1913 - The Year Before

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01The Long Summer20130610

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

In the first programme Michael samples the atmosphere of June 1913.

Producer

Tom Alban.

02Women's Rebellion20130611

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

The second programme in the series explores the depth and urgency of the campaign for women's votes. The limited postwar gift of women's suffrage has been read as a reward for the role women played in the war effort, with the pre-war years more celebrated for 'spectacular' and violent suffrage events. With the help of historian Elizabeth Crawford Michael reveals that the suffrage campaign was far more than a series of arson attacks, hunger strikes and the famous sacrifice of Emily Davison.

Producer: Tom Alban.

03The Irish Question20130612

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

In the third programme Michael tackles the familiar idea of the Irish uprising being a story with its origins in Dublin's Easter rising of 1916. In fact, in the pre-war years, the all-consuming concentration of politicians, the military and believers in the importance of the British Empire, was Ulster. The historian William Blair helps explain the scale of animosity and the vivid fear of civil war being launched from Belfast.

Producer: Tom Alban.

04The Tides Of War20130613

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

In the fourth programme Michael tackles the abiding image of Britain's lack of preparedness for the Great War - the cavalry being cut to pieces by the brute modernity of German machine-gun fire. But were the British really so out of step? Look at the debates about naval power, the popular culture and its plethora of 'invasion and 'Germany Spy' stories, and it seems that Britain was more than ready for conflict with Germany. Quite how that conflict would be played out wasn't clear but in 1913 the country didn't have it's back turned. Indeed, the use of Cavalry wasn't quite as anachronistic as we've been lead to believe.

Producer: Tom Alban.

05Cultural Upheaval20130614

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

In the fifth programme in the series Michael tackles the familiar idea that the angularity and a-tonal hallmarks of modernism in the arts and culture were a reaction to the shock and savagery of the slaughter in the trenches. In fact modernism in many of its forms, had already enjoyed its high water mark, while the cultural scene in 1913 was increasingly dominated by the popularity of music hall and film. Parisian Riots over Stravinsky's Rites of Spring don't seem to have been echoed in Britain where Henry Wood was boldly programming music by both Stravinsky and Weburn. But even as war threatened and then took hold, there was a move towards Pastoralism.

Producer: Tom Alban.

06Labour Relations & The Triple Alliance20130617

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

Michael starts today's programme at the Railway station in Llanelli, scene of a riot in 1911. It was provoked by industrial unrest on the railways and resulted in the shooting of two men by the armed forces. The familiar high-water mark of Industrial unrest in Britain is usually understood to be the General Strike of 1926. In fact the ten year period leading up to the First World War saw a wave of industrial strife with thousands of days labour lost and a growing feeling, on the part of the workers, that their voice could and would be heard. Ships were built, railways run and the Empire supplied, but not by a quiescent work force.

Producer: Tom Alban.

07Poverty20130618

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

In the seventh programme in the series Michael explores the pre-war attitudes to poverty, both in town and country. On the strength of forensic reporting by the likes of Seebohm Rowntree in York senior figures in the Liberal party were seeking to do something about wage rates, living standards and the damaging gap between rich and poor. Their reforming zeal lead to a series of compromises, not least over Irish Home Rule, but rather than an era content with its Edwardian lot, this was one of the most politically dynamic governments of the century. Michael argues that the passing of a National Insurance Act, which came into effect in January 1913, does not deserve to be lost in the memory of the War that followed.

Producer: Tom Alban.

08Politics And The Tory Gamble20130619

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

If pre-war politics is remembered for anything it's the dying days of the Liberal party as a dominant force in British politics. But Michael turns his attention to the Tories of the day, the party that appeared to be dicing with political death as tensions over Home Rule in Ireland turned from potential to reality. The ambitions and manoeuvring of their leader Andrew Bonar Law make sobering reading for a former Tory politician.

Producer: Tom Alban.

09The Empire20130620

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

In today's programme Michael turns his attention to The Empire. There's now a vivid understanding of the price in war dead, paid by India, Canada, Australia and South Africa amongst others. It clearly put a huge strain on relations with the mother country. But as Michael discovers, the tensions were already well matured by 1913, in spite of the flag waving of Empire Day and the spectacular celebrations of the Delhi Durbar in 1911.

Producer: Tom Alban.

10 LASTThe Great Change20130621

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.

But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.

In the final programme Michael talks to a number of Historians about the turmoil of the pre-war years, why they've been painted as innocent and untroubled and what it was that created the tensions running in almost every walk of British life.

Producer: Tom Alban.