brief history of the serial killer reveals his entanglement with the film industry and celebrity culture, and the entrenched discourse that sees him as metonymic of postmodern culture. Given such roots of notoriety, it is important to analyze the serial killer in the light of the cultures that consume and produce him.

Review of the Literature and Primary Sources

Situating Crime in (Media) History

Many scholarly traditions and methodological frameworks are useful for approaching the converging subjects of crime and mediatized celebrity. It can be looked at historically, as Halttunen (1998) approaches her study of the Gothic narratives enmeshed with the ways in which murder has been covered in the press in the United States. Studies of the history of fame (and its discourse) can also be a useful way to map the evolution of the ways in which notoriety and infamy are framed and their relationship to discourses around celebrity and fame. Leo Braudy’s Frenzy of Renown (1997) provides a sweeping, detailed account of the evolution of fame—from Alexander the Great, through Jesus and Abraham Lincoln, to Spartacus. In his study of the development of forensic science and its incorporation in many fictional and multimedia forms, Thomas (1999) offers insights into the shifting role of the forensic scientist (often positioned as a kind of Celebrity Expert), both fictional (Sherlock Holmes) and actual (Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso).

Studying Celebrity

There is a robust and growing field of scholarship around the subject of stardom and celebrity that will prove infinitely useful to those researching crime and celebrity, and much of this is gathered in the excellent Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader (Redmond & Holmes, 2007). It provides excerpts and articles from key scholars and theorists, including Roland Barthes, Francesco Alberoni, Richard Dyer, Christine Geraghty, and Jackie Stacey.

Richard Dyer’s work on film stardom is foundational to contemporary understandings of how fame and celebrity function within culture, and his writings remain crucial for an understanding of the methodological framework for studying the apparatus of celebrity. He opens up the parameters of studying stardom thus:

A film star’s image is not just his or her film, but the promotion of those films and of the star through pin-ups, public appearances, studio hand-outs and so on, as well as interviews, biographies and coverage in the press of the star’s doings and ‘private’ life. Further, a star’s image is also what people say or write about him or her, as critics or commentators, the way the image is used in other contexts such as advertisements, novels, pop songs, and finally the way the star can become part of the coinage of everyday speech.

(Dyer, 2007, p. 85)

Building on and moving away from Dyer’s work, other scholars have further widened their parameters to consider the practices of fans and the diffusion of the star/celebrity image through the platforms of new media (see, e.g., Senft, 2008)—engaging with shifting terminology, such as microcelebrity and instafamous, to describe the ways in which the practices and processes of celebrity have changed.

Dyer’s focus on the film industry is germane, as the Fordist production line of classic Hollywood marks the focal point of many studies of stardom and fandom. Furthermore, while many scholars debate the terminology and meanings of celebrity, they generally agree that celebrity and stardom as they are understood today began with the American film production (and related publicity) industry in the 1910s and 1920s.

Putting Crime into Cultural Contexts

Chris Rojek is one of the few scholars working in the field of celebrity studies to include notoriety in his analysis, but several other scholars working in cultural studies have included the apparatus of celebrity in their considerations of crime and criminality. Historically, the field of cultural studies has provided useful theoretical frameworks for approaching celebrity, and celebrity studies owes a debt to them in the formation of their distinct, but interdisciplinary, methodological framework.

Jenkins (1994), Seltzer (1998), Simpson (2000

David Lloyd George

David Lloyd George, the second child and the elder son of William George and Elizabeth Lloyd, was born in Chorlton-on-Medlock, on 17th January, 1863.

Lloyd George's father was the son of a farmer who had a desire to become a doctor or a lawyer. However, unable to afford the training, William George became a teacher. He wrote in his diary, "I cannot make up my mind to be a school master for life... I want to occupy higher ground somehow or other." (1)

William George married Elizabeth Lloyd, the daughter of a shoemaker, on 16th November 1859. He became a school teacher in Newchurch in Lancashire, but in 1863, he bought the lease of Bwlford, a smallholding of thirty acres near Haverfordwest. However, he died, from pneumonia aged forty-four, on 7th June, 1864. (2)

Elizabeth Lloyd, was only 36 years-old and as well as having two young children, Mary Ellen and David, she was also pregnant with a third child. Elizabeth sent a telegram to her unmarried brother, Richard Lloyd, who was a master-craftsman with a shoe workshop in Llanystumdwy, Caernarvonshire. He arranged for the family to live with him. According to Hugh Purcell: "Richard Lloyd... was an aoto-didact whose light burned long into the night as he sought self-improvement. He ran the local debating society and regarded politics as a public service to improve people's lives." (3)

The Lloyd family were staunch Nonconformists and worshipped at the Disciples of Christ Chapel in Criccieth. Richard Lloyd was Welsh-speaking and deeply resented English dominance over Wales. Richard was impressed by David's intelligence and encouraged him in everything he did. David's younger brother, William George, later recalled: "He (David) was the apple of Uncle Lloyd's eye, the king of the castle and, like the other king, could do no wrong... Whether this unrestrained admiration was wholly good for the lad upon whom it was lavished, and indeed for the man who evolved out of him, is a matter upon which opinions may differ." (4)

David Lloyd George acknowledged the help given to him by Richard Lloyd: "All that is best in life's struggle I owe to him first... I should not have succeeded even so far as I have were it not for the devotion and shrewdness with which he has without a day's flagging kept me up to the mark... How many times have I done things... entirely because I saw from his letters that he expected me to do them." (5)

Lloyd George was an intelligent boy and did very well at his local school. Lloyd George's headmaster, David Evans, was described as a "teacher superlative quality". His "outstanding gift was for holding the attention of the young and for arousing their enthusiasm". Lloyd George said that "no pupil ever had a finer teacher". Evans returned the compliment: "no teacher ever had a more apt pupil". (6)

In 1877 Lloyd George decided he wanted to be a lawyer. After passing his Law Preliminary Examination he found a post at a firm of solicitors in Portmadog. He started work soon after his sixteenth birthday. He passed his final law examination in 1884 with a third-class honours and established his own law practice in Criccieth. He soon developed a reputation as a solicitor who was willing to defend people against those in authority. (7)

Lloyd George began getting involved in politics. His uncle was a member of the Liberal Party with a strong hatred of the Conservative Party. At the age of 18 he visited the House of Commons and noted in his diary: "I will not say that I eyed the assembly in a spirit similar to that in which William the Conqueror eyed England on his visit to Edward the Confessor, as the region of his future domain." (8)

In 1888 Lloyd George married Margaret Owen , the daughter of a prosperous farmer. He developed a "deserved reputation for promiscuity". One of his biographers has pointed out: "Not for nothing was his nickname the Goat. He had a high sex drive without the furtiveness that often goes with it. Although he knew that the fast life, as he called it, could ruin his career he took extraordinary risks. Only two years after his marriage he had an affair with an attractive widow of Caernavon, Mrs Jones... She gave birth to a son who grew up to look remarkably like Richard, Lloyd George's legitimate son who was born the previous year." (9)

Lloyd George joined the local Liberal Party and became an alderman on the Caernarvon County Council. He also took part in several political campaigns including one that attempted to bring an end to church tithes. Lloyd George was also a strong supporter of land reform. As a young man he had read books by Thomas Spence, John Stuart Mill and Henry George on the need to tackle this issue. He had also been impressed by pamphlets written by George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb of the Fabian Society on the need to tackle the issue of land ownership.

