Neville Chamberlain Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Halifax discussed on John Batchelor
Churchill and his war cabinet at this moment, which is the ninth of men the German. The the eighth of may the Germans have not yet attacked the low countries are France, they're going to, but nobody knows that in in parliament as they're debating chamberlain's government war cabinet and Churchill's defended him, Lloyd, Georgia's blasted him. They go to a division and the final vote is two hundred eighty one. Yes, and two hundred no that looks like chamberlain's government, stands the important detail here is that Chamberlain went into this division. For and against with a two hundred and thirteen majority of all the conservatives have voted for him, many people abstain many people stayed away and there were calls of resigned Chamberlain immediately. After the the results of the division were announced that night and into the next day Chamberlain has to deal with the fact that he's been badly rocked as prime minister. And he's got to change his cabinet John Chamberlain at this point believe that he can survive. Yes. He does at first he was very badly. Shaken, but he did still have an unassailable majority. What he knew he had to do was to somehow persuade members from the labor party and members of the liberal party to join him in a coalition government. He thought he could do that. He also thought he could bring into his government some of those troublesome young men who that is to say the critics. Of his appeasement policies during the pre war era. And that if he did that he could essentially buy off the conservative party and bring in the other parties and yes survive to fight another day. He did not intend to relinquish the prime ministership that day he did not intend to then yet. He calls in Halifax and Chamberlain that afternoon to have a very Churchill Tampa, very important conversation about who can take this job. If not me, let's now turn we know Churchill, very well Halifax. His name is Edward Frederick Linley. He's a man who's gone FOX hunting with Gehring. He's a lordly and admired figure what is the advantage to going to Halifax and what is the disadvantage? Chamberlain preferred Halifax she had worked closely with Halifax for years. He had made Halifax his foreign minister. And he believed that Halifax would continue his policies. He was much more comfortable with him. Then with Winston Churchill who. I should explain was considered to be sort of a wild man and a loose cannon a figure with enormous capacity, but also unbridled and unmanageable. And so he wanted to stay if he had to step down if the labor party would not work with him which by the afternoon of that day. He was beginning to think would be the case. Then he wanted to steer the prime ministership to pair of safe hands or safer hands than Churchill's and those were Halifax's Halifax was reluctant. However, they do find another compromise, which is to welcome athle- leader of labor and amend name Greenwood senior figure in labor into the government. So they send for them that afternoon and Chamberlain asked. Sadly to join the cabinet. Why why won't Atlee agree? The labor party hated Neville Chamberlain Chamberlain. Apparently was an extremely haughty figure a man who didn't suffer fools lightly. And who basically thought that anybody who disagreed with him was a fool and labor disagreed with him all the time labor had opposed his his austerity policies, you might say during the period of the economic depression in the thirties, and they remembered him they I have seen the quotations. They say things like he used to treat us like dirt. They didn't want to be in a government with him. They didn't trust him. But I think even more important than that is that they really didn't trust him to aggressively pursue the war against the Germans. He they didn't think that he was a war leader our party won't have you as the quote from athle-, it's give and so. So the choice now is Halifax or Churchill that evening. Churchill dines with Sinclair and Eden the young the young man the eaten a group and conservatives and tells them I shall be PM soon. He tells his son Randolph he'll be PM that soon as well. But not yet. Not yet. We go to Friday, the tents and you right, professor. There's a blur of meetings all morning for Churchill and Chamberlain still sees with tulips at the peak outside it's beautiful spring day that still Atley refuses. They ask him again. He refuses and Chamberlain has no choice. But to go to the king and resign the king wants Chamberlain to stay is that why he says it's grossly unfair when Chamberlain arrives. Yes. The king sympathized with chamberlain's views and had been an appeaser himself. But you see the situation had changed on that last day because that was the day that the Germans launched the attack again. France Chamberlain at I thought that the emergency the crisis meant that he could hang on to power. And in fact, Churchill himself thought that it what mattered at the moment was to defeat the Germans, but still the labor party would not join chamberlain's government, and then Chamberlain went to the king and handed in what are called the seals of office, and the king assumed that it would be Halifax who would replace him and Chamberlain had to tell them. No, it will be Churchill. Yes. Winstons the man to send for and that decision is the tents Churchill is now prime minister, he spends the weekend choosing his cabinet that is the subject of our conversation Churchill's wartime cabinet, but the transition here is everything. Everyone's now, pondering how Churchill will lead in this a crisis situation. The Germans are rolling into the low. Lands. There are a low countries. They're rolling into France. They're bombing Belgium. They're rumors even that they've bombed Canterbury which is not true. But as the panic of the weekend Churchill is assembling a cabinet. But the surprising thing I learned from you John is that nobody expected this to last long. They they expected Churchill to come and go so on Monday when he makes his speech Commons. We just a note here when he makes his speech to Commons. Do they all doubt him to they shout at him? Do they listened in silence? They don't shout at him. But they raise a greater cheer. Well, let me explain in the house of Commons as as you pointed out earlier, the vast majority of men sitting on those benches are conservatives by and the vast majority of conservative still preferred amber Lynn to Churchill I people don't probably realize today that in nineteen thirty nine or nineteen forty Churchill was considered very much a sort of a man on the fringe. He had wants, of course, been at the centre. But in the nineteen thirties, especially his policies had diverged sharply from conservative policies with regard, especially to appeasement. But with regard to other lenses introduces cabinet, and we'll see as policies ministers at war. Jonathan sh- near is the author. I'm John Batchelor. This is the John Batchelor show..