7R. J. B. Herbert to Harrod, 27 January 1920 [a]

Herbert suggests to form two or three research groups within the Oxford University Liberal Club; [1] he would chair one to consider "the cause and development of the reaction against Laissez-faire in industry and proper attitude on the question for Liberalism to-day", and asks Harrod to chair another group on Liberal Foreign and Imperial Policy. [2]

  1. 1. The Oxford University Liberal Club was re-founded in 1919 by Basil Herbert and Philip Rea, who were the hon. secretaries. Harrod seems to have taken part in the activities of the club at a very early stage, as he drafted a manifesto beginning with the words "It is proposed to found a new Oxford Liberal Club". Harrod saw as follows the relationship with the Labour Party: the Liberal Party
    • differs from the labour party in as much as it represents and fights for principles rather than a class. Like the labour party it desires to raise the social condition of the poor; unlike the labour party it co-ordinates this with the other parts of its own broader principle. Its tradition and power will make it possible for it to achieve more for labour than labour could for itself; while if the labour party having failed in parliament where it lacks means, won by revolution, the bourgeois would become a coerced and oppressed class, if the liberal party triumphed they would participate in forming a better order for the whole and would sacrifice their interests at the bidding of liberal principles. It also differs from the Labour Party on points of practical solution [...], but looks to the inclusion of all progressive parties in its ranks because its policy will transcend their particular aims.

    As to international policy, the Liberal Party "strongly favours the establishment of some supranational authority such as the League of Nations to represent the common interests of civilized nations and to put an end to the present lawlessness, to national insecurity, armaments and wars", and gives full support to Mr. Wilson's scheme (see note 1 to letter 2 R). "It will allow all nations to determine their own form of government", and therefore "demands unconditionally an immediate withdrawal of all troops from Russia". As it "recognizes no moral claim to revenge", "it looks to a fundamental change in policy towards our late enemies" and "repudiates many financial clauses in the Peace Treaty".

    As to imperial policy, the Liberal Party "believes in the federal system. It is devised to establish a parliament of the commonwealth and give full self government to the dominions, and to England, Scotland and Ireland". For India and Egypt "it desires only to maintain law, order and freedom. It is to guard against (a) imposition of western ideas on the peoples and (b) capitalist exploitation. It is prepared to hand these realms over to the supranational authority when it believes the time to be ripe. Government is to be directed solely to making it ultimately unnecessary to the life of the nations and hence able to be withdrawn." (AD, sketch, in HPBL Add. 72734/21; AD, titled "Suggestions for Draft of Manifesto", 5 pages, in HPBL Add. 72734/22-27).

    Harrod was the treasurer of the Club, and as such he received in July 1919 a number of letters regarding subscriptions (nine of these are filed in HPBL Add. 72734); correspondence with Basil Herbert regarding these subscriptions also survives (in HPBL Add. 72729 and 72734). The first general meeting took place on 27 October 1919 (an invitation to this and a number of other meetings are preserved in HPBL Add. 72734).

    At this time, Harrod was also joint editor, with Gerald Howard and Alex B. B. Valentine, of issue 5, volume II, January 1920, of the Oxford Outlook, "A Literary and Political Review", of Liberal inspiration, "Edited and Controlled by the Oxford Undergraduates and published Monthly during Term". He did not, however, contribute any articles.

    2. Two research groups were actually formed, one under Harrod on Foreign Policy, the other under Herbert on Industry (Oxford University Liberal Club, circular letter to members, 27 October 1920, printed, two pages, signed by E. R. Baines, secretary, in HPBL Add. 72734/57-58; see also the circular letter of 24 November 1920, in HPBL Add. 72734/60).

    1. a. From 65 George Street, Portman Sq.,W.1, ALS, six pages, in HPBL Add. 72729/196-98.


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