Autumn 1925 (Age 51)

“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.”

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