868. Harrod to Archibald Sinclair , 2 November 1938 [a]

[Follows on from 857 R, answered by 870 R]

6 Beaumont Street, Oxford #

2 November 1938

Dear Sir Archibald Sinclair

I dont know whether I ought to stand in a white sheet! It was very disappointing, but in some ways the result was not at all bad. I expect you have looked at the figures.


in thousands






G. Walker




Slum clearance is said to have deprived us of about 3000 working class votes in the interval. Taking this into account and the increase in the poll, there must have been a considerable swing over. Moreover our canvassers reported that many working class women who had voted for G. Walker intended to vote for Hogg on the ground that Chamberlain saved the peace. I feel that if a special effort had not been made, there might easily have been a landslide. Moreover we had only 9 days to do our job.

It is very good of you to have written to me at great length about the difficulties in the way of the electoral pact. The story must now end slightly differently. For Transport House withdrew its objections to the joint candidate as soon as they were fully apprised of the local situation, [1] in spite [b] of the fact that their own candidate was entirely opposed to the arrangement and was extremely keen to stand up to the last moment.

I do feel that Munich does justify renewed efforts. It may so soon be too late to save anything from the wreckage. I appreciate what you say about the difficulty of a small party approaching the big. But of course the other side uses the same argument--it is not for the big party to make overtures to the small.

You speak of the discouragement to Liberals at the spectacle of such overtures. But would not the first steps be taken entirely privately? Could not the possible bases of an electoral pact be explored by the leaders and, if the explorations were successful, simultaneous statements be subsequently given to the public?

For instance I have toyed with the idea and venture to put it forward, that an entirely private meeting might occur on the neutral ground of Oxford at which a preliminary discussion could take place. [2] In the event of your being willing to entertain such an idea, I should undertake not to reveal that fact unless or until it was already ascertained that it found favour in the other quarters also.

Yours very sincerely

Roy Harrod

  1. 1. See letter 861 from Dalton of 25 October.

    2. Harrod wrote in similar terms to Churchill (letter 863 ) and to Dalton (see 869 R).

    1. a. ALS, three 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: «inspite».

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