851. Harrod to Archibald Sinclair , 11 October 1938 [a]

[Replies to 850 R, followed by 852 R, answered by 856 R]

Christ Church, Oxford #

11 October 1938

Dear Sir Archibald Sinclair

Many thanks for your letter of October 6. May I comment on your final paragraph. You say that time is on our side because the same issue will be presented in a more forbidding form and without the gilt of the saving of peace.

But will it not be too late?

There may be something in the view that an election this week would not be favorable. But I think it would be disastrous [b] if it were delayed too long. The poor exposed London should not be too much trusted to have a representative view. I am sure that there is a lot of hard headed thinking going on in the country as a whole and that the democracy will understand the issue, provided that there is someone [c] to give them a rigorous lead.

I think that [d] an election this autumn or early next year would not be unfavourable, provided that there is an electoral pact.

Furthermore it is a great factor of weakness for this country if the opposition leaders show any signs of being unwilling to go to the people. Hitler (and also potential allies) will be able to say that if even the opposition fellows are afraid to go to the country, we need have no fear (or hope) of the country making a firm stand. That is why I think the opposition ought openly and repeatedly from now onwards to challenge an election.

Of course a pact is essential. The enclosed letter, which appeared in the Oxford Mail, might interest you. [1] I believe that what we want here is that the Liberals should give way in Oxford city in return for Labour giving way in North Oxon and North Berks. [2]

I have sent this letter to Dalton and Morrison, whom I know very slightly, and to Dugdale, Attlee's private secretary, whom I know well. [3] I will let you know if I hear anything favorable. Meanwhile in my judgement you should take the bull by the horns and pay a call on Attlee. All the available time will be needed for the very difficult matters concerned with party machinery to be negotiated before the next election. Of course I think it indispensable that dissident conservatives should be included in the pact.

Yours very sincerely

Roy Harrod

  1. 1. R. F. Harrod, "Appeal for Liberal-Labour Agreement at Oxford" ( 1938:20 , press item 28 ). Sinclair's copy is filed together with Harrod's letter in THRS III 23/4.

    2. The Oxford by-election, the first after the Munich agreement, was held on 27 October. See notes 1 and 6 to press item 28 , and note 1 to essay 21 on Harrod's involvement in the formation of popular fronts in the constituencies neighbouring Oxford.

    3. None of these letters was found. Dalton replied on 13 October (letter 854 ).

    1. a. ALS, four pages on two leaves, in THRS III 23/4 ((Churchill Archives Centre, courtesy of the Master and Fellows of Churchill College, Cambridge, and the Keeper and staff of Churchill Archives Centre).

      b. Ms: «desastrous».

      c. Ms: «some one».

      d. Ms: «than».


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