Did Britain have to go to war in 1914?
George Allardice Riddell was a solicitor and newspaper proprietor. From 1903 he was the managing director of the News of the World and in summer 1914 kept close links with the government to discover whether Britain would enter the war. He believed that the government was split into the following four parties:
Those who thought it vital to support France including Herbert Asquith (Prime Minister) and Edward Grey (Foreign Secretary)
The Peace Party headed by Sir John Simon (Attorney General)
Those including David Lloyd George (Chancellor of the Exchequer) who were in favour of ‘intervention in certain circumstances’
The party headed by Thomas Mckinnon Wood (Scottish Secretary) and Charles Masterman (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) who wanted a united government
On 2 August 1914 Riddell held a dinner party with guests including Lloyd George, Simon, Masterman and Ramsay MacDonald (Leader of the Labour party). They debated the rights and wrongs of the situation and most agreed that Britain should not enter the war unless Belgian neutrality was infringed. When the Germans did invade Belgium on 4 August it made the decision quite clear for many politicians.