Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 16, 2017

What would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 40)

This whole period in Winston Churchill’s life seemed strangely out of tune with his character as a man.

Because although he was a deeply Christian person, always seeking to help others, and working hard to bring about Peace — he will not be remembered in history as a humanitarian, because his political leanings, and his personal interests have made it possible for his enemies to paint him as an unjust Conservative hardliner.

But that he was not.

He was a compassionate and kind person, because got his guidance from the Bible that he read every night, and also opened it at random all mornings, in order to start his day in the right note. His random opening of the great book populated with the words of the Lord, sharing the story of Jesus the Savior, had a huge temporizing and civilizing effect on his wisdom. Even his wild mood swings, were always couched in compassion and kindness, because by nature he was always warm hearted and magnanimous.

But why did we end up thinking of him as a grand master?

Methinks that Winston Churchill was painted with this wide brush, because due to party affiliation and conservative expectation it came to pass, that throughout the nineteen-twenties his attitude towards the working class appeared hard, narrow, and uncompromising. Of course in retrospect, we now know that his outlook to political life at that time, was influenced by his deep dislike of Bolshevism, yet we must also admit that his policies and actions at this time alone, were short-sighted and through that they had the opposite effect. Indeed some Socialists claim that Winston Churchill’s retrograde policies, strengthened the British Socialist movement than other politically leading factors.

However, the truth was that at the time, Winston Churchill was out of joint with the times. Methinks that he had started to play the part of the country squire, and the conservative MP, and when he got back in the cabinet, as a Tory — he did not care to make an effort to understand the reasons why the changing economy was a necessity for all Society and he was trying to stem the tides. Indeed, he was also bucking tides in his political life, because he had been defeated in two successive elections, by the votes of working people, in favour of a Labour candidate.

These hard realities however, did not increase his sympathy with the Socialist labour cause, but definitely increased his appeal towards the Common Man, because he recognized the value in being a “Middle of the Road” candidate, and fulfill his need to appeal to the median common person, in order to earn their respect, their hearts, and their minds — hopefully followed by their votes.

Yet since he joined the Conservative Party, the disaffection with his stated overall policies widened, because for the first time in twenty years he was subjected to all the pressures and influences of die-hard Toryism in his committees, and in Parliament, and like all new converts he went to extremes, to show that he was one of them, in order to be admitted amongst the zealots of the Tory party. However, having the epigenetic and memory knowledge of his Father’s destruction at the hands of the Tory leaders because he was a man with differing sexuality and with fresh ideas of Tory Democracy.

Regardless of his public face, during these early days as a Conservative, Winston Churchill, was still espousing the ideas of compassionate Capitalism, and Humane Conservatism — but was guarded from opening up his heart, fearing that he will end up like his Father, and get ostracized by the intolerant Tory party. So he played his part, and he pretended to be even more conservative than the Tory zealots could even fathom.

And that is what made Winston Churchill a doubtful choice for the job of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but there was some sense of justice in his assuming the job his father was thrown out of… So he dutifully accepted the High Ministerial appointment, as the second man in the Cabinet simply based on his great belief in the ideas of Adam Smith and his contemporaries. Yet he was also following the current movements, Macro-Economics, and the Economic theories of the Austrian school, and those of Karl Marx, and industrial statistics, although he was bored and disinterested in accounting & simple finance. “He was basically uninterested in the problems of high finance” writes Mr Robert Boothby, who served as his Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Treasury.

People disparage the government of the moment, and criticize the PM, because they claim that to have Winston in charge of the Treasury, at a time when his outlook towards the working class was peculiarly rigid and defiant, was a calamity both for the nation and himself. But the reality is that Winston cared deeply about unemployment and poverty, the twin evils, against which he had championed so fervently under Lloyd George’s inspiration. Yet, now for appearance’s sake, these twin evils, seemed to awake no indignation in his heart. People still say, that if he had had a burning desire to protect the lowest wage earners of Society, from further hardships — it is difficult to believe that his brilliant brain would not have found a solution. And they go even further to suggest that “It was the sympathy that was missing, not the ability to solve the Social problems of his day.”

