Churchill Archive Platform - Churchill and the Conservative Party

Documents from the Archive

  • Winston Churchill to the Duke of Devonshire, on the Conservative Free Traders, not dated but c.June 1903, not sent, CHAR 2/11/41-42
  • Winston Churchill to Colonel J. Mitford, criticisms of tariff reform, 9 July 1903, CHAR 2/11/9-11
  • Winston Churchill to Lord Hugh Cecil, on the Conservative Party, 24 October 1903, not sent, CHAR 2/8/105-106
  • Sir Samuel Hoare to Winston Churchill, on Westminster Abbey by-election, 17 June 1924, CHAR 2/133/73
  • Winston Churchill to Henry Page Croft, on safeguarding and free trade, c.25 July 1928, CHAR 2/158/63-67
  • Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, on his first budget and widows’ pensions, 28 November 1924, CHAR 18/7/89-94
  • Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, on the de-rating scheme, 6 June 1927, CHAR 18/64/3-13
  • Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, deciding not to resign from the Shadow Cabinet over the protectionist policy, 16 October 1930, CHAR 2/572/104-105
  • Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, on importance of India, 24 September 1930, CHAR 2/572/84-85
  • Winston Churchill to Lord Irwin (Viceroy of India), on India, 1 January 1930, CHAR 2/572/88-91
  • Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, resignation from the shadow cabinet over India, 27 January 1931, CHAR 2/572/76-77
  • Winston Churchill to E. A. Fitzroy (Speaker of the House of Commons), claiming a breach of privilege has occurred, 15 April 1934, CHAR 2/213/66-70
  • Sir Reginald Mitchell Banks to Winston Churchill, on tactics in the India campaign, March 1933, CHAR 2/192/125-126
  • Winston Churchill to Lord Rothermere, on the growth of German air power, 6 August 1934, CHAR 2/228/19-22
  • Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, praise of Baldwin, 7 October 1935, CHAR 2/237/102
  • Winston Churchill, ‘The Abdication of King Edward VIII’, December 1936, CHAR 2/264/16-26
  • Winston Churchill to Neville Chamberlain, 10 May 1940, CHAR 19/2C/298-299
  • Winston Churchill, speech notes, Conservative Party meeting, Caxton Hall, Westminster, 9 October 1940, CHAR 9/145/1-6
  • Winston Churchill to Lord Hinchingbrooke, on party politics in wartime, 28 March 1943, CHAR 2/480/10
  • Winston Churchill to Sir Kingsley Wood, appointing him Chairman of the Conservative Research Department, 31 October 1940, CHAR 2/402/25
  • Notes for speech to the Conservative Party Annual Conference, Blackpool, 5 October 1946, CHUR 5/9/136-199
  • ‘Statement of General Principles’, 24 July 1950, CHUR 2/105/2-9

Further Reading

  • Paul Addison, The Road to 1945: British Politics and the Second World War (London: Jonathan Cape, 1975)

  • Paul Addison, ‘Winston Churchill’, in John Mackintosh (ed.), British Prime Ministers in the Twentieth Century: Volume 2, Churchill to Callaghan (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1978), pp. 1–36

  • Paul Addison, ‘The political beliefs of Winston Churchill’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 30 (1980), pp. 23–47

  • Paul Addison, Churchill on the Home Front (London: Jonathan Cape, 1992)

  • Paul Addison, Churchill: The Unexpected Hero (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)

  • Stuart Ball, ‘Churchill and the Conservative Party’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th series, 11 (2001), pp. 307–30

  • Stuart Ball, Winston Churchill (London: British Library, 2003)

  • Stuart Ball, Portrait of a Party: The Conservative Party in Britain 1918–1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

  • Geoffrey Best, Churchill: A Study in Greatness (London: Hambledon Press, 2001)

  • Robert Blake, The Conservative Party from Peel to Churchill (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970)

  • Robert Blake, ‘How Churchill became Prime Minister’, in Robert Blake and William Louis (eds), Churchill (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 257–274

  • Vernon Bogdanor, ‘Winston Churchill, 1951–1955’, in Vernon Bogdanor (ed.), From New Jerusalem to New Labour: British Prime Ministers from Attlee to Blair (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 23–41

  • Carl Bridge, ‘Churchill, Hoare, Derby, and the Committee of Privileges: April to June 1934’, Historical Journal, 22 (1979), pp. 215–227

  • John Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1993)

  • John Charmley, ‘Winston Churchill’, in C. Clarke, T. James, T. Bale and P. Diamond (eds), British Conservative Leaders (London: Biteback, 2015), pp. 237–250

  • Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Hitler: British Politics and British Policies 1933–1940 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975)

  • N. Crowson, Facing Fascism: The Conservative Party and the European Dictators 1935–1940 (London: Routledge, 1997)

  • Martin Daunton, ‘Churchill at the Treasury: remaking Conservative taxation policy 1924–1929’, Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire, 75 (1997), pp. 1063–1083

  • David Dilks, ‘The twilight war and the fall of France: Chamberlain and Churchill in 1940’, in David Dilks (ed.), Retreat from Power: Volume 2, After 1939 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1981), pp. 36–65

  • John Fair, ‘The Norwegian campaign and Winston Churchill’s rise to power in 1940’, International History Review, 9 (1987), pp. 410–437

  • Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s Political Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981)

  • Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life (London: Heinemann, 1991)

  • John Hoffman, The Conservative Party in Opposition 1945–1951 (MacGibbon & Kee, 1964)

  • Ashley Jackson, Churchill (London: Quercus, 2011)

  • Kevin Jefferys, The Churchill Coalition and Wartime Politics 1940–1945 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991)

  • Robert James, Churchill: A Study in Failure 1900–1939 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1970)

  • Roy Jenkins, ‘Churchill: the government of 1951–1955’, in Robert Blake and William Louis (eds), Churchill (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 491–502

  • Roy Jenkins, Churchill: A Biography (London: Macmillan, 2001)

  • Harriet Jones, ‘New Conservatism? The Industrial Charter, modernity and the reconstruction of British Conservatism after the war’, in Becky Conekin, Frank Mort and Chris Waters, Moments of Modernity? Reconstructing Britain 1945–1964 (London: Rivers Oram, 1999), pp. 171–188