In 1890 Lloyd George was selected as the Liberal candidate for the Caernarvon Borough constituency. A by-election took place later that year when the sitting Conservative MP died. Lloyd George fought the election on a programme which called for religious equality in Wales, land reform, the local veto in granting licenses for the sale of alcohol, graduated taxation and free trade. Lloyd George won the seat by 18 votes and at twenty-seven became the youngest member of the House of Commons. (10)

The Boer War

The Boers (Dutch settlers in South Africa), under the leadership of Paul Kruger, resented the colonial policy of Joseph Chamberlain and Alfred Milner which they feared would deprive the Transvaal of its independence. After receiving military equipment from Germany, the Boers had a series of successes on the borders of Cape Colony and Natal between October 1899 and January 1900. Although the Boers only had 88,000 soldiers, led by the outstanding soldiers such as Louis Botha, and Jan Smuts, the Boers were able to successfully besiege the British garrisons at Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberley. On the outbreak of the Boer War, the conservative government announced a national emergency and sent in extra troops. (11)

Asquith called for support for the government and "an unbroken front" and became known as a "Liberal Imperialist". Campbell-Bannerman disagreed with Asquith and refused to to endorse the despatch of ten thousand troops to South Africa as he thought the move "dangerous when the the government did not know what it might lead to". David Lloyd George also disagreed with Asquith and complained that this was a war that had been started by Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary. (12)

It has been claimed that Lloyd George "sympathised with the Boers, seeing them as a pastoral community like Welshmen before the industrial revolution". He supported their claim for independence under his slogan "Home Rule All Round" assuming "it would lead to a free association within the British Empire". He argued that the Boers "would only be subdued after much suffering, cruelty and cost." (13)

Lloyd George also saw this anti-war campaign as an opportunity to stop Asquith becoming the next leader of the Liberals. Lloyd George was on the left of the party and had been campaigning with little success for the introduction of old age pensions. The idea had been rejected by the Conservative government as being "too expensive". In one speech he made the point: "The war, I am told, has already cost £16,000,000 and I ask you to compare that sum with what it would cost to fund the old age pension schemes.... when a shell exploded it carried away an old age pension and the only satisfaction was that it killed 200 Boers - fathers of families, sons of mothers. Are you satisfied to give up your old age pension for that?" (14)

The overwhelmingly majority of the public remained fervently jingoistic. David Lloyd George came under increasing attack and after a speech at Bangor on 4th April 1900, he was interrupted throughout his speech, and after the meeting, as he was walking away, he was struck over the head with a bludgeon. His hat took the impact and although stunned, he was able to take refuge in a cafe, guarded by the police.

On 5th July, 1900, at a meeting addressed by Lloyd George in Liskeard ended in pandemonium. Around fifty "young roughs stormed the platform and occupied part of it, while a soldier in khaki was carried shoulder-high from end to end of the hall and ladies in the front seats escaped hurriedly by way of the platform door." Lloyd George tried to keep speaking and it was only when some members of the audience began throwing chairs at him that he left the hall. (15)

On 25th July, a motion on the Boer War, caused a three way split in the Liberal Party. A total of 40 "Liberal Imperialists" that included H. H. Asquith, Edward Grey, Richard Haldane and Archibald Primrose, Lord Rosebery, supported the government's policy in South Africa. Henry Campbell-Bannerman and 34 others abstained, whereas 31 Liberals, led by Lloyd George voted against the motion.

Robert Cecil, the Marquess of Salisbury, decided to take advantage of the divided Liberal Party and on 25th September 1900, he dissolved Parliament and called a general election. Lloyd George, admitted in one speech he was in a minority but it was his duty as a member of the House of Commons to give his constituents honest advice. He went on to make an attack on Tory jingoism. "The man who tries to make the flag an object of a single party is a greater traitor to that flag than the man who fires upon it." (16)

Henry Campbell-Bannerman with a difficult task of holding together the strongly divided Liberal Party and they were unsurprisingly defeated in the 1900 General Election. The Conservative Party won 402 seats against the 183 achieved by Liberal Party. However, anti-war MPs did better than those who defended the war. David Lloyd George increased the size of his majority in Caernarvon Borough. Other anti-war MPs such as Henry Labouchere and John Burns both increased their majorities. In Wales, of ten Liberal candidates hostile to the war, nine were returned, while in Scotland every major critic was victorious.

John Grigg argues that it was not the anti-war Liberals who lost the party the election. "The Liberals were beaten because they were disunited and hopelessly disorganised. The war certainly added to their confusion, but this was already so flagrant that they were virtually bound to lose, war or no war. The government also had the advantage of improved trade since 1895, which the war, admittedly, turned into a boom. All things considered, the Liberals did remarkably well." (17)

Emily Hobhouse, formed the Relief Fund for South African Women and Children in 1900. It was an organisation set up: "To feed, clothe, harbour and save women and children - Boer, English and other - who were left destitute and ragged as a result of the destruction of property, the eviction of families or other incidents resulting from the military operations". Except for members of the Society of Friends, very few people were willing to contribute to this fund. (18)

Hobhouse arrived in South Africa on 27th December, 1900. Hobhouse argued that Lord Kitchener's "Scorched Earth" policy included the systematic destruction of crops and slaughtering of livestock, the burning down of homesteads and farms, and the poisoning of wells and salting of fields - to prevent the Boers from resupplying from a home base. Civilians were then forcibly moved into the concentration camps. Although this tactic had been used by Spain (Ten Years' War) and the United States (Philippine-American War), it was the first time that a whole nation had been systematically targeted. She pointed this out in a report that she sent to the government led by Robert Cecil, the Marquess of Salisbury. (19)

When she returned to England, Hobhouse campaigned against the British Army's scorched earth and concentration camp policy. William St John Fremantle Brodrick, the Secretary of State for War argued that the interned Boers were "contented and comfortable" and stated that everything possible was being done to ensure satisfactory conditions in the camps. David Lloyd George took up the case in the House of Commons and accused the government of "a policy of extermination" directed against the Boer population. (20)

After meeting Hobhouse, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, gave his support to Lloyd George against Asquith and the Liberal Imperialists on the subject of the Boer War. In a speech to the National Reform Union he provided a detailed account of Hobhouse's report. He asked "When is a war not a war?" and then provided his own answer "When it is carried on by methods of barbarism in South Africa". (21)

The British action in South Africa grew increasingly unpopular and anti-war Liberal MPs and the leaders of the Labour Party saw it as an example of the worst excesses of imperialism. The Boer War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902. The peace settlement brought to an end the Transvaal and the Orange Free State as Boer republics. However, the British granted the Boers £3 million for restocking and repairing farm lands and promised eventual self-government. David Lloyd George commented: "They are generous terms for the Boers. Much better than those we offered them 15 months ago - after spending £50,000 in the meantime". (22)

1902 Education Act

On 24th March 1902, Arthur Balfour presented to the House of Commons an Education Bill that attempted to overturn the 1870 Education Act that had been brought in by William Gladstone. It had been popular with radicals as they were elected by ratepayers in each district. This enabled nonconformists and socialists to obtain control over local schools.

