The Prophet of Truth: 1923-1939
"A Whale Among Minnows"
The first volume of Churchill’s war memoirs, The World Crisis, was published on 10 April. Its publication raised a great deal of tumult, adulation and criticism. The question was asked in the Commons whether it was proper for a former member of the government to profit from such a publication and the answer, forced from the Prime Minister, was "no."
But the book received tremendous reviews. The Observer commented that "Mr. Churchill, when they attack him, defends himself. He does it with such an amplitude of evidence, and a panoply of proof and a general effect so wicked that his habitual accusers must regard his book as not only a misdemeanor, but an outrage... .Much the best of all war books on the British side." The reviewer, J. L. Gavin, called the book "a whale among minnows."
In America, The New York Times said: ‘Winston wanted to be a war wizard, and there he failed, but in the wizardry of words he is triumphant. Over his own vicissitudes he casts the spell... it is the spell of a calculated— sometimes an artificial ... detachment... He makes no excuses... He avoids the querulous, the malicious, the jealous note... He does not pretend to have been consistent. Good, bad or indifferent, he gives his reasons for whatever was done or left undone. The reasons are those noted at the time... there is no wisdom after the event. It is clever. It is masterful. But it is also Churchill ... Churchill is too interesting for real sagacity."
While people talked about Churchill’s book, they also discussed his political future. His career, like those of the rest of the ex-Coalition leaders, had reached a crisis, but the others—Birkenhead, Balfour, Austen Chamberlain, Lloyd George—had seats in Parliament. Churchill was disenchanted with Lloyd George and his sympathies were dearly with the Conservatives. He told Sir Robert Horne, a leading Conservative, "I am what I have always been—a Tory Democrat. Force of circumstance has compelled me to serve with another party, but my views have never changed, and I should be glad to give effect to them by rejoining the Conservatives!’
In May he spoke on "The Political Scene from a Distance" to an Aldwych Club luncheon in London. He was critical of Conservative leader Andrew Bonar Law for breaking up the coalition particularly when he did not see an appreciable difference in the policies of the Bonar Law administration from its predecessor. (Churchill was unaware of the seriousness of Law’s illness): "The present Government is using up very rapidly the prestige of Conservatism. I am astonished to see the rate at which their credit has declined. I would not have believed it possible that in six months a new, homogeneous Administration could have lost so much in public esteem. In two years, perhaps in less, the Government may collapse..It will be said on every side, ‘The Coalition was tried; it was unpopular. The Tories have tried, they have failed. The Liberals are still quarrelling among themselves. Now it is the turn of the Labour Party. Let them have their chance."’
In May Stanley Baldwin replaced the dying Andrew Bonar Law as Prime Minister. While his family holidayed at Cromer on the North Sea, Churchill spent the summer at Sussex Square working on the second volume of The World Crisis, with periodic excursions to supervise the renovation of Chartwell. While there he lived at a rented house, Hosey Rigge (which he immediately nicknamed "Cozy Pig"), on the WesterWesterham Road. After her return, Clementine suffered a throat infection so she stayed at Hosey Rigge while Churchill rested in the Mediterranean aboard the yacht of his wealthy friend the Duke of Westminister.
Clementine later told Martin Gilbert that she did not want to go to Chartwell "but Winston had his heart set on it." She did not wish to leave London and she doubted the family could afford the costs of renovation and maintenance. But Churchill wrote her from the Duke's yacht:
"My beloved, I do beg you not to worry about money, or to feel insecureŠChartwell is to be our homeŠWe must endeavour to live there for many years and hand it over to Randolph afterwards." He outlined how he intended to make the necessary money by serving as a consultant with oil companies and writing, primarily the latter. Furthermore, he was confident that "if we go into office we will live in Downing Street!" (Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer reside there. He would eventually hold both offices.)
On 14 August he went to see the Prime Minister. To Clementine he wrote; "I entered Downing Street by the Treasury entrance to avoid comment. This much amused Baldwin. However Max [Lord Beaverbrook] rang up this morning to say he hoped I had had a pleasant interview and that I had greatly heartened the PM about the Ruhr! He is a little ferret."
Back in England from a cruise on the Duke of Westminster’s yacht,Churchill reflected, "I am very content to have for the first time in my life a little rest, and leisure to look after my own affairs, build my house and cultivate my garden."
His primary focus was on the second volume of The World Crisis. The periodicals were full of pros and cons about his first volume. Everyone who had participated in the War seemed to want to get a word in. The Morning Post venomously said that Churchill "is mentally incapable of realizing the truth or anything like it" but most reviews were favourable. Stanley Baldwin probably summed up the feelings of Churchill’s colleagues: "If I could write as you do, I should never bother about making speeches." Baldwin would live to hear Churchill’s immortal speeches of 1940 and 1941.
On the issue of tariffs, Baldwin called an election for December 6. Churchill answered the call to fight Protection as a Liberal. He beat the Conservative but came second to the Labour candidate who had advocated a special tax on high incomes.
Even his Conservative opponents regretted his defeat. "I was at the Carlton Club that foggy Election night," wrote his aunt. "When your poll was announced, there was a grim silence and stodgy Lord Middle-ton, who was sitting next to me, said, ‘Well, I am genuinely sorry. We wanted Winston in the House of Commons."’
His other battle at this time was a libel suit against Lord Alfred Douglas who had accused him of manipulating the stock market during the Battle of Jutland. His victory over Douglas was celebrated by his friends who also encouraged him to continue his efforts to reenter Parliament. "You must get back to the House," wrote one. "The outlook is dark and troubled; the country will need your energy and vision."
Out of Office, Opposing Socialists
On 6 December 1923, Churchill lost the West Leicester by-election, his last campaign as a Liberal and the last he would wage on the issue of free trade, the same issue over which he left the Tories for the Liberals in 1904. Churchill pulled no punches in the campaign, belying the claim of his enemies that he was currying favor with the Conservatives in order to foster a return to their ranks. If that were his purpose, Churchill would not have attacked the Tory Leader Stanley Baldwin in so personal a way. In a speech given 26 November 1923, he had compared Baldwin to "the March Hare and the Mad Hatter" and ridiculed Baldwin's self-characterization as "a plain, blunt, man," calling him "as rich as any man in Leicester." When not engaging in personalities, Churchill enhanced his reputation as the most effective political defender of free trade in his time: "What is the use of pretending that this greatest of all exporting nations has got to lie down pusillanimously behind a network of tariffs, cowering in our own markets, living by taking in each other's washing, feeding like a dog on its own tail? [Laughter.]"
Like many politicians before and since, Baldwin overestimated the electoral appeal of protectionism. The Conservatives returned to office with a reduced margin, having lost 88 seats. Meanwhile, Churchill's divided Liberal Party was busy arranging its own demise. Former Prime Minister Herbert Asquith made clear on 12 December that his wing‹the larger wing‹of the Liberals would support Labour over the Conservatives at the earliest opportunity, ensuring Britain its first Socialist government. Churchill signaled his disagreement in a letter to The Times on 18 January 1924: "The enthronement in office of a Socialist Government will be a serious national misfortune such as has usually befallen great States only on the morrow of defeat in war." On 21 January 1924, the Liberals voted with Labour to oust Baldwin and, that same day, Ramsay MacDonald formed his government. That same day marked the beginning of Churchill's eventual return to the Conservative Party of his youth.
On 24 February, after meeting with Baldwin in London, Churchill publicly called on Liberals to support the Conservative candidates in a by-election where there was no Liberal candidate. This prompted the Glasgow Herald to note: "Mr. Churchill seems a predestined champion of the individualism which he has served all his political life under both of its liveries."
In March Churchill campaigned at a by-election in Westminster as "an Independent and Anti-Socialist Candidate," claiming that "I have been fighting Socialist candidates in every election I have fought since 1908." In a speech on 11 March 1924, Churchill's prescient attack on socialism highlighted its inherent contradictions and foreshadowed its intellectual collapse 65 years later: "It is an absurd delusion that the industries of this country can be conducted through committees of elected politicians. One-tenth of the dose of Socialism which ruined Russia would kill Great Britain stone dead....[M]en with pendant and pedagogic minds and doctrinaire views, men with a desire to rule out exactly what every one of their fellow-citizens was to do and was not to do from dawn to dusk, from one year's end to another, in pursuance of their goal, have in the history of the world brought untold miseries upon millions. [Cheers.] If, through mismanagement, or through the attempt to put into force impossible theories, grave conditions of distress are created, no one can say what will be the limit of the action of a tortured people. Then will come measures of repression by a Socialist Government."
Churchill described in Thoughts and Adventures the Socialists who opposed him in that election: "Of course there are the rowdy meetings...shouting interruptions...and every kind of nasty question carefully thought out and sent up to the Chair by vehement-looking pasty youths or young short-haired women of bulldog appearance." In vivid contrast, Churchill writes that he received "all kinds of support. Dukes, jockeys, prize-fighters, courtiers, actors and business men all developed a keen partisanship. The chorus girls of Daly's Theatre sat up all night addressing the envelopes and dispatching the election address. It was most cheering and refreshing to see so many young and beautiful women of every rank in life, ardently working in a purely disinterested cause, not unconnected with myself."
"The Essential Principle Is Personal Freedom. . ."
Churchill, who suffered his second consecutive by-election loss on 19 March, opened negotiations with the Conservative Leader, Stanley Baldwin, to bring more than 30 anti-Socialist Liberal Mps into an informal alliance with the Conservatives, provided the Conservatives agreed not to contest their seats at the next General Election.
On 6 April 1924, Churchill published an article, "Socialism and Shaw" in The Sunday Chronicle, vigorously attacking the minority Socialist government: "The leaders of the Socialist movement themselves have hardly succeeded in shaking themselves free from personal considerations. The Socialist Lord Privy Seal asks the House of Commons to raise his salary from two thousand to five thousand pounds a year‹a proceeding perfectly proper on the Capitalist hypothesis, but hardly in harmony with Socialist idealism.
"Mr Bernard Shaw, that sparkling intellectual and brilliant champion of the Socialist Utopia, squealed like a rabbit when subjected to the mild Lloyd Georgian supertax. Even Mr Moseley, the latest recruit, has not yet divested himself of his unearned increments or quit the life of elegance and luxury in which he has his being."
Churchill then set out his owned classical liberal philosophy: "The essential principle is personal freedom, the right of the individual to make the best of himself, or, within limits, the worst of himself, if he chooses; the stimulation of all these individual activities by the reward of enterprise, toil, and thrift; and their reconciliation through the laws." The Socialists, he said, aspire "to prescribe from year to year, from month to month, or from week to week, the life and labour of every single citizen; what he was to do; where he was to do it; what he was to receive for doing it; where he was to live; under what conditions he could change his employment or his habitation. Nothing would be omitted from their control."
On 7 May 1924, Churchill pressed his attack in a speech, "The Present Dangers of the Socialist Movement," given at a Conservative Party meeting in Liverpool of over 5,000 people, the first time he had spoken at a Conservative gathering in twenty years: "This political cuckoo (loud laughter)‹if I may without disrespect borrow a metaphor from our tardy spring (laughter)‹is strutting about in borrowed plumes. This Socialist, whose life has been one long sneer at the British Empire, is able to appropriate as unearned increment to himself and his friends the whole of the fruits of the toil, the thrift, and the self-denial of his predecessors. Without that constitutional authority which springs from a majority at the polls, and without having had to do a hand's turn of work or make the slightest effort, he has been placed in a situation where he was able to distribute a surplus for which he had neither toiled nor spun.
Earlier in the Spring, Churchill had written his first letter from Chartwell to his wife, Clementine, who spent Easter in Dieppe with her mother: "My darling, this is the first letter I have ever written from this place & it is right that it shd be to you. I am in bed in your bedroom (wh I have annexed temporarily) & wh is sparsely but comfortably furnished with the pick of yr two van loads. We have had two glorious days.
"The weather has been delicious & we are out all day toiling in dirty clothes and & only bathing before dinner. I have just had my bath in your de Luxe bathroom. I hope you have no amour propre about it!...I drink Champagne at all meals & buckets of claret and soda in between, & the cuisine tho' simple is excellent. In the evenings we play the gramophone (of wh we have deprived Mary) & Mah Jongg with yr gimcrack set.
"Everything is budding now that this gleam of deferred genial weather has come.
Only one thing lacks these banks of green - The Pussy Cat who is their Queen.
"I do hope, my darling, that you are all enjoying yourselves & that you are really recuperating. How I wish you were here..."
A "Seat for Life" at Last
Churchill continued his search for a constituency where he could stand at the next General Election as an Independent with Conservative Party support, while maintaining a busy schedule of speaking and writing. On 27 June 1924, he spoke to the London School of Economics on "The Study of English":
"To be able to give exact and lucid expressions to one's thoughts, to be able to write a good clear letter upon a complicated or delicate subject, to be able to explain shortly, precisely, and correctly what you mean, what you have seen, what you have read, what you have been told, or what you want to understand; to appreciate and express the shades of meaning which attach to words - these are surely among the most important acquirements which young English men and young English women can possibly seek to aid them in their life's career.
