The Secret Elite scorn democracy. They always have. The following series of blogs trace the activities through which they eventually replaced a democratically elected government with one in which they themselves took complete control of the British  government from 1916. 

Viscount Alfred Milner leader of the Secret Elite from 1902-25.

In the first years of the twentieth century, their most important influence, Alfred Milner, the passionate promoter of British Imperialism, [1] and favoured heir of Cecil Rhodes’s ideals, [2] held an absolute contempt for the British Parliamentary system [3] which he condemned as an ‘absurd waste of power’. [4] His acolyte, Philip Kerr, later lord Lothian, described his mentor’s attitude to democratic government thus:

‘In every fibre of his being he loathed the slipshod compromises, the optimistic “slogans”, the vote-catching half-truths with which democracy seemed to compromise the majestic governing art …’ [5]

Before he returned to Britain in 1905, Milner, a copious letter-writer, wrote to his future wife, then Lady Violet Cecil, that the system was hopeless. With a prescience which might make the reader today shudder, he predicted that, ‘Perhaps the great charlatan – political scallywag, buffoon, liar … and in other respects popular favourite – may someday arise, who is nevertheless a statesman … and who, having gained power by popular art, may use it for the nations ends. It is an off chance …’ [6]

(Ponder these prophetic words. Though expressed in a different era, you might be forgiven for thinking that Milner’s description fitted Tony Blair or David Lloyd George. Both were loyal servants of the Secret Elite in their day, posed as a socialist, or Liberal in Lloyd George’s case, misrepresented the reasons for promoting war, popular when first in office, considered by some to be statesmen – but not buffoons or political scallywags. No. Such words are utterly inadequate to catch their devious characters.)

Milner never accepted democratic government. He was convinced that a dedicated, hand-picked and trained elite was better-equipped to run Britain’s affairs. [7] He was an unreformed disciple of the Oxford philosopher, John Ruskin, who advocated that the control of the state should be restricted to a small ruling elite. Social order was to be built on the authority of superiors who would impose on their inferiors an absolute unquestioning obedience. [8]

Prime Minister Asquith at dispatch box. The powerful core of his government were far from 'liberal' in their objectives.

With that mind-set and a determination to manipulate the political system, the highest echelons inside Herbert Asquith’s Liberal government had been successfully infiltrated before he became prime minister in 1908. [9] Sir Edward Grey (Foreign Secretary from 1905-16), Richard Haldane (War Minister from 1906-10) and Asquith himself, all Secret Elite place-men, formed the triumvirate which steadfastly steered the British Empire into a predetermined war to crush Germany in 1914. [10] In this they were abetted by Winston Churchill and eventually David Lloyd George. [11] It would be ridiculous to imply that five mediocre British politicians were solely responsible for bringing about the world war.

They did not represent democracy in any shape or form. These men refused to be answerable to parliament or the people. They were, like many who have held top political positions in Britain over the century since, mere instruments of the power behind the scenes – the all-powerful, wealthy secret cabal whom we call the Secret Elite. This sham democracy was aided and abetted by the awesome power of the popular press, much of which was owned and controlled by the same men who wielded real power.

Few knew that a powerful group of newspaper editors and owners were closely associated with Milner and the Secret Elite. His personal network of journalists included George Buckle and later Geoffrey Dawson at the Times, Edmund Garrett at the Westminster Gazette, and ET Cook at the Daily News and Daily Chronicle. All were members of the Secret Elite. [12] Their greatest ally was Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe, whom the Secret Elite approved as owner of the Times in 1908 after he had been closely vetted on their behalf by Lord Esher. [13] As owner of the Daily Mail (1896) the Daily Mirror (1903) the Observer (1905) and the Sunday Times, amongst other publications, Northcliffe’s role in the immediate pre-war years was to stir the populace against Germany. His biographers have translated this into an apparently less threatening response to the calls of Lord Milner and Lord Roberts [14] to ‘champion the cause of national defence on land, at sea and in the air.’ [15] He was the scaremonger chosen to undermine public confidence by constantly accusing Germany and the Kaiser of ill-intentions towards Britain and her Empire.