The new legislation abolished all 2,568 school boards and handed over their duties to local borough or county councils. These new Local Education Authorities (LEAs) were given powers to establish new secondary and technical schools as well as developing the existing system of elementary schools. At the time more than half the elementary pupils in England and Wales. For the first time, as a result of this legislation, church schools were to receive public funds. (23)

Nonconformists and supporters of the Liberal and Labour parties campaigned against the proposed act. David Lloyd George led the campaign in the House of Commons as he resented the idea that Nonconformists contributing to the upkeep of Anglican schools. It was also argued that school boards had introduced more progressive methods of education. "The school boards are to be destroyed because they stand for enlightenment and progress." (24)

In July, 1902, a by-election at Leeds demonstrated what the education controversy was doing to party fortunes, when a Conservative Party majority of over 2,500 was turned into a Liberal majority of over 750. The following month a Baptist came near to capturing Sevenoaks from the Tories and in November, 1902, Orkney and Shetland fell to the Liberals. That month also saw a huge anti-Bill rally held in London, at Alexandra Palace. (25)

Despite the opposition the Education Act was passed in December, 1902. John Clifford, the leader of the Baptist World Alliance, wrote several pamphlets about the legislation that had a readership that ran into hundreds of thousands. Balfour accused him of being a victim of his own rhetoric: "Distortion and exaggeration are of its very essence. If he has to speak of our pending differences, acute no doubt, but not unprecedented, he must needs compare them to the great Civil War. If he has to describe a deputation of Nonconformist ministers presenting their case to the leader of the House of Commons, nothing less will serve him as a parallel than Luther's appearance before the Diet of Worms." (26)

Clifford formed the National Passive Resistance Committee and over the next four years 170 men went to prison for refusing to pay their school taxes. This included 60 Primitive Methodists, 48 Baptists, 40 Congregationalists and 15 Wesleyan Methodists. The father of Kingsley Martin, was one of those who refused to pay: "Each year father and the other resisters all over the country refused to pay their rates for the upkeep of Church Schools. The passive resistors thought the issue of principle paramount and annually surrendered their goods instead of paying their rates. I well remember how each year one or two of our chairs and a silver teapot and jug were put out on the hall table for the local officers to take away. They were auctioned in the Market Place and brought back to us." (27)

David Lloyd George made clear that this was a terrible way to try and change people's opinions: "There is no greater tactical mistake possible than to prosecute an agitation against an injustice in such a way as to alienate a large number of men who, whilst they resent that injustice as keenly as anyone, either from tradition or timidity to be associated with anything savouring of revolutionary action. Such action should always be the last desperate resort of reformers... The interests of a whole generation of children will be sacrificed. It is not too big a price to pay for freedom, if this is the only resource available to us. But is it? I think not. My advice is, let us capture the enemy's artillery and turn his guns against him." (28)

Free Trade

Arthur Balfour became prime minister in June 1902. With the Liberal Party divided over the issue of the British Empire, it appeared that their chances of regaining office in the foreseeable future seemed remote. Then on 15th May 1903, Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary, exploded a political bombshell with a speech in Birmingham advocating a system of preferential colonial tariffs. Asquith was convinced that Chamberlain had made a serious political mistake and after reading a report of the speech in The Times he told his wife: "Wonderful news today and it is only a question of time when we shall sweep the country". (29)

Asquith saw his opportunity and pointed out in speech after speech that a system of "preferential colonial tariffs" would mean taxes on food imported from outside the British Empire. Colin Clifford has pointed out: "Chamberlain had picked the one issue guaranteed to split the Unionist and unite the Liberals in the defence of Free Trade. The topic was tailor-made for Asquith and the next few months he shadowed Chamberlain's every speech, systematically tearing his argument to shreds. The Liberals were on the march again." (30)

As well as uniting the Liberal Party it created a split in the Conservative Party as several members of the cabinet believed strongly in Free Trade, including Charles T. Richie, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Leo Amery argued: "The Birmingham speech was a challenge to free trade as direct and provocative as the theses which Luther nailed to the church door at Wittenberg." (31)

Arthur Balfour now began to have second thoughts on this policy and warned Joseph Chamberlain about the impact on the electorate in the next general election: "The prejudice against a small tax on food is not the fad of a few imperfectly informed theorists, it is a deep rooted prejudice affecting a large mass of voters, especially the poorest class, which it will be a matter of extreme difficulty to overcome." (32)

Asquith made speeches that attempted to frighten the growing working-class electorate "to whom cheap food had been a much cherished boon for the last quarter of a century and it annoyed the middle class who saw the prospect of a reduction in the purchasing power of their fixed incomes." As well as splitting the Conservative Party it united "the Liberals who had been hitherto hopelessly divided on all the main political issues." (33)

Arthur Balfour resigned on 4th December 1905. Henry Campbell-Bannerman refused to form a minority government and called a general election. On 21st December, 1905, Campbell-Bannerman made pledges to support Irish Home Rule, to cut defence spending, to repeal the 1902 Education Act, to oppose food taxes and slavery in South Africa. The Daily Mail reported that the Liberal Party intended to "attack capital, assail private enterprise, undo the Union, reverse the Education Act, cripple the one industry of South Africa, reduce the navy and weaken the army." It went on to say that if the Liberals won power it would bring a halt to the growth of the British Empire. (34)

1906 General Election

The 1906 General Election took place the following month. The Liberal Party won 397 seats (48.9%) compared to the Conservative Party's 156 seats (43.4%). The Labour Party, led by Keir Hardie did well, increasing their seats from 2 to 29. In the landslide victory Balfour lost his seat as did most of his cabinet ministers. Margot Asquith wrote: "When the final figures of the Elections were published everyone was stunned, and it certainly looks as if it were the end of the great Tory Party as we have known it." (35)

Campbell-Bannerman appointed David Lloyd George as President of the Board of Trade. He was seen as a very effective minister. George Riddell commented. "I think his executive powers his strong point. His courage, patience, tenacity, energy, tact, industry, power of work, and eloquence combine to make him an administrator of the first order. And to these should be added his charm of manner, his power of observation, and his ruthless method of dismissing inefficients. These qualities are especially valuable at a time of emergency like the present. He sees something to be done, and he does it well and quickly. His schemes are another matter." (35a)

Henry Campbell-Bannerman suffered a severe stroke in November, 1907. He returned to work following two months rest but it soon became clear that the 71 year-old prime minister was unable to continue. On 27th March, 1908, he asked to see H. H. Asquith. According to Margot Asquith: "Henry came into my room at 7.30 p.m. and told me that Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman had sent for him that day to tell him that he was dying... He began by telling him the text he had chosen out of the Psalms to put on his grave, and the manner of his funeral... Henry was deeply moved when he went on to tell me that Campbell-Bannerman had thanked him for being a wonderful colleague." (41)

Campbell-Bannerman suggested to Edward VII that Asquith should replace him as Prime Minister. However, the King with characteristic selfishness was reluctant to break his holiday in Biarritz and ordered him to continue. On 1st April, the dying Campbell-Bannerman, sent a letter to the King seeking his permission to give up office. He agreed as long as Asquith was willing to travel to France to "kiss hands". Colin Clifford has argued that "Campbell-Bannerman... for all his defects, was probably the most decent man ever to hold the office of Prime Minister. Childless and a widower since the death of his beloved wife the year before, he was now facing death bravely, with no family to comfort him." Cambell-Bannerman died later that month. (42)

H. H. Asquith appointed David Lloyd George as his Chancellor of the Exchequer. Other members of his team included Winston Churchill (Board of Trade), Herbert Gladstone (Home Secretary), Charles Trevelyan (Board of Education), Richard Haldane (Secretary of State for War), Reginald McKenna (First Lord of the Admiralty) and John Burns (President of the Local Government Board).

Asquith took a gamble when he appointed Lloyd George to such a senior position. He was far to the left of Asquith but he reasoned that a disgruntled Lloyd George would be less of a problem inside the government as out. Asquith wrote: "The offer which I make is a well-deserved tribute to your long and eminent service to our party and to the splendid capacity which you have shown in your administration of the Board of Trade." (43)

David Lloyd George in one speech had warned that if the Liberal Party did not pass radical legislation, at the next election, the working-class would vote for the Labour Party: "If at the end of our term of office it were found that the present Parliament had done nothing to cope seriously with the social condition of the people, to remove the national degradation of slums and widespread poverty and destitution in a land glittering with wealth, if they do not provide an honourable sustenance for deserving old age, if they tamely allow the House of Lords to extract all virtue out of their bills, so that when the Liberal statute book is produced it is simply a bundle of sapless legislative faggots fit only for the fire - then a new cry will arise for a land with a new party, and many of us will join in that cry." (44)

Lloyd George had been a long opponent of the Poor Law in Britain. He was determined to take action that in his words would "lift the shadow of the workhouse from the homes of the poor". He believed the best way of doing this was to guarantee an income to people who were to old to work. Based on the ideas of Tom Paine that first appeared in his book Rights of Man, Lloyd George's proposed the introduction of old age pensions.

