The politics of conscription and conscience

David Boulton describes how the rival campaigns for and against conscription lined up, in and out of parliament

N-CF members surrendering to police, July 1916. L-R: Clifford Allen (visitor); A Barratt Brown; A Fenner Brockway; Hubert W Peet (visitor) and John P Fletcher. | Photo: Photo copyright the Library of the Religious Society of Friends.

To conscript or not to conscript was one of the key issues Britain was faced with in the first world war. To allow or not to allow exemption for conscientious objectors was another. Both issues were fiercely debated in the country but ultimately determined in the political arena. Quakers and others whose primary motivation was religious or moral had to engage politically if their voices were to be heard and effective.

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