861. E. H. J. N. Dalton to Harrod , 25 October 1938 [a]

[Follows on from 854 ]

The House of Commons #

25 October 1938

Private and personal

Dear Harrod,

I saw Crossman last week and he added something to my knowledge of the misunderstandings, particularly of the attitude of Gordon Walker and the Oxford City Labour Party. [1] However, that is past and I hope Lindsay's campaign is going well, though it would be unwise, for various reasons, for me, as a member of our Elections Sub-Committee, to come out openly in his support. I explained this to Crossman but am glad to know that several of my Parliamentary colleagues are going to speak.

By all means try, after this is over, what you can do with Conservative dissidents. But--and this is particularly private--certain explorations which have already been made are disappointing. [2] The brutal tyranny of the Tory caucus far outdoes any of our efforts from Transport House! In all this business we can only go a step at a time.

Yours very sincerely,

Hugh Dalton.

P.S. I saw Lindsay on Sunday.

  1. 1. The Oxford City Labour Party was divided on the withdrawal issue: R. H. S. Crossman, H. S. Prickett, H. S. Richardson (Secretary and President of the Oxford Labour Party) and F. Pakenham, were among the Oxford members of the Labour Party who advocated an alliance with Liberals against the Conservative candidate. Gordon Walker and M. Yeatmann were opposed to withdrawal.

    Transport House at first supported a Labour candidature. But after receiving reports of the division in the local section, the Labour Party decided to leave the matter in the hands of the Oxford section, which decided 48 votes to 12 that Gordon Walker should withdraw (A. S. Knight, "The Oxford City By-election: Appeasement and the Popular Front", Travelyan Thesis (mimeograph Ts, 15 pages, copy in HP VI-525, pp. 5-7).

    2. Dalton may be referring to a meeting he had with Duncan-Sandys on 18 October 1938, which he mentioned in his diary (Dalton I 19(68)):

    • He tackled me also on possibilities of co-operation between anti-Chamberlain Conservatives and our Party. Could propaganda be based on a common platform be started? He left a rough note of the lines on which this might be done. Likewise on colonies. He was against any concession to Hitler and hoped that we should stand with dissident Conservatives on this. He expected that within a week or two this matter would become actual. Further, as regards his own constituency. Attempts were being made in this, as in all the others, to displace dissident Members. [...]

      Emphasised that I was not able to be very encouraging to particular projects for united action but encouraged him, if he felt inclined, to come and have another talk with me later on. We both agreed that it would be undesirable to let people know that we were meeting.

    On Harrod's attempts to involve dissident conservatives into an electoral pact see note 1 to press item 30 .

    1. a. TLS with autograph addition ad corrections, one page, in HP IV/253-268/2.© British Library of Political and Economic Science, Archives Division , London.

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