855. Harrod to Winston Churchill , 15 October 1938 [a]

[Follows on from 847 , continues at 863 ]

6, Beaumont Street, Oxford #

15 October 1938

Dear Mr. Churchill

I am naturally mainly thinking now of our election, but I should like to make a suggestion on the broader issue.

I had a confidential letter from Dalton in reply to mine on an electoral pact. [1] It was such as to make me feel that though there were tremendous difficulties, the door was not absolutely shut.

If we are successful here that should be a tremendous stimulus.

I feel worried about the dissident conservatives who are apparently being subjected to discipline. If only they could be assured of a pact at the next election they could snap their fingers at party discipline.

Do you think that there is any chance of the agreeing to approach the Labour Party on a 3fold basis?

1. Agreement on foreign policy.

2. Agreement that in the coming national effort the future of trade union rights must be safeguarded, profiteering eliminated etc.

3. Though domestic reconstruction cannot play much part in the next elected parliament, save in relation to national defence, they must be prepared to meet Labour to some extent on domestic issues in return for the pact. I should suggest the agreed adoption of "Labour's Immediate Programme" save for clearly defined exceptions. [2]

If the conservatives were willing to secure an electoral pact covering one general election on this [c] sort of terms, they could afford to snap their fingers at party discipline.

The propitious time to make such a proposal would be after our election here if Lindsay is successful. [3]

Is it possible meanwhile for the dissident conservatives to gain time by agreeing, say, not to carry their opposition beyond a certain point for the next month and to return to their constituency parties for re-consideration at the end of that time?

If you think there is anything in all this, I thought one might organize a private round-robin from non-party people like myself to dissident conservatives urging them to an electoral pact of this kind. [4]

Yours very sincerely

Roy Harrod

Please excuse untidy letter written in adverse circumstances!

  1. 1. Letter 854 of 13 October.

    2. The Labour Party, Labour's Immediate Programme (1937). For Harrod's comments on the pamphlet see note 6 to press item 30 .

    3. As Lindsay was not successful, Harrod waited for the next successful popular front candidate before making a proposal along these lines public in an article for the Manchester Guardian ("The Opposition. An Electoral Pact Needed", 1938:23 , here as press item 30 ; see in particular note 1 for context).

    4. Churchill replied on 21 October that he was deeply interested in what Harrod told him (in HP IV-204. CC without autograph additions in Char 2/332/128). Harrod was not discouraged and wrote again on 27 October (letter 863 ).

    1. a. ALS, four pages on two leaves, in Char 2/332/86-87 (Churchill Archives Centre, courtesy of the Master and Fellows of Churchill College, Cambridge, and the Keeper and staff of Churchill Archives Centre).

      b. new leaf, bearing the symbol of Christ Church. RFH wrote "(excuse change of writing paper!)".

      c. Ms: «these».


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