891. Harrod to M. H. Macmillan , 26 January 1939 [a]

[Replies to 886 ]

Christ Church, Oxford #

26 January 1939

Dear Macmillan

I was just about to send out those letters to the Conservative members, having waited until now on your advice. [1]

Meanwhile I wonder how you react to the affair Cripps and whether you still think it expedient to send them. One might add a footnote that the recent demonstration of intransigence [b] makes it all the more necessary to bring collective pressure to hear using also if possible such ammunition as Cripps provides. [2]

I do not feel I can yet read clearly the moral of the situation. I suppose effective action is quite hopeless unless the Labour caucus is captured. One's mind inevitably turns to the idea of a new party embodying progressive conservatives and the best elements of liberalism and supporters of Cripps and making a more resolute attempt to capture some part of the working class vote than the Liberal party has been able to do in latter days.

I have lately been writing some notes on policy for our movement for unity in the neighbouring constituencies. [3] I believe that our modern situation requires a sufficient admixture of socialism to satisfy Cripps and to make Labour folk with long memories feel that they are not making a complete break with the socialist traditions of early Labour days.

Against this must be set the superior expediency of a two party system in our constitution and the difficulty in combating the strong organization of official Labour in an election. Also have we any money on our side?

I should be glad to know if you think the letter still worth sending. [4]

Yours sincerey

Roy Harrod

  1. 1. Refers to the collective letter 894 to dissident conservatives of 1-3 February 1939.

    2. Reference to the Cripps affair (see note 1 to press item 31 ) was not embodied in the letter, but a Ms postscript was found on two of the copies Harrod sent off: see note 6 to letter 894 .

    3. These notes are reproduced here as essay 21 ; see in particular note 1 for context.

    4. Macmillan thought it still worth sending the letters out (letter to Harrod, 31 January 1939, in HP IV-792-947). Harrod sent the letters at once, and took arrangements for a dinner with Macmillan in Oxford on 11 February (letters to Macmillan, 1 and 6 February 1939, in MaP, and from Macmillan, 4 February, in HP IV-792-947).

    1. a. ALS, three pages (the last being numbered) on two leaves, in MaP. Page one has a pencilled stroke, with indication "T<M>".

      b. Ms: «intransigeance».

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