Churchill addressed the "International Financial Situation" in a speech to the Associated Advertising Clubs in London on 17 July 1924, attributing the economic slump not to foreign competition, but to "a serious and widespread decline in consuming power" which was caused by "taxation...and improvident methods of finance in many countries."
Foreshadowing what was finally to be accomplished when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister over half a century later, Churchill's article "Should Strategists Veto the Tunnel?" appeared in The Weekly Dispatch on 27 July 1924. WSC was highly critical of a recent decision by the Committee of Imperial Defence, dismissing a proposal for a Channel tunnel which had been supported by over 400 members of Parliament. Churchill ridiculed the secrecy surrounding the decision and the fact that it was reached after a limited discussion:
"They must be quite short arguments because we know there were only forty minutes available for their presentation, for their discussion and for the conclusion to be recorded. Twenty minutes would, therefore, perhaps suffice to repeat them. One column of an ordinary newspaper would readily contain them. Why should we not have them? Why should this matter be wrapt in mystery? The public have a right to know what were grounds in which a great decision like this was taken."
Churchill then set forth in considerable detail why British security would not be endangered by a Channel tunnel: "Fancy trying to invade this island by a tiny tube when the whole air is open to a stronger assailant. Compare the risks of London being destroyed by incendiary bombs or poisoned by chemical bombs from the air, with the risks of our not being capable of flooding the tunnel in time and safeguarding our own end of it. The risks from the air are now a hundredfold greater....The danger of invasion following on treachery is the sole ground on which a government is justified in vetoing the scheme. And if that ground is shown to be illusory, the way will be cleared for the fair examination of an enterprise which might well become a notable symbol in the advance of human civilisation."
In a letter to Clementine on 19 August 1924, Churchill gave her an update on how repairs were progressing at Chartwell: "Everyone is working frantically at your room. The whitewashers, the oak stainers, the carpenters and the plasterers are hard at work from morn till night. I hope that all will be to your liking when you return. They are allowing nothing to stand in the way of this....My Beloved, it will be jolly having you back on Monday. The house seems vy empty without you. With tender love, your devoted W."
On 11 September, Churchill accepted an offer from the Conservative Party's Constituency Committee in Epping to stand for Parliament in the next General Election as a "Constitutionalist" with Conservative Party support. At Epping, and one of its successor constituencies called Woodford, he would find at last the "Seat for Life" he'd lost in Dundee.
"This Fulfills My Ambition"
In October 1924, Churchill returned to the campaign trail, standing for a seat in the House of Commons at Epping as a "Constitutionalist," but giving "wholehearted support" to the Conservative Party. During the campaign, he attacked the Socialist government's proposal to give a guaranteed loan to the Soviet Union of £40 million:
"Why should we do that? During the war we lent Russia £600 millions when they were fighting bravely on our side, but the Bolshevists, when they made the revolution, deserted the Allied cause and repudiated the debt. At the same time they stole £120 millions of British property in Russia, and we are at present whistling for our money....But it is not only a question of money‹it is a question of honour. Russia is a tyranny, the vilest tyranny that ever existed. The great mass of the Russian people are gripped by a gang of cosmopolitan adventurers, who have settled down on the country like vultures and are tearing it to pieces.
The election was held on October 29th and Churchill returned to Parliament with a substantial majority. The Conservative Party won in a landslide, 419 seats against 151 for Labour. As a consequence, Churchill wrote to a friend, "I think it is very likely that I shall not be invited to join the Government, as owing to the size of its majority it will probably be composed only of impeccable Conservatives."
Churchill was wrong, however, and the man he had attacked in strong personal terms only a year earlier, now Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, invited him to join the government as Chancellor of the Exchequer: the second-highest post in the British government. Churchill readily accepted, telling Baldwin, "This fulfills my ambition. I still have my father's robe as Chancellor. I shall be proud to serve you in this splendid Office." The appointment was not well-received by the Conservative Party. The Times was critical and Austin Chamberlain said in a letter to Baldwin, "I am alarmed at the news that you have made Winston Chancellor, not because I do not wish Winston well but because I fear that this particular appointment will be a great shock to the Party."
Churchill promptly set about putting together his budget, which included substantial tax reforms, notably lower income taxes. Writing to Sir Richard Hopkins, Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, to effect these tax increases, Churchill strongly opposed the Admiralty's request of over £27 million to be spent for the construction of new ships over a three year period, ridiculing the Admiralty's claim that this was necessary to prepare for a possible war with Japan. In a letter to Baldwin, he wrote:
"A war with Japan! But why should there be a war with Japan? I do not believe there is the slightest chance of it in our lifetime."
"Finance Less Proud and Industry More Content"
Churchill was active on many fronts, in turn taking on the United States over Allied war debts, the Royal Navy over expenditures, and the Bank of England over a return to the gold standard.
In January Churchill went to Paris for a finance conference of the Allied debtor and creditor nations. He had consistently opposed the American position that all inter-Allied debts must be paid bilaterally, regardless of what other nations did. He favored a general settlement. In the event, Churchill prevailed, but it wasn't easy. He wrote in a letter to Clementine from Paris: "I have had tremendous battles with the Yanks, & have beaten them down inch by inch to a reasonable figure....I think on the whole I have succeeded."
Indeed Churchill had succeeded very well. As Martin Gilbert notes: "All the former Allied powers accepted the principle that Britain's debt payments to the United States should be accompanied by simultaneous, proportionate payments to Britain by France, Belgium, Italy and Japan, Britain's principal debtors....the £1,000 million which Britain owed America was offset by over £2,000 million which the other former Allies owed to Britain."
On his return from Paris, Churchill resumed his struggle to keep naval expenditures from overwhelming the budget and his plan for an across the-board income tax cut. It wasn't a fair fight. Churchill knew too much about running a navy. On February 4th, Churchill sent a six-page list of quite specific cost-cutting suggestions to his friend the First Sea Lord, Admiral David Beatty. As Churchill explained in an accompanying note: "It is no good telling me the First Sea Lord cannot do this if he lets it be known that it is his wish. Even when First Lord, as you know, I often found this amount and larger amounts in a few mornings with a blue pencil." Beatty complained to his wife, "I have to tackle Winston....It takes a good deal out of me when dealing with a man of his calibre with a very quick brain. A false step, remark, or even gesture is immediately fastened upon, so I have to keep my wits about me."
Churchill's eventual agreement, in March, 1925, to the Bank of England's return to the gold standard at pre-war parity was not easily achieved. At the outset, Churchill prepared a lengthy memorandum in which he challenged Montague Norman, the Governor of the Bank of England: "If we are to take the very important step of removing the embargo on gold export, it is essential that we should be prepared to answer any criticism which may be subsequently made upon our policy." The British banker, Lord Bradbury, accused Churchill of having "his spiritual home in the Keynes McKenna sanctuary." Some of Churchill's letters seem to reflect that view: "The Treasury has never, it seems to me, faced the profound significance of what Mr. Keynes calls 'The paradox of unemployment amidst dearth.' The Governor shows himself perfectly happy in the spectacle of Britain possessing the finest credit in the world simultaneously with a million and a quarter unemployed...."
Churchill eventually made his decision shortly after a dinner and late night "Symposium," where he brought together Keynes and McKenna with the two principal advocates from the Treasury Department. Keynes's accurate predictions of deflation and increased unemployment were eventually overcome by the Treasury arguments that inflation was a greater danger.
"A Forecast Of The Next War"
Churchill was hard at work on his first budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Stanley Baldwin's government. He presented it in his first budget speech on 28 April, taking over two and a half hours to do so. He led off with the return to the Gold Standard (uncriticized by any party at the time). Next was his new plan of pensions for widows, their children and orphans, covering more than 200,000 women and 350,000 children.
"I like the association of this new scheme of widows' pensions and earlier old-age pensions with the dying-out of the cost of the war pensions," Churchill said. "I like to think that the sufferings, the sacrifices, the sorrow of the war have sown a seed from which a strong tree will grow, under which, perhaps many generations of British people may find shelter against some at least of the storms of life. This is far the finest war memorial you could set up to the men who gave their lives, their limits, or their health, and those who lost their dear ones in the country's cause."
Finally, Churchill introduced the centerpiece of his first budget: across the-board income tax reductions, with the greater benefits going to lower income groups. He termed his budget "national, and not class or party in its extent or intention," adding, "I cherish the hope...that by liberating the production of new wealth from some of the shackles of taxation the Budget may stimulate enterprise and accelerate industrial revival, and that by giving a far greater measure of security to the mass of wage earners, their wives and children, it may promote contentment and stability, and make our Island more truly a home for all these people."
Baldwin called Churchill's speech "One of the most striking Budget speeches of recent years" and wrote to the King: "The general impression was that Mr. Churchill rose magnificently to the occasion. His speech...was a first-rate example of Mr. Churchill's characteristic style. At one moment he would be expounding quietly and lucidly facts and figures relating to the financial position during the past and current years. At another moment, inspired and animated by the old political controversies on the subject of tariff reform, he indulged in witty levity and humour which come as a refreshing relief in the dry atmosphere of a Budget speech. At another moment, when announcing the introduction of a scheme for widows and mothers pensions, he soared into emotional flights of rhetoric in which he has few equals; and throughout the speech he showed that he is not only possessed of consummate ability as a parliamentarian, but also all the versatility of an actor."
Even Neville Chamberlain gave Churchill grudging credit for the pension scheme which Chamberlain had been too timid to advance that year, writing in his diary: "Winston's exposition of the Budget was a masterly performance, and though my office and some of my colleagues are indignant at his taking to himself the credit for a scheme which belongs to the Ministry of Health, I did not myself think that I had any reason to complain of what he said. In a sense it is his scheme. We were pledged to something of the kind, but I don't think we should have done it this year if he had not made it part of his Budget scheme, and in my opinion he does deserve special personal credit for his initiative and drive."
During this same period, Churchill was instrumental in defeating a proposal in the Cabinet, by Foreign Secretary Austen Chamberlain for a defense pact with France based upon maintaining the Versailles treaty and guaranteeing Britain would come to France's aid if attacked by Germany. Churchill was opposed to helping France until she backed off the oppressive terms of Versailles and agreed to a "real peace" with Germany, one which involved a "substantial rectification" of Germany's frontier with Poland. As Churchill had earlier told the French President, Doumergue, he "was personally convinced that [Germany] would never acquiesce permanently in the condition of her eastern frontier." Without such a revision, Churchill presciently told the Committee of Imperial Defense, a new war loomed on the horizon over Poland:
"This war which has occurred between France and Germany several times has broken up the world. What guarantee have we got while things are going as they are that we shall not have another war. In fact, it seems as if we were moving towards it, although it may not be for twenty years, certainly not until Germany has been able to acquire some methods of waging war, chemically or otherwise."
In March, the senior Cabinet ministers assembled, in Austen Chamberlain's absence in Paris, and endorsed Churchill's view that no defense pact with France would be concluded unless it included an arrangement with Germany as well.
"...I am getting my own way in nearly everything."
Churchill's Finance Bill was making its way through the House. "...I am driving forward at least ten large questions, and many smaller ones all inter-related and centering on the Budget," he wrote his wife on June 5th. "So far I am getting my own way in nearly everything. But it is a most laborious business, so many stages having to be gone through, so many people having to be consulted, and so much detail having to be mastered or explored in one way or another."
In the same letter, Churchill explained one of his techniques for getting support: "I am seeing a great deal of my colleagues now through the week end parties, and also at lunch and dinner in Downing Street...." Doubtless he needed the friendly talk because his words in debate were still sharp and cutting. Responding on 9 June to criticism of the Government's reintroduction of the wartime McKenna Duties to raise revenues and compensate for his across-the-board income tax cuts, Churchill observed that the Duties had "been voted for again and again during the last ten years, and in the Great War, when the troops of the Dominions were sent to our aid from all parts of the world, when we were fighting for our lives, [and] when the hon. and gallant Gentleman was playing a much more useful part in the defence of the country than he is playing at the present time below the Gangway."
C. P. Scott, the editor of the Manchester Guardian, recounts that during a
dinner party on 30 June with the Polish Ambassador present, Churchill "talked incessantly" and proffered advice, prescient but unwelcome, on Polish relations with Germany, arguing "that Poland should by all means cultivate the friendship of Germany. Else, if Germany were driven back on Russian support, Poland in the end would be crushed between them."
