14/6/1919 Race riots in Cardiff

Some demobilised British soldiers have struggled to find suitable employment on their return home. In coastal cities this has led to resentment against members of various ethnic minorities, seen by some of the disaffected veterans as having taken jobs that are rightfully theirs. Race riots have already erupted in Glasgow, Liverpool and London, with white British men attacking those of darker skin. Earlier this month this unsavoury racist violence spread to Wales, with Black, Asian and Arab residents attacked by rioters in Newport and Barry.

The worst of the violence erupted three days ago in Cardiff and is only subsiding now. The trouble may have begun when a white mob was incensed at the sight of black men and white women travelling together in a car. Others suggest the spark that ignited the violence was a young white man dying in hospital after reporting that a black man had slit his throat. Either way the city soon descended into bedlam, with white mobs attacking anyone from an ethnic minority. Initially the violence was confined to the port area, with boarding houses catering to Arabs and men from the Caribbean ransacked, but the rioting quickly spread through the city, with mobs setting upon any non-white person they can find (and in at least one instance beating up the white wife of a man from Barbados who had made his escape). At least two men lose their lives in the Cardiff rioting, one of whom is an Irishman shot when he was attacking the home of a Somali priest. Hundreds are injured.

Order is now at last beginning to be restored thanks to the deployment of troops on the streets of Cardiff.

images source: ‘One thousand people came rioting down the street’: Reliving a notorious chapter in Cardiff’s past (ITV)

see also:

Race riots in Cardiff and Liverpool leave three dead (Century Ireland)

Remembering the 1919 Cardiff Race Riots (National Museum Wales)

Remembering the Newport Race Riots of 1919 (Wales Arts Review)

28/12/1918 Britain’s votes are counted: Lloyd George’s coalition wins a landslide victory #1918Live

Two weeks ago the United Kingdom held its first election since 1911. Because of the large numbers of postal ballots from men serving overseas with the armed forces, the votes are only counted today. And the result is a landslide victory for the Conservatives and Prime Minister Lloyd George‘s faction of the Liberals. Lloyd George has just led the country to victory against Germany, so it is perhaps not too surprising that voters have rallied to him and his Conservative allies.

Asquith‘s faction of the Liberals win an impressive number of votes (only slightly less than Lloyd George’s) but lose most of their seats; Asquith himself fails to secure re-election. Aside from the coalition’s popularity, Asquith suffers from his own association with the less successful early years of the war. His long opposition to votes for women may also have counted against him now that women are voting for the first time. Labour meanwhile win more seats than the Asquith Liberals and substantially more votes than Lloyd George’s Liberals; although they are only the fourth largest party in parliament, their power is clearly on the rise.

Although women now have the vote, the election is not a particularly successful one for women candidates. Christabel Pankhurst, a leading suffragette, narrowly fails to secure election and is defeated by John Davison of Labour. The only one of the sixteen women’s candidates elected is Constance Markievicz of Sinn Féin. Markievicz stood on an abstentionist ticket and is currently in jail, so she will not be taking her seat in the House of Commons.

Markievicz was elected in Ireland. The results there have followed an entirely different pattern to the rest of the United Kingdom.

image sources:

David Lloyd George (Wikipedia: David Lloyd George)

Constance Markievicz (Badass of the Week)

Results map (Wikipedia: 1918 United Kingdom general election)

14/12/1918 Britain votes #1918Live

Today the people of Britain go to the polls. The electorate has been greatly expanded since the last election in 1911: all men aged 21 and over are now able to vote, as are women over 30 if they meet minimal property requirements. No one is quite sure how this extension of the franchise will affect the composition of the House of Commons but all parties are competing for the attentions of the new voters. Prime Minister David Lloyd George hopes that the coalition government of Conservatives and his faction of the Liberals will be returned to office, while Labour and Asquith‘s Liberals are trying to overturn the government’s majority.

As well as voting for the first time, women are now also able to run for office, following a change to the law in November. However, only a small number of women have put themselves forward for election, including former suffragette Christabel Pankhurst, standing for the Women’s Party. Other candidates are running as independents or for Labour or the Liberals. In Ireland Sinn Féin has put forward two women candidates, Winifred Carney and Constance Markievicz.

Although Britain votes today, it will be some time before the results are known. Because so many voters are still serving overseas in the armed forces, the results will not be counted until the 28th of December.

image sources:

Lloyd George campaigning (University of Oxford World War 1 Centenary: Lloyd George’s Ministry Men)

Cartoon from The Railway Review, newspaper of the National Union of Railwaymen (University of Warwick Library – ‘The parliamentary battlefield’: Government, Labour and the khaki election)

4/6/1918 Pemberton Billing wins “Cult of the Clitoris” libel trial #1918Live

Noel Pemberton Billing, MP and patriotic publisher, is being sued for libel by Maud Allan, an actress and exotic dancer. Pemberton Billing had already asserted that 47,000 British sexual deviants in prominent positions are being blackmailed by the Germans to sabotage the war effort. Then in his journal The Vigilante Pemberton Billing published a further article entitled ‘The Cult of the Clitoris‘, asserting that a Miss Allan’s private performance of Oscar Wilde’s Salome is a front for meetings of some of these 47,000 treacherous practitioners of unnatural vice.