  • Michael Kandiah, ‘The Conservative Party and the 1945 election’, Contemporary Record, 9 (1995), pp. 22–47

  • Henry Pelling, Churchill’s Peacetime Ministry 1951–1955 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997)

  • John Ramsden, The Age of Balfour and Baldwin 1902–1940 (Harlow: Longman, 1978)

  • John Ramsden, The Age of Churchill and Eden 1940–1957 (Harlow: Longman, 1995)

  • John Ramsden, ‘Winston Churchill and the leadership of the Conservative Party 1940–1951’, Contemporary Record, 9 (1995), pp. 99–119

  • Richard Rempel, Unionists Divided: Arthur Balfour, Joseph Chamberlain and the Unionist Free Traders (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1972)

  • B. Sabine, ‘Winston Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer’, British Tax Review, 6 (1978), pp. 367–380

  • Anthony Seldon, Churchill’s Indian Summer: The Conservative Government 1951–1955 (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1981)

  • Graham Stewart, Burying Caesar: Churchill, Chamberlain and the Battle for the Tory Party (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999)

  • Kevin Theakston, ‘Winston Churchill, 1945–1951’, in Timothy Heppell (ed.), Leaders of the Opposition: From Churchill to Cameron (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 7–19

  • David Thomas, Churchill: The Member for Woodford (Ilford: Frank Cass, 1995)

  • Neville Thompson, The Anti-Appeasers: Conservative Opposition to Appeasement in the 1930s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971)

  • Richard Toye, The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

  • Richard Toye, ‘Winston Churchill’s “crazy broadcast”: party, nation, and the 1945 Gestapo speech’, Journal of British Studies, 49 (2010), pp. 655–680

  • Manfred Weidhorn, Churchill’s Rhetoric and Political Discourse (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1987)

  • David Willetts, ‘The new Conservatism? 1945–1951’, in Stuart Ball and Anthony Seldon (eds), Recovering Power: The Conservatives in Opposition since 1867 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), pp. 169–191

  • Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, ‘Rationing, austerity, and the Conservative Party recovery after 1945’, Historical Journal, 37 (1994), pp. 173–197

Parties have been the fundamental feature of British politics since the 1830s, and they were well-established by the end of the nineteenth century. Any political career has to develop within and through them, and too much going against their grain will lead to marginalization, futility and ultimately failure. Winston Churchill knew this perfectly well, and it is incorrect to view him as being in some way opposed to party politics or inclined to disregard them as irrelevant. However, there is a common view of Churchill as being detached from conventional party politics, due to his changes of party (which are in fact evidence of its essential importance) and his periods of dissent. The tendency to see him in isolation from other contemporary politicians has perpetuated the myth of Churchill the maverick, the idiosyncratic and unique, the rogue elephant of British politics.

The result is that the most neglected aspect of Churchill’s life is his party political role, and in particular his relationship with the Conservative Party. It is certainly true that this went through a remarkable variety of phases: critic within the party, opponent from outside it, senior cabinet minister, rebel on its margins and, finally, party leader. It is easy to focus too much on his periods of conflict with the established leadership and therefore get this out of proportion. In fact, during his forty-three and a half years as a Conservative Member of Parliament, he was a rebel for a total of only eleven and a half years. Even if his twenty years outside the Conservative Party are added (and seven and a half of these were in coalitions with the Conservatives), this still leaves slightly less than half of Churchill’s career as an antagonist of the Conservative establishment, and just over half as a leading figure within it. It is worth remembering that Churchill had the second-longest term as Conservative Party leader during the twentieth century, with only Margaret Thatcher exceeding him. Furthermore, Churchill’s leadership was generally free from public dissent within the Conservative Party in comparison to the experience of other long-serving leaders since 1900, such as Arthur Balfour, Stanley Baldwin, Thatcher and David Cameron.

A further misunderstanding is that Churchill is often portrayed as being not really Conservative in his beliefs and principles. In fact, his outlook was broadly similar to most other Conservatives of his generation, placing him in the more traditionalist wing in his view of how the empire should be maintained and defended, but in the more advanced wing in his willingness to take active measures in social policy. He worked harmoniously with three past and present Conservative Party leaders in the post-war coalition cabinet of 1918–22; with Baldwin as the latter’s Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924–29; and with the rising younger (and similarly centrist) generation of Anthony Eden, R. A. Butler and Harold Macmillan after 1945. One reason for this misconception of Churchill is that economics were not the crucial dividing line between the main parties during his formative years in the 1880s and 1890s – the line was usually drawn over constitutional questions, foreign and imperial policy, and social issues that often had a religious dynamic.

Churchill’s Conservatism was always based upon his sense of history and his pride in Britain’s role in the world – past, present and future. This was fused with the ‘Tory Democracy’ of Benjamin Disraeli and his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, and its parallel themes of trusting the people and supporting pragmatic reforms to improve their material conditions. In that respect, Churchill was always a ‘one nation’ Conservative, and on most domestic issues his natural territory was the middle ground. This was why he had little difficulty in supporting the social reforms of the Liberal government of 1905-15 and was not uncomfortable to serve as minister in it or in the coalitions of 1915-22. It was the other driving element in Churchill’s outlook – the maintenance of Britain’s primacy as a world power – which led to his most belligerent phases, in which he was denounced by the left and appeared to embrace right-wing ‘diehard’ Toryism: the naval race with Germany before 1914, the anti-Bolshevism of 1919-21, the rejection of further devolution in India in 1931-35, the urging of greater rearmament in the 1930s, and the ‘Iron Curtain’ speech heralding the Cold War in 1946. These were issues about which Churchill felt passionately and was willing to take political risks, and they are fundamental to understanding him. However, a truer reflection of his domestic politics can be found in the Churchill who opposed tariff reform in 1903-04 because of its likely impact on the cost of living of the working class; the moderate Chancellor of the Exchequer who introduced pensions for widows and orphans in his first budget of 1925; the Prime Minister of a coalition which produced the landmark commitment to full employment in 1944, and the Conservative leader who did not seek to reverse most of the domestic measures of the post-war Labour government, and who on returning to the Premiership in 1951-55 avoided anything potentially divisive and funded the welfare state even more extensively.

