British Interests and the Spanish Civil War
WHAT were Britain's interests? To this question, even after the lapse of a quarter of a century since the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, there is no agreed answer; and, indeed, it is certain that there never will be for those for whom political ideology or religious dogmatism enthrone partisanship above objectivity. Even for the less committed, the pulls of emotion and interest were, and are, strong enough to engender a degree of passion that made it impossible for many to make a balanced judgment of the issues involved and hence of their own country's interests.
For those who believed that the Nationalist forces 1 were fighting as warriors of Christ -- however much or little evidence there was to support such a view -- it was inevitable, in terms of eternal values, that they should identify a victory for Franco's forces with the interests of Britain. Similarly, for those who believed that the Republican forces were fighting an anti-Fascist battle as defenders of liberty, democracy, humanity, and the 'fundamental aspirations of the international working class', a victory for the Republican Government was logically a victory for Britain too.
Thus, for many Catholics, it was correct when Mr Douglas Jerrold, in a chapter entitled 'The Last Crusade', wrote:2
There are no leaders in Spain to-day. Men are not fighting for Franco; Franco is fighting with them. Having talked with him, I realised, as every one does, that that in itself is a privilege. He may or may not be a great man as the world judges, but he is certainly something a thousand times more important -- a supremely good man, a hero possibly; possibly a saint.3