Pemberton Billing defends himself at the libel trial. Proceedings at times become farcical. Pemberton Billing has claimed the existence of a Black Book listing all 47,000 of the degenerates being blackmailed by Berlin. It is somehow impossible to produce a copy of this book, despite the fact that numerous persons claim to have seen it. Eileen Villiers-Stuart, called as a witness in Pemberton Billing’s favour, asserts that listed in the Black Book are none other than Herbert Asquith, the former prime minister, as well as his wife, Margot (whom Pemberton Billing has previously accused of being Miss Allan’s lover). When the presiding judge orders Villers-Stuart to leave the witness box, she retorts that his own name is also included in the Black Book. Another witness makes much of Miss Allan’s decision to perform Oscar Wilde’s degenerate play on the Sabbath.

Pemberton Billing gains from the atmosphere of crisis engendered by Germany’s offensives in France. Today the trial ends; Pemberton Billing is cleared on all points. He receives a standing ovation from the court’s public gallery and then from a patriotic crowd gathered outside the court.
In some respects the trial is reminiscent of Mata Hari‘s conviction in France last year on espionage charges. Maud Allan has lost her case but she is perhaps lucky that she is not sent to the firing squad as a scapegoat for military failures.

image sources:

Noel Pemberton Billing (Wikipedia)

Maud Allan (Socialist Review: Homophobia in the First World War)

see also: Noel Pemberton Billing (Spartacus Educational)

30/4/1918 The former Tsar arrives in the House of Special Designation #1918Live

Before the revolution the Tsar wielded absolute power in Russia, at least in theory. His life and that of his family was one of gilded luxury. After his abdication the imperial family were held in conditions of genteel house arrest, continuing to enjoy privileges undreamt of by their former subjects. However the Tsar remained deeply unpopular with the revolutionary public and there were fears for his life if he remained in Russia. During his premiership, Kerensky tried unsuccessfully to arrange for the Tsar to go abroad into exile. However a tentative offer of asylum in Britain was withdrawn following objections by King George V, who feared that his cousin’s arrival would ignite revolutionary sentiment. Other countries declined to take the Tsar for their own reasons.

To protect them from the Petrograd workers, Kerensky moved the imperial family to Tobolsk in Siberia, where they continued to live in comfortable conditions. However, since the October Revolution the situation of the imperial family has deteriorated. They have been denied luxuries and put on more basic rations. Their guards have become more surly. There is increased talk of putting the Tsar on trial.

In truth, the Bolsheviks are not sure what to do with the Tsar. Trotsky favours a show trial in Moscow, with himself as the prosecutor; others are not so sure. In the meantime the Tsar and Tsarina are transferred to a new place of incarceration in Ekaterinburg. They arrive today and are greeted by an angry mob before being taken to the House of Special Designation, the commandeered home of a local businessman. Their son and daughters will join them later.

image sources:

Tsar Nicholas II in the early stages of his captivity (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

The House of Special Designation (Wikipedia)

1/4/1918 Britain forms the RAF, the world’s first independent air force #1918Live

At the start of the war, aeroplanes were still something of a novelty, their role in warfare unclear. Since then they have proved their mettle, both in an observation role and increasingly in the attacking of enemy troops and positions on the ground. Both sides are also making efforts to use aircraft in a strategic role, attacking enemy cities and centres of production. Germany is using both aeroplanes and Zeppelin airships in this role but the British too have had a crack at bombing German factories, to limited success.

In recognition of the increasingly important role air power is playing in the war, Britain now takes the novel step of creating a single unified air force, independent of the army and navy from which it is taking aeroplane squadrons. The British hope that his new organisation, the Royal Air Force, will allow them to more effectively use the power of the aeroplane to prosecute the war to victory.

image source:

Join the Royal Air Force (History Things: On this Day, April 1st)

16/2/1918 “The Cult of the Clitoris”: a sinister plot revealed #1918Live

Independent MP Noel Pemberton Billing shocked Britain when he revealed that the war effort was being sabotaged by 47,000 sexual deviants who were being blackmailed by the Kaiser. Today his renamed newspaper, The Vigilante, publishes further sensational revelations. In an article entitled ‘The Cult of the Clitoris’, Pemberton Billing reports on private performances of Oscar Wilde’s banned play Salome scheduled for April, in which the Canadian actress Maud Allan will play the title role. It is stated that the audience for this production will comprise leading members of the sinister 47,000. Furthermore he suggests that a clique of lesbians are conspiring to secure German victory and implies that Maud Allan is herself the lover of Margot Asquith, wife of the former prime minister.

The article causes a sensation, particularly as many readers were previously unaware of the existence of this mysterious clitoris. Miss Allan however prepares to sue Pemberton Billing for his libellous and unsupported allegation against her.

image sources:

Noel Pemberton Billing (Spartacus Educational)

Maud Allan as Salome (Wikipedia)