NQ Scottish History

Domestic impact of war on politics

Before the First World War, the Liberals were the dominant party in Scotland. Their message of self-sufficiency and social justice reflected mainstream political attitudes. The Conservatives sometimes managed to win more support, but were usually in second place. The Independent Labour Party (ILP) and the Labour Party were beginning to grow, and the ILP was especially popular in Scotland. However, outwith the main cities, it was making slow progress.

The First World War had an important effect on politics in Scotland. It divided the Liberals and as a result the Liberals lost electoral support. The ILP was the a big winner in industrial areas, where its opposition to the 1915 Munitions Act, dilution and the Rent Strikes reflected popular worries.

The ILP continued to win support as it supported workers in disputes in 1919, 1922 and 1926. This has led some historians to highlight the growing radicalism in Scottish politics. Whilst it is true that working people became increasingly confident and articulate, radical politics did not acquire support across the social classes. Nor did a strong nationalist movement develop as a result of the First World War.

The party that gained the most popular support was the Conservative Party. The Conservatives became the dominant political party across Britain in the inter-war period.