The Young Rebel: 1900–04

It was natural for Churchill to join the Conservative Party at the outset of his career, for almost every consideration pointed him in that direction. First and foremost, it was the party through which the father whom he hero-worshipped had become a household name, rising meteorically in the early 1880s to the pinnacle of Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1886. Secondly, many in the party sympathized with the ‘Tory Democracy’ that his father had promoted, and the organization that the latter had founded in 1883 in memory of Benjamin Disraeli – the Primrose League – was the largest and most active popular political organization in Britain. Thirdly, the Conservatives had made themselves clearly the party of empire, in contrast to the ‘Little Englandism’ of Gladstonian Liberalism. Finally, the Conservatives were in the ascendant from the mid-1890s whilst the Liberals languished in opposition, squabbling over issues that made no appeal to Churchill’s youthful romanticism, such as temperance reform and disestablishment of the Church of England. The only ambivalence in Churchill’s relationship with the Conservative Party at this time was the legacy of his father’s downfall and the role in this of the leader of the Conservative Party, Lord Salisbury.

After his first unsuccessful attempt to enter the House of Commons as a Conservative in the Oldham by-election of July 1899, Churchill’s fame from his Boer War adventures together with the tide flowing in the Conservatives’ favour saw him elected for that seat in the ‘khaki’ general election of October 1900, which followed military successes in South Africa. On entering Parliament, Churchill first made his presence felt on the issue of army reform. This was partly filial piety, for restraining wasteful expenditure in this area had been the trigger of his father’s resignation in 1886, and partly the fact that he knew something of the army from his own short military career. The inheritance of Lord Randolph’s cross-party links and his criticisms of government policy encouraged Churchill to favour ‘the government of the middle’. [ 1 ] He meant by this to be free from both the narrow self-interest of the privileged and the danger of greed from the masses, but his criticism of the defects of Toryism did not mean that he rejected its underlying values.

In May 1903, the second most powerful figure in their government, Joseph Chamberlain, caused a political earthquake by calling for ‘tariff reform’: the introduction of customs duties to protect British industry from competition and encourage imperial economic integration, but with the corollary of abandoning the long-standing policy of free trade and the free import of raw materials and food. When the controversy began in May, the course upon which Churchill embarked did not appear to lead out of the Conservative Party, even though this is where it ended a year later. Churchill was one of a substantial body of free-trade Conservatives; fifty-three MPs attended the launch of the Free Food League on 1 July 1903, and at the start they seemed to be greater in number than the tariff reformers. [ 2 ] The inertia of Conservatism and the fact that Joseph Chamberlain, as a Liberal Unionist, was still something of an outsider would have suggested that the ‘conservative’ option taken by Churchill was the sensible, prudent and conformist one. It was supported by powerful figures within the cabinet (until their dismissals and resignations in autumn 1903), whilst the Treasury, the City of London and most of the press were supporters of free trade. In taking this stance, Churchill could hardly have felt out of tune with his party or likely to hazard his position in it. [ 3 ]

He sensed the danger of a passive strategy and of reliance upon Balfour, who had succeeded Salisbury as party leader and Prime Minister in 1902, and in both respects Churchill was right. His instinct was for a realignment of parties, a prospect that would always appeal to his desire to shuffle the deck and deal a fresh hand all round. The atmosphere of crisis and the excitement of change always captured his imagination, and he hoped for the breaking up of established hierarchies, which would give buccaneering talent the chance to rise, and for boldness and imagination to reap their just rewards. Instead, the Conservative opponents of tariff reform swiftly became a beleaguered minority, as shown by Churchill’s deteriorating relations with his local Conservative association in Oldham, and he was left with only two choices – compromise and a humiliating swallowing of his words, or joining the Liberals in continued defence of free trade. He began to feel alienated from the Conservative Party; in October 1903, in the draft of a letter to his friend Hugh Cecil, which remained unsent, Churchill declared, ‘I am an English Liberal. I hate the Tory Party, their men, their words & their methods’, although this should be seen as an expression of his frustration in unexpected defeat and of working up the justification for departure. [ 4 ] Churchill’s decision to cross the floor was risky but not impulsive. His mentors and his own views and reading all reinforced his belief in free trade. What did separate him from other Conservatives – including some strong free traders who would not leave the party, such as Hugh Cecil – was that the religious issue of the defence of Anglicanism against Nonconformity had no hold upon him. With the prospect of action and opportunity all leading the other way, there was little to bind him to a party that had abandoned his father when he too had taken a stand for sound finance in 1886.

Liberal and Coalitionist: 1904–22

A lifelong characteristic of Churchill was to throw all of his energy and imagination into the position or task in which he was currently engaged, and this was the case with the Liberal phase of his career, which lasted for two decades. In the pre-war cabinet, he was first the effective junior partner in Lloyd George’s pursuit of radical social reform, and then from 1911 he was responsible for the navy during the height of the challenge from Germany. Inevitably, Churchill frequently crossed swords with the Conservatives in debate in the House of Commons and he was also a leading platform speaker for the government in public meetings. The five years before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 were a period of unusually deep and bitter division between the main governing and opposition parties, and feelings ran high. Whilst Conservative hostility was focused even more on Herbert Asquith and Lloyd George, Churchill’s combative contributions during the controversies over the ‘People’s Budget’ in 1909–10, the powers of the House of Lords in 1910–11 and home rule for Ireland in 1912–14 further increased Conservative antagonism towards him.

However, this was not the only – or even the main – reason for the Conservative insistence on his removal from the Admiralty when they joined Asquith’s coalition government in May 1915. It was rather the belief that Churchill was overstepping his proper ministerial role by interfering in the operational decisions of the naval war; this had led to the resignation of the First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord Fisher, which in turn had caused the formation of the coalition. Churchill remained a minister but his minor office (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) marginalized him from the conduct of the war, and he resigned from the government in November 1915. To many – including himself – it seemed that his political career was over. [ 5 ]

Ironically, his career was revived due to the split in the Liberal Party caused by Asquith’s ousting from the premiership and replacement by Lloyd George in December 1916. The new coalition was supported by the whole of the Conservative Party but only by about half of Liberal MPs and very few of its leading figures. Lloyd George needed credible and effective Liberal ministers, and Churchill was the most prominent of those available. However, opposition from the Conservatives forced Lloyd George to wait until his position was stronger in July 1917. [ 6 ] Even then, the vehemence of Conservative objections to Churchill’s appointment as Minister of Munitions shook the government. [ 7 ] During the next five years, Churchill’s effectiveness in this and his two succeeding positions, in charge of the army and air force (from January 1919) and Colonial Secretary (from February 1921), went a long way to restoring his reputation for competence, although doubts about his judgement remained. By 1922 he was one of the leading figures in the coalition and was no longer so dependent upon Lloyd George, having forged close links with the leading Conservatives: Balfour, Austen Chamberlain and his close personal friend and kindred spirit, F. E. Smith, by then Lord Birkenhead.