Le Queux's ridiculous propaganda 'novels', backed by Northcliffe and the Daily Mail was accompanied by nonsense leaflets like 'Englishmen Arise'.

Northcliffe unleashed a torrent of fear deliberately aimed to prepare the nation for war against Germany. The Daily Mail carried concocted half-truths and downright lies to unnerve a people who had previously considered Germany no more than a friendly rival. The unrelenting propaganda spun its rabid negativity into the fabric of the nation in similar vein to the years of fear-inducing hostile headlines which led the British working classes to believe that the Brexit option in 2016 would stop the ill-perceived ‘menace’ of immigration. Falsehood became truth; reason was poisoned. Ludicrous stories filled the pages of the popular press. Little changes. [16]

Spy mania added to the sense of paranoia so cleverly promoted by Northcliffe’s stables. Ludicrous claims were made about German intentions and by default, German residents in Britain. Typical of unfounded scaremongering was Lord Roberts’s calculation that there were ‘80,000 Germans in the United Kingdom, almost all of them trained soldiers. They work many of the hotels at some of the chief railway stations, and if a German force once got into this country it would have the advantage of help and reinforcement such as no other army on foreign soil has ever before enjoyed’. [17] It was of course, nonsense, but how often has the true charlatan abused fear of immigrants to gather public support?

Milner and his associates also had backing from finance and business. He had access to Rhodes’s money and the fortunes of his South African backers, Alfred Beit and Abe Bailey. [18] Having earned the gratitude of the Rothschild family by instigating war against the Boers in order to seize their gold mines, his standing with the armaments and shipbuilding moguls could not have been higher. As increasing numbers of financiers from both sides of the Atlantic joined in associated exclusive clubs like the Pilgrims of the United States and the Pilgrims of Great Britain, [19] Milner’s influence, and consequent power, spread.

As has been fully detailed in both our Hidden History, the Secret Origins of the First World War and over several blogs, [20] this combination of political power, media exploitation and financial backing bounced the British Empire into war with Germany in August 1914 in order to create the Anglo-American supremacy in a new world order.

Consider the awful failing of assumed democracy. Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August on the basis of a package of outrageous lies, vile deception and gross exaggeration just as she did in Iraq almost a century later. Despite the presumed responsibility of government to serve the needs of its citizens and stand accountable for its actions, every check which might have stopped the war was circumvented or ignored. War with Germany was visited upon the British people and the British Empire without consent. The people were not consulted. Ironically, the Liberal government which had been elected in 1906 won a landslide victory based on ‘peace, retrenchment and reform’. [21] Further elections in 1910 returned a government whose foreign policy had not changed; officially.

Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey depicted in the House of Commons. Churchill appears behind him. (right)

Parliament was not consulted about a declaration of war in 1914, despite several reassurances from Sir Edward Grey that it would be. Asquith did not move for a vote in cabinet because he knew that the cabinet was weighed against any decision to go to war. While the Secret Elite marshalled its forces in the press, the Church of England and the hallowed halls of Oxford, opponents were caught flat-footed, disbarred from criticism as the newspapers joined ranks to exclude their views. In Parliament the substantial anti-war lobby was practically silenced when an open debate was denied them by prime minister Asquith himself. [22] Those who thought that they could turn to Lloyd George to stand firm against the war and lead a popular opposition to it were sorely disabused of the notion. Like many since, he lead the dissenters into a cul-de-sac and left them there. The Welsh firebrand welched.