During July, the crisis in the coal industry came to a head with the owners threatening wage cuts and the miners a strike. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin formed a Special Cabinet Committee headed by Churchill, which proposed a £10 million mine subsidy over nine months to avert the wage cut. Churchill's old rival, Neville Chamberlain, praised WSC's debate performance in a private letter to Baldwin: "...I think our Chancellor has done very well, all the better because he hasn't been what he was expected to be. He hasn't dominated the Cabinet, though undoubtedly he has influenced it: he hasn't tied us up to pedantic Free Trade, though he is a bit sticky about Safeguarding of Industries. He hasn't intrigued for the leadership, but he has been a tower of debating strength....What a brilliant creature he is! But there is somehow a great gulf fixed between him and me which I don't think I shall ever cross. I like him. I like his humour and his vitality. I like his courage....But not for all the joys of Paradise would I be a member of his staff! Mercurial! a much abused word, but it is the literal description of his temperament."
In July, Churchill played polo for the House of Commons team against the House of Lords. He would continue to play the game until 1927 (see FH 72).
"The Twelve Apostles of Reassurance"
Churchill spent October 1925 delivering almost a daily series of speeches defending his economic policy and his first Budget against criticism from friend and foe alike. In a speech at Colchester, Churchill mocked those who had attacked his income tax cuts: "In that Budget I committed some serious crimes. I reduced the income-tax, and I differentiated the income tax in favour of the smaller income-tax payer....I have been scolded for these evil deeds [but] if the Economy Committee over which the Prime Minister is presiding almost every day has not reaped the harvest of economy which it hopes to achieve, it is quite possible that it may be my duty to make amends in practical form for the past, and to restore to the taxpayer some portion at least of the burdens of which I so wrongfully robbed him."
At the Engineer's Club Annual Dinner at the Savoy on October 23rd, he surveyed in his optimistic fashion the economic picture: "I have been accused of not taking a sufficiently gloomy view of affairs. All I said was that things are not getting worse and that there is even a probability that they may get better. I can give twelve principal reasons which justify that conclusion. I call them the 'Twelve Apostles of Reassurance'....Our share in the oversea trade of the world has not diminished since the war. It is true that there is a reduced amount of world oversea trade, but of that reduced trade we possess, in fact, slightly a larger proportion than before the war....There has been, if not a great, yet an appreciable diminution in the cost of living during the year....The consuming power of the people has not diminished, but has been maintained, and in many important commodities it has increased....The number of people who reached the employable age last year was 100,000. Still, there are 250,000 more people at work today in Great Britain than a year ago....What is the moral conclusion to draw from this recital? It is to 'leave off barracking the Government, leave off trying to rattle the new party, leave off crying down the national credit, leave off spreading tales of despondency and alarm, and fear throughout the British Empire and the world. Show some measure of gratitude and fair play to the men who are called upon to bear the responsibilities of the day.'"
Nevertheless, the spectre of a national strike in the coming Spring was never far from Churchill's thoughts. He rarely passed up an opportunity to criticize Arthur Cook, leader of the Mine Workers Union. In his speech at the Engineer's Club, he concluded his rosy appraisal of the economy with a warning accusing Cook and the miners of being influenced by the Communists: "All the brighter prospects will be shattered and overclouded if next spring we are exposed to a serious industrial convulsion in the coalfield or on the railways, but we are still hopeful that we will be able to carry our tray of crockery until we have safely placed it on the national table."
Churchill's anti-labor reputation stems, quite unfairly, from this period where the unions were seeking to use the strike weapon not to secure higher wages or better working conditions but rather to force a general election and a hoped-for Socialist victory and the nationalization of coal mines. Churchill saw Socialism as a threat to prosperity and its cousin, Communism, as a threat to liberty. As he said in a speech at the Opera House in Tunbridge Wells near his home in Chartwell on 28 November, "The Socialist in his folly, and the Communist in his malice, would undermine and fatally wreck the pillars of our national prosperity.... the Communist thinks he can smash his way through by violence, and the Socialist believes he can do it by humbug....The British Socialists are well known to be the dullest in the world. They have never contributed anything even to the building up of the Socialist philosophy. They have merely gulped down what Karl Marx and Lenin have handed over to them."
"Prosperity is on our Threshold"
Churchill maintained a demanding speaking schedule throughout the winter months. Addressing the Leeds Chamber of Commerce on January 20th, he spoke of a brighter future for the economy: "The world is now peaceful; the harvests have been good; from many quarters come the reports that trade is on the mend. We know that unemployment has been sensibly reduced and, apart from coal, substantially reduced, and reduced in spite of a continually increasing population of wage-earners. None of these conditions was present in August. There was nothing but gloom then, and now there is modest hope. Hope for all; hope for the manufacturer; hope for the merchant; hope for the artisan; hope for those who are out of employment. [Cheers.] A brightening and a broadening hope. Prosperity, that errant daughter of our house who went astray in the Great War, is on our threshold."
Some at this time looked upon Churchill with a jaundiced eye. Sir Samuel Hoare enjoyed WSC's hospitality on a weekend at Chartwell on February 13th, and two days later wrote to Lord Beaverbrook that Churchill was "convinced that he is to be the prophet to lead us into the Promised Land in which there will be no income tax and everyone will live happily ever afterwards. The trouble is that he has got so many schemes tumbling over each other in his mind, that I am beginning to wonder whether he will be able to pull any one of them out of the heap."
On 17 March, Churchill was appointed to a special Cabinet Committee to evaluate the recommendations on the coal subsidies and working conditions in the mines from the Royal Commission headed by Sir Herbert Samuel. But Churchill took no part in the government's discussion with the mine owners and the miners, which was conducted by Prime Minister Baldwin.
On 24 March, Churchill spoke critically in the Commons on the position of the United States regarding repayment of inter-Allied war debts: "It is a very remarkable fact that at the present moment the amount that the United States is receiving from Europe under arrangements which have already been made is approximately equal to the whole amount of reparations which Germany is paying. But the distribution of the receipts from Germany and the payments to the United States is entirely different. The bulk of the receipts from Germany go to France, who at present is making no payments on account of her War debts, and the bulk of payments to the United States are made by this country largely out of our own resources....It seems to me an extraordinary situation...all the pressure of debt extraction will draw reparations...from the devastated and war stricken countries of Europe, which will flow in an unbroken stream across the Atlantic to that wealthy and prosperous and great Republic. I believe that these facts will not pass out of the minds of any responsible persons, either in the United States or in Europe."
Churchill played no part in the Baldwin government's negotiations with the miners and the coal owners which led to the General Strike of 1926. The coal owners locked out the miners on Saturday, 1 May 1926 after the miners had again rejected a proposal for an immediate reduction in wages. A national strike in support of the miners was announced for Monday, 3 May. Government negotiations continued with both sides on Sunday, 2 May, until 11 PM, when word came that printers at The Daily Mail had stopped its publication because they did not approve of the lead editorial critical of the impending strike. Baldwin believed that a national strike was an unconstitutional attempt to undermine parliamentary democracy and, in response, he broke off negotiations, a move that received the unanimous support of the Cabinet.
The next day, Churchill spoke in conciliatory fashion in the House, acknowledging that the miners had a legitimate right to strike: "But that is an entirely different thing from the concerted, deliberate organized menace of a General Strike in order to compel Parliament to do something which other wise it would not do." Churchill said that once the threat of a national strike is withdrawn, "we shall immediately begin, with the utmost care and patience with them again, the long and laborious task which has been pursued over these many weeks of endeavouring to rebuild on economic foundations the prosperity of the coal trade. That is our position."
The strike commenced on 4 May and Baldwin diverted Churchill to the secondary role of supervising publication of a daily government newspaper, The British Gazette. The first issue of the paper came out on 5 May and Churchill wrote the leading, unsigned, article on the front page in which he explained why a government newspaper was necessary during the strike: "Nearly all the newspapers have been silenced by violent concerted action. And this great nation, on the whole the strongest community which civilisation can show, is for the moment reduced in this respect to the level of African natives dependent only on the rumours which are carried from place to place."
The first issue of The British Gazette printed a total of only 230,000 copies but six days later, the last day of the General Strike, over a million copies were printed and distributed. Churchill wrote that day to Baldwin offering his advice on how to proceed next: "The point to which I wish to draw your mind is that there must be a clear interval between the calling off of the General Strike and the resumption of the coal negotiations. The first tonight ‹the second tomorrow. But noth-ing simultaneous and concurrent. That will I am sure be fatal....Tonight surrender. Tomorrow magnanimity...."
"What The Pig Likes"
After the General Strike, Baldwin asked Churchill to join the Cabinet Committee on Coal. Churchill spent the rest of the summer unsuccessfully attempting to mediate a settlement. Churchill, in fact, felt betrayed by the mine owners. As Sir Martin Gilbert writes, "On June 15 the Government informed the Commons that it had decided to introduce a Bill legalizing an eight-hour working day in the mines, and that, in return, the mine owners had promised to put forward definite wage offers in each district within a national framework."
The mine owners subsequently reneged on their agreement. Churchill, by now de facto head of the Coal Committee in Baldwin's absence abroad due to an attack of lumbago, chastised the owners in what the Committee's secretary described in his diary as a "Ding-dong debate at No. 10 between Winston and Evan Williams," the mine owners' representative: "I am quite sure of this, that if we had known that following the passage of the Eight Hours Bill into law a new obstacle to a settlement, a new complication, would arise through the closing of one of those doors to peace we never should have passed the Bill or proceeded with it. Therefore, if you take up the attitude that...there can be no national negotiations of any kind...I do think you will see that we shall have been placed in a position which is from our point of view at any rate, extremely unfortunate and even, as it might be thought, unfair...."
When Williams denied there was ever a link between the Eight Hours Bill and a national framework for agreement, Churchill shot back: "I cannot possibly accept that. " Mine owners, he said, well knew of the linkage and had said nothing at the time: "You singularly failed to undeceive us."
Churchill proposed to Baldwin that the Government "amend the Eight Hours Act so as to deny its indulgence to any pit which does not conform to certain conditions." But, in the event, Baldwin agreed with those Tories who were critical of what they perceived to be Churchill's sympathies for the mine workers, and did nothing.
One Committee member observed that Churchill was "jolly difficult when he's in a Napoleonesque attitude, dictating instructions in military metaphors, and the spotlight full on him....he is a most brilliant fellow, but his gifts aren't those of judgment, nor of appreciating industry, nor of a negotiator." Another participant gave a milder report: "I don't think Winston's activities are at present beyond what the circumstances of the situation call for, or are actuated by any desire for self-advertisement."
Even his closest friend, Lord Birkenhead, was critical, writing in a telegram: "I am not happy about your attitude....Why should we impose upon owners national settlement if they are strong enough to obtain district settlements?" Finally, while not offering her opinion on the merits, even his wife Clementine offered a gentle suggestion on how to treat his cabinet colleagues on the Committee: "You are having an anxious but a thrilling & engrossing time with power & scope which is what the Pig likes....I suppose Steel-Maitland and Lane-Fox are not often allowed near the trough? I hope you let them have a tit-bit now & again. If the Cat were Minister of Labour or Mines she would not give up her place there without a few 'miaows.'"
WSC spoke on Canada at the Wolfe Society Bicentenary Dinner, Savoy Hotel, London.January 4
WSC left England for Mediterranean with Randolph and Jack.January 6
WSC was impressed with Fascist Italy.January 7
WSC watched eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and visited Pompeii.January 8
WSC arrived in Malta.January 9
WSC arrived in Athens.January 14
WSC arrived in Rome where he had two short meetings with Mussolini and an audience with Pope Pius XII.January 20
WSC told a Press Conference that he was charmed by Mussolini.January 22
WSC arrived at Consuelo Balsam's villa in France.January 26
WSC arrived in Paris.January 27
WSC arrived in Dieppe.January 28
The New Leader accused WSC of having a Fascist heart.January 29
WSC was home a Chartwell.February 3
WSC spoke on The Truths and Mysteries of Finance to the Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, Oldham.February 4
WSC spoke on "Cursory Observations on Curious Things" to the Constitutional Club Luncheon, Manchester and on The Financial and Political Situations to the Conservative and Unionist Association Meeting, Free Trade Hall, Manchester.February 5
WSC spoke on Social Reform and Socialism to the Conservative Mass Meeting, Palace Theatre, Burnley, Lancashire.February 7
The Times began daily serialization of The World Crisis.February 9
WSC spoke on the Debate on the Address in the House of Commons.February 16
WSC spoke on Government Policy to the West Essex Unionist Association (Woodford Wells Branch) Meeting, Buckhurst Hill.March 3
The World Crisis was published in two parts.March 5
J.M.Keynes wrote that The World Crisis was a "tractate against war - more effective than the work of a pacifist could be."
