Rivals in the Storm: How Lloyd George Seized Power, Won the War and Lost His Government by Damian Collins - review by Piers Brendon

Piers Brendon

Wizard of Westminster

Rivals in the Storm: How Lloyd George Seized Power, Won the War and Lost His Government


Bloomsbury Continuum 368pp £25

This study of David Lloyd George’s premiership reveals once again that no more fascinating character, not even Disraeli or Churchill, has presided over the destiny of the nation. Maynard Keynes famously depicted him as ‘this siren, this goat-footed bard, this half-human visitor to our age from the hag-ridden magic and enchanted woods of Celtic antiquity’. The ‘Welsh Wizard’ lived up to his nickname. Contemporaries marvelled at Lloyd George’s uncanny quickness, phenomenal energy, infectious humour, captivating charm and miraculous ability to divine the thoughts of others. 

‘He has genius,’ declared General Smuts. Churchill, who acknowledged his own subservience to Lloyd George, called him ‘the greatest master of the art of getting things done’. Even as an orator, Lloyd George was in some respects his superior, more spontaneous, more spellbinding. ‘None approaches him in witchery of word or wealth of imagery,’ wrote an American journalist. ‘His voice is like a silver bell that vibrates with emotion.’

But if Lloyd George was fair of speech, declared Clementine Churchill, he was also treacherous of heart, ‘the direct descendant of Judas Iscariot’. Other verdicts were scarcely less damning. Sir Harold MacMichael, a colonial proconsul, called Lloyd George ‘a cad in his soul’. Both Asquith and Baldwin regarded him as

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