Britain Divided: The Effect of the Spanish Civil War on British Political Opinion

By K. W. Watkins | Go to book overview

Preface

THERE are some events in history, the lessons of which can be said to have a lasting value for future generations. The Spanish Civil War and its effects on British political thought and policy was such an event.

Probably not since the French Revolution had a 'foreign event' so bitterly divided the British people, and this at a time when national unity was essential for our very survival.

Regrettably, much of what has been written about the years 1936-9 has only too often been an adjustment of history to suit the climate of the cold war. As far as the Spanish Civil War is concerned, those books which have been scholarly and objective have been concerned mainly with the events in Spain and their international repercussions.

This book analyses its impact on British political thought and policy. The record of how ideology can blind men, of both the Left and the Right, to the true interests of their own country, together with the capacity for self-deception and dishonesty displayed by many politicians, makes sorry reading. But the events and policies analysed have left an abiding mark on British political life and have a profound influence even to this day. It is for this reason that the record should be set right if, from past experience, conclusions relevant to the problems of the 1960s are to be drawn.

The appearance of this book has been made possible as a result of the encouragement and assistance which the author has received on a more than generous scale. It is a pleasure to acknowledge this help.

Professor Lord Robbins increased my indebtedness to him by suggesting this study to me, and by encouraging and facilitating it. Professor H. R. G. Greaves, who acted as academic supervisor when the subject was being prepared as a doctoral thesis for the University of London, displayed a tact and kindliness that was only matched by the value of his advice and experience. In the course of the preparation of the book I had

-vii-

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Britain Divided: The Effect of the Spanish Civil War on British Political Opinion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • I - British Interests and the Spanish Civil War 1
  • 2 - Image and Reality 13
  • 3 - Non-Intervention 71
  • 4 - The British Right 83
  • 5 - The British Left 141
  • 6 - Spain and the Second World War 196
  • 7 - 'Conflicts -- Resolved and Unresolved' 202
  • Conclusion 234
  • Postscript 237
  • Appendix A 239
  • Appendix B 245
  • Appendix C 246
  • Appendix D 248
  • Appendix E 249
  • Appendix F 252
  • Bibliography 255
  • Index 262
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