Return to the Conservatives and Chancellor of the Exchequer: 1922–29

When the Lloyd George coalition was overthrown in October 1922, it led to the second of Churchill’s apparent downfalls as he lost not just ministerial office but also his seat in the House of Commons. Churchill made a final outing under the Liberal banner in the general election of December 1923, mainly because the new leader of the Conservative Party, Stanley Baldwin, was seeking a mandate for tariff reform, which Churchill still opposed. He was defeated in the mainly working-class constituency of Leicester West by the Labour candidate, whilst nationally the Conservatives lost their governing majority. When the Liberal leadership decided to support the installation of a minority Labour government in January 1924, this broke Churchill’s last links with the Liberal Party. Since 1918, his dominant theme had been anti-socialism, expressed in vehement opposition to Bolshevism in Russia and the advance of the Labour Party at home, and this had naturally led him back to the Conservatives. [ 8 ] Although the difference of view over free trade versus protectionism remained, most Conservatives – including Baldwin – welcomed his return, both as an asset in himself and as a symbol of moderate Liberal recognition that the Conservative Party was now the only effective defender of property, social stability and the constitution.

It only remained to arrange the details of Churchill’s return to the Conservative fold, but once again his impatience caused problems. He rushed into the by-election in the safe Conservative constituency of Westminster Abbey in March 1924, standing as an ‘Independent Anti-Socialist’. However, although he secured a substantial amount of Conservative support both locally and amongst MPs, the constituency Conservative association nominated an official candidate and Churchill’s conduct seemed divisive. [ 9 ] The outcome was in fact the best for Churchill’s long-term prospects: his narrow second place, only forty-three votes behind the official Conservative, showed his dynamism and appeal without doing actual damage to the party. In September 1924, the Conservative association in the safe suburban Essex constituency of Epping adopted Churchill as its candidate, although in the general election, which took place a month later following the fall of the first Labour government, he stood under the label ‘Constitutional and Anti-Socialist’. Now enjoying full Conservative support, Churchill was elected with the comfortable majority of 9,763, and he was to hold this seat (and its successor, Woodford) for the remaining forty years of his parliamentary career. However, it was only after the election that he formally re-joined the Conservative Party.

The reason for doing so immediately was that Baldwin – who had won a landslide victory – appointed Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Despite the shock to some Conservatives, the placing of Churchill at the Treasury had several advantages. Its extensive responsibilities would keep even him fully occupied, but it did not bring him into direct contact with the trade unions, where his belligerency would have run counter to Baldwin’s main objective of encouraging peace and harmony in industry. More controversially within the party, putting the free-trader Churchill in charge of economic policy underscored the pledge which Baldwin had given in the 1924 election campaign that there would be no introduction of protectionism in the next parliament. Churchill maintained his belief that there should be ‘no fundamental reversal of our existing fiscal system’, [ 10 ] despite increasing restiveness amongst backbench Conservative MPs in the later period of the government in 1927–29. However, the main Conservative reservation about Churchill derived from his more recent past as a prominent figure in the Lloyd George coalition of 1918–22. Together with the other leading Conservatives who had supported continuing the coalition, Churchill was constantly suspected of wishing to revive it and of intriguing to bring this about. [ 11 ] In fact, Churchill was grateful for his promotion, comfortable with Baldwin’s centrist strategy and loyal to the Prime Minister. However, he was never the second figure in the Conservative leadership or Baldwin’s most likely successor as he did not have the confidence of Conservative MPs for that position.

Churchill worked closely with Baldwin, was a constructive member of the Cabinet and an effective debater for the government in the House of Commons, where MPs flocked to the chamber to hear him speak. His budgets were generally considered successful, and there was admiration for the ingenuity of his financial juggling. However, he was unable to deliver on two of the government’s main objectives: reducing expenditure and thereby taxation, and reducing unemployment, which remained apparently intractable at a level of around one and a quarter million. Churchill’s most popular success was in his first budget of April 1925, when he extended the state pension scheme to include widows and orphans. [ 12 ] Churchill’s main initiative in the later years of the government was the ‘De-Rating’ scheme to relieve industry and agriculture from local government taxation, a plan which he jointly conceived with the cabinet’s other most energetic figure, Neville Chamberlain. [ 13 ] It was a complex measure about which it was difficult to arouse public enthusiasm and it came too late to show any effects upon unemployment before the general election was held in May 1929; after a dull campaign, the Conservatives were defeated and replaced by a minority Labour government for the second time.

India, Appeasement and the Path to the Premiership: 1930–40

Churchill was not to hold ministerial office again for more than a decade, a period generally characterized as his ‘wilderness years’. However, it did not start out that way, and he remained a member of the shadow cabinet until January 1931. In the summer of 1929 he was a respected figure within the leadership, although his career was generally considered to be winding down. Churchill was less effective as a speaker in the House of Commons in opposition in 1929–30, [ 14 ] and his position in the party declined for two reasons. The first of these was the growing feeling amongst Conservative MPs that the party’s leadership needed an infusion of younger talent. Churchill was regularly identified as one of the ‘old gang’, and by the end of 1930 the pressure against their return to office had become considerable. The second factor was the renewed agitation within the party to adopt a protectionist economic policy; this left Churchill isolated, with many viewing him as an obstacle. In fact, his commitment to free trade was fading even before the impact of the great depression sent unemployment levels soaring during 1930 and 1931. Significantly, when Baldwin adopted an unrestricted protectionist policy in October 1930, Churchill reluctantly accepted it and did not resign from the shadow cabinet, although it had been widely assumed that he would do so. [ 15 ]

