Cyfrol sy'n ffrwyth ymchwil trwyadl ar yrfa gynnar Lloyd George, ei ymrwymiad i hunan-lywodraeth, a'i sêl dros gael statws i'r Gymraeg. Medrodd wthio achos 'mudiad cenedlaethol Cymru' pan ddaeth i rym, ac mae Price yn bwrw golwg ar ei ddehongliad 'Cymreig' o nifer o faterion pwysig ei gyfnod fel prif-weinidog.
A thoroughly researched volume which focuses especially on Lloyd George's early career, his commitment to Home Rule, official status for the Welsh language, and his belief in strong labour legislation. He was able to further the cause of the 'Welsh national movement' when he came to power, and Price explores his 'Welsh' perception of dominant issues during his premiership.
This, the first volume in a new ‘Celtic Radicals’ series from the University of Wales Press, mainly deals with the early career of Lloyd George, culminating with his spectacular failure to convince the South Wales Liberal Federation meeting in Newport in 1896 of his radical and home rule agenda. A better title for the book might therefore have been ‘The Young Lloyd George’ since Lloyd George’s career in the first half of the twentieth century is only sketchily covered in the final eleventh chapter of the book. These years saw the Welsh Wizard dominate the political landscape of Britain as reforming Chancellor of the Exchequer and wartime Prime Minister.
Emyr Price views the young Lloyd George as a pragmatic rather than cultural nationalist whose successors are to be found in the careers of Jim Griffiths and John Morris in the Labour Party, Emlyn Hooson in the Liberal Party and Dafydd Wigley of Plaid Cymru. That word ‘pragmatic’ seems to exclude Gwynfor Evans who, we are informed, turned down Emlyn Hooson’s overtures on behalf of the Welsh Liberals to campaign jointly with Plaid for Home Rule in the 1960s. (Although, according to Rhys Evans’ Gwynfor, it was Emlyn Hooson who refused the overtures of Plaid Cymru.) We learn of Lloyd George's efforts to secure the use of the Welsh language in meetings of the County Council, for example, and of his support for the striking quarrymen at Llechwedd, although, like Gwynfor Evans subsequently, he was ill at ease with the ‘morbid footballism’ of the Valleys.
Of course, Lloyd George went on to use progressive taxation to build the foundations of a Welfare State, tackling the ‘four spectres that haunt the poor: old age, accident, sickness and unemployment.’ But in order to evaluate Lloyd George's career as a whole the nationalist rhetoric of his early career and his radical achievement in office before 1915 must be seen in the light of his subsequent energetic prosecution of an imperial war. History must hold him to account for the unprecedented slaughter of Welshmen on the fields of Flanders and their subsequent involvement in the vicious campaigns of the Black and Tans in Ireland. Equally grotesque was his stage-management of the investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon in 1911 and the chairing ceremony at Birkenhead for the absent Hedd Wyn six years later.
In the absence of any editorial preface, the reader does not know how ‘Celtic Radicals’ are to be defined. Maybe the young Lloyd George fits such a description but reviewing his career as a whole he would be an equally good choice for a series devoted to Imperial Britons. It is to be hoped that other books in the series contain fewer errors. For example, the Journal of the Society for the Study of Welsh Labour History is confused with D.J Rees’ earlier socialist periodical, Llais Llafur.
Emyr Price is an authority on Lloyd George's early career, the subject of his fine master's dissertation. He confidently takes on Welsh authorities and English experts, notably Ken Morgan and John Grigg. The author's central concern is to demonstrate the sincerity of Lloyd George's nationalist vision and labourite commitment as he embarked on his parliamentary career and to demolish an academic consensus that has portrayed his early advocacy of Welsh issues as essentially a means of furthering his wider political ambitions. For Price, the record of Lloyd George’s early career fully justifies the use of the sobriquet, the ‘Welsh Parnell’.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.