In a speech on 15th June 1908, he pointed out: "You have never had a scheme of this kind tried in a great country like ours, with its thronging millions, with its rooted complexities... This is, therefore, a great experiment... We do not say that it deals with all the problem of unmerited destitution in this country. We do not even contend that it deals with the worst part of that problem. It might be held that many an old man dependent on the charity of the parish was better off than many a young man, broken down in health, or who cannot find a market for his labour." (45)

However, the Labour Party was disappointed by the proposal. Along with the Trade Union Congress they had demanded a pension of at least five shillings a week for everybody of sixty or over, Lloyd George's scheme gave five shillings a week to individuals over seventy; and for couples the pension was to be 7s. 6d. Moreover, even among the seventy-year-olds not everyone was to qualify; as well as criminals and lunatics, people with incomes of more than £26 a year (or £39 a year in the case of couples) and people who would have received poor relief during the year prior to the scheme's coming into effect, were also disqualified." (46)

The People's Budget

To pay for these pensions Lloyd George had to raise government revenues by an additional £16 million a year. In 1909 Lloyd George announced what became known as the People's Budget. This included increases in taxation. Whereas people on lower incomes were to pay 9d. in the pound, those on annual incomes of over £3,000 had to pay 1s. 2d. in the pound. Lloyd George also introduced a new super-tax of 6d. in the pound for those earning £5,000 a year. Other measures included an increase in death duties on the estates of the rich and heavy taxes on profits gained from the ownership and sale of property. Other innovations in Lloyd George's budget included labour exchanges and a children's allowance on income tax. (47)

David Lloyd George had based his ideas on the reforms introduced by Otto von Bismarck in the 1880s. As The Contemporary Review reported: "English progressives have decided to take a leaf out of the book of Bismarck who dealt the heaviest blow against German socialism not by laws of oppression... but by the great system of state insurance which now safeguards the German workmen at almost every point of his industrial career." (47a)

Archibald Primrose, Lord Rosebery, the former Liberal Party leader, stated that: "The Budget, was not a Budget, but a revolution: a social and political revolution of the first magnitude... To say this is not to judge it, still less to condemn it, for there have been several beneficent revolutions." However, he opposed the Budget because it was "pure socialism... and the end of all, the negation of faith, of family, of property, of Monarchy, of Empire." (48)

Ramsay MacDonald argued that the Labour Party should fully support the budget. "Mr. Lloyd George's Budget, classified property into individual and social, incomes into earned and unearned, and followers more closely the theoretical contentions of Socialism and sound economics than any previous Budget has done." MacDonald went on to argue that the House of Lords should not attempt to block this measure. "The aristocracy... do not command the moral respect which tones down class hatreds, nor the intellectual respect which preserves a sense of equality under a regime of considerable social differences." (49)

David Lloyd George admitted that he would never have got his proposals through the Cabinet without the strong support of Asquith. He told his brother: "Budgeting all day... the Cabinet was very divided... Prime Minister decided in my favour to my delight". He told a friend: "The Prime Minister has backed me up through thick and thin with splendid loyalty. I have the deepest respect for him and he has real sympathy for the ordinary and the poor." (50)

His other main supporter in the Cabinet was Winston Churchill. He spoke at a large number of public meetings of the pressure group he formed, the Budget League. Churchill rarely missed a debate on the issue and one newspaper report suggested that he had attended one late night debate in the House of Commons in his pajamas. Some historians have claimed that both men were using the measure to further their political careers.

Robert Lloyd George, the author of David & Winston: How a Friendship Changed History (2005) has suggested that their main motive was to prevent socialism in Britain: "Churchill and Lloyd George intuitively saw the real danger of socialism in the global situation of that time, when economic classes were so divided. In other European countries, revolution would indeed sweep away monarchs and landlords within the next ten years. But thanks to the reforming programme of the pre-war Liberal government, Britain evolved peacefully towards a more egalitarian society. It is arguable that the peaceful revolution of the People's Budget prevented a much more bloody revolution." (51)

The Conservatives, who had a large majority in the House of Lords, objected to this attempt to redistribute wealth, and made it clear that they intended to block these proposals. Lloyd George reacted by touring the country making speeches in working-class areas on behalf of the budget and portraying the nobility as men who were using their privileged position to stop the poor from receiving their old age pensions. The historian, George Dangerfield, has argued that Lloyd George had created a budget that would destroy the House of Lords if they tried to block the legislation: "It was like a kid, which sportsmen tie up to a tree in order to persuade a tiger to its death." (52)

Charles Hobhouse helped Lloyd George to get his People's Budget though Parliament. He recorded in his diary: "I asked Lloyd George what he really wanted, the Budget to pass, or be rejected, and suggested that the author of a successful financial scheme such as his was far more likely to go down to posterity than one who was Chancellor of the Exchequer merely... He agreed but added that he might be remembered even better as one who had upset the hereditary House of Lords." (52a)

Asquith's strategy was to offer the peers the minimum of provocation and hope to finesse them into passing the legislation. Lloyd George had a different style and in a speech on 30th July, 1909, in the working-class district of Limehouse in London on the selfishness of rich men unwilling "to provide for the sick and the widows and orphans". He concluded his speech with the threat that if the peers resisted, they would be brushed aside "like chaff before us". (53)

Edward VII was furious and suggested to Asquith that Lloyd George was a "revolutionary" and a "socialist". Asquith explained that the support of the King was vital if the House of Lords was to be outmanoeuvred. Asquith explained to Lloyd George that the King "sees in the general tone, and especially in the concluding parts, of your speech, a menace to property and a Socialistic spirit". He added it was important "to avoid alienating the King's goodwill... and... what is needed is reasoned appeal to moderate and reasonable men" and not to "rouse the suspicions and fears of the middle class". (54)

David Lloyd George made another speech attacking the House of Lords on 9th October, 1909: "Let them realize what they are doing. They are forcing a Revolution. The Peers may decree a Revolution, but the People will direct it. If they begin, issues will be raised that they little dream of. Questions will be asked which are now whispered in humble voice, and answers will be demanded with authority. It will be asked why 500 ordinary men, chosen accidentally from among the unemployed, should override the judgment - the deliberate judgment - of millions of people who are engaged in the industry which makes the wealth of the country. It will be asked who ordained a few should have the land of Britain as a perquisite? Who made ten thousand people owners of the soil, and the rest of us trespassers in the land of our birth? Where did that Table of the law come from? Whose finger inscribed it? These are questions that will be asked. The answers are charged with peril for the order of things that the Peers represent. But they are fraught with rare and refreshing fruit for the parched lips of the multitude, who have been treading along the dusty road which the People have marked through the Dark Ages, that are now emerging into the light." (55)

It was clear that the House of Lords would block the budget. Asquith asked the King to create a large number of Peers that would give the Liberals a majority. Edward VII refused and his private secretary, Francis Knollys, wrote to Asquith that "to create 570 new Peers, which I am told would be the number required... would practically be almost an impossibility, and if asked for would place the King in an awkward position". (56)

On 30th November, 1909, the Peers rejected the Finance Bill by 350 votes to 75. Asquith had no option but to call a general election. In January 1910, the Liberals lost votes and was forced to rely on the support of the 42 Labour Party MPs to govern. Asquith increased his own majority in East Fife but he was prevented from delivering his acceptance speech by members of the Women Social & Political Union who were demanding "Votes for Women". (57)