Robert Boothby became WSC's Parliamentary Private Secretary.March 8
WSC spoke on National Expenditure and Taxation to a Chambers of Commerce Association Deputation, Treasury, London.March 9
WSC spoke on National Expenditure and Taxation to the Federation of British Industries Deputation, Treasury, London.March 16
WSC spoke on the Betting Tax to a Horse Breeders Deputation, Treasury, London.March 24
WSC spoke on Railway Finance to a Railways Deputation, Treasury, London.March 25
WSC made a constituency speech at West Essex Unionist Association (Aldersbrook Branch) Dinner, Great Eastern Hotel, London.March 29
WSC spoke on Betting Duty to Turf Guardians and Bookmakers Joint Deputation, Treasury, London.April 10
WSC spoke on Civil Service and Trade Unions to a Civil Service Rights Commitee Deputation, Treasury, London.April 11
WSC introduced his Third Budget in the House of Commons.April 13
WSC spoke on the Budget in the House of Commons.April 16
WSC focused on reducing debt other than by taxation - economics in Government spending - reducing Naval expenditures and petrol tax.April 26
WSC spoke on the Budget in the House of Commons.April 28
WSC spoke on the Budget (The Road Fund) in the House of Commons.May 1
WSC spoke on Art and Politics at the Royal Academy Annual Banquet, Burlington House, London.May 6
WSC spoke on Socialism and the Trades Dispute Bill to the Grand Habitation of the Primrose League, Albert Hall, London.May 11
WSC spoke on the Financial Situation to the British Bankers' Association Annual Dinner, Merchant Taylors' Hall, London.May 19
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.May 30
WSC spoke on the Trades Disputes Bill in the House of Commons.June
Clementine was knocked down by a bus on Brompton Road.June 1
WSC paid tribute to Charles Lindbergh at the American Societies' on Dinner, Savoy Hotel, London.June 2
WSC spoke on the Debate on the Adjournment in the House of Commons.June 10
WSC spoke on the Empire and Lord Haig at the British Empire Service League Conference Dinner, Hotel Cecil, London.June 16
WSC spoke on the Financial Situation at the National Federation of Iron and Steel Manufacturers Annual Dinner, London.June 22
WSC spoke on the Trade Disputes Bill in the House of Commons.June 23
WSC spoke on the Trade Disputes Bill in the House of Commons.June 27
WSC spoke on the Treasury and Subordinate Departments in the House of Commons and on the Betting Tax to a Deputation of Conservative Members, London.June 28
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.June 30
WSC spoke on Finance Bill in the House of Commons.July
WSC spent as much time as possible at Chartwell building walls, ponds, dams and began working on his autobiography to 1900.July 4
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.July 5
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.July 6
WSC spoke on the House of Lords (Vote of Censure) in the House of Commons.July 12
WSC spoke on Peace and Progress at the Mansion House, London.July 16
WSC made a Constituency Address at Monkhams, Waltham Abbey.July 18
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.July 19
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.July 23
WSC spoke on the Responsibility of the Conservative Party at Bicton Park.August 6
WSC spoke on the Failure of the Genevea Naval Conference in Haslemere.August 19
WSC boarded Beaverbrook's yacht to Amsterdam.September
Clementine went to Venice to recover from her accident.September 3
WSC spoke on Finances at Floors Castle.September 9
WSC went to Balmoral Castle.September 12
WSC spoke on Prosperity at a Unionist Meeting at Ulverston.September 26
WSC wrote the first of his Chartwell Bulletins.September 29
WSC took the train to Scotland to hunt with the Duke of Westminster.
WSC returned to London.October 6
WSC and Prof went to Venice to join Clementine where he painted and worked on his autobiography.October 17
WSC and Prof returned to England.October 21
WSC spoke on Government and Economy at Nottingham.October 24
WSC spoke on the Campaign of Economy in Chingford.October 25
WSC spoke on the Betting Tax at Waltham Abbey.October 26
WSC made a Reply to Mr. Snowden at Aldersbrook.October 27
WSC spoke on the Liberal Party at Buckhurst Hill.October 28
WSC made a Constituency Address at Harlow.October 31
WSC made a Constitutency Address at Wanstead.November 10
WSC spoke at the Constitutional Club in London.December 9
WSC opposed the motion "that the principles of Socialism are sound and should be steadily applied in industry and Government" in a Debate with Ramsay MacDonald at Hardwicke Society Ladies' Night, London.
January 1 - 8
WSC was at ChartwellJanuary 9
WSC left Chartwell for Dieppe.January 10
WSC hunted wild boar in the Forest d'Eu and d'Argues with his friend 'Bendor', the Duke of Westminster.January 11
WSC returned to Chartwell.January 16
WSC was in Treasury Chambers, London.January 20
WSC attended a Cabinet meeting and worked in Treasury Chambers.January 25
WSC attended a Cabinet meeting. Stated that he hoped derating would start by October 1929.January 29
WSC worked in Treasury Chambers and 11 Downing Street.January 30
WSC paid tribute to Lord Haig in London.February 3
WSC spoke on Liberal Party Economic Policy at Town Hall, Birmingham.February 5
WSC went to Chartwell.February 7
WSC attended a Commons debate on the King's Address, which he supported.February 9
WSC worked in Treasury Chambers, London.February 10
WSC spoke to The Civil Service at an Annual Dinner, Connaught Rooms, London and was Broadcast on the BBC.February 12
WSC was at Chartwell looking after Clementine following her surgery.February 13
WSC went to London in the evening.February 14
WSC worked in Treasury Chambers and spoke on Social Policy in the House of Commons.February 15
WSC worked in Treasury Chambers. Herbert Asquith died.February 16
WSC attended a Cabinet meeting held in mark of respect to Asquith.February 17
WSC presented his economic plans to Cabinet.February 23
WSC spoke on Irish Grants in the House of Commons.February 27
WSC attended a Policy Committee meeting.March
WSC began work on a further volume of The World Crisis, helped by a near neighbour at Chartwell, Desmond Morton. WSC began work on building a small cottage for his daughter Mary.March 1
WSC spoke on the Government's record at the Oxford Union Society.March 5
WSC attended a Policy Committee meeting which involved a dispute of rating relief and disagreements with Neville Chamberlain.March 6
WSC worked in the Treasury and then spoke on Argentina at a Dinner to the Argentine Ambassador, Mayfair Hotel, London.March 7
WSC spoke on General Election prospects at the Essex Women Unionists Luncheon, Hotel Great Central, London.March 9
WSC worked in Treasury Chambers.March 12
WSC attended a Policy Committee meeting on de-rating plans.March 14
WSC spoke on Industry and Taxation at the Treasury, London.March 15
WSC spoke on Industry and Taxation at the Treasury, London.March 16
WSC spoke on the Racecourse Betting Bill in the House of Commons.March 18
WSC worked at 11 Downing Street.March 23
WSC made a Constituency Address at Wanstead.March 26
WSC attended a Policy Committee meeting.March 28
WSC attended Policy Committee meeting, disagreements with Chamberlain continued.April 2
WSC attended a Cabinet meeting.April 3
WSC attended a Policy Committee meeting.April 4
WSC stayed at Chartwell working on his Budget with brief forays into London for Cabinet and Commons sessions.April 24
WSC delivered his Fourth Budget to the House. His speech lasted for 3 1/2 hours.April 25
WSC broadcast on the Budget on the BBC.April 26-27
WSC worked on Budget in Treasury Chambers.April 28
WSC at Chartwell suffering from a severe attack of influenza. He was unable to participate in the House Budget debate.April 29
WSC spoke on the Budget at the Hippodrome, Newcastle-on-Tyne.May 1
WSC spoke on the Budget (Kerosene Duty) in the House of Commons.May 10-13
WSC at Chartwell.May 13
WSC went to Scotland to stay with the Duke of Westminster at Rosehall, Sutherland, and continue his recuperation from the flu.May 14-19
WSC read, fished and reviewed proofs of Beaverbrook's Politicians and the War.May 20
WSC returned to Chartwell to prepare for Budget Debate.May 24
WSC spoke on Trade in the House of Commons.June
WSC began work on his fifth Budget concentrating on reduced naval expenditures.June 5
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill (Rating Reform) in the House of Commons.June 6
WSC attended Commons debate on budget.June 7
WSC spoke on Rating and Valuation (Apportionment Bill) in the House of Commons.June 8
WSC spoke on Rating Reform to the Conservative Clubs Association, Smoking Concert, London.June 14
WSC spoke on "Motor Taxation" at the Treasury, London. He also spoke on the "Prayer Book Measure" in the House of Commons. These debates on the Revised Prayer Book produced some the the finest Parliamentary oratory of modern politics.June 19
WSC worked in Treasury Chambers.June 23
WSC spoke on "Six Different Oppositions" at a Conservative Meeting, Hale Park, Widnes.June 25
WSC spoke of Amelia Earhart to the Women's Committee Air League of British Empire Luncheon, London and on the Finance Bill Amendments in the House of Commons.June 26
WSC spoke on the Industry and Petrol Tax at the Treasury, London, on the Sugar and Match Duties in the Finance Bill in the House of Commons and on Rating Relief to a Conservative Party Central Council Meeting, Hotel Cecil, London.June 27
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.July
WSC concentrated on resisting the protectionists in the Conservative Party.July 3
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.July 5
WSC attended meeting of Committee of Imperial Defence. He proposed an extension of the Ten Year Rule (budget for military assumes no major war within ten years). It was approved.July 8
WSC spoke on Rating Reform at a Conservative Meeting, Himley Park, Dudley.July 19
WSC spoke on "Four Years at the Exchequer" at a Dinner to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Directors of the Bank of England and the Bankers and Merchants of the City, Mansion House, London.July 22
WSC worked at Treasury Chambers.July 23
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.July 24
WSC spoke on Unemployment in the House of Commons.July 27
WSC spoke on the Finance Bill in the House of Commons.July 29
WSC spoke on "Kaleidoscopic contortions of Lloyd George Cliques" to a Conservative Meeting, Watts House, Taunton.August
WSC spent most of the month at Chartwell working on Marycot and The Aftermath.August 1
WSC attended a Cabinet meeting in London.August 3
From Chartwell, WSC cabled birthday congratulations to Baldwin who was 61.August 4-8
WSC was at Chartwell.August 9
WSC lunched with Bernard Baruch at Chartwell.August 10-11
WSC was at Chartwell with Victor Cazalet, Randolph Churchill and Professor Lindemann.August 12
Neville Chamberlain re WSC: "there is too deep a difference between our natures for me to feel at home with him or to regard him with affection. He is a brilliant wayward child who compels admiration but who wears out his guardians with the constant strain he puts on them."September 2
WSC was at Chartwell.September 21
WSC's weekend guests at Chartwell included James Scymgeour Wedderburn.September 22-23
WSC was at Chartwell.September 23
WSC accepted an invitation to join the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers.September 24
WSC made a Reply to Lloyd George in a by-election speech in a Reply to Lloyd George at Town Hall Hall, Cheltenham. After that he went to Balmoral for four days of stag hunting and grouse shooting. He met 2 year old Princess Elizabeth: "...is a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant."September 28
WSC returned to London.October 1
WSC attended Cabinet meeting.October 3
WSC was at Chartwell.October 10
WSC attended Cabinet meeting in London.October 17
WSC attended Cabinet meeting in London.October 19
WSC went to Paris to discuss War Debts with PM Poincare.October 22
WSC made a Constituency Address at Chingford.October 23
WSC made a Constituency Address at Epping and spoke on Rating Reform in Loughton.October 24
WSC spoke on a Disarmament Fable at Aldersbrook.October 25
WSC made a Constituency Address at Epping on 'A Disarmament Fable.'October 27
WSC made a speech in his constituency in Harlow.October 29
WSC spoke of Socialist Policies in Waltham Abbey and attended a Cabinet meeting in London.October 31
WSC made a speech in his constituency in Woodford and worked in Treasury Chambers.November
WSC spent most of the month at Chartwell working on The Aftermath.November 5
WSC attended Baldwin's eve of session dinner.November 8
WSC spoke on Unemployment in the House of Commons.November 9
WSC spoke on Fields of Peace at The Lord Mayor's Banquet, The Guildhall, London.November 11
WSC attended a dinner and film show at Beaverbrook's London home.November 15
WSC spoke on Communism and Cancer at The Royal Society of Medicine Dinner, Mayfair Hotel, London.November 16
WSC spoke on Is Labour Fit to Govern? at the West Essex Unionist Association Dinner, London.November 19
WSC worked at Treasury Chambers.November 21
WSC wrote: "Baldwin has gone to Scotland and I am in charge."November 29
WSC dined at House of Commons with friends including Philip Sassoon, Lindemann, Harmsworth and Victor Laski. He motored to Chartwell after dinner.November 30
WSC's birthday - age 54December
WSC continued to work on The Aftermath.December 3
WSC worked in Treasury Chambers.December 4
WSC went to the Duke of Westminster's country house, Eaton Hall, near Chester.December 25
WSC was at Chartwell for Christmas and the New Year.