Britain was railroaded into war by a government which was neither capable of running it nor elected to do so. The belief that her naval and economic power was sufficient to defeat the Germans was one of the fundamental premises which underpinned the widely held assumption in Britain that it would be ‘business as usual’. [23] Amongst a range of disinformation put about to assuage a gullible public was that the navy would protect Britain from invasion, strangle the German economy and win a low-cost war, safe behind a decade of naval investment. There was no invasion. Never at any stage in the proceedings did Germany plan for an invasion. A much vaunted blockade [24] was secretly reduced to tokenism. It would not be ‘business as usual’. Be of no doubt, and we have repeatedly made this point in our blogs, the war could have been over by the Spring/Summer of 1915 had that been the prime objective. It was not due to incompetence, though the government merited that tag, or miscalculation, that the war was outwardly mismanaged, but by very carefully executed strategies to supply the enemy and prolong the war. [25]

Belgian Relief ship, part of the enormous fleet gathered by Herbert Hoover to supply food to Belgium AND to Germany.

In fact, the Secret Elite’s men in government did a very capable job in prolonging the war. Asquith’s dithering indecision, his failure to change the nature of decision-making in cabinet proved to be a stranglehold on progress. Lloyd George acted under the supervision of the banking and financial sectors on both sides of the Atlantic and used their backing to obtain loans and munitions through the exclusive J.P. Morgan/Rothschild portal. [26] Sir Edward Grey’s men in the Foreign Office bent double to accommodate the American interests and completely nullify the brave and tireless efforts of the navy to run an effective blockade. They also rubber-stamped the secretive and illusionary ‘Belgian Relief’ programme which was run by Herbert Hoover to supply Germany with much needed food. [27] Churchill ran amok like a headless chicken frequently abandoning his duties at the Admiralty in favour of self-serving publicity.

Victory in the field was not the objective unless it was predicated upon the complete destruction of Germany as an economic rival, and that would take time and absolute commitment. Two very different approaches were underway. Most of the liberal cabinet set out on a loosely sketched journey believing that a short war would be won at sea, and a small army would suffice for the continental struggle; the Secret Elite’s men embarked on a long debilitating war which protected their interests, guaranteed great profits, and was backed by vast resources from the United States.

Even although the Liberal majority in Asquith’s cabinet were reluctant to abandon their laissez-faire principles, Lloyd George, recognised that control of the railway network and guarantees for the shipping insurance business were absolutely necessary to the survival of social order. [28] In other words, government in times of modern warfare required direct intervention. Tellingly, Lloyd George’s first actions were to protect the banks, the money markets and the business of war. He took credit for saving the city after embracing advice from Nathaniel Rothschild and ‘a section of the business and financial world’. [29] Of course he did. He was their man.

Liberal ideology, long mocked by Milner and his followers, proved ineffectual. Do not include Asquith, Grey and Lloyd George as ‘ liberals’. The first two had long sold their souls to the imperialist race patriots; Lloyd George had simply sold his soul. They were not proponents of a political theory or party, but obedient servants of an apolitical, (in the Party sense) anti-democratic, power-obsessed oligarchy. These political place-men of the Secret Elite (then as now) were labeled liberal for public consumption. In reality they were not what the people, and even fellow members of their own party, imagined.

Prolonging the war was of course very profitable, but winning the war was everything. By 1915, the Secret Elite realised that Asquith’s approach to war-management was failing. He and his ministers were no longer dealing with the political issues for which they had been elected and could not be trusted with the unequivocal drive to crush Germany. The Secret Elite required a government focussed on the destruction of Germany and these men were not up to it.

Somme dead. A tragedy we must never forget.

Hundreds of thousands of young men had already been killed. Prolonging the war required men with cold, hard hearts devoid of compassion, committed to the Secret Elite’s cause. How had Milner expressed the steel required to see war through to the ultimate destruction of the enemy? His chilling advice to Richard Haldane during the Boer War was to ‘disregard the screamers’. [30] It takes a special kind of ‘strength’ to ignore humanitarian issues, ignore the utter chaos caused by the sacrifice of so many and yet be willing to sacrifice many more. Milner had such cold steel in his core.