John Grigg, the author of The People's Champion (1978) argues that the reason why the "people failed to give a sweeping, massive endorsement to the People's Budget" was that the electorate in 1910 was "by no means representative of the whole British nation". He points out that "only 58 per cent of adult males had the vote, and it is a fair assumption that the remaining 42 per cent would, if enfranchised, have voted in very large numbers for Liberal or Labour candidates. In what was still a disproportionately middle-class electorate the fear of Socialism was strong, and many voters were susceptible to the argument that the Budget was a first installment of Socialism." (58)

Some of his critics on the left of the party believed that Asquith had not mounted a more aggressive campaign against the House of Lords. It was argued that instead of threatening its power to veto legislation, he should have advocated making it a directly elected second chamber. Asquith felt this was a step to far and was more interested in a negotiated settlement. However, to Colin Clifford, this made Asquith look "weak and indecisive". (59)

In a speech on 21st February, 1910, Asquith outlined his plans for reform: "Recent experience has disclosed serious difficulties due to recurring differences of strong opinion between the two branches of the Legislature. Proposals will be laid before you, with convenient speed, to define the relations between the Houses of Parliament, so as to secure the undivided authority of the House of Commons over finance and its predominance in legislation." (60)

The Parliament Bill was introduced later that month. "Any measure passed three times by the House of Commons would be treated as if it had been passed by both Houses, and would receive the Royal Assent... The House of Lords was to be shorn absolutely of power to delay the passage of any measure certified by the Speaker of the House of Commons as a money bill, but was to retain the power to delay any other measure for a period of not less than two years." (61)

Edward VII died in his sleep on 6th May 1910. His son, George V, now had the responsibility of dealing with this difficult constitutional question. David Lloyd George had a meeting with the new king and had an "exceedingly frank and satisfactory talk about the political crisis". He told his wife that he was not very intelligent as "there's not much in his head". However, he "expressed the desire to try his hand at conciliation... whether he will succeed is somewhat doubtful." (62)

James Garvin, the editor of The Observer, argued it was time that the government reached a negotiated settlement with the House of Lords: "If King Edward upon his deathbed could have sent a last message to his people, he would have asked us to lay party passion aside, to sign a truce of God over his grave, to seek... some fair means of making a common effort for our common country... Let conference take place before conflict is irrevocably joined." (63)

A Constitutional Conference was established with eight members, four cabinet ministers and four representatives from the Conservative Party. Over the next six months the men met on twenty-one occasions. However, they never came close to an agreement and the last meeting took place in November. George Barnes, the Labour Party MP, called for an immediate creation of left-wing peers. However, when a by-election at Walthamstow suggested a slight swing to the Liberals, Asquith decided to call another General Election. (64)

David Lloyd George called on the British people to vote for a change in the parliamentary system: "How could anyone defend the Constitution in its present form? No country in the world would look at our system - no free country, I mean... France has a Senate, the United States has a Senate, the Colonies have Senates, but they are all chosen either directly or indirectly by the people." (65)

The general election of December, 1910, produced a House of Commons which was almost identical to the one that had been elected in January. The Liberals won 272 seats and the Conservatives 271, but the Labour Party (42) and the Irish (a combined total of 84) ensured the government's survival as long as it proceeded with constitutional reform and Home Rule. (66)

The Parliament Bill, which removed the peers' right to amend or defeat finance bills and reduced their powers from the defeat to the delay of other legislation, was introduced into the House of Commons on 21st February 1911. It completed its passage through the Commons on 15th May. A committee of the House of Lords then amended the bill out of all recognition. (67)

It now looked like that H. H. Asquith would now persuade George V to appoint a large number of Liberal peers. Lord Northcliffe, who had used his newspaper empire, to support the House of Lords, wrote that he was frightened that the King was about to turn the Lords into a "Radical body". He added: "I do not think the House of Lords is particularly popular with anybody and there certainly are lots of people in the lower middle class who would like to see it smashed - quite forgetting it is the only barrier they have against the growth of socialist taxation." (68)

According to Lucy Masterman, the wife of Charles Masterman, the Liberal MP for West Ham North, that David Lloyd George had a secret meeting with Arthur Balfour, the leader of the Conservative Party. Lloyd George had bluffed Balfour into believing that George V had agreed to create enough Liberal supporting peers to pass a new Parliament Bill. (69)

Although a list of 249 candidates for ennoblement, including Thomas Hardy, Bertrand Russell, Gilbert Murray and J. M. Barrie, had been drawn up, they had not yet been presented to the King. After the meeting Balfour told Conservative peers that to prevent the Liberals having a permanent majority in the House of Lords, they must pass the bill. On 10th August 1911, the Parliament Act was passed by 131 votes to 114 in the Lords. (70)

National Insurance Act

During his speech on the People's Budget, David Lloyd George, pointed out that Germany had a compulsory national insurance against sickness since 1884. He argued that he intended to introduce a similar system in Britain. With a reference to the arms race between Britain and Germany he commented: "We should not emulate them only in armaments." (71)

In December 1910 Lloyd George sent one of his Treasury civil servants, William J. Braithwaite, to Germany to make an up-to-date study of its State insurance system. On his return he had a meeting with Charles Masterman, Rufus Isaacs and John S. Bradbury. Braithwaite argued strongly that the scheme should be paid for by the individual, the state and the employer: "Working people ought to pay something. It gives them a feeling of self respect and what costs nothing is not valued." (72)

One of the questions that arose during this meeting was whether British national insurance should work, like the German system, on the "dividing-out" principle, or should follow the example of private insurance in accumulating a large reserve. Lloyd George favoured the first method, but Braithwaite fully supported the alternative system. (73) He argued: "If a fund divides out, it is a state club, and not an insurance. It has no continuity - no scientific basis - it lives from day to day. It is all very well when it is young and sickness is low. But as its age increases sickness increases, and the young men can go elsewhere for a cheaper insurance." (74)

The debate between the two men continued over the next two months. Lloyd George argued: "The State could not manage property or invest with wisdom. It would be very bad for politics if the State owned a huge fund. The proper course for the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to let money fructify in the pockets of the people and take it only when he wanted it." (75)

Eventually, in March, 1911, Braithwaite produced a detailed paper on the subject, where he explained that the advantage of a state system was the effect of interest on accumulative insurance. Lloyd George told Braithwaite that he had read his paper but admitted he did not understand it and asked him to explain the economics of his health insurance system. (76)

"I managed to convince him that one way or another it (interest) was, and had to be paid. It was at any rate an extra payment which young contributors could properly demand, and the State contribution must at least make it up to them if their contributions were to be taken off and used by the older people. After about half an hour's talk he went upstairs to dress for dinner." Later that night Lloyd George told Braithwaite that he was now convinced by his proposals. "Dividing-out was dead!" (77)

Braithwaite explained that the advantages of an accumulative state fund was the ability to use the insurance reserve to underwrite other social programmes. Lloyd George presented his national insurance proposal to the Cabinet at the beginning of April. "Insurance was to be made compulsory for all regularly employed workers over the age of sixteen and with incomes below the level - £160 a year - of liability for income tax; also for all manual labourers, whatever their income. The rates of contribution would be 4d. a week from a man, and 3d. a week from a woman; 3d. a week from his or her employer; and 2d. a week from the State." (78)

The slogan adopted by Lloyd George to promote the scheme was "9d for 4d". In return for a payment which covered less than half the cost, contributors were entitled to free medical attention, including the cost of medicine. Those workers who contributed were also guaranteed 10s. a week for thirteen weeks of sickness and 5s a week indefinitely for the chronically sick.