WSC decided Randolph should not return to Eton. The Prof. found a spot for him at Christ Church, Oxford.January 21
WSC spoke on Trade at the Chamber of Commerce Dinner, Midland Hotel, Manchester.February 6
WSC spoke during the Battersea By-election at the Town Hall, Battersea.February 12
WSC made his first major pre-election speech at the Anti-Socialist and Anti-Communist Union Meeting at Queen's Hall, London. Hostility towards WSC among some Conservatives grew .February 14
WSC spoke on Penny Post at the Treasury, London.February 16
WSC spoke on Irish Grants in the House of Commons.February 26
WSC spoke on Northern Ireland (Unemployment Insurance Fund) in the House of Commons.March 5
WSC spoke on the Financial Questions at the Treasury, London.March 7
The World Crisis: The Aftermath was published.
WSC spoke on Motor Taxation and Roads at the Treasury, London.March 21
WSC spoke on the Anglo-Egyptian Financial Agreement in the House of Commons.April
The Press was full of speculation of WSC's future.April 15
WSC delivered his Fifth Budget to the House of Commons, a number matched only by Walpole, Pitt, Peel and Gladstone. WSC refused Baldwin's offer of Secretary of State for India.April 16
WSC spoke on Radium Research in the House of Commons.April 17
WSC spoke on the Budget (War Debts) in the House of Commons.April 22
WSC spoke on the Budget (Betting Duty) in the House of Commons.April 27
WSC made an election speech to a Conservative Meeting in Sevenoaks, Kent.April 30
WSC made an election broadcast.May 6
WSC was on a speaking tour of Scotland.May 7
WSC made an election speech in Usher Hall, Edinburgh.May 8
Socialist Quackery was published in The Daily Mail.
WSC made an election speech in Glasgow.May 10
Labour won a minority government.
WSC made an election speech in Chingford.May 13
WSC made an election speech in Roydon.May 14
WSC made an election speech in Woodford.May 15
WSC made an election speech in Waltham Abbey.May 16
WSC made an election speech in Fulham.May 17
WSC made an election speech in Epping.May 20
WSC was nominated at a meeting in Epping.May 21
WSC paid tribute to Lord Rosebery and later made an election speech in Wanstead.May 22
WSC made election speeches in North Weald and Epping.May 23
WSC made an election speech in Woodford.May 25
WSC made an election speech to a Women's Meeting in Wanstead.May 27
WSC accepted an offer from Harrops to write a biography of the Duke of Marlborough and made an election speech in Liverpool.May 28
WSC made an election speech in Harlow.June 7
Ramsay MacDonald became Prime Minister.
WSC began his biography of Marlborough with the help of Maurice Ashley .June 14
WSC made a constituency address in Chingford.June 15
Why We Lost was published in John Bull.June 21
WSC hired Patrick Buchan-Hepburn as a Private Secretary.June 27
WSC met with Lloyd George to discuss a possible compact.July 3
WSC participated in the Debate on the Address in the House of Commons.July 6
WSC rejected the Empire Free Trade of Beaverbrook.July 16
WSC spoke on Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) in the House of Commons.July 17
WSC accepted corporate directorships.July 18
WSC spoke of Speaker Whitley's Portrait in the Speaker's House, Westminster.July 22
WSC spoke on Development (Guarantees and Grants) Bill in the House of Commons.July 23
WSC spoke on the Barnsley Case in the House of Commons.August 2
WSC sold British and Empire serial rights to Marlborough for 5000 pounds.August 3
WSC, Randolph Jack and John left Waterloo Station for Southampton where the Empress of Australia took them to North America.August 9
WSC reached Quebec.August 11
WSC toured Quebec countryside.August 12
WSC spoke to Mount Royal Club in Montreal.August 13
WSC spoke to Canadian Club in Montreal.August 14
WSC stayed with Governor-General Lord Willingdon in Ottawa.August 16
WSC spoke at the Royal York Hotel, Toronto.August 17
WSC visited Niagara Falls.August 21
WSC visited the Wheat Exchange in Winnipeg.August 24
WSC visited the Alberta oilfields.August 25
WSC visited Calgary.August 26
WSC visited Banff.September 1
WSC arrived in Vancouver.September 2
WSC spoke in New Westminster.September 3
WSC spoke to the Canadian Club, Vancouver.September 6
WSC spoke in Victoria.September 7
WSC arrived in Puget Sound, Washington, USA.September 10
WSC arrived in San Francisco.September 13
WSC arrived at mansion of William Randolph Hearst, San Simeon.September 17
WSC arrived in Santa Barbara.September 18
WSC visited MGM Studios in Los Angeles.September 20
WSC stayed at Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles.September 22
WSC went by yacht to Santa Catalina Island to fish for swordfish.
The Palestine Crisis was published in The Sunday Times .September 26
WSC left Los Angeles to travel across USA in private railway car of Charles Schwab.October 2
WSC arrived in Chicago.October 4
WSC spoke to Commercial Club of Chicago.October 6
WSC arrived in New York to stay with Bernard Baruch on Fifth Avenue.October 19
WSC left New York for Washington and visits to Civil War battlefields.October 23
Baldwin urged Cabinet to commit Tories to Labour goal of Dominion status for India.October 24
WSC returned to New York to stay with Percy Rockefeller, son of William Rockefeller, head of Standard Oil of New Jersey.October 26
Will The British Empire Last? was published in Answers.October 29
Black Thursday - WSC dined with Bernard Baruch.October 30
WSC walked down Wall Street at the worst moment of the panic before embarking for England.November 5
WSC reached England.November 8
Labour Government India Policy was debated in the House of Commons.November 16
WSC made first public criticism of Dominion status in the Daily Mail.November 19
Daily Telegraph began publication of articles by WSC on Canadian and American experiences.
Autumn/Winter 1931: Age 57
The budget estimates showed a deficit of £1 million (cause for real panic 50 years ago). and Prime Minister MacDonald tendered his resignation to the King. The King asked him to form a "no-party government, but WSC was not asked to take any part in it.
MacDonald prepared for another disarmament conference. Churchill’s voice from below the gangway seemed to most to be a voice of unreasonable alarms. He warned that Britain’s navy and army had been cut to the bone, that the RAF was an eighth as strong as France’s air force. His only support came from the leader of the "New Party." Oswald Mosley. WSC elected Mosley to The Other Club!
Politically he made uncharacteristic turnarounds. A Free Trader all his life, he now called for Protection for British industry. Seven years before, as (‘Chancellor of the Exchequer' he had put Britain back on the gold standard. Now it went off again, with hardly a word front him. In 1928 he had begun a series of cuts in the income tax (‘‘dc-rating’’). Now he was quiet while the Government raised the tax once more. It was a nadir in his political life, brightened only at the Polls, where Epping doubled his majority.
Personally the picture was happier. An abridged one-volume edition of "The World Crisis" had been well received. While ‘‘The Eastern Front/The Unknown War" received final checking at Chartwell. WSC and Clementine took young Randolph to Consuelo’s chateau at Dreux and to Biarritz, where Churchill worked on "Marlborough." He painted, but complained of no sun.
His U.S. lecture tour began in Decemher. His first lecture. ‘‘Pathway of the English-Speaking Peoples," was well received. The next night he crossed a New York street looking right instead of left and was hit by a car. His injuries were severe, and did not complete the lecture tour. On New Year’s Eve he and Clemmie sailed for Nassau, Bahamas.
The winter was mainly spent at Chartwell, but WSC did visit a French’ chateau as guest of the Duke of Westminster in January. With a "remarkable capacity for switching his mind at will from one capacity to another," as Henry Pelling wrote, WSC was simultaneously speaking, writing, and fighting major political battles on the issues of India and vigilance against a militant Germany.
Among numerous newspaper articles was a 12-part series in The News of the World entitled "The World’s Great Stories" retold by WSC (Woods C208). Churchill also wrote the Foreword to an upcoming biography of his late friend, Lord Birkenhead (Woods C213). He continued to work on MARLBOROUGH, frequently communicating with others about the work, primarily aides Fieling and Ashley and historian G. M. Trevelyan. Col. Pakenham helped with the military and technical aspects of Marlborough’s campaigns. Edward Marsh assisted in all of Churchill’s writings. Normally, Marsh performed the role of proofreader, but in "The World’s Great Stories" he prepared a precis of each plot as foundation for WSC’s retelling.
Churchill believed that the real threat to England was not Japan (whose withdrawal from the League of Nations he stopped short of condemning) or Italy (he praised the "Roman genius" of Mussolini). It was instead "the tumultuous insurgence of atrocity and war spirit in Germany," because if Hitler were to turn on England, only a strong air defense would protect the island. On the very day the German Reichstag gave Hitler full dictatorial powers, Ramsay MacDonald described the Government’s disarmament plans to the House. Few MPs or newspapers supported Churchill’s concerns.
"The House was enraged in an ugly mood towards Mr. Churchill," declared the Daily Despatch, following WSC’s 14 March speech on Europe. Undaunted, he spoke again on 13 April:
"The rise of Germany . . . to anything like military equality with France, Poland or the small states, means a renewal of a general European war." He was now consulting with Maj. Desmond Morton, who would later be an important source of information for WSC’s successful attacks on Government defense policies.
After declining to serve on the Parliamentary Committee on India, Churchill led a public crusade against the Government’s India policy, causing an open split with Baldwin. Almost all WSC’s former Cabinet colleagues and a majority within the party supported ‘S.B.’ But there was substance to WSC’s charges and the Government knew it.
Clementine rarely spoke out publicly on controversial matters but, at a Conservative Party Women’s Advisory Committee meeting in May, she supported a motion quite compatible with Winston’s point of view.
WSC’s writing continued, with more revised drafts of MARLBOROUGH, Volume I of which began serialization in The Sunday Times on II June (Woods C216). He wrote a foreword to a biography of his late friend, F. E. Smith (Woods B21), and reviewed Volume II of THE LIFE OF JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN by J. L. Garvin (Woods C215).
Fortunately, the title of an article, "Great Fighters in Lost Causes" (Woods C212) was not a harbinger of his own experience, though stormy weather on both domestic and foreign fronts lay between now and ultimate victory.
"Further Indianization will ruin the great services without which India will fall back to the level of China," Churchill said. An independent India would "darken the lives of the enormous mass of [its] people." Indian politicians were "largely untried and provedly disloyal"; they should prove themselves in the provinces before demanding "responsible control of the stately Empire." But WSC lost an attempt to reverse Tory policy on India at a major Conservative meeting. His principle opponents were Sir Samuel Hoare and Lord Derby, who worked to undermine his position by gaining the support of Lancashire cotton interests for the Government’s India policy.
Churchill also attacked the Government’s inability to cure unemployment, which he called "a cancer eating out the heart of the people." He advocated monetary reform and admired the "resolute mental energy of President Roosevelt," although he questioned FDR’s telling the world to balance its budget:
"We should accept with some circumspection advice reaching us from across the Atlantic where practice does not conform with the doctrines preached." Europe was a growing worry. "Britain’s hour of weakness," WSC said, "is Europe’s hour of danger." Writing continued at a hectic pace. WSC finalized his drafts of MARLBOROUGH and signed a contract to write a history of the English-Speaking Peoples. In August he went to Moulin de Montreull in France, where he swam 3-4 times a day and "painted hard."
Duff Cooper wrote WSC his observations in Germany: "They are preparing for war with more general enthusiasm than a whole nation has ever before put into such preparation." Churchill used public meetings, party conferences and Parliament to warn that "the philosophy of blood lust is being inculcated into their youth in a manner unparalleled since the days of barbarism." He rejected the arguments of John Simon and Lloyd George that Germany was the offended and threatened power.
India was still of great concern. Churchill presented an argument that the proposed federal system would not satisfy extremists and that the Congress Party and Princes had little in common. He requested that the BBC allow him to speak on Indian constitutional changes but was informed that only persons nominated by party leaders were to be included. Naturally, he wasn’t.
Volume one of Marlborough (Woods A40) was published in October. Within a week it had sold 8500 copies and had helped WSC reduce a bank overdraft of £9500. In interviews and public addresses on the biography he credited Lord Rosebery and Arthur Balfour with inspiring him to write it. He was early intimidated by the judgments of Macauley but hoped that his study would help redress traditional interpretations.
He reviewed the two volumes of Lloyd George’s war memoirs for the Daily Mail and wrote "Julius Caesar" for a Strand series on Shakespeare’s Plays as Short Stories. (Woods C223), Stanley Baldwin wrote Churchill, admiring his prolificacy: "You really are an amazing man."