Yet what these people are all missing, is the fact that in Politics appearances matter. And indeed Winston was a master politician, with the finesse of an actor, and he knew how to do the right thing even when accepting the barbs of the very people that he is trying his damnedest to help…

The spark of his old-time Radicalism allowed him to discover what powerful economic weapons — Winston Churchill, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer held in his hands and was able to shape society to his liking. And this is what he did, by helping the poorest people in all the ways he could — yet acting in a veiled way, having the memory of his Father’s Tory Democracy downfall due to the Conservatives intolerant attitude towards Randolph’s personal choices.

Proof of that is that when the General Strike ended and the Prime Minister calmly left for his annual holiday at Aix-les-Bains, Churchill didn’t content himself merely in trying to persuade the miners to accept the owners’ terms, with some slight modifications, and go back to work, but he effected a grand compromise so that people will have gainful work to return to. Unfortunately by this time the owners, flushed with their triumph over the T.U.C., were more adamant than ever in resisting a compromise, and while the Prime Minister refused to intervene, and the Cabinet was busy preparing a Trade Disputes Act designed to curtail the powers of the Unions — Churchill spoke to the strikers daily.

Meanwhile the coal miners’ strike had continued.

Mr Boothby, a Conservative M.P., and at that time the ‘baby’ of the House, wrote Winston Churchill a long and apprehensive letter stating: “I told him that the impression was growing every day that the Government had now divested itself of all responsibility for the conduct of our national industries in the interests of the country as a whole, that it had capitulated to the demands of one of the parties engaged in the mining industry, and was now preparing legislative action at their behest in order to compass the destruction of the other. I asked how can the Government, having placed the weapon of longer hours, in the hands of the owners, could stand by and allow the miners to be bludgeoned and battered back, district by district? Bludgeoned and battered they will be, in parts of Scotland at any rate. And the instruments? Longer legal hours, cold, and starvation If this is to be followed by legislative action calculated to convey the impression that the Conservative Party has utilized the power given to it by the electorate to plunder the funds of the principal Opposition party, and smash the trade unions, then in Scotland at least a fearful retribution awaits it at the polls.”

Winston showed this letter to the Cabinet; and invited Mr Boothby to become his Parliamentary Private Secretary. Apart from that, he did little else, seeing that there was zero appetite for any social change amongst this conservative government. And although he declared privately that he thought the coal owners were a loathsome lot, and that he was determined that ‘not a shilling’ of Government money should subsidise the miners’ pay packets, because that was the job of their employers — he did not fully subscribe to the orthodox Tory view that the State must not interfere with the laws of supply and demand.

Yet the law of unintended consequences, brought about the opposite result, as the coal strike pursued its long, bitter, and useless course, and predictably ended in the complete defeat of the coal miners. It also cost the country 800,000,000 pounds — a sum which, as Mr Boothby pointed out, “could have settled it, at any time, on fair terms. This left a legacy of bitterness which continues to this day.”

Still, while the coal miners were still on strike Winston Churchill followed the
Prime Minister’s example, and went abroad on holiday in an effort to shift the public conversation, remove the focus of the newspapers, and thus let things cool down on their own. So he took a trip to Egypt and Greece, where he painted the Pyramids and the Parthenon, and on the way home stopped in Italy to observe and study the experiment that Mussolini’s new Italian society, promised.
This he did sloppily because the sights, the smells, and the sounds of Italy captivated him and he spent all his time painting the various vistas, and hardly any time at all talking to Mussolini. Yet just before he departed he gave a statement to the Italian press which shows how far his dislike of Bolshevism had led him, by saying: “I could not help being charmed as so many other people have been by Signor Mussolini’s gentle and simple bearing and by his calm detached poise in spite of so many burdens and dangers.”

He continued by writing this: “If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been wholeheartedly with you from start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. But in England we have not had to fight this danger in the same deadly form. We have our way of doing things. But that we shall succeed in grappling with Communism and choke the life out of it. Of that I am absolutely sure.”

“I will, however, say a word on an international aspect of Fascism. Externally, your movement has rendered a service to the whole world. The great fear which has always beset every democratic leader or working-class leader has been that of being undermined or overbid by someone more extreme than he. It seems that continued progression to the Left, a sort of inevitable landslide into the abyss, was the characteristic of all revolutions. Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces which can rally the mass of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of civilized society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter, no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against cancerous growths, and every responsible labour leader in the
country ought to feel his feet more firmly planted in resisting levelling
and reckless doctrines.”

At first glance this statement strikes the reader as one of the most surprising deflections of Winston Churchill’s political career. Yet it is not inconsistent with his classic interpretation of foreign policy. As far as Britain was concerned he was a constitutionalist and a democrat. Yet as far as Europe was concerned, he was willing to hold out a hand of friendship to any country, regardless of its system of government, especially hoping that they would likely want to align themselves, against Britain’s major enemy, Communism. Because at that time Winston regarded Bolshevism as the greatest threat. Dictators who tried to export their wares were not to his liking. Mussolini, as well as Stalin, was soon to learn the truth of this.

Meanwhile, Winston spent nary a weekend away from his country homehouse, the Chartwell manor. His wife was a clever, sympathetic companion who took a keen interest in politics, as well as running the house to Winston’s exacting satisfaction and enjoyment. Since as he frequently said, Democracy was the worst system exempting all others — he practiced this form of government in his loving home as well… and it was here that he declared himself the assistant to the Prime Minister, proving that his wife fulfilled the role of PM in their house far better than himself. At home he was trusted to be the laborer, building cottages, pools, walls and generally laying bricks with a professional abandon and attitude of the proud labour, that made meaningful contribution to life.

As it turns out, Chartwell was also close enough to London for guests to motor down comfortably for lunch and dinner, and almost every Saturday and Sunday, there were relays of people coining and going. Winston’s favourite relaxation was good political talk which he always got from his close friends, Lord Birkenhead, Lord Beaverbrook and Lloyd George. He liked to sit up late at night, and although he woke early in the morning, often did his work in bed, dictating to his secretary and puffing a cigar.

His bedroom was a high, oak-beamed study equipped with a huge desk which was usually covered with foolscap. On the walls were a picture of his nurse, Mrs Everest, a contemporary print of the Duke of Marlborough, and a cartoon of Lord Randolph Churchill. When Parliament was not sitting, he applied himself to the task of finishing the last two volumes of The World Crisis. Often his morning work was interrupted by the shouts and cries of his four children, who ranged in age from eleven to one; and sometimes when the din was too great he put aside his work and joined them in the garden.

They adored his company, for Winston was still a good deal of a schoolboy himself. He loved doing things. He put up a tree-top house, built a goldfish pond, and a bathing pool. But best of all he showed them how to dam the lake and make miniature waterfalls. Frequently, like the children themselves, he got so wet he stood dripping outside the house while maids hurried to put newspapers on the floor.

Winston never forgot how he himself longed for his father’s confidence and love and as a result he made it a point to spent as many hours with his own boy talking to him as a grown-up and letting him share his interests, as humanly possible. Once when he drove Randolph back to Eton he remarked sadly: “I have talked to you more this holiday than my father talked to me in his whole life.”

Part of Winston’s love of doing things sprang from the interest he took in applying a methodical and systematic technique. Just as he enjoyed writing because he liked to fit the sentences neatly to one another and to build up paragraphs that in turn were carefully linked, so he enjoyed the constructional side of manual labour. Probably this is what attracted him to bricklaying. There was a cottage and a long wall to be built on the estate, so he worked with a professional bricklayer five or six hours a day until he could lay a brick a minute. Then in 1928 he joined the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers, at the invitation of Mr Hicks, the General Secretary. He paid a fee of five shillings and was rated as an ‘adult apprentice.’ This drew forth a furious outcry. Winston was the bugbear of the T.U.C. and the Builders’ Union immediately passed a public resolution denouncing Churchill’s act as a piece of humiliating and degrading buffoonery,’ a ‘nauseating situation,’ a ‘good joke for Winston Churchill but a painful insult to members of the Union.’

Nevertheless, Winston stuck to his ticket, although his five shillings was never paid into the Union funds; and during the next twelve years, constructed with his own hands a large part of two cottages and a swimming pool. Often he urged his guests to come out and talk to him while he worked. Dressed in workman’s overalls with a strange and comical hat on his head he liked to discuss the affairs of state. In 1935 when the international situation was darkening and he was growing increasingly alarmed by Baldwin’s placid indifference he muttered gloomily to William Deakin, a young Oxford don who was helping him with his life of Marlborough book, and had been put to work on the cottage building project: “I suppose these bricks will be excavated in 500 years as a relic of Stanley Baldwin’s England.”

Another of Winston Churchill’s major interests at Chartwell House, were his many animals. He loved his pet dogs, cats, goldfish, goats, pigs, and sheep, and was even sentimental about his chickens, his swans and his geese. Once a young man who had been engaged to tutor Winston Churchill’s son was staying in the house, and he said that, he remembers a Sunday lunch when a well cooked goose was brought in and placed in front of Winston Churchill to carve. He plunged the knife in, then paused and said to his wife with deep emotion: “You carve him, Clemmy. He was a friend of mine.”

The public had no opportunity to see this side of Winston. To them he was a pugnacious and formidable figure with an almost machine-like capacity for work, a brilliant mind, an unstable character and a driving ambition. It is understandable that organized labour regarded him as their arch-enemy throughout the five years of his Chancellorship, but although his ideas and sentiments at last fitted the pattern of ultra-Toryism, the Conservatives still found it difficult to accept him. He seemed far more eager to give a dazzling performance than to get at the core of a problem.
The four budgets that followed his first were presented with a masterly touch but amounted to little more than ingenious arithmetical exercises designed to prevent the imposition of 6d on the income tax, which he should never have taken off. The only constructive contribution he made was the introduction of the de-rating scheme for agriculture and industry in 1928 with the resounding slogan: “You should not tax the plant and the tools of production, but only the profits arising from their use.”

As the months passed Winston’s following steadily decreased. This was partly due to the fact that a large section of the Tory Party, led by Mr Amery, bitterly resented the way he clung to his Free Trade principles, refusing to give Protection to British industry which, they felt, was essential if unemployment, then at the million mark, was to be reduced. But probably it was due even more to the fact that his aggressive, overpowering personality and his concern with his own ideas annoyed them just as they had annoyed his Liberal colleagues in the days before the first World War. Lord Beaverbrook points out in his memoirs that Churchill up is quite a different proposition from Churchill down. He comments thus: “Churchill on top of the wave, has in him the stuff of which tyrants are made.”

This explains why the press comments about him at this time are harsh and disagreeable, like this: “If he changes his Party with the facility of partners at a dance, he has always been true to the only Party he really believes in that
which is assembled under the hat of Mr Winston Churchill. His life is one long speech. He does not talk. He orates. He will address you at breakfast as though you were an audience at the Free Trade Hall, and at dinner you find the performance still running. If you meet him in the intervals he will give you more fragments of the discourse, walking up and down the room with the absorbed self-engaged Napoleonic portentousness that makes his high seriousness tremble on the verge of the comic. He does not want to hear your views. He does not
want to disturb the beautiful clarity of his thought by the tiresome reminders of the other side. What has he to do with the other side when his
side is the right side? He is not arguing with you – he is telling you.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 11.20.40 AM

Even Baldwin found Winston a difficult colleague. He began to tire of
his overpowering energy and his dominating manner. He complained
that: “A Cabinet meeting when Winston was present did not have the
opportunity of considering its proper agenda for the reason that invariably
it had to deal with some extremely clever memorandum submitted by him
on the work of some department other than his own.”

Baldwin’s Government went to the country in 1929. Once again Labour emerged as the largest Party of the three and once again it assumed power with Liberal support. Baldwin confided to a friend that if he ever formed another Government he would not include Winston in it. His inability to fit himself into a team was a disadvantage that outweighed the contribution he had to offer.

Baldwin kept his word, and successive Prime Ministers followed Baldwin’s example. Winston was out of office for ten years.

The Age of the Common Man had very little appeal for Winston Churchill.
He was proud of Britain’s great and educated ruling class which had
governed the nation for so many centuries and brought it safely through
so many perils. This ruling class was no mean, tight, narrow-minded ring.
It was the top layer of an intricate class system that automatically embraced men and women with inherited wealth and aristocratic connections, but also accepted newcomers whose energy and talents had lifted them to positions of eminence. In welcoming distinguished strangers the ruling class constantly refurbished itself with vigorous new blood, yet its impact was strong enough to unite its members in a common outlook towards the traditions and splendours of the nation.

