6

WARLORD, 1940-1945

BACKGROUND NARRATIVE

Once confirmed as Prime Minister Churchill set about creating a true National Government, including Labour, Liberal and even trade union leaders in his Cabinet. This, and his decision to appoint himself as Minister of Defence with undefined powers, dominated the character of politics for the next five years. He had more power than any Prime Minister in British history, yet he was still answerable to the Cabinet and to Parliament. The latter could remove him from office with one vote of no confidence, and Churchill was mindful of this, writing his speeches for the consumption of MPs rather than newspapers.

He centralised and streamlined government. He reduced the War Cabinet to a core of between six and nine men, none of whom had ministerial responsibilities, which left them free to consider the wide-ranging issues that the Cabinet had to decide on from day to day. By the end of 1940 the number of Cabinet committees for the civilian home front had been reduced, and the Lord President’s Committee had emerged as the main body coordinating economic and social wartime policy. Chaired first by Sir John Anderson and then by Herbert Morrison (both of whom gave their name to types of civilian air-raid shelter), Churchill tended to leave domestic affairs to this committee. His inattention to major aspects of social policy has been criticised by historians and may offer one explanation for his rejection

-86-

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Churchill
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vi
  • Series Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Chronology ix
  • 1 - Radical, 1900-1911 1
  • 2 - Warmonger, 1911-1915 17
  • 3 - Chancellor, 1924-1929 34
  • 4 - Exile, 1929-1939 51
  • 5 - Finest Hour 69
  • 6 - Warlord, 1940-1945 86
  • 7 - Controversies 106
  • 8 - Elder, 1945-1955 122
  • Notes 140
  • Select Bibliography 151
  • Index 154
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