Churchill’s major concerns, India and Europe, were linked in a speech which tied Baldwin’s Conservatives to MacDonald’s Labourites. "Well might Sir John Simon exclaim," he said, "We are all Socialists now.’" The essence of his feelings on India was revealed in a review of Clive of India (Woods C228): "Now, in this period of exhaustion after so many triumphs, when our very right to reign and rule in the East is assailed by morbid subversives or featherheaded sentimentalists, it is refreshing and, indeed, inspiring to review our contact with the splendid vigour of our forbears."
In February, to derisive laughter, he defiantly told the Oxford University Conservative Association that Germany had been responsible for the Great War and warned that "the hideous curse of war from the air has fallen on the world. "While critics accused him of contributing to anarchy and ruin, many were rallying to him on the European issue. Sir Maurice Hankey wrote him that "we badly need some leadership on this subject just now and it is a better horse than India."
He worked as frequently as possible on Volume II of Marlborough (A40). He worried about his lack of formal academic training but the great historian Lewis Namier wrote that ... there is no-one alive engaged in history work with your experience of politics, government and war. Please do not write history as other historians do, but do it in your own way.
Many of Churchill’s friends and even some of his critics felt that respect for him was growing. Beaverbrook noted that "he has cut the rhetoric and gained dignity." A major incident was to change this perception.
Word reached Churchill that Lord Derby and Sir Samuel Hoare had pressured the Manchester Chamber of Commerce not to speak against the India White Paper proposals on the cotton industry. The initial evidence presented to the House by Churchill resulted in an investigation by a Committee of Privileges. Although Government leaders dominated the Committee they resented the entire incident. Indeed, Hoare and Baldwin saw it as an attempt by Churchill to bring down the Government. The bitter Hoare even castigated Churchill personally and charged that Winston and his son "fight like cats with each other and chiefly agree on the prodigious amount of champagne that each of them drinks each night."
The Committee voted unanimously that there had been no breach of privileges by Hoare and Derby. Churchill’s vehement attack on the Report in the House of Commons induced considerable hostility in the Conservative Party and both Clement Attlee of Labour and Churchill’s friend, Archibald Sinclair of the Liberals, welcomed the Report. All parties questioned his motives at the time. Evidence now indicates that while Churchill was correct in his charges, he was politically inept in his handling of the incident.
The battle over India was not to the total exclusion of his concern over Germany, but it was an isolated Churchill, bereft of the confidence of the House, who railed against "the monstrosity of the totalitarian state in Germany." The German people, he wrote, had reverted to the conditions of the Middle Ages "with all the modern facilities and aggravations."
Winston’s best friend, his cousin Sunny, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, died in June. It was the most traumatic event in Churchill’s life since the death of F.E. Smith, Lord Birkenhead, four years ago. He sent the letters column of The Times a thousand-word letter of tribute.
The political issue was air power, with Churchill on one side of the Government’s policy and Labour on the other. While Lord Rothermere, even more extreme than Churchill, claimed that Germany would have 20,000 planes by the end of 1935, Desmond Morton advised Churchill that a more accurate figure was 500. By comparison, France would have 1650, the USSR 1500, Japan 1400, the USA 1100, and Britain 910. A Labour motion of censure against the Government’s policy of increasing its air power was defeated decisively. Churchill facetiously commented that "the Socialists wish us to remain disarmed but exceedingly abusive" about Germany.
He completed the manuscript of volume 2 and began volume 3 of Marlborough (Woods A40). Presaging a problem that would face his own biographers, he complained that "the fault is too many documents."
He received a gift of books from Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, living in exile in Holland. He reciprocated with a gift of Volume I of Marlborough.
On a trip to Europe, he traced the routes of Napoleon, and wrote his wife that "I really must try to write a Napoleon before I die," but doubted whether he would have the time or strength.
He anticipated the writing he was doing would bring a yearly income of £16,000.
In September, Churchill signed a contract with famed film producer Alexander Korda ("The Third Man" and hundreds of other films) to write a script on the reign of George V for the Silver Jubilee. Although technicalities prevented the project from coming to fruition, Churchill eventually realized most of the £10,000 he had anticipated. He also contracted to write a History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Keith Feiling, his research assistant, was instructed to prepare a rough scheme of chapters and a list of books to be read, " . . . three of four first-rate authorities for each period. There is no question of research of any kind but of course we should base ourselves whenever possible upon the original sources." Another research assistant began work on Volume III of Marlborough.
While the materials were being prepared, the Churchills took a holiday in Greece, the Middle East and Egypt on the yacht of their friend, Lord Moyne. They returned to Chartwell in mid-October. A BBC broadcast on the causes of war provided opportunity to speak out on the need to resist in Germany using "the most brutish methods of ancient barbarism" to terrorize its civilian population. The Foreign Office told WSC it was doubtful that Hitler plotted a war of aggression.
Following a successful Commons speech on defense, WSC’s 60th birthday saw many elements of society beginning to rally behind his attacks on Government policy.
He reviewed two volumes of Lloyd George’s War Memoirs, crediting L-G with being the best man to lead in the Great War. WSC also used a review of Sir Roger Keyes’ memoirs to argue that ships could have forced the Dardanelles.
Aboard the same yacht which took Clementine on a journey to the Dutch East Indies was Terence Philip, a bachelor who was much sought-after by London hostesses. In the heady and romantic atmosphere of the tropic islands, Clementine fell in love. On their return to England, he visited her several times at Chartwell but their relationship, writes her daughter Mary Soames, "was like a fragile tropical flower which cannot survive in greyer, colder climes."
While his wife was away, Churchill sent her numbered 'Chartwell Bulletins' as domestic reports on family doings: redecorating the house, replanting of orchard, the building of a new wall. Often, after late debates in the House, a tired Winston declined to drive to Chartwell and stayed in a flat they owned in Morpeth Mansions, near Westminster Cathedral.
Despite the acrimony of the India Bill debate, WSC attempted to make peace with Tory leaders in the hope that Stanley Baldwin would invite him to join the Government upon the retirement of Ramsey Macdonald. Against a German situation which Churchill found "increasingly sombre," he advocated collective European security as the best guarantee of peace. Others began to heed his warnings. The Daily Express apologized for ignoring his comments and Desmond Morton told him that "you alone seem to have galvanized the House."
He did not work on Marlborough but he wrote a weekly column for the Daily Mail and a daily series in the Evening Standard, on The King's 25 Years (Woods C266) to celebrate the Silver Jubilee. Following the fatal accident to T. E. Lawrence, he remembered his friend with "Lawrence of Arabia's Name Will Live," published in the Daily Mail (C269) and reprinted in Great Contemporaries.
In June, Ramsay MacDonald resigned as Prime Minister and was succeeded by Stanley Baldwin. Churchill cabled his son,"Reconstruction purely conventional," meaning that he would not be brought in from the wilderness.
He attempted to establish, for Defense, a Conservative back-bench "ginger group," similar to what had existed during the India Bill controversy. He accepted an invitation to join a Parliamentary sub-committee on Defense, conditional on being free to particpate in Parliamentary and public discussion. Mussolini rattled some sabres at Abyssinia and broke off negotiations with Britain and France. Churchill was incensed, and pressed for strengthening the Mediterranean fleet and collective action by the Allies.
The death of Huey Long at the hands of an assassin gave him hope that an abrupt end awaited others. "The Louisiana Dictator has met his fate. 'Sic semper tyrannis' which means so perish all who do the like again. This was the most clownish of the Dictator tribe. Let us hope that more serious tyrants will also lose their sway."
The great orator also had time to reflect on one of his greatest gifts. "At sixty, I am altering my method of speaking, largely under Randolph's tuition, and now talk to the House of Commons with garrulous unpremeditated flow. They seem delighted. But what a mystery the act of public speaking is! It all consists of my (mature) judgment of assembling three or four absolutely sound arguments and putting these in the most conversational manner possible. There is apparently nothing in the literary effect I have sought for 40 Years!"
On 1 September Churchill left for a holiday at Maxine Elliot's villa in the south of France. For relaxation he painted.
World news was dominated by Mussolini's threat to invade Abyssinia. Churchill advocated British support of League of Nations, action. But the real threat was still Nazi Germany which he saw as "an armed camp ... with a population being trained from childhood for war." The Germans, anticipating his inclusion in a Baldwin Cabinet, gave prominence to his speeches. In response to a Churchill article in Strand, "The Truth About Hitler" (Woods C282), the Nazi leader is purported to have said, "What is to be the fate of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement if the writer of this article is to be made a Minister of the British Navy?"
After the Tory victory in the November general election, however, WSC was not made a Minister. He had wanted to be First Lord, but Baldwin said to others, "If there is going to be war ... we must keep him fresh to be our Prime Minister."
Before leaving for a Mediterranean holiday to work on Volume III of Marlborough (A40) and draft chapters of A History of the English- Speaking Peoples (AI38), he reviewed Duff Cooper's Haig, Volume I (C278): "Haig's mind ... was thoroughly orthodox and conventional. He does not appear to have had any original ideas." He charged that Haig did not make effective use of tanks, nor was he aware of other theatres of war.
In an article in Collier's on Charlie Chaplin, Churchill wrote, "He is no mere clown.... He is a great actor who can tug at our heartstrings as surely as he compels our laughter."
In December, Winston and Clementine left for Majorca where they heard of the Hoare-Laval proposal to placate Mussolini over Abyssinia. Churchill's friends, confident that Baldwin would have to include him in a restructured Cabinet, advised him to stay away "because you will be in a unique position of strength since you will neither have supported the Government, compromised yourself by hostility, nor taken the negative though semi-hostfle line of abstention."
Clementine came home for Chistmas, and Winston accompanied "Prof" Lindemann to Marrakesh and a visit with Lloyd George.
On 20 January King George V died and Churchill returned to England to present the Address of the House to the new King, Edward VIII. Pressure was exerted on the Government to appoint Churchill to the new Ministry of Defence, but Baldwin was determined to resist it - chiefly, said Sir Samuel Hoare, "for the risk that would be involved by having him in the Cabinet when the question of his (SB's) successor became imminent." Lindemann called it "the most cynical thing. . . since Caligula appointed his horse as consul." Clementine said that "perhaps it is a case of 'those whom the Gods wish to destroy . . .'
In December Winston and Clementine left for Majorca where they heard of the Hoare-Laval proposal to placate Mussolini over Abyssinia. Churchill's friends, confident that Baldwin would have to include him in a restructured Cabinet, advised him to stay away "because you will be in a unique position of strength since you will neither have supported the Government, compromised yourself by hostility, nor taken the negative though semi-hostfle line of abstention."
Clementine came home for Chistmas, and Winston accompanied "Prof" Lindemann to Marrakesh and a visit with Lloyd George.
On 20 January King George V died and Churchill returned to England to present the Address of the House to the new King, Edward VIII. Pressure was exerted on the Government to appoint Churchill to the new Ministry of Defence, but Baldwin was determined to resist it - chiefly, said Sir Samuel Hoare, "for the risk that would be involved by having him in the Cabinet when the question of his (SB's) successor became imminent." Lindemann called it "the most cynical thing. . . since Caligula appointed his horse as consul." Clementine said that "perhaps it is a case of 'those whom the Gods wish to destroy . . .'
Britain's relations with the great powers of the continent dominated Churchill's political and literary attention.
His work on the third volume of Marlborough (Woods A40) was aided by the arrival of a new research assistant, Bill Deakin. Deakin later attributed Churchill's ability to write in the midst of international crises to his "ruthless partition of the day, the planning of things all the time. There was never a wasted moment. He had intense control."
His concerns with defense were outlined in a series of articles serialized in the Evening Standard and subsequently published in Step by Step (Woods A45).
Some friends, impressed by Hitter, tried to change his mind on Germany. His cousin Lord Londonderry wrote: "I should like to get out of your mind what appears to be a strong anti-German obsession because all these great countries are required in the political settlement of the future . . ."
Churchill replied that he was not obsessively anti-German and that he did not think that war between England and Germany was inevitable but "British policy for 400 years has been to oppose the strongest powers in Europe by weaving together a combination of other countries strong enough to face the bully. Sometimes it is Spain, sometimes the French monarchy, sometimes the French Empire, sometimes Germany. I have no doubt who it is now. But if France set up to claim the over-lordship of Europe, I should equally endeavour to oppose them. It is thus through the centuries we have kept our liberties and maintained our life and power."
Similar foreign policy objectives had motivated his ancestor and subject of his biography, the Duke of Marlborough.
As Churchill gathered evidence on the Government's inability to meet the growing German challenge, he was urged to be cautious by his friend and cousin, Freddie Guest: "I am convinced this is the psychological moment in your career. . . . You can lead the Conservative Party, but you cannot break the Conservative machine."
Others encouraged him to continue to speak out. He followed the latter advice, charging that "half- measures and procrastinations are the order of the day." Throughout the summer his speeches, in and out of Parliament, widened the breech with the Conservative leadership.