Instead, the breach came a few months later, and over another issue: India. In September 1930, Churchill had told Baldwin that he cared ‘more about this business than anything else in public life’. [ 16 ] He became strongly opposed to the approach that Baldwin had adopted of supporting the devolutionary ‘Irwin Declaration’ of November 1929 and working with the Labour government on a programme of moderate political reform in India. [ 17 ] Following Baldwin’s endorsement of the outcome of the first Round Table Conference on India, Churchill resigned from the shadow cabinet on 27 January 1931. [ 18 ] For the next four and a half years, India was to be Churchill’s predominant issue, and it overshadowed the beginning of his warnings about defence in 1932. Churchill’s passionate and intemperate campaign over India was hampered by a series of misjudgements and some debating failures, [ 19 ] particularly in his unsuccessful allegation in April 1934 that the India Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, had improperly influenced the Manchester Chamber of Commerce to alter the evidence that it was submitting to the parliamentary Joint Select Committee that was laboriously examining the government’s proposed reforms. [ 20 ] There was some basis for Churchill’s charge but he was unable to present any conclusive evidence; when the Committee of Privileges reported against him in June 1934, Churchill’s denunciations damaged only his own standing. The minority of ‘diehard’ Conservative MPs who opposed the India policy were reluctant to be identified with him, whilst the centre and left of the party viewed him as a reactionary alarmist. [ 21 ] Churchill was also widely suspected of using India as a means of bringing down Baldwin and breaking up the government – but the latter was something that almost no Conservative wanted, as the cross-party National Government, which had been formed in the financial crisis of August 1931, was considered to be vital to economic stability and recovery.

The India campaign left Churchill widely discredited and with the support of only a handful of Conservative MPs. However, his warnings about the need for rearmament slowly restored some of his influence and prestige, particularly after 1935 when Hitler’s boasts about the size of the German air force appeared to substantiate Churchill’s criticisms and expose government complacency. [ 22 ] Churchill’s language on defence and foreign policy in the 1930s was never as wild as his denunciations over India, and his speeches were based much more on factual evidence – often of well-informed accuracy. In the autumn of 1935, he made his way back towards the party mainstream, praising and supporting Baldwin, particularly during the general election held in November. [ 23 ] He nourished hopes of returning to office and so moderated his public criticisms for a time. Churchill made a further misjudgement of Conservative opinion during the Abdication Crisis of December 1936, when his romantic supported for the beleaguered Edward VIII was once again misconstrued as an attempt to unseat Baldwin and displace the government, and he reached the low point of being howled down by MPs when he tried to speak in the crucial debate on 7 December 1936. [ 24 ] However, with the King’s departure this storm blew over as quickly as it had arisen, and some more considered speeches on defence during the next few months largely restored Churchill’s standing. [ 25 ]

When Baldwin retired in May 1937, Churchill’s status as a senior figure in the Conservative Party was recognized by his seconding the election of Neville Chamberlain as the new party leader. There was only a minor reshuffle of the cabinet and Churchill was not offered a position, as Chamberlain considered that including him would send an unhelpful signal of confrontation to Hitler and reduce the chance for a peaceful settlement of German grievances. Chamberlain’s determined quest for European peace through an active policy of ‘appeasement’ had extensive support in the Conservative Party at all levels, as well as amongst a public who dreaded the horrors of another war. At the same time, the small group of Conservative MPs who cautiously criticized appeasement were mainly younger men on the left of the party who were reluctant to be associated with Churchill, and instead looked to the glamorous figure of the former Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. [ 26 ] The period when Churchill was most isolated within the Conservative Party was the six months after the Munich Agreement of October 1938, and during this period he faced some challenges within his local constituency association, although with the support of its chairman he was able to contain them. [ 27 ]

The tide began to turn after Hitler tore up the Munich Agreement by seizing the Czech part of Czechoslovakia, without any warning, in March 1939. This began the process of discrediting Chamberlain and vindicating Churchill, a trend that was to continue during the following year. However, a press campaign in the summer of 1939 for Churchill’s inclusion in the cabinet was seen as another attempt on his part to force his way in, and Chamberlain was able to resist this until the final failure of appeasement and the German invasion of Poland led to the outbreak of war on 3 September 1939. On the same day, Chamberlain offered Churchill the post of First Lord of the Admiralty and a place in the inner war cabinet. During the next eight months, Churchill’s standing rose, and his position was in many ways independent of the rest of the government. Churchill’s energy and determination was apparent in both radio broadcasts and speeches in the House of Commons, which made a striking contrast to the often uninspiring performances of Chamberlain. However, a crucial feature of Churchill’s conduct during his period in Chamberlain’s government was his visible loyalty to the Prime Minister, which together with his effectiveness reduced the doubts of Conservative MPs.

This loyalty was reaffirmed in Churchill’s speech during the parliamentary debates of 7–8 May 1940, which followed the failure to prevent the German seizure of Norway. Concerns about the complacency and lack of drive of Chamberlain and the leading figures of the pre-war cabinet crystallized in the rebellion and abstention of around 80 government MPs, and although Chamberlain won the vote by 281 to 200, such a large loss of support fatally weakened his position. At this point of crisis, an all-party coalition was considered essential, but the Labour Party would not serve under Chamberlain – it was this, and not any action or inaction by Churchill, which forced Chamberlain to resign. The only possible successor apart from Churchill was the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, who certainly had far more support amongst Conservative MPs and in some ways was more acceptable to the Labour Party. However, as a Prime Minister in the House of Lords, Halifax would have been completely dependent upon Churchill to lead in the House of Commons. In the crucial meeting with Chamberlain and Halifax at 10 Downing Street on 9 May, Churchill remained silent when asked by Chamberlain if he would serve under Halifax, after which the latter withdrew his claim. On the next day, as Germany launched its offensive against the Netherlands, Belgium and France, Churchill took office as Prime Minister of a reconstructed government that now included members of the opposition Labour and Liberal parties.

