Summer 1924 (Age 49)

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.

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