He joined with Austen Chamberlain and the 4th Marquis of Salisbury In leading a Parliamentary deputation to Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin on the need for rearmament. Baldwin told them that most of them sat for safe seats, yet there was a strong pacifist and collectivist feeling in the country: "People will only learn, unfortunately, in a democracy, by butting their heads against a brick wall." He warned of the difficulty in "scaring the people without scaring them into fits."
On the continent, civil war erupted in Spain between a group of military leaders and the Republican Government. Churchill urged strict neutrality, fearing - correctly as events proved - that the victory of either side could only be followed by "a prolonged period of iron rule."
In August, he went to France to paint, to finish the third volume of Marlborough and to seek a cure from severe indigestion which had plagued him for several months.
While in France Churchill began work on a series of articles on "Great Events of Our Time" which would eventually appear in the News of the World (Woods C337).
Although he publicly maintained neutrality on the Spanish Civil War, he wrote Clementine, "I am thankful the Spanish Nationalists are making progress ... better for the safety of all if the Communists are crushed."
After observing the French army he commented, "The officers of the French army are impressive.... One feels the strength of the nation resides in its army." He rejected the growing view that Europe must go either fascist or communist. "Between the doctrines of Comrade Trotsky and those of Dr. Goebbels there ought to be room for you and me, and a few others, to cultivate opinions of our own."
His speeches received close attention both at home and abroad and his stature within the Conservative Party increased, as many saw him the logical choice for Prime Minister in a crisis. He was also observed closely by the Germans. who accused him of favouring their "encirclement and oppression."
Literary and domestic concerns vied with politics for his attention. While complimenting him on the publication of volume three of Marlborough (Woods A40), friends commiserated on the distress felt by Winston and Clementine over the elopement of their daughter Sarah with the concert pianist, Victor Oliver.
During December Churchill was in the forefront of the defence of King Edward VIII.
Notwithstanding his loss of popular and political support over that issue, the country continued to listen to him on military preparedness. Much of his information came from allies within the Government and he was grieved when one of them, Ralph Wigram, committed suicide on New Year's Eve.
Although he advocated non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War, he aroused resentment with his sympathy for what he called "the Anti-Red Movement." But he saw both Nazism and Communism as "those non-God religions." He compared Fascism and Communism to the Arctic and Antarctic Poles - both similar in their wastes of snow and icy winds.
He spent January at Chartwell, working on volume IV of Marlborough, and painting. In February he joined Clementine in France. By the end of the month he lamented the growing national malaise and the new White Paper on Defence: "Parliament is dead as mutton." On the senior Army, Navy and Air Force commanders, he commented: "Some pretty good duds are in the big positions."
Anticipating Neville Chamberlain's succession of Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister, Churchill told his wife that he planned to leave politics for business and writing two long works - Marlborough (Woods A40) and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (Woods A 138).
Before a Royal Commission on Palestine, he testified on his actions as Colonial Secretary in 1922: "We did not adopt Zionism entirely out of altruistic love of starting a Zionist colony ... It was a potent factor on public opinion in America." Privately, he told David Ben Gurion that after England woke up and defeated Mussolini and Hitler the Jews' hour' will also come" and a Jewish state in Palestine would be created.
In March Austen Chamberlain, a former Cabinet colleague and long- time friend, died, followed by Freddie Guest, a cousin and life-long friend, in April.
On 26 May Neville Chamberlain succeeded Baldwin as Prime Minister. Although keenly disappointed at not being offered a Cabinet post, Churchill, as the senior Conservative Privy Councillor in the House of Commons, seconded the nomination of the new Prime Minister as Leader of the Conservative Party. He noted that "the House of Commons still survives as the arena of free debate. We feel sure that the leader we are about to choose will, as a distinguished Parliamentarian and a House of Commons man, not resent honest differences of opinion arising between those who mean the same thing, and that party opinion will not be denied its subordinate but still rightful place in his mind."
He worked daily on volume IV of Marlborough. His research assistant, Bill Deakin, was a constant visitor. Later he remembered Churchill's ..ruthless partition of the day, the planning of things all the time. There was never a wasted moment. He had intense control."
Churchill's literary efforts were prodigious. While he worked on A History of the English Speaking Peoples he came closer to the completion of Marlborough with the assistance of William Deakin.
He continued his criticisms of government defense policies. particularly the Air Force but also the Royal Navy. But his credibility was at an all-time low following his stand on the Abdication. As his daughter, Lady Soames, later wrote: "His warnings of the national peril ahead had been practically unheeded, and now discredit was cast on him by the feeling that his support of the King sprang from ulterior motives, and was largely prompted by antipathy to Baldwin." Clementine realistically recognized that only a national crisis would now bring her husband to power and, for his part, Winston believed that his life was probably in its closing decade."
Together the Churchills attended the Coronation of King George VI. As Queen Elizabeth was being crowned, Winston turned to his wife and whispered, "You were right, I see now that 'the other one' wouldn't have done."
Joining the Churchill household was resident secretary Kathleen Hill. A musician and a leader of the Girl Guides in India, Miss Hill returned to England hoping to work in a school. Instead, she went to work for WSC, whom she has since described as "a disappointed man waiting for the call to serve his country."
She had never been in a house with such activity and she had little time to rest. Churchill dictated to the wee hours of the morning and expected finished copies when he awoke. Even while he was bricklaying, she was expected to climb the ladder with her notebook. Unless, of course, it was a long letter - in that event, he would come down!
While rejecting the charge that he was an enemy Of Germany, except in wartime, Churchill expressed the view that he liked neither the new institutions nor the racial and religious intolerance of the Nazis, but he was willing to co-exist. What he most feared was a rearmed Germany "which almost single- handed fought nearly all the world and nearly beat them."
He looked to the United States for economic as well as political and military leadership of the Free World. He worried about the zealous New Dealers who, by waging a ruthless war on private enterprise, were actually leading the world back into a depression.
Sir Maurice Hankey, a sometime confidante, expressed grave concern that Churchill had so many informants within the military, government and civil service. "It shocks me not a little that high Officers in disciplined Forces should be in direct communication with a leading Statesman who notoriously patriotic beyond criticism, is nevertheless in popular estimation regarded as a critic of the Departments under whom these officers serve."
An international conference, naturally boycotted b y Germany and Italy, was held in Switzerland to discuss Italian interference in Mediterranean shipping lanes. While Churchill cautioned against assuming the role of policeman for all ships, he also believed that a show of strength would influence Italy. "The danger from which we suffer is that Mussolini thinks all can be carried off by bluff and bullying, and that in the end we shall only
Great Contemporaries was published and work progressed rapidly on volume four of Marlborough.
Motivated by a real fear of war based on his own WW I experiences, a knowledge that Britain was militarily weaker than Germany, and a belief that Germany understood "realpolitik," Prime Minister Chamberlain pursued his policy of appeasement. Winston Churchill had the same dread of war and awareness of Britain's weakness - but there his concurrence with Chamberlain ended. He believed that the totalitarian tigers had voracious appetites, which would only increase after each feeding.
Excluded from councils within both the Government and the Conservative Party, Churchill used numerous opportunities to extend his contacts. His "Focus on Freedom and Peace" luncheons brought together Tories, Liberals and Socialists who agreed with his objective of gathering support from all Parties, especially those of the "left," for British rearmament, for the association of France and Britain, and "for the maintenance of peace through British strength."
Early in January he left for a month's vacation in the south of France. While there working on Volume IV of Marlborough (Woods A40), he heard that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was requesting a total reduction of £12 million in Service estimates.
Chamberlain's desire to develop a rápprochment with Mussolini led to the resignation of Anthony Eden from the Government. Although Churchill vigorously supported the Eden group he was not accepted as their leader. Senior to most, his own inner core of close followers was still marginal.
On 12 March Austria was incorporated into the German Reich, an event Churchill called a dastardly outrage. "Finally," he noted, "the scales of illusion have fallen from many eyes, especially in high quarters." He called on Britain and France to rally the second rank powers of Europe to collective defence. He predicted that the next state to be threatened by Germany would be Czechoslovakia.
In March Churchill was informed by the Evening Standard that his contract to write a series of articles for them on foreign affairs was being terminated because his views were not in agreement with those of the newspaper's proprietor, Lord Beaverbrock. He quickly reached agreement with the Daily Telegraph, although its owner, Lord Camrose, insisted on a six-month trial because "our policies might well be at serious variance." These articles were interspersed with others in the News of the World. Millions of readers were reading his views every week as they were syndicated throughout Europe and the Empire.
He reached fewer, but more influential, audiences in his public speeches. He believed that a national defence campaign was necessary and was doing his utmost to contribute his share to it. His goal was to unite England on the issue. "Our party must carry the Trade Unions with them. Non-Conformists, Churchmen and Catholics must work for the common end." His son Randolph published a collection of his speeches on defense under the title Arms and the Covenant in England and While England Slept in the United States (Woods A44).
Distressed by proGerman and anti-French propaganda in Britain, he flew to France to advocate an Anglo-French alliance. When he was received with full honours by the French, the Cabinet let it be known that he spoke only for himself and not the Government. He believed that "if France broke then everything would break, and the Nazi domination of Europe, and potentially of a large part of the world, would seem to be inevitable." In April, Leon Blum's Government fell and Edouard Daladier became Premier. "A capable and sincere man," said Churchill.
When an agreement was signed by Britain and Italy which recognized Italian control over Ethiopia, Churchill called it "a complete triumph for Mussolini." The Government also negotiated an agreement with Ireland to end British naval rights at several Irish ports. Churchill saw this as another example of appeasement. He equated it to a withdrawal from Gibraltar or Malta but his criticisms further alienated him from the Conservative Party.
In May he met with Conrad Henlein, the leader of the Sudeten Germans, who Churchill called "the best treated minority in Europe." He approved of a Henlein plan for a federal system in Czechoslovakia but informed Henlein that "if Germany attacked Czechoslovakia, France and then England would come to the latter's assistance."
When Lord Swinton resigned as Secretary of State for Air it was assumed by many that Churchill would join the Cabinet. But Chamberlain was still not inclined to offer a position to his principal critic. For his part, Churchill professed to be reluctant to come aboard. "The present majority will remain dumb to the end," he said.
Throughout this whole period Churchill wrote incessantly on military and political affairs for the Daily Telegraph and the News of the World. Most of the articles would eventually be reprinted in Step by Step. His son Randolph was finishing the manuscript of his father's previous speeches and articles. This volume was published under the title of Arms and the Covenant (While England Slept in USA), although Churchill preferred the title, The Locust Years.
In another article published in Collier's entitled Dictators on Dynamite (Woods C393), Churchill presented his view of why the world faced the ferocious dictators, Hitler and Mussolini. He attributed the basic cause to the war, the changes wrought in their personal lives and the opportunity it brought them:
"Hitler is an instrument of destiny. He embodies the revolt of Germany against the hard fortune of war, the soul-compelling surge of a warrior nation against defeat, its passion for rehabilitation and revenge. He exemplifies and enshrines the will of Germany ... Signor Mussolini is not the prisoner nor the instrument of forces outside himself. He follows no path but his own. He uses the events and circumstances of post-war Italy as he would have used those of any other clime and century."
Despite the threat each of these dictators and their nations presented, Churchill was confident of ultimate victory: "Dictatorship nurses within itself the canker that must destroy it. The dictators wear out their countries. They demand permanently what men and women are only willing to give in an emergency. And in the end they kill those very qualities of leadership that make them redoubtable."
Churchill and a team of researchers worked assiduously on the final volume of Marlborough which was published in September. He also pressed forward with A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. He had signed a contract for the work with Cassall and Company in 1932 and some of Britain's best young historians were assisting him with the project: F.W. Deakin, G.M. Young, Keith Feiling and Maurice Ashley.
He believed fervently in promoting the common heritage of the peoples of Britain and the United States as a means of enhancing their friendship. In a News of the World article on The Union of the English-Speaking Peoples (Woods C380) he wrote of "the majestic edifice of Anglo-American friendship. "
Acknowledging the origins of America as a refuge from persecution in Britain and the disputes that had divided the two nations since the War of Independence, he argued that the past and future united them and required collaboration: "The great Republic of the West, no less than the British Empire, sprang from the loins of Shakespeare's England. The beginnings of American history are to be found, not across the Atlantic, but where the Thames flows between green lawns and woodlands down to the grey sea ... It is the English-Speaking nations who, almost alone, keep alight the torch of Freedom."
The main threats to the torch were in Danzig and in Czechoslovakia. In July Churchill and Lindenum met the Gauleiter of Danzig, Herr Foerster, who informed Churchill of his demand for reunification of his city with Germany and recommended that Churchill visit Hitler. Churchill replied that it would not be a useful conversation between an all-powerful Dictator and a private individual. Later Churchill recorded: "He replied that nobody in Germany was thinking of war; that they had immense social and cultural plans which it would take them years to work out; that the Party Meeting took place in September, and that there was no question of incidents or serious complications. Returning to this point later, his interpreter said the situation was similar to 1914, when no one in Germany thought of war, but everyone in England feared it. To this I replied that we had unfortunately been right."
