ENTER SIR GALAHAD AND
SIR SAMUEL HOARE
The league of nations was taken very seriously by the people of England. The politicians of all parties had told them during World War One that it was a "war to end war". When peace came, the League of Nations was formed to ensure peace to the men of good will and to keep in check the men of bad will. The great majority of the English people—including the rank and file of the Conservative Party—believed in the League's promise and were wholehearted in its support. They held it in almost religious veneration.
In July 1934, when few people anywhere expected an Italo- Ethiopian crisis, the great national organization which, in Britain, carried on a Systematic campaign in favour of the League took a poll to ascertain, among other points, whether (a) the nation favoured British participation in the League of Nations; (b) whether they would approve of Britain joining with other nations to confront an aggressor with economic but non-military sanctions; and (c) whether they would approve, if necessary, of military measures also.
The Conservative Party were bitterly opposed to the poll. They regarded it as "terribly mischievoue".1 Sir John Simon, in the House. of Commons, deplored it: "The question of war and peace," he ruled, "is not one on which the opinion of the uninstructed should be invited." He feigned not to understand that the uninstructed were not being asked to declare whether at that moment Britain should or should not go to war, but only to say whether their Government should or should not keep its pledges to the League of Nations in dead earnest and whether it was authorized by the British people to resort to economic and even military sanctions in the event of it having to make good its pledges.
The Government and Conservative Party notwithstanding, the poll got under way in December 1934, and on June 27, 1935, it was announced that 11,627,765 men and women over the age of eighteen had voted as follows: