Document K

Some on the left distrust Churchill’s motives for his stand against appeasement

G.F. Hudson writes to the Labour politician and journalist Patrick Gordon-Walker. Gordon-Walker had been persuaded, very much against his will, to stand aside as Labour candidate in the Oxford City by-election of October 1938, discussed in the second part of this unit, in favour of an independent anti-appeasement candidate, who went on to lose the election. In the recriminations that followed the Oxford defeat Gordon-Walker received this analysis of Churchill’s stance on appeasement from a colleague who thought Gordon-Walker should have been allowed to stand as a Labour candidate.


Reference: Gordon-Walker Papers, GNWR 2/1

13 October 1938

“I am very sceptical of the value of purely negative gestures and especially of the line of fighting elections purely on foreign policy. The gainers from such a cross-division of political forces will not be the Left, but Churchill, Duff Cooper and Lord Lloyd, and in my opinion it is this group which is more likely than any other to introduce essential fascism in this country; they can do it perfectly well here under cover of anti-fascism and resistance to Germany etc. The qualities which make these men vigorous in dealing with the expansion of Germany will also make them quite ruthless, if the occasion arises, in internal affairs; they are in fact the most reactionary, and quite obviously the most hard-boiled, section of the Tory party, and I cannot understand the enthusiasm with which they are now regarded in Left circles because of their attacks on Chamberlain. We must know that the similarity of their foreign policy aims with those of the Left is quite superficial; they want us to be stronger and take greater risks vis-à-vis Germany, but they don’t really care a damn about collective security, democracy or liberty, and we should soon find it out if they were running this country. If the Labour Party is to survive as a power in England, it must keep clear of mere sentimental “anti-fascism” without organization or positive programme, which will be in fact just a short cut to fascism. …”