Braithwaite later argued that he was impressed by the way Lloyd George developed his policy on health insurance: "Looking back on these three and a half months I am more and more impressed with the Chancellor's curious genius, his capacity to listen, judge if a thing is practicable, deal with the immediate point, deferring all unnecessary decision and keeping every road open till he sees which is really the best. Working for any other man I must inevitably have acquiesced in some scheme which would not have been as good as this one, and I am very glad now that he tore up so many proposals of my own and other people which were put forward as solutions, and which at the time we had persuaded ourselves into thinking possible. It will be an enormous misfortune if this man by any accident should be lost to politics." (79)

The large insurance companies were worried that this measure would reduce the popularity of their own private health schemes. Lloyd George, arranged a meeting with the association that represented the twelve largest companies. Their chief negotiator was Kingsley Wood, who told Lloyd George, that in the past he had been able to muster enough support in the House of Commons to defeat any attempt to introduce a state system of widows' and orphans' benefits and so the government "would be wise to abandon the scheme at once." (80)

David Lloyd George was able to persuade the government to back his proposal of health insurance: "After searching examination, the Cabinet expressed warm and unanimously approval of the main and government principles of the scheme which they believed to be more comprehensive in its scope and more provident and statesmanlike in its machinery than anything that had hitherto been attempted or proposed." (81)

The National Insurance Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 4th May, 1911. Lloyd George argued: "It is no use shirking the fact that a proportion of workmen with good wages spend them in other ways, and therefore have nothing to spare with which to pay premiums to friendly societies. It has come to my notice, in many of these cases, that the women of the family make most heroic efforts to keep up the premiums to the friendly societies, and the officers of friendly societies, whom I have seen, have amazed me by telling the proportion of premiums of this kind paid by women out of the very wretched allowance given them to keep the household together."

Lloyd George went on to explain: "When a workman falls ill, if he has no provision made for him, he hangs on as long as he can and until he gets very much worse. Then he goes to another doctor (i.e. not to the Poor Law doctor) and runs up a bill, and when he gets well he does his very best to pay that and the other bills. He very often fails to do so. I have met many doctors who have told me that they have hundreds of pounds of bad debts of this kind which they could not think of pressing for payment of, and what really is done now is that hundreds of thousands - I am not sure that I am not right in saying millions - of men, women and children get the services of such doctors. The heads of families get those services at the expense of the food of their children, or at the expense of good-natured doctors."

Lloyd George stated this measure was just the start to government involvement in protecting people from social evils: "I do not pretend that this is a complete remedy. Before you get a complete remedy for these social evils you will have to cut in deeper. But I think it is partly a remedy. I think it does more. It lays bare a good many of those social evils, and forces the State, as a State, to pay attention to them. It does more than that... till the advent of a complete remedy, this scheme does alleviate an immense mass of human suffering, and I am going to appeal, not merely to those who support the Government in this House, but to the House as a whole, to the men of all parties, to assist us." (82)

The Observer welcomed the legislation as "by far the largest and best project of social reform ever yet proposed by a nation. It is magnificent in temper and design". (83) The British Medical Journal described the proposed bill as "one of the greatest attempts at social legislation which the present generation has known" and it seemed that it was "destined to have a profound influence on social welfare." (84)

Ramsay MacDonald promised the support of the Labour Party in passing the legislation, but some MPs, including Fred Jowett, George Lansbury and Philip Snowden denounced it as a poll tax on the poor. Along with Keir Hardie, they wanted free sickness and unemployment benefit to be paid for by progressive taxation. Hardie commented that the attitude of the government was "we shall not uproot the cause of poverty, but we will give you a porous plaster to cover the disease that poverty causes." (85)

Lloyd George's reforms were strongly criticised and some Conservatives accused him of being a socialist. There was no doubt that he had been heavily influenced by Fabian Society pamphlets on social reform that had been written by Beatrice Webb, Sidney Webb and George Bernard Shaw. However, some Fabians "feared that the Trade Unions might now be turned into Insurance Societies, and that their leaders would be further distracted from their industrial work." (86)

Lloyd George pointed out that the labour movement in Germany had initially opposed national insurance: "In Germany, the trade union movement was a poor, miserable, wretched thing some years ago. Insurance has done more to teach the working class the virtue of organisation than any single thing. You cannot get a socialist leader in Germany today to do anything to get rid of that Bill... Many socialist leaders in Germany will say that they would rather have our Bill than their own." (87)

Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe, launched a propaganda campaign against the bill on the grounds that the scheme would be too expensive for small employers. The climax of the campaign was a rally in the Albert Hall on 29th November, 1911. As Lord Northcliffe, controlled 40 per cent of the morning newspaper circulation in Britain, 45 per cent of the evening and 15 per cent of the Sunday circulation, his views on the subject was very important.

H. H. Asquith was very concerned about the impact of the The Daily Mail involvement in this issue: "The Daily Mail has been engineering a particularly unscrupulous campaign on behalf of mistresses and maids and one hears from all constituencies of defections from our party of the small class of employers. There can be no doubt that the Insurance Bill is (to say the least) not an electioneering asset." (88)

Frank Owen, the author of Tempestuous Journey: Lloyd George and his Life and Times (1954) suggested that it was those who employed servants who were the most hostile to the legislation: "Their tempers were inflamed afresh each morning by Northcliffe's Daily Mail, which alleged that inspectors would invade their drawing-rooms to check if servants' cards were stamped, while it warned the servants that their mistresses would sack them the moment they became liable for sickness benefit." (89)

The National Insurance Bill spent 29 days in committee and grew in length and complexity from 87 to 115 clauses. These amendments were the result of pressure from insurance companies, Friendly Societies, the medical profession and the trade unions, which insisted on becoming "approved" administers of the scheme. The bill was passed by the House of Commons on 6th December and received royal assent on 16th December 1911. (90)

Lloyd George admitted that he had severe doubts about the amendments: "I have been beaten sometimes, but I have sometimes beaten off the attack. That is the fortune of war and I am quite ready to take it. Honourable Members are entitled to say that they have wrung considerable concessions out of an obstinate, stubborn, hard-hearted Treasury. They cannot have it all their own way in this world. Let them be satisfied with what they have got. They are entitled to say this is not a perfect Bill, but then this is not a perfect world. Do let them be fair. It is £15,000,000 of money which is not wrung out of the workmen's pockets, but which goes, every penny of it, into the workmen's pocket. Let them bear that in mind. I think they are right in fighting for organisations which have achieved great things for the working classes. I am not at all surprised that they regard them with reverence. I would not do anything which would impair their position. Because in my heart I believe that the Bill will strengthen their power is one of the reasons why I am in favour of this Bill." (91)

The Daily Mail and The Times, both owned by Lord Northcliffe, continued its campaign against the National Insurance Act and urged its readers who were employers not to pay their national health contributions. David Lloyd George asked: "Were there now to be two classes of citizens in the land - one class which could obey the laws if they liked; the other, which must obey whether they liked it or not? Some people seemed to think that the Law was an institution devised for the protection of their property, their lives, their privileges and their sport it was purely a weapon to keep the working classes in order. This Law was to be enforced. But a Law to ensure people against poverty and misery and the breaking-up of home through sickness or unemployment was to be optional." (92)

Lloyd George attacked the newspaper baron for encouraging people to break the law and compared the issue to the foot-and-mouth plague rampant in the countryside at the time: "Defiance of the law is like the cattle plague. It is very difficult to isolate it and confine it to the farm where it has broken out. Although this defiance of the Insurance Act has broken out first among the Harmsworth herd, it has travelled to the office of The Times. Why? Because they belong to the same cattle farm. The Times, I want you to remember, is just a twopenny-halfpenny edition of The Daily Mail." (93)

Despite the opposition from newspapers and and the British Medical Association, the business of collecting contributions began in July 1912, and the payment of benefits on 15th January 1913. Lloyd George appointed Sir Robert Morant as chief executive of the health insurance system. William J. Braithwaite was made secretary to the joint committee responsible for initial implementation, but his relations with Morant were deeply strained. "Overworked and on the verge of a breakdown, he was persuaded to take a holiday, and on his return he was induced to take the post of special commissioner of income tax in 1913." (94)

Marconi Scandal

David Lloyd George, unlike most Liberal and Conservative MPs, "had no capital resources, whether self-made or derived from the money-making activities of ancestors... As a young M.P. he had to live off a share, perhaps unduly large, of the profits from the solicitors' firm in which he and his brother William were the founder-partners, supplemented by whatever fees he could earn from casual journalism and lecturing." John Grigg has argued that Lloyd George resented this, "not because he cared about money for its own sake, but because he could see that private wealth was a key to political independence". (95)

After becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer he received a salary of £5,000. Although he could live on this income he worried about what would happen if he lost office. He decided to use his contacts with businessmen to provide him with information that would enable to invest wisely in stocks and shares. His good friend and political supporter, George Cadbury, heard about these financial dealings and warned him that if the Conservative press found out about this it could bring an end to his political career. Cadbury was the owner of the Daily News and might have heard about this from journalists he employed.