The Sudeten leader, Herr Henlein, had visited Churchill in May and impressed the British leader with the reasonableness of his proposals for dividing powers between the Prague Government and & German-speaking regions. However, under pressure from Hitler, Henlein did not keep his promises.
Churchill warned Germany that Czechoslovakia would not be left to fight alone. The Sudeten Germans, whom he called "the most pampered minority in Europe," must be made to realize that they would be more secure inside a tolerant Czechoslovakia than "swallowed whole by Berlin and reduced to shapeless pulp by those close-grinding mandibles of the Gestapo."
But the British Government did not honour Churchill's promises. On 7 August the British Attaché in Berlin informed the Foreign Office that Hitler had decided to attack Czechoslovakia whatever concessions were made to the Sudetens. A critical Cabinet meeting on 30 August decided that no threats should be made and no attempts at international cooperation against Germany should be begun. The main objective was to deny Hitler any excuse for an attack on Czechoslovakia by persuading the President of Czechoslovakia to make enough concessions.
On 7 September The times gave overt support to the Nazi demands. It editorialized that by letting the Sudetens go to Germany, to which they are united by race, Czechoslovakia would thus become a more homogeneous state!
On 15 September Chamberlain flew to Germany to see Hitler at Berchtesgaden.
On the day Chamberlain left for Germany Churchill made the following comments in the Daily Telegraph. ". . . from the moment that German troops attempt to cross the Czechoslovakian frontier, the whole scene will be transformed and a roar of fury will arise from the free peoples of the world, which will proclaim nothing less than a crusade against the aggressor."
Chamberlain returned to inform his Cabinet colleagues that Hitler's objective was only the Sudetenland. When French Prime Minister Daladier arrived to explore the possibility of a united front against Germany, he was told by his British colleague that Britain had no army to march to Czechoslovakia and it was a long way to send an air force.
On 20 September Churchill flew to Paris with General Spears to converse with Paul Reynaud and Georges Mandel, members of the French Cabinet who wanted to resist Hitler. On his return to England, Churchill issued a press statement which charged that a surrender to the Nazi threat of force would bring, not peace or safety, but ever-increasing weakness and danger. The loss of Czechoslovakia would free twenty-five German divisions and open a path to the Black Sea.
He personally, considered sending the following telegram to the President of Czechoslovakia but realized that he had no power to ensure the fact: "Fire your cannon, and all will be well."
As it was, Chamberlain submitted to Hitler's harangues and the German-speaking majority territories were to be transferred to Germany without a plebiscite. As well, the British Prime Minister now believed he could influence and trust the German Fuhrer.
Churchill was observed at the Other Club "in a towering rage and deepening gloom. " Clementine wanted to march on Downing Street and throw rocks through the window of Number 10.
In the debate on the terms of the Munich Agreement Churchill noted that all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe would have to make the best terms they could with Nazi Germany.
He also attacked Chamberlain's cherished dream of influencing Hitler because "there can never be a friendship between the British democracy and the Nazi Power."
"We have sustained a defeat without a war." he said, ". . . and do not suppose that this is the end. This is only of beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup . . . "On the division, Churchill remained seated and abstained.
The Munich debate severely strained Churchill's relations with Chamberlain's supporters within the Conservative Party and even with his own constituency, where several local party members tried to force him to support the Government. When he appealed for 50 Conservatives to vote for a Liberal amendment calling for the immediate establishment of a Ministry of Supply, only Brendan Bracken and Harold Macmillan supported him.
Adolph Hitler took special note of Churchill. In a speech in Munich on 8 November he said: "Mr. Churchill may have an electorate of 15,000 or 20,000. I have one of 40 million. Once and for all we request to be spared from being spanked like a pupil by a governess."
The day after his birthday Churchill completed the first section of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (Woods A138). He had assiduously laboured on this work because "it has been a comfort to me in these anxious days to put a thousand years between my thoughts and the twentieth century."
Churchill was frustrated by the Government's reluctance to enter into an alliance with the Soviet Union. He was also disturbed by the apparent desire of Chamberlain and Halifax to come to some accommodation with Hitler. He wrote Halifax: "I am sure you realize that to talk about giving back colonies, or lebensraum or any concession, while nine million Czechs are still in bondage, would cause great division among us."
Some of Britain's allies doubted her ability to be victorious over Germany. Among them was the United States Ambassador, Joseph P. Kennedy. Churchill challenged Kennedy's use of the "dreadful word" defeat. He told Walter Lippmann that he would willingly die before admitting defeat but that if it should happen then "it will be for the Americans to preserve and maintain the great heritage of the English-speaking peoples."
He was convinced that American involvement was inevitable in any future conflict. After outlining how Britain should respond to the atrocity of bombing attacks on her cities, he predicted that "of these grievous events, the people of the United States may soon perhaps be the spectators. But it sometimes happens that the audience become infuriated by a revolting exhibition. In that case we might see the spectators leaving their comfortable seats and hastening to the work of rescue and retribution."
In June Churchill published a collection of newspaper articles under the title Step by Step. Clement Attlee spoke for many when he said: "It must be a melancholy satisfaction to see how right you were. " Many, both within and outside the Government, wanted to see him appointed to the Cabinet as the clouds formed over Poland, but his supporters tended to be younger members and the old guard around Chamberlain was still strongly opposed to him.
The public demand to bring back Churchill continued to grow. A large poster, paid for by an unknown Churchill supporter, appeared in the Strand on 24 July asking: "What Price Churchill?" From most of the newspapers, with the notable exceptions of the Daily Express and The Times, came what the Evening Standard called a "terrific barrage from the newspaper artilleries. " The Observer probably expressed it best: "That one who has so firm a gap of the realities of European politics should not be included in the Government must be as bewildering to foreigners as it is regrettable to most of his countrymen. "
The Times called this newspaper campaign "mischievous and futile." It was indeed futile because the one man who counted, Neville Chamberlain, believed that Churchill's inclusion in the Cabinet would frustrate his efforts to appease Hitler. Chamberlain was still determined to reach some agreement with the German leader. He wrote his sister: "It is very difficult to see the way out of Danzig but I don't believe it is impossible to find, provided we are given a little kime and also provided that Hitler doesn't really want war."
Churchill supporter Harold Nicolson lamented in his diary: "Chamberlain's obstinate exclusion of Churchill from the Cabinet is taken as a sign that he has not abandoned appeasement and that all gesture of resistance is mere bluff."
General Ironside recorded Chamberlain's views in his diary. "Neville Chamberlain is not a war Prime Minister. He is a pacifist at heart. He has a firm belief that God has chosen him as an instrument to prevent this threatened war. He can never get this out of his mind. He is not against Winston, but he believes that chances may still arrive for averting war, and he thinks that Winston might be so strong in a Cabinet that he would be prevented from acting."
Ironside also offered some comments on Churchill's personal circumstances: "What a man. Whisky and cigars all the time. A fascinating house overlooking the Weald of Kent. He inherited the house from someone and has made it worth living in. His own room is very big, some 60 feet long and is like a barn with its own rafters and beams. Crammed with books and papers and notes. He remarked that he would have to pull in his horns considerably if he ever took office, because he would have to cease making money by writing. " Ironside was of course incorrect regarding the circumstances by which Churchill obtained Chartwell. He purchased it for £5000 in 1922.
Churchill carefully kept his distance from the political clamour. "I am quite sure that any such denmarche on my part would be unwise, and would weaken nm in any discussion that I might have to have with the gentleman in question." He spent most of his time at Chartwell working with Deakin and Bullock on History of the English-Speaking Peoples (Woods A138). "It is a relief in times like these to be able to escape into other centuries. " After a bitter political battle in early August, Chamberlain invoked party discipline and forced a parliamentary adjournment for two months.
In a broadcast to the United States on August 8, Churchill commented on the holiday mood. "How did we spend our sumnier holidays twenty-five years ago? ... Why, those were the days when Prussian militarism was - to quote its own phrase - 'hacking its way through the small weak neighbour country' whose neutrality and independence they had sworn not merely to respect but to defend."
He visited France several times during the summer and on 15 August he toured the Maginot Line and was admitted to highly confidential sections never shown to other foreigners. He then took a short vacation at Consuelo Balsan's chateau in Normandy. On 22 August while painting for relaxation, he turned to another guest and said: "This is the last picture I shall paint in peacetime for a very long time."
When he arrived back in London he learned of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. The next day Chamberlain recalled Parliament. That evening a very gloomy Churchill, Eden, Sinclair, Sandys and Duff Cooper dined at the Savoy.
At 8:30 AM on 1 September he was awakened by telephone to be told that German armies had entered Poland. Later in the day he drove to London to meet the Prime Minister, who advised him that he would now like Churchill to enter the Government.
But the call did not come immediately. Despite his comments that "the die is cast, " Chamberlain still hoped for a peaceful settlement. Churchill thought the general mood was otherwise: "There was no doubt that the temper of the House was for war. I deemed it even more resolute and united then in a similar scene on August 3, 1914, in which I had also taken part."
Many politicians from all parties gathered at Churchill's home at Morpeth Mansions to express dismay at Chambelain's hesitation. Finally, at 11:15 AM on 3 September, Chamberlain broadcast that Britain was at war with Germany. Churchill was to join the War Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty. The signal went out to all ships and naval bases: "Winston is Back!"
Churchill now faced his second major war with Germany as First Lord of the Admiralty. On his return to his old Admiralty office he found the same charts he had used when he left in May 1915 with the locations of the ships still intact.
Consistent with his previous behaviour, Churchill was a very active leader. He wrote voluminous memos to everyone, giving, instructions and opinions, or asking for their comments. He often ended with "pray inform me" or "pray send me." These minutes quickly became known throughout the Admiralty as the "First Lord's Prayers."
He involved himself in almost every issue - production of dummy ships for naval harbours, the neutrality of Eire, the return of the Duke of Windsor. His colleagues were often overwhelmed by his energies and one, remembering Churchill's The World Crisis remarked: "He is writing his new memoirs."
But he was convinced that Britain must not be hesitant in its efforts to win the war and, as part of the Land Forces Committee, he recommended an Army of 55 divisions by 1941 with 20 divisions ready to stand beside the French by the spring of 1940. Critics charged that an Army this size would inhibit development of the Air Force and Navy. Churchill defended his position with the comment: "Pardon me if I put my experience and knowledge, which were bought, not taught, at your disposal."
Although some saw him as too impulsive or too much a flagwaver, the public saw him as the only person who could rouse the nation to fight. He was clearly the backbone of the government. Thus he was much chagrined and distressed to hear that his close friend "Bendor," the Duke of Westminster, had stated that the war was really part of a Jewish and Masonic plot to destroy Christian civilization.
Mid-September brought the bad news that the Soviet Union had occupied Eastern Poland. But Churchill reminded Lord Hankey that "this is not the first firm that Russia has defected. " Churchill also saw an advantage in that it would require 25 German divisions to watch the Russians on the eastern front and he was certain the eventual war in the Balkans would result. In an early broadcast he told his listeners that "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest. " On the western front he anticipated one or more of the following moves by Hitler: an attack on France through Belgium and Holland; an air attack on British factories and ports; or a peace offensive.
He received a most unusual letter from the President of the United States. "What I want you and the Prime Minister to know is that I shall at all times welcome it if you will keep me in touch personally with anything you want me to know about." With Cabinet approval, thus began some of the most famous correspondence in history, and an alliance absolutely critical to final victory.
Incredibly, Churchill found time to pursue his work on A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. F.W. Deakin, Alan Bullock and Maurice Ashley wrote the drafts but the final versions were always Churchill's. Undoubtedly this work gave him respite from his many pressures but he also drew lessons and inspirations from history in facing his tribulations. He has written that "writing a long and substantial book is like having a friend and companion at your side, to whom you ran always turn for comfort and amusement, and whose society becomes more attractive as a new and widening field of interest is lighted in the mind. "
There were many naval engagements during the early months of the war. The loss of the aircraft carrier Courageous in the North Sea and the battleship Royal Oak to a submarine while at anchor in Scapa Flow were merely the most dramatic of many defeats. But the year ended in triumph when the British cruisers Exeter and Ajax and Australia's Achilles destroyed one of the greatest ships in the German fleet, the pocket battleship
On November 30 Churchill was sixty- five. To some he was too old, but his longtime friend, Lady Violet Bonham Carter wrote: "You need no blood transfusions, unlike some of your colleagues." As a military secretary, Sir Ian Jacob, would later comment: "Winston's mind was so immensely active that he could only be Prime Minister.
Last Updated on Monday, 15 September 2008 11:22