This paternal, benevolent and oligarchic Britain was the sort of Britain
Winston had been brought up to love and revere. He resented the fact
that ever since the Labour Party had become the largest Opposition in the
House of Commons a note of ‘class warfare’ had resounded through the
country which, he felt, was aimed at the very foundations of the British
system. It was true that Winston himself had once attacked the privileged
classes, but that was long ago when he was very young and the privileged
class was very safe; his actions could be classified as political wild oats and

The class warfare of the post-war period was very different; it appeared
to be undermining the common sense of the British working man and
making him wonder whether he wished to continue being ruled by his
betters. The working man had noticed that millions of pounds had been
spent in war; why could not millions of pounds be spent in the peace to
give him a better standard of living? He wanted security, higher wages,
a better education, and a larger share in the nation’s wealth. He also
appeared to want a larger influence in the nation’s industrial and political
life. This last made no sense at all to Winston. Let the working map climb
the ladder first; why should he demand the prizes while he still stood at the

Winston considered the Labour leaders wholly responsible for the
agitation that had sprung up and more than once referred to them contemptuously as ‘not fit to govern’. He did not blame the working man
for being misled by false hopes and promises, nor did he blame him for
rebelling against the grave state of unemployment. For the previous four
years the unemployment figure had hovered between one and two million
men, which, counting the wives and children of the unemployed, directly
affected some five million people. Politicians of all parties were bent on
finding a cure for unemployment, some on humanitarian grounds, others
on political ones. But the truth was that very few politicians were sure of
the answer. Professor Keynes put forward a scheme of large borrowings
for public works to relieve unemployment which Winston denounced as
‘camouflaged inflation.’ Lloyd George supported Keynes and drew up
proposals of his own along similar lines. But neither the Labour Government nor the Conservative Opposition were impressed by these heretical
views. They believed that the cycle of booms and slumps was inevitable,
and that the only method of dealing with it was to follow the prescription
laid down by orthodox finance: to reduce wages and prices, to balance the
budget, and to sit tight.

In March 1930, Winston wrote a series of articles for the Daily Telegraph
“On the Abuse of the Dole” in which he pointed out that many people
who were switching from one job to another were claiming the com-
pensation merely for a few weeks’ unemployment. “The minor vicissitudes
of labouring men such as an occasional month out of work between satis-
factory jobs, are borne in almost every other country in the world in
silence,” he wrote reproachfully. “They may cause some embarrassment or
even distress to the individual but they do not emerge as a problem of the

But none of this was to Winston’s liking. He found economics a boring
subject which he did not and could not understand. He had nothing new
to offer. Yet economics dominated the whole atmosphere of Parliament.
He inclined to the view of his Conservative colleagues that the only
remedy lay in drastic deflation which would be deeply resented by the
working class electorate. He complained to a friend that Parliament had
sunk into a morass of figures and statistics and that politics had never
before been so dull. There were no great personalities and no great issues
that a politician could get his teeth into. Economics cast its particular
blight on every subject that was discussed.

But if Winston had no solution to the economic problem itself at least
he had a solution for preventing economics from destroying the liveliness
of the House of Commons. In June 1930 he delivered the Roman lecture
at Oxford University and made the surprising suggestion that economics
should be isolated from politics. “I see no reason why the political Parliament should not choose in proportion to its Party groupings a subordinate Economic Parliament of say one-fifth of its numbers, and composed of persons of high technical and business qualifications. This idea has received much countenance in Germany. I see no reason why such an assembly should not debate in the open light of day and without caring a halfpenny who won the General Election, or who had the best slogans for curing unemployment, all the grave economic issues by which we are now confronted and afflicted. I see no reason why the Economic Parliament should not for the time being command a greater interest than the political Parliament; nor why the political Parliament should not assist it with its training and experience in methods of debate and procedure. What is
required is a new personnel adapted to the task which has to be done, and
pursuing that task day after day without the distractions of other affairs
and without fear, favour or affection.”

No one took much interest in Winston’s Economic Parliament, so to relieve himself from the boredom of statistics, he took up his pen. First he
wrote ‘My Early Life’ an amusing and charming autobiography which took him as far as the House of Commons and ended with the words: “I married and lived happily ever afterwards.” As far as the public was concerned the work was strangely out of character with the Winston they knew. It was wise and tolerant with a gentle humour which he was not afraid of directing towards himself. It seemed much more the reflections of a calm and elderly philosopher than of a pugnacious politician. Next, Winston wrote the fifth volume of ‘The World Crisis’ & ‘The War on the Eastern Front’ and a series of newspaper articles and essays ranging in subject from one on ‘Moses’ to ‘Shall We All Commit Suicide?’ These essays were later reprinted in a book called Thoughts and Adventures.

