On the return of peace in 1918, the British government chose to dismantle the machinery it had created during the course of the war for the manipulation of public opinion at home and abroad. Many of those who had been directly involved in the work seriously doubted the wisdom of such a decision. During the closing stages of the conflict, several officials had given serious consideration to the question of continuing their work in peacetime. On 16 October 1918, for example, Lord Beaverbrook had drawn up a memorandum in which he argued the need for preserving the Ministry of Information at least until a peace treaty had been signed because ‘public opinion throughout the world will be a vital object to His Majesty’s Government during the intervening period’.1 While recognising that his organisation would need to undergo ‘considerable modification’ in order to meet the new requirements of peacetime conditions, he nonetheless felt that it was essential to continue the work so that allied solidarity could be preserved and to secure ‘public support in all foreign countries for the view of the Imperial Government and to give reasons why the Imperial Government is justified in adopting a certain attitude towards the problems before the Conference’.2 It might also be necessary, he continued, ‘to dwell on the efforts Great Britain has made during the war’ and he therefore sought Cabinet authority to convert the Ministry into an agency for peacetime enlightenment.
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M. L. Sanders
Philip M. Taylor
- Macmillan Education UK
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