Churchill Key Idea 1


1.1: Fear of Communism and social unrest

  • Unpopularly encouraged British military intervention to aid the Whites in the Russian Civil War
  • Objected 1920 Anglo-Soviet Trade Treaty.
  • Successfully threatened to resign over 1922 proposal to officially recognise the Soviet State.
  • UK Trade Union membership doubled to 8 million during WW1.
  • Feared the spread of Communism, especially to Germany.
  • Feared a revolution in Britain.
  • Zinoviev letter in Daily Mail (later proved to be fake) highlighted a link between the Labour Party and Russian Communists.
  • Called Communism a "cancer" and "foul baboonery".
  • Horrified by 1918 murder of Russian Royal family as he feared losing his own privileged status and viewed Communism to be brutal.
  • Urged colleagues to use force against 1919 coal strikers.
  • Approved of the use of gas in Iraq.
  • Proposed use of force against unrest in Ireland.
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1.2: Chancellor of the Exchequer/Return to Gold

  • Appointed by Baldwin to be Chancellor in 1924.
  • Was 2nd choice behind Chamberlain.
  • Gold Standard ensured money supply and stability but was set too high at pre-war levels, resulting in expensive exports and raised interest rates.
  • A Labour-appointed committee had supported his return to Gold.
  • Keynes: "The Economic Consequences of Mr Churchill" 1925.
  • Working class believed only socialism could solve unemployment.
  • Extended the welfare state and reduced military spending, for example refusing to allow a naval base in Singapore (stated there would be "no war with Japan" in his lifetime).
  • Tried to reduce government spending and decreased income tax.
  • Permanently renewed the 10 Year Rule in 1928.
  • Became a competent Chancellor.
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1.3: General Strike

  • Supported initial subsidy but coal industry was inefficient.
  • Viewed the Daily Mail's refusal to print an anti-strike article as a threat to freedom of speech.
  • Saw the General Strike as a threat to democracy despite sympathising with the miners.
  • The strike lasted 10 days (3rd - 13th May 1926).
  • Editor of the British Gazette where he supported the use of armed forces against the strike.
  • Denied the New Statesman's accusations that he said "a little bloodletting" wouldn't go amiss.
  • Baldwin's scapegoat; Baldwin knew Churchill would be an extremist, allowing himself to look like a calm negotiator.
  • Signed the 1927 Trade Disputes Act which put a ban on general strikes.
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1.4: Attempts at Conciliation

  • Supported the payment of a subsidy to the coal miners whilst the industry faced investigations.
  • Sympathised with the coal miners and tried to compromise over their continued strike.
  • Persuaded the mine owners to negotiate wage cuts on a national level - this is what the workers had wanted.
  • Aimed to impose a settlement so that miners could get back to work.
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1.5: Reasons for wilderness years

  • Criticised for his budgets.
  • 1929 Labour election victory, Labour-led government until 1935.
  • Gold Standard was abandoned in 1931.
  • Wrote "My Early Life" in 1930 and went on a speaking tour of the US.
  • Strongly opposed Indian Independence, formed the India Defence League, and so was viewed as out-dated and extremist especially upon describing Gandhi as a "half naked fakir".
  • Seen as trying to challenge Baldwin after his 1931 resignation from the Shadow Cabinet.
  • Seen as war-mongering when he urged rearmament following Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in 1933.
  • Did not press for an armed response in 1936 when Hitler broke the Treaty of Versailles by remilitarising the Rhineland.
  • 1937: "I will not pretend that if I had to choose between communism and Nazism I would choose communism".
  • Fooled by Henlein that Hitler had peaceful intentions in 1938.
  • Criticised appeasement in the Munich conference of 1938, calling it "peace with dishonour", then faced a vote of no confidence in his own constituency.
  • Sat on the Air Defence Research Committee in 1935.
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1.6: 1936 Abdication Crisis

  • Wallis Simpson was undergoing her second divorce whilst in a relationship with Edward VIII.
  • Edward VIII and Churchill had been friends since 1911, as Churchill helped Edward to draft his speeches.
  • Churchill wanted the issue to be made public in order for the King to gain support but this was very unpopular and he was shouted out of the Commons.
  • He was accused by some of trying to overthrow Baldwin and form a King's Party.
  • Resulted in a great dislike of Churchill by the new monarch, George VI.
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