But while he was occupied in his literary work a political issue emerged
which aroused his emotions and galvanized his fighting spirit to action.
Ever since the war India had been agitating for self-government. The urge
for independence had been stimulated by Gandhi, the great Hindu religious
leader who preached a policy of passive resistance. Millions of Indians
regarded this strange man as a saint and were now quietly following his
lead and slowly obstructing the wheel of the British administration.

The Viceroy, Lord Halifax (then Lord twin), was in favour of granting
India the freedom she wanted; first, in drawing up a Federal Constitution;
second, in extending self-government in the direction of Dominion status.
He communicated his views to the Labour Government which received
them favourably. The Liberals backed the Labour Government and the

Tories, surprisingly enough, backed them both. For once there was an
all-Party agreement on the policy Britain should follow. Undoubtedly
the reason for this accord was the fact that public opinion had been
sharply affected by the lesson of Ireland. India was merely asking for the
same Dominion status that had been granted to Canada and Australia.
There was no reason to believe that she would leave the Empire. If Eng-
land could retain her good-will by granting concessions in time there was
much to gain; if she tried to rule by repression as she had in Ireland there
was even more to lose.

Winston, however, did not see the matter in this light. He was horrified
at the idea of relaxing control of any kind over India. He was willing to
extend Indian self-government within the provinces, but not to grant a
Federal Constitution and certainly not to promise them Dominion status.
Had not Lord Randolph Churchill once described India as: “That most truly
bright and precious gem in the crown of the Queen, the possession of
which, more than that of all your Colonial dominions, has raised in power,
in resource, wealth and authority, this small island home of ours far above
the level of the majority of nations and states? ”

Winston was devoid of sympathy for an act of abdication which he not
only regarded as foolish but as wholly unnecessary. All this talk of self-
government had sprung up because the statesmen in London were pusillanimous and weak. He did not believe force was necessary to hold India;
merely a firm resolve and some plain speaking.

Since no one else was going to do the plain speaking Winston took it upon himself. He described the proposed concessions as a: “Hideous act of
self-mutilation astounding to every nation in the world. In words similar
to those his father had used he tried to rouse public opinion against casting
away ‘that most truly bright and precious jewel in the crown of the King,
which more than all our other Dominions and Dependencies constituted
the glory and strength of the British Empire. That great organism would
pass at a stroke out of life into history. From such a catastrophe there could
be no recovery.”

He became the leading spirit of the Indian Empire Society, a group composed mainly of Conservatives organized to resist self-government. For the first time he found himself working with the Die-hards of the Tory Party, the same band which had poured contempt upon him for many years.

Throughout his opposition Winston’s main attack was against Gandhi,
and as the weeks went by his shafts were hurled with increasing violence.
On 12 December, 1930, he told a London audience: ‘The truth is that
Gandhiism and all it stands for will, sooner or later, have to be grappled
with and finally crushed. It is no use trying to satisfy a tiger by feeding it
on cat’s meat.’ Two months later, on 23 February, 1931, he told the
Council of the West Essex Conservative Association that it was ‘alarming
and also nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer,
now posing as a fakir of a type well-known in the East, striding half-naked
up the steps of the Viceregal Palace, while he is still organizing and con-
ducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms
with the representative of the King-Emperor.’ One month later, on
18 March, he told a huge meeting at the Albert Hall: ‘I am against this
surrender to Gandhi. I am against these conversations and agreements
between Lord Irwin and Mr Gandhi. Gandhi stands for the expulsion of
the British from India. Gandhi stands for the permanent expulsion of
British trade from India. Gandhi stands for the substitution of Brahmin
domination for British rule in India. You will never be able to come to
terms with Gandhi.’

In the course of his campaign Winston accused politicians of all parties
who supported Lord Irwin’s proposals, of defeatism and a lack of patriot-
ism. This stung Sir Herbert Samuel, the Liberal, to deliver a scathing pro-
nouncement. ‘If indeed the truest patriot is a man who breathes hatred,
who lays the seeds of war, and stirs up the greatest number of enemies
against his country, he said, ‘then Winston Churchill is a great patriot.