Conservative Party Leader in Wartime: 1940–45

Although Churchill had attained his ambition of becoming Prime Minister, Chamberlain remained the leader of the Conservative Party and still enjoyed the strong support of most Conservative MPs – as they visibly demonstrated when the House of Commons next assembled on 13 May. Churchill was very conscious of this political reality, and immediately after taking office he had written to Chamberlain acknowledging that ‘to a very large extent I am in your hands’. [ 28 ] The two men had worked well together over the previous months and Churchill was aware of Chamberlain’s administrative competence; it was this, as well as political necessity, which led Churchill to give Chamberlain the key role of coordinating the home front whilst he concentrated on the conduct of the war and diplomatic relations, especially with the United States. There was no purge of Chamberlainite supporters from the government and only a small number of discredited or light-weight ministers were dropped, more to make space for the incoming Labour and Liberal leaders than for Churchillian ‘anti-appeasers’. It was not until the end of 1940 that Churchill was able to persuade Halifax to become Ambassador to the United States, and thus appoint Eden as Foreign Secretary. However, by that time there had been a significant and completely unexpected change. In May, Chamberlain had been fit and well, and he seemed likely to remain Conservative leader for the duration of the war, if not longer, but in the summer he fell ill with what was discovered to be terminal cancer; in late September he retired from the government and the party leadership, dying on 9 November. Churchill was well aware of the problems that Lloyd George had encountered after 1918 as a Prime Minister without a party, and – despite the opposition of his wife, Clementine – he had no intention of allowing anyone else to occupy the powerful position of Conservative leader. By this time, Churchill’s leadership during the fall of France and the Battle of Britain had established his pre-eminence, and on 9 October 1940 he was formally elected as leader of the Conservative Party, [ 29 ] without opposition – although certainly there were still many Conservative MPs who had doubts about his judgement and methods, and disliked his entourage.

It is often said that Churchill neglected his role as Conservative Party leader during the Second World War, but this is only partially correct. Certainly, his first priorities were always the prosecution of the war and the maintenance of national unity: ‘I dread distraction of minds from the war effort’, he wrote in response to the manifesto of the Tory Reform Committee in 1943. [ 30 ] However, this was also the national mood, and the inactivity of the Conservative Party in most constituencies during the height of the war from 1940 to 1944 was due mainly to the attitudes of its members. The decay of the party was not a consequence of Churchill’s lack of interest, which has also been exaggerated: Churchill addressed two of the five Central Council meetings held during his wartime leadership, which is a higher proportion than either Baldwin or Chamberlain before him, and he also spoke at the second of the two party conferences, in March 1945. Churchill delegated oversight of party affairs to capable managers, and crucially he retained in these posts the experienced figures who had loyally served Chamberlain. Churchill also ensured that he was kept informed of Conservative parliamentary opinion. [ 31 ] Whilst Churchill did not get involved in the details of the post-war policies, which were being worked out by a party committee, leaving the oversight of this process to the Chief Whip and the committee’s chairman, R. A. Butler, nothing was published without his approval. From the start of his leadership in October 1940, Churchill had recognized that ‘it is important that the framework of the Organisation should be kept in being, ready to start again when the time comes’. [ 32 ] As the war began to draw to a close in 1944–5, he took a more active interest, although still delegating the details and implementation to subordinates. Ralph Assheton, the Chairman of the Party from 1944 to 1946, later stated that during the final months before the 1945 general election, ‘Churchill took an intense personal interest in every phase ... I saw him perhaps more than some of my predecessors had seen their Leader’. [ 33 ]

When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, the Labour and Liberal parties – to Churchill’s regret – withdrew from the coalition, and the following general election was a landslide victory for the Labour Party, whilst the Conservatives and their handful of allies were reduced to 210 MPs. The outcome of the 1945 election was due to shifts in public opinion that mainly occurred in 1940–42, as the Conservatives were blamed retrospectively for both the foreign and the domestic problems of the 1930s. Churchill could do little about this trend, but whilst the Conservatives would almost certainly have been defeated anyway, two actions of Churchill’s may have contributed to the process. The first he shared with most Conservative MPs, which was to be cautious over the welfare reforms proposed in the Beveridge Report of 1942, due to concerns about how these were to be financed. However, the reforms were very popular with the public and were enthusiastically endorsed by the Labour Party. The second factor was much less important as it occurred during the election campaign, by which time public attitudes had already largely been determined. This was Churchill’s first campaign broadcast, on 4 June 1945, in which he suggested that a socialist government would have to control public opinion by ‘some form of Gestapo’; together with Churchill’s other anti-socialist attacks on his recent cabinet colleagues, this seemed disproportionate and was out of tune with public sentiment. [ 34 ]

Conservative Party Leader in Peacetime: 1945–55

Churchill was surprised and distressed by his rejection at the polls, but swiftly determined to stay on as party leader with the intention of reversing it. There were many, including his wife, who would have preferred him to retire but it was politically impossible to force him out, particularly at a time when Conservative supporters were outraged by the ingratitude of the electorate to the wartime saviour. He was not generally blamed for the defeat, which was understood to be primarily a verdict on his predecessors. Churchill’s tenure as Leader of the Opposition during the Labour governments of 1945–51 has often been criticized, with the implication that the Conservative Party’s recovery during this period owed little to its leader, who hampered the process more than he helped it. The criticisms have focused on three areas: his absences from the Commons, his disinterest in the reappraisal of policy and his imprudent speeches in debates. In the first case, there were certainly complaints about Churchill’s absences in 1945–46 as he rested, travelled and began work on his war memoirs. However, this was early in the parliament when greater opposition activity would have had no more effect and might even have been counter-productive. From the spring of 1946, Churchill began to attack the Labour government over shortages, ration cuts and mismanagement, linking these problems with the nationalization of industries. In fact, over the opposition period as a whole, Churchill spoke in most of the important debates in Parliament, addressed the party’s annual conferences, and spoke at various public meetings and mass rallies. He kept control of overall strategy, with detail and routine being delegated to others; as Churchill told the 1946 party conference, ‘as Leader ... it is my duty to take a long and broad view’. [ 35 ]

