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

By K. W. Watkins | Go to book overview

4
The British Right

If the light of history shows both men ( Dawson and Barrington-Ward) to have been wrong, it should be remembered that few members of parliament, politicians or journalists, saw the issue differently.

Examples of misjudgement as to foreign affairs are acknowledged in these pages with fidelity as to the political facts and candour as to the editorial writers. The organ that has consistently, since the time of the second Walter and Thomas Barnes, upheld the dignity of political newspaper writing, may not, in the writing of its own History, pursue any other course than resolute self-examination.

History of the Times1

WITH the passage of time a tendency has arisen both to treat the Spanish Civil War as 'one' of the preludes to the Second World War and seriously to underestimate its significance in the formation of British opinion and policy vis-à-vis the international situation, when compared with such events as the Anschluss and Munich. Yet as late as 30 December 1938, with Munich an accomplished fact and Franco's victory clearly in his grasp, Churchill was moved to write:2 'Nothing has strengthened the Prime Minister's hold upon well-to-do society more remarkably than the belief that he is friendly to General Franco and the Nationalist cause in Spain'.

Even as early as that March, Tom Jones, in the section of a letter to Professor Flexner in the U.S.A., dealing with the state of British opinion in general, had written:3 'Something must be done to remove the suspicion attaching to Neville of being too well disposed to the Fascists'.

The passionate and bitter differences between the Right and Left in Britain which existed at the time flare into life, even to this day, in response to some new development in the Iberian Peninsula. What has been largely forgotten, if not buried, are the bitter differences which existed within the Right and Left. It is only when they are drawn out of their present obscurity that a full understanding of the impact of the Civil War on Britain becomes possible and, with it, an opportunity to learn

____________________
1
Part II, 1921-1948, p. 1025.
2
Step by Step, p.312.
3
Diary, p. 396.

-83-

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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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