The Conservative Opposition was furious with Churchill. They told
Baldwin that this was the result of putting his trust in a man like Winston,
an ambitious schemer, who would never work for any team unless he
called the tune. They went on to say that his chief aim was to split the
Conservative Party and wrest the leadership from Baldwin. This was not
altogether fair for although no one doubts that he would have liked to
grasp the prize, and although he may have believed the Indian issue a
likely way to do it, his sincerity about India has long since been proved by
the consistency of his views. In January 1930 he resigned from the Tory
‘Shadow Cabinet’ and three months later Baldwin relieved him of his
position as Chairman of the Conservative Finance Group and appointed
Neville Chamberlain in his stead The breach was now complete.

Although Winston’s main concern was to rally Conservatives against the
official Opposition, he still had time to launch an intermittent and powerful
torpedo at the Labour Government. One of the most merciless attacks he
ever made in the House of Commons was directed at Ramsay MacDonald
in connection with the Trade Disputes Act. The Labour Party was determined to repeal the measure which had been introduced by the Tories
after the General Strike to dip the wings of the Trade Unionists. Mr Mac-
Donald himself was believed to be only luke-warm on the subject, giving
way half-heartedly to the Left-wing pressure in his own Party. ‘What is
the Prime Minister going to do about it?’ Winston asked in the House of
Commons. “I spoke the other day, after he had been defeated in an im-
portant division, about his wonderful skill in falling without hurting him-
self. He falls, but up he comes again, smiling, a little dishevelled but still
smiling. But this is a juncture, a situation which will try to the very fullest
the particular arts in which he excels. I remember when I was a child being taken to the celebrated Barnum’s Circus which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the program which I most desired to see was the one described as ‘The Boneless Wonder.’ My parents judged that the spec-
tacle would be too revolting and demoralizing for my youthful eyes, and
I have waited fifty years to see the Boneless Wonder, sitting on the Treasury Bench.”

Then Winston proceeded to give an imaginary conversation which had taken place between Ramsay MacDonald and Lloyd George. ‘After the usual compliments, the Prime Minister said, “We have never been colleagues, we have never been friends not what you would call holiday friends, but we have both been Prime Ministers and dog don’t eat dog. Just look at the monstrous bill the Trade Unions and our wild fellows have foisted on me. Do me a favour and I will never forget it. Take it upstairs and cut its dirty throat.”

Winston’s speech was greeted with howls of appreciative laughter. Even the Labour benches could not suppress their smiles. But Ramsay MacDonald never forgave him.

The India Bill did not pass through its first stage until 1935. It granted India Federal Constitution and gave a solemn pledge that she would be given Dominion status in the near future.

Winston Churchill fought on and on. And he fought the India Bill all the way to the bitter end. He spoke solemn and in a rebellious contrarian fashion with flair: “I am told that I am alone among men who have held high office in this country in the view I take about Indian policy. If I am alone I am going to receive shortly an ally; a very powerful ally; an ally whom I dread; an ally with a sombre tide; his tide is The March of Time.”

But Winston was proven wrong. Indian independence, which finally became a reality in 1947, was not a catastrophe. It did not result in the severing of India’s ties with the Commonwealth. It did not mark the end of the British Empire. The brightest jewel in the Imperial Crown has become one of the strongest partners in the British family of nations.

This one time the ‘March of Time’ did not turn out to be Churchill’s ally.

When he made his final attack in the House of Commons and took his seat after a tremendous peroration, Leo Amery, his Harrow school-mate, spoiled the effect by rising and saying in mock serious tone: “Here endeth the last chapter of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.” The House roared with laughter. Members had ceased to take Winston seriously on the subject of India.

In 1931 Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden deserted their Labour colleagues and joined forces with the Conservatives in forming a National Government in order to deal with the financial crisis produced by the American crash. The National Government consisted of only a handful of Socialists and Liberals. It was predominantly Conservative, and although Ramsay MacDonald assumed the Premiership — Stanley Baldwin was the real master.

Neither man would invite Winston into the Government. They wouldn’t have him, at any price.

To be continued:

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: