863. Harrod to Winston Churchill , 27 October 1938 [a]

[Follows on from 855 , answered by 866 ]

Christ Church, Oxford #

27 October 1938

Dear Mr. Churchill

I write this before the poll, [1] to guard against the discouragement which may follow Lindsay's not getting in, though I am sure his chances are good.

What has struck me most in this campaign is that while criticism is easy, it is almost impossible after the debacle to offer a constructive policy.

Do you think it would be possible and useful to have a week-end meeting somewhere of dissident conservatives and Liberal and Labour leaders to formulate such a policy? This would be a confidential meeting committing no one to immediate action, but would surely be of great help to the open opposition and might be a first step towards collaboration with those who still have to toe the line.

Then do you think it would be possible to issue a jointly signed manifesto signed by govt. supporters and opposition on minimum defence requirements, e.g. bomb-proof shelters to be constructed for the whole population within 6 months? The friendship with Germany which is supposed to exist under Chamberlain's aegis, gives a brief truce which may be a last opportunity. I dont see how the govt could openly oppose such demands. And if Hitler did so that would be a sign of mala fides.

My main point is that there ought to be methods of preliminary co-operation before the dissident conservatives burn their boats. And if these conversations were successful and pointed to the possibility of an electoral pact, it might encourage the dissident conservatives to think of this more drastic action.

Yours very sincerely

Roy Harrod

If Lindsay gets in Oxford would be a suitable place for such a gathering. The persons concerned could come as guests of their respective friends. [2]

I have had another letter from Dalton which I regard as not un-encouraging. [3]

On second thoughts it appears that Transport House has not behaved badly about Oxford, considering the shocking way in which the ex-labour candidate mis-represented the true state of affairs in the first instance. [4]

  1. 1. The Oxford by-election took place on 27 October.

    2. A similar proposal was advanced to Sinclair (letter 868 ) and to Dalton (see letter 869 R).

    3. Letter 861 of 25 October.

    4. The Labour Party at first opposed the withdrawal of their candidate Gordon Walker, but eventually supported Lindsay's candidature. This attitude is reflected in Dalton's letters 854 and 861 of 13 and 25 October respectively.

    1. a. ALS, four pages on two leaves, in Char 2/332/157-58 (Churchill Archives Centre, courtesy of the Master and Fellows of Churchill College, Cambridge, and the Keeper and staff of Churchill Archives Centre).

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