To the Secret Elite, Milner’s deep-rooted fears were completely vindicated. Democratic liberalism, watered down as it had been since the death of Campbell-Bannerman, [31] denied Britain a co-ordinated agency to direct the war effort. In Asquith’s cabinet, only Lloyd George, increasingly the sole candidate for Secret Elite support, grasped the need to shake up the traditional approach to government. Even a pretence of democracy would not deliver ultimate victory. It was poisoning their cause.

But how could they remove the prime minister who had done their bidding?

[1] Viscount Alfred Milner was from 1902-1925 leader of the Secret Society funded and promoted originally by Cecil Rhodes. Although he spurned elected position and championed preparations for war against Germany, once the war was underway , he and his associates wanted control of the government in wartime to control the post-war settlement was they envisaged it. See Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, pp 4-14 and p.140.
[2] He envisaged his great purpose in life to expand the English-speaking sphere of influence until it was so powerful that no nation could challenge it. see Robin Brown, The Secret Society, p. 18.
[3] Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden history, The Secret Origins of the First World War, p. 55.
[4] Thomas Packenham, The Boer War, p. 551.
[5] The Nation & Athenaeum, 23 May 1925.
[6] Milner to Lady Cecil as quoted in A M Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, p. 46.
[7] Robin Brown, The Secret Society, p. 253.
[8] J.A. Hobson, John Ruskin: Social Reformer, p. 187.
[9] Docherty and Macgregor, Hidden History, pp. 101-2.
[11] Winston Churchill, World Crisis Vol 1, pp. 38-9.
[12] Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, pp. 311-2.
[13] Lord Reginald Esher was one of the original members of Rhodes’s Secret Society. He was the confidante of Kings Edward VII and George V. His full role in vetting and approving Northcliffe’s acquisition of The Times see, J Lee Thompson, Northcliffe, Press Baron in Politics, 1865-1922, pp. 151-3.
[14] Lord Fredrick Roberts had formerly been Commander-in-Chief of The Forces before his retiral. A close associate ofViscount Milner, with whom he shared many a platform, he avidly supported compulsory conscription to the armed forces.
[15] J. Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot, p. 159.
[16] The worst of his kind was William Le Queux, a Walter Mitty character, his ridiculous anti-German propaganda was supported by Northcliffe’s Daily Mail. see Christopher Andrews, Secret Service, pp. 37-48.
[17] Hansard, House of Lords Debate, 23 November 1908 vol 196, cc1691.
[18] Brown, The Secret Society, p. 253.
[19] The Pilgrims Society was the embodiment of the ‘special relationship’ between the United States and Great Britain. [Its centennial history was written by Anne Pimlott Baker.] Exclusive to all but the anglo-saxon elite on both sides of the Atlantic, the Pilgrims of the United States included the most pro- British and influential bankers and financiers.
[20] In particular see Blog of 17 June 2014, Secret Elite 3: Building the Network.
[21] The great Liberal philosophy which was trumpeted by their parliamentary leader, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who fought and won the landslide Liberal victory of 1906.
[22] Hansard, House of Commons Debate 03 August 1914 vol 65 cc1831-2.
[23] David French, The Rise and Fall of Business as Usual’, in Kathleen Burk, War and the State, The Transformation of the British Government, 1914-1919, p.10.
[24] see Blogs on the sham of blockade, posted from 10 December 2014 to February 2015. Also E. Keble Chatterton, The Big Blockade.
[25] Perhaps the most interesting and puzzling scandal of the First World War was Herbert Hoover’s Commission for Relief in Belgium which ensured that war was prolonged by providing supplies, especially foodstuffs, to Germany from 1914-1917.
[26] Kathleen Burk, War and the State, The Transformation of British Government 1914-18, p. 90.
[27] Michael Amara et Hubert Roland, Gouverner En Belgique Ocuppee, p. 99 and p. 214.
[28] David French, The Rise and Fall of Business as Usual’, in Kathleen Burk, War and the State, The Transformation of the British Government, 1914-1919, p. 7.
[29] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 70.
[30] J. Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot, p. 483.
[31] Henry Campbell-Bannerman died in 10 Downing Street on 22 April 1908 from a heart attack.