Spring 1937 (Age 62)

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.”

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