CHAPTER XLII
SANCTIONS AND ELECTIONS

While the Co-ordination Committee in Geneva was killing time, London multiplied its signals to Mussolini to go ahead.

Lord Lloyd explained to Grandi that the mass of the British people had no wish to risk a single ship or the life of a single man to defend the League of Nations; the British Government had made a mistake in not accepting Mussolini's proposal for reciprocal demobilization in the Mediterranean; he promised to work for a solution which, while safeguarding Britain's authentic interests, would give Italy legitimate satisfaction; during the coming electoral campaign the Government and the Press would inveigh against Italy, but afterwards negotiations might be possible. This was also the opinion of other Conservatives. Lord Mottistone spoke against the sanctions at Lincoln (October 18). Runciman, after having revealed, on the same day, that "war means death not life, horror not happiness", added: "So long as other nations will combine with us for the maintenance of the authority of the League of Nations, so long will we stand at their side, but we cannot and will not act alone". He would have been more honest, had he said that he did not intend to act either alone or in good company. The Minister of Education, in a speech on October 20, expressed his disappointment over the results obtained until then, almost as if something had been done to warrant results. The Minister of Health, Sir Kingsley Wood, agreed with Grandi that too much stress had been laid on anti-Fascism, for purely political ends (October 20). Amery promised Grandi that he and his friends would do everything possible to prevent Great Britain becoming involved in a critical situation against Italy; Baldwin deemed it useful for Eden to win the support of the League's fanatics in the coming elections; but nothing irreparable would happen, and the situation would improve after the elections. On October 28, he spoke at Birmingham against the sanctions. A member of the British Cabinet, in direct violation of his pledge of secrecy in regard to what is discussed at Cabinet meetings, confided to Grandi, after requesting that his name be withheld, that there was in the Cabinet a group favourable to a moderate policy of neutrality.1 The Chairman of the British Society of Authors— Major J. H. Beith, novelist, playwright, and ex-serviceman—on arriving in the United States as guest of the English-speaking Union to address audiences in twelve cities,

____________________
1
Except for Runciman's speech, which has been taken from the London Times, the balance of the information comes from Villari, Storia diplomatica, pp. 165-72.

-353-

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