"Those who hate you and your measures make themselves heard, but the millions who rejoice in your work and in the courage you have shown on behalf of labour, like myself, have no means of expressing their gratitude for what you have done - this must be my apology for writing to a man whose every moment is full of important business, but even now I would not write if I did not feel that I had a definite duty to convey to you my own desire which I believe represents that of millions, that you should hold fast your integrity." (96)

One of the reasons for this letter was the rumour that David Lloyd George had made £100,000 by buying and selling Surrey Commercial Dock shares. Surrey Commercial was one of the three London dock companies which had been created when the Port of London was being established, in 1908, under a scheme prepared by Lloyd George but enacted by his successor at the Board of Trade, Winston Churchill. (97)

Lloyd George wrote to his wife about his share dealings. "So you have only £50 to spare. Very well, I will invest it for you. Sorry you have no more available as I think it is quite a good thing I have got." (98) Four days later he told her about the success of his investments: "I got my cheque from my last Argentina Railway deal today. I have made £567. But the thing I have been talking to you about is a new thing." (99)

H. H. Asquith had been urged by senior members of the military to set up an British Empire chain of wireless telegraphy. Herbert Samuel, the Postmaster-General, began negotiating with several companies who could provide this service. This included the English Marconi Company, whose managing director was Godfrey Isaacs, the brother of Rufus Isaacs, the Attorney General.

Godfrey Isaacs, was also on the board of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, that controlled the company operating in London. Isaacs had been given responsibility for selling 50,000 shares in the company to English investors before they became available to the general public. He advised his brother, Rufus Isaacs, to buy 10,000 of these shares at £2 apiece. He shared this information with Lloyd George and Alexander Murray, the Chief Whip, and they both purchased 1,000 shares at the same price. On 18th April 1912 Murray also bought 2,000 shares for the Liberal Party. (100)

These shares were not available on the British stock market. On 19th April, the first day that shares in the Marconi Company of America were available in London, the shares opened at £3 and ended the day at £4. The main reason for this was the news that Herbert Samuel was in negotiations with the English Marconi Company to provide a wireless-telegraphy system for the British Empire. Rufus Isaacs now sold all his shares for a profit of £20,000. Whereas his fellow government ministers, Lloyd George and Alexander Murray, sold half their shares and therefore got the other half for free. Lloyd George then used this money to buy another 1,500 shares in the company. (101)

Cecil Chesterton, G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc were involved with a new journal called The Eye-Witness. It was later pointed out that "the object of the Eye-Witness was to make the English public know and care about the perils of political corruption". The editor wrote to his mother, Lloyd George has been dealing on the Stock Exchange heavily to his advantage with private political information". They immediately began to investigate the case. (102)

On 19th July, 1912, Herbert Samuel announced that a contract had been agreed with the English Marconi Company. A couple of days later, W. R. Lawson, wrote in the weekly Outlook Magazine: "The Marconi Company has from its birth been a child of darkness... Its relations with certain Ministers have not always been purely official or political." (103)

Whereas the rest of the mainstream media ignored the story, over the next few weeks The Eye-Witness produced a series of articles on the subject. It suggested that Rufus Isaacs had made £160,000 out of the deal. It was also claimed that David Lloyd George, Godfrey Isaacs, Alexander Murray and Herbert Samuel had profited by buying shares based on knowledge of the government contract. (104)

The defenders of Lloyd George, Isaacs, Murray and Samuel, accused the magazine of anti-semitism, pointing out that three of the men named were Jewish. "They were all victims of the disease of the heart known as anti-semitism. It was a gift to them that the Attorney-General and his brother had the name of Isaacs, and the added bonus that the Postmaster General, who had negotiated the contract, was called Samuel." (105)

H. H. Asquith called a meeting with the accused men and discussed the possibility of legal action against the magazine. It was Asquith who eventually advised against this: "I suspect that Eyewitness has a very meagre circulation. I notice only one page of advertisements and then by Belloc's publishers. Prosecution would secure it notoriety which might yield subscribers." (106)

A debate on the Marconi contract took place on 11th October, 1912. Herbert Samuel explained that Marconi was the company best qualified to do the job and several Conservative MPs made speeches where they agreed with the government over this issue. The only dissenting voice was George Lansbury, the Labour MP, who argued that there had been "scandalous gambling in Marconi shares." (107)

David Lloyd George responded by attacking those who had spread untrue stories about his share dealings: "The Honourable Member (George Lansbury) said something about the Government and he has talked about rumours. If the Honourable Member has any charge to make against the Government as a whole or against individual Members of it, I think it ought to be stated openly. The reason why the government wanted a frank discussion before going to Committee was because we wanted to bring here these rumours, these sinister rumours that have been passed from one foul lip to another behind the backs of the House." (108)

Later that day, Rufus Isaacs issued a statement about his share-dealings. "Never from the beginning... have I had one single transaction with the shares of that company. I am not only speaking for myself but also speaking on behalf, I know, of both my Right Honourable Friends the Postmaster General and the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, in some way or another, in some of the articles, have been brought into this matter". (109)

Leopold Maxse, the editor of The National Review, pointed out that Isaacs had been careful in his use of words. He speculated why he said that he had not purchased shares in "that company" rather than the "Marconi company". Maxse pointed out: "One might have conceived that (the Ministers) might have appeared at the first sitting clamouring to state in the most categorical and emphatic manner that neither directly nor indirectly, in their names or other people's names, have they had any transactions whatsoever... In any Marconi company throughout thc negotiations with the Government". (110)

Asquith announced that he would set-up a committee to look into the possibility of insider dealings. The committee had six Liberals (including the chairman, Albert Spicer), two Irish Nationalists and one Labour MP, which provided a majority over six Conservatives. The committee took evidence from witnesses for the next six months and caused the Government a great deal of embarrassment. (111)

On 14th February, 1913, the French newspaper, Le Matin, reported that Herbert Samuel, David Lloyd George and Rufus Isaacs, had purchased Marconi shares at £2 and sold them when they reached the value of £8. When it was pointed out that this was not true, the newspaper published a retraction and an apology. However, on the advice of Winston Churchill, they decided to take legal action against the newspaper.