Churchill’s view of opposition strategy was to criticize the government wherever possible but to accept that public support would not erode until there were visible failures, following the truism that governments lose elections rather than oppositions win them. This waiting game was out of sympathy with his rising younger colleagues, who wanted to refresh the party’s pre-war image and adapt its position to the reforms being introduced by Labour. Although unconvinced, and concerned about giving possible hostages to fortune too early in the parliament, after the 1946 party conference Churchill gave way to the pressure for a policy statement and appointed Butler to chair the committee that produced the Industrial Charter in May 1947. There is an account in the memoirs of Reginald Maudling, who was helping to draft the leader’s speech for the 1947 party conference, that when Churchill read the passage summarizing the charter his response was ‘But I do not agree with a word of this.’ [ 36 ] However, the important point is that despite such reservations, Churchill accepted that the statement was necessary, and he publicly endorsed it and the several other ‘charters’ that followed. This is an example of one of his strengths in this period: appointing capable and effective figures to key areas and giving them support. Butler was the central figure in the policy reappraisal, being the chairman of the revived Conservative Research Department and of the new Advisory Committee on Policy and Political Education, with Eden and Harold Macmillan also playing important roles. In July 1946, Churchill appointed the effective and popular Lord Woolton as Party Chairman, and over the next five years ‘Uncle Fred’ revitalized the organization and raised large amounts of funds. That Churchill’s role was not just one of passivity or indifference is illustrated by his insistence upon some amendments to the report of a committee that was reviewing the party organization, in order to prevent possible encroachments on the authority and freedom of action of the party leader.

The final criticism of imprudence in speeches and errors in tactics also has substance but it is based on relatively few examples, the most significant of which were over the new health service in 1946 and 1949. However, whilst the language of Churchill’s attacks on the government was often rich and powerful, he was actually very cautious about making specific commitments. One of the few he did make was again a response to pressure from the party grass-roots, when Churchill accepted a resolution passed with great enthusiasm at the 1950 party conference to set a specific target of building 300,000 new houses a year. The key point was that under Churchill’s leadership the Conservatives had maintained a moderate position, moving towards the centre ground of politics rather than away from it. [ 37 ] In fact, the main cause of the Conservative recovery was the unpopularity of the government’s continued austerity measures, which led to a shift back to the Conservatives of middle-class and women voters whom they had lost in 1945. [ 38 ] The Conservatives made the largest inroads in the general election of February 1950, with a net gain of eighty-eight seats which left the Labour government clinging onto office with an overall majority in the House of Commons of only six. This was unsustainable and, when the next election was held in October 1951, a smaller turnover of seats enabled Churchill to return to the premiership with the narrow but workable overall majority of seventeen.

Although Churchill’s second term as Prime Minister in 1951–55 was in peacetime and in the context of normal party competition, in most accounts the Conservative Party seems to disappear from view almost as much as during the war. Churchill’s priority was the international stage, where he hoped to use his prestige to reduce the dangerous tensions of the Cold War through a summit meeting. Although, as in wartime, the conduct of domestic affairs was largely dealt with by other ministers, Churchill had again constructed an effective team. The decisions taken always tended to moderation; only the most controversial of Labour’s nationalizations – road haulage and the steel industry – were reversed, whilst the welfare state was funded even more extensively than before and a controversial plan to float the pound was rejected by Churchill due to concerns about its potential impact on both prices and employment. Although within the cabinet there were concerns about Churchill’s health and capability, and increasing frustration at his continual postponements of his promised retirement, little of this was apparent in public. He delivered the major speeches on key occasions and crucially after his serious stroke of June 1953 made a remarkable recovery during the summer recess; he scored a triumph with his leader’s speech to the Conservative Party conference in October, where he also gave another vigorous and effective oration the following year. Churchill presided as a benignly avuncular figure over a government which removed irksome wartime controls and ended rationing, with low levels of unemployment and rising standards of living. When he finally made way for Eden in April 1955, the Conservative Party claimed a membership of more than two million, was well organized and resourced at both local and national level, was united and in good morale, and was ahead in the opinion polls. Few party leaders have handed on such a good inheritance to their successor, and it is not surprising that Eden at once called a general election in May, in which the Conservatives increased their majority, in this case to sixty seats.


This essay argues that Churchill was closer to mainstream Conservative opinion than is generally recognized. This is true not only for the 1920s and his term as party leader from 1940 to 1955, but it is also largely the case for the 1930s, when he supported the National Government on almost all areas of domestic policy. Where he dissented – on India, rearmament and appeasement – his outlook and reservations were shared by many Conservatives, although they did not trust his motives and judgement, or then consider him a suitable party leader. When Churchill did reach that position, during the wartime years he provided the kind of patriotic and unifying national leadership which the Conservative Party wanted, and his avoidance of partisanship was in tune with contemporary Conservative sentiment. After 1945, Churchill was a more effective party leader in opposition than is usually admitted: he maintained unity, provided an umbrella of prestige under which the party could reappraise itself and recover, and led effectively from the mainstream. As Prime Minister in 1951–55, he secured the centre ground for the Conservatives, remaining pragmatic and flexible in approach, and there is little doubt that his cautious and uncontroversial domestic policy was satisfactory and popular with both the party he led and the wider public.

Churchill was without doubt one of the moving forces and characters of his age, but he was not a unique phenomenon. Between 1906 and 1940, he was one of the twenty or thirty most significant figures in British politics – sometimes being in the front rank and sometimes at the margins. Even before 1939, his political achievements were considerable and much greater than those of his father; he was Chancellor of the Exchequer for a full term, and apart from Neville Chamberlain his was the longest tenure of that high office between 1915 and 1974. It was the national and world significance of Churchill’s contribution to victory in the Second World War that raised his status above that of any other British politician in the twentieth century. However, acknowledging this crucial role should not preclude assessing Churchill’s domestic political record on the same basis as other leading politicians and party leaders, not least because he comes out quite well in any such comparisons.

Stuart Ball, University of Leicester

Stuart Ball is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Leicester. He has written a short biography of Churchill, Winston Churchill (2003), and has published extensively on the history of the Conservative Party in the twentieth century. His most recent books are Portrait of a Party: The Conservative Party in Britain 1918–1945 (2013) and Conservative Politics in National and Imperial Crisis: Letters from Britain to the Viceroy of India 1926–1931 (2014). He has also edited, with Anthony Seldon, Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900 (1994) and Recovering Power: The Conservatives in Opposition since 1867 (2005).


  1. 1. Winston Churchill to Lord Rosebery, 10 October 1902, in Randolph Churchill (ed.), Winston S. Churchill: Volume 2 Companion, Young Statesman 1901–14, Part 1 (London: Heinemann, 1969), p. 168.
  2. 2. On the Conservative Free Traders, see Winston Churchill to the Duke of Devonshire, undated but c.June 1903, not sent, CHAR 2/11/41-42.
  3. 3. For Churchill’s criticisms of tariff reform, see Winston Churchill to Colonel J. Mitford, 9 July 1903, CHAR 2/11/9-11.
  4. 4. Winston Churchill to Lord Hugh Cecil, 24 October 1903, not sent, CHAR 2/8/105-106.
  5. 5. For an example of Conservative opposition to Churchill, see Lord Derby to David Lloyd George, 18 August 1916, in Martin Gilbert (ed.), Winston S. Churchill: Volume 3 Companion, Part 2, Documents May 1915–December 1916 (London: Heinemann, 1972), p. 1545.
  6. 6. Sir George Younger (Chairman of the Conservative Party) to David Lloyd George, 8 June and 9 June 1917, Lord Curzon (Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords) to David Lloyd George, 8 June 1917, in Martin Gilbert (ed.), Winston S. Churchill: Volume 4 Companion, Part 1, Documents January 1917–June 1919 (London: Heinemann, 1977), pp. 70–72.
  7. 7. Leo Amery diary, 18 July 1917, in John Barnes and David Nicholson (eds), The Leo Amery Diaries: Volume 1, 1896–29 (London: Hutchinson, 1980), p. 164.
  8. 8. See the letter from Churchill in The Times, 18 January 1924.
  9. 9. Sir Samuel Hoare to Winston Churchill, 17 June 1924, CHAR 2/133/73.
  10. 10. Winston Churchill to Henry Page Croft, c.25 July 1928, CHAR 2/158/63-67.
  11. 11. Robert Rhodes James (ed.), Memoirs of a Conservative: J. C. C. Davidson’s Memoirs and Papers 1910–37 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969), pp. 213, 215, 309–10.
  12. 12. Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, 28 November 1924, CHAR 18/7/89-94.
  13. 13. Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, 6 June 1927, CHAR 18/64/3-13.
  14. 14. Leo Amery diary, 26 May 1930, John Barnes and David Nicholson (eds), The Empire at Bay: The Leo Amery Diaries: Volume 2, 1929–45 (London: Hutchinson, 1988), p. 72.
  15. 15. Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, 16 October 1930, CHAR 2/572/104-105.
  16. 16. Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, 24 September 1930, CHAR 2/572/84-85.
  17. 17. Winston Churchill to Lord Irwin (Viceroy of India), 1 January 1930, CHAR 2/572/88-91.
  18. 18. Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, 27 January 1931, CHAR 2/572/76-77.
  19. 19. Victor Cazalet diary, 19 April 1933, in Robert Rhodes James, Victor Cazalet (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1976), p. 154.
  20. 20. Winston Churchill to E. A. Fitzroy (Speaker of the House of Commons), 15 April 1934, CHAR 2/213/66-70; Carl Bridge, ‘Churchill, Hoare, Derby, and the Committee of Privileges: April to June 1934’, Historical Journal, 22 (1979), pp. 215–27.
  21. 21. Sir Reginald Mitchell Banks to Winston Churchill, March 1933, CHAR 2/192/125-126.
  22. 22. Winston Churchill to Lord Rothermere, 6 August 1934, CHAR 2/228/19-22.
  23. 23. Winston Churchill to Stanley Baldwin, 7 October 1935, CHAR 2/237/102.
  24. 24. Winston Churchill, ‘The Abdication of King Edward VIII’, December 1936, CHAR 2/264/16-26; Leo Amery diary, 7 December 1936, Barnes and Nicholson, The Empire at Bay: Volume 2, p. 432.
  25. 25. Leo Amery diary, 10 December 1936, Barnes and Nicholson, The Empire at Bay: Volume 2, p. 433; Earl Winterton diary, 12 December 1936, in Earl Winterton, Orders of the Day (London: Cassell, 1953), p. 223.
  26. 26. Anthony Crossley diary, 20 September 1938, in Martin Gilbert (ed.), Winston S. Churchill: Volume 5 Companion, Part 3, Documents: The Coming of War 1936–39 (London: Heinemann, 1982), p. 1170.
  27. 27. Colin Thornton-Kemsley, Through Winds and Tides (Montrose: Standard Press, 1974), pp. 93-7.
  28. 28. Winston Churchill to Neville Chamberlain, 10 May 1940, CHAR 19/2C/298-299.
  29. 29. Winston Churchill, speech notes, Conservative Party meeting, Caxton Hall, Westminster, 9 October 1940, CHAR 9/145/1-6.
  30. 30. Winston Churchill to Lord Hinchingbrooke, 28 March 1943, CHAR 2/480/10.
  31. 31. Copies of the weekly reports from George Harvie-Watt, Churchill’s Parliamentary Private Secretary 1941-45, are in the Harvie-Watt MSS at Churchill College Archives Centre, University of Cambridge, HARV/1/1 to HARV/5/1; for an account of their relationship, see G. S. Harvie-Watt, Most of My Life (London: Springwood Books, 1980).
  32. 32. Winston Churchill to Sir Kingsley Wood, appointing him Chairman of the Conservative Research Department, 31 October 1940, CHAR 2/402/25.
  33. 33. Assheton’s comments are recorded from an interview with the long-serving Central Office official, Percy Cohen, in his unpublished history of the party organization, ‘Disraeli’s Child’, p. 567, Conservative Party Archive, Bodleian Library, CRD/731.
  34. 34. Richard Toye, ‘Winston Churchill’s “crazy broadcast”: party, nation, and the 1945 Gestapo speech’, Journal of British Studies, 49 (2010), pp. 655–80.
  35. 35. Notes for speech to the Conservative Party Annual Conference, Blackpool, 5 October 1946, CHUR 5/9/136-199, quote at CHUR 5/9/139, and see also definition of aims, CHUR 5/9/186-197.
  36. 36. Reginald Maudling, Memoirs (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1978), pp. 45–6.
  37. 37. ‘Statement of General Principles’, 24 July 1950, CHUR 2/105/2-9.
  38. 38. Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, ‘Rationing, austerity, and the Conservative Party recovery after 1945’, Historical Journal, 37 (1994), pp. 173–97.

(c) 2016 Stuart Ball