Churchill argued that this would provide an opportunity to shape the consciousness of the general public. He suggested that the men should employ two barristers, Frederick Smith and Edward Carson, who were members of the Conservative Party: "The public was bound to notice that the integrity of two Liberal ministers was being defended by normally partisan members of the Conservative Party, and their appearance on behalf of Isaacs and Samuel would make it impossible for them to attack either man in the House of Commons debate which would surely follow." (112)

Churchill also had a meeting with Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe, the owner of The Times and The Daily Mail and persuaded him to treat the accused men "gently" in his newspapers. (113) However, other newspapers were less kind and gave a great deal of coverage to the critics of the government. For example, The Spectator, reported a speech made by Robert Cecil, where he argued: "It was his duty to express his honest and impartial opinion on the conduct of Mr. Lloyd George in the Marconi transaction. He had never said or suggested that the transaction was corrupt; but he did say that, if it was to be approved and recognized as the common practice among Government officials, then one of our greatest safeguards against corruption was absolutely destroyed. The transaction was bad and grossly improper, and it was made far worse by the fact that Mr. Lloyd George went about posing as an injured innocent. For a man in his position to defend that transaction was even worse than entering into it." (114)

During the House of Commons investigation the three accused Liberal MPs admitted they had purchased shares in the Marconi Company of America. However, as David Lloyd George pointed out, he had held no shares in any company which did business with the government and that he had never made improper use of official information. He ridiculed the charges which were made against him - some of which he invented, for example, the claim that he had made a profit of £60,000 on a speculative investment or that owned a villa in France. (115)

Alexander Murray was unable to appear before the Marconi Enquiry because he had resigned from the government and was working in Bogotá in Columbia. However, during the investigation, Murray's stockbroker was declared bankrupt and, in consequence, his account books and business papers were open to public examination. They revealed that Murray had not only purchased 2,500 shares in the American Marconi Company, but had invested £9,000 in the company on behalf of the Liberal Party. (116)

H. H. Asquith and Percy Illingworth, the new Chief Whip, denied knowledge of these shares. According to George Riddell, a close friend of both men, Asquith and Illingworth had known about this "for some time". (117) John Grigg, the author of Lloyd George, From Peace To War 1912-1916 (1985), has argued that Asquith was also aware of these shares and this explains why he was so keen to cover-up the story. "If he had shown any sign of abandoning them, they might have contemplating abandoning him, and vice versa... there was probably a mutual recognition of the need for solidarity in a situation where the abandonment of one might well have led to the ruin of all." (118)

On 30th June, 1913, the Select Committee provided three reports on the Marconi case. The majority (government) report claimed that no Minister had been influenced in the discharge of his public duties by any interest he might have had in any of the Marconi or other undertakings, or had utilized information coming to him from official sources for private investment or speculation.

The Minority (opposition) report criticised the whole handling of the share issue and found "grave impropriety" in the conduct of David Lloyd George, Rufus Isaacs and Alexander Murray, both in acquiring the shares at the advantageous price and in subsequent dealings in them. It also censored them for their lack of candour, especially Murray, who had refused to return to England to testify.

Although the chairman on the enquiry, Albert Spicer, signed the majority report, he also published his own report where he heavily criticised Rufus Isaacs for not disclosing at the beginning that he had bought shares in the Marconi Company. Spicer claimed that it was this lack of candour that resulted in the large number of rumours about the corrupt actions of the government ministers. (119)

In October, 1913, Rufus Isaacs, was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England. Newspapers complained that it appeared that he had been promoted as a reward for not disclosing the full truth about his share-dealings. However, it was reported by Lord Northcliffe that only five people had sent letters to his newspapers on the subject and "the whole Marconi business looms much larger in Downing Street than among the mass of the people". (120)

C. K. Chesterton, one of the men who exposed the scandal, agreed: "The object of the Eye-Witness was to make the English public know and care about the perils of political corruption. It is now certain that the public does know. It is not so certain that the public does care." However, he did go on to argue that it did have a long-term impact on the British public: "It is the fashion to divide recent history into Pre-War and Post-War conditions. I believe it is almost as essential to divide them into Pre-Marconi and Post-Marconi days. It was during the agitations upon that affair that the ordinary English citizen lost his invincible ignorance; or, in ordinary language, his innocence". (121)

In a speech at the National Liberal Club, David Lloyd George, attempted to defend the politicians involved in the Marconi case: "I should like to say one word about politicians generally. I think that they are a much-maligned race. Those who think that politicians are moved by sordid, pecuniary considerations know nothing ofeither politics or politicians. These are not the things that move us...The men who go into politics to make money are not politicians... We all have ambitions. I am not ashamed to say so. I speak as one who boasts: I have an ambition. I should like to be remembered amongst those who, in their day and generation, had at least done something to lift the poor out of the mire."

Lloyd George went on to argue that it was politicians like him who were protecting the public from other powerful forces: "The real peril in politics is not that individual politicians ofhigh rank will attempt to make a packet for themselves. Read the history of England for the past fifty years. The real peril is that powerful interests will dominate the Legislature, will dominate the Executive, in order to carry through proposals which will prey upon the community. That is where tariffs - the landlord endowment - will come in." (122)

Outbreak of the First World War

Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe, used his newspapers to urge an increase in defence spending and a reduction in the amount of money being spent on social insurance schemes. In one letter to Lloyd George he suggested that the Liberal government was Pro-German. Lloyd George replied: "The only real pro-German whom I know of on the Liberal side of politics is Rosebery, and I sometimes wonder whether he is even a Liberal at all! Haldane, of course, from education and intellectual bent, is in sympathy with German ideas, but there is really nothing else on which to base a suspicion that we are inclined to a pro-German policy at the expense of the entente with France." (123)

Lloyd George complained bitterly to H. H. Asquith about the demands being made by Reginald McKenna, First Lord of the Admiralty, to spend more money on the navy. He reminded Asquith of "the emphatic pledges given by us before and during the general election campaign to reduce the gigantic expediture on armaments built up by our predecessors... but if Tory extravagance on armaments is seen to be exceeded, Liberals... will hardly think it worth their while to make any effort to keep in office a Liberal ministry... the Admiralty's proposals were a poor compromise between two scares - fear of the German navy abroad and fear of the Radical majority at home... You alone can save us from the prospect of squalid and sterile destruction." (124)

Lloyd George was constantly in conflict with McKenna and suggested that his friend, Winston Churchill, should become First Lord of the Admiralty. Asquith took this advice and Churchill was appointed to the post on 24th October, 1911. McKenna, with the greatest reluctance, replaced him at the Home Office. This move backfired on Lloyd George as the Admiralty cured Churchill's passion for "economy". The "new ruler of the King's navy demanded an expenditure on new battleships which made McKenna's claims seem modest". (125)

The Admiralty reported to the British government that by 1912 Germany would have 17 dreadnoughts, three-fourths the number planned by Britain for that date. At a cabinet meeting David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill both expressed doubts about the veracity of the Admiralty intelligence. Churchill even accused Admiral John Fisher, who had provided this information, of applying pressure on naval attachés in Europe to provide any sort of data he needed. (126)

Admiral Fisher refused to be beaten and contacted King Edward VII about his fears. He in turn discussed the issue with H. H. Asquith. Lloyd George wrote to Churchill explaining how Asquith had now given approval to Fisher's proposals: "I feared all along this would happen. Fisher is a very clever person and when he found his programme in danger he wired Davidson (assistant private secretary to the King) for something more panicky - and of course he got it." (127)

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand did not immediately cause a reaction in Britain. David Lloyd George admitted that he heard the news he suspected that it would result in a war in the Balkans but did not believe such a conflict would involve Britain. He also pointed out that the Cabinet, although it was meeting twice a day, because of the crisis in Ireland, they did not even discuss the issue of Serbia and the assassination for another three weeks. (128)

Lloyd George told C. P. Scott that there is "no question of our taking part in any war in the first instance... and knew of no minister who would be in favour of it". In a letter a few days later to King George V he described the impending conflict as "the greatest event for many years past" but he added "happily there seems no reason why we should be anything other than a spectator". H. H. Asquith, instructed Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, to "inform the French and German ambassadors that, at this stage, we were unable to pledge ourselves in advance either under all conditions to stand aside or in any conditions to join in." (129)

On 23rd July, 1914, George Buchanan, the British ambassador to Russia

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