Winston Churchill's Last Campaign: Britain and the Cold War, 1951-5

By John W. Young | Go to book overview

I
COLD WARRIOR? 1945-51

DESPITE his age, his declining health, and Labour's landslide, Churchill quickly decided to remain as Conservative leader. He could still deliver a telling speech and his attacks on Socialism soon appealed once more to middle class voters. None the less, as one Tory peer complained, 'the leader of a party in opposition needs to have other qualities than . . . the gift of oratory; he should learn to endure the boredom without showing how hard the ordeal is . . .'. After six years at the centre of events, the restless Churchill was not content to criticize government from the Opposition benches. Nor did he keep himself well-informed about many leading issues, even in the international sphere. Instead, he absented himself from the Commons for long periods, leaving others to devise new Conservative policies.1 In December 1945, amid speculation that he was about to resign, he decided to take several weeks' holiday in Miami, leaving Anthony Eden to act as party leader. Yet ironically, this muchcriticized visit was to put Churchill back in the limelight, with one of his most remarkable pieces of oratory, the Fulton speech. This address was also to establish his reputation as the original Cold Warrior.


FULTON: DECLARING COLD WAR

During late 1945 Churchill was already developing the ideas which would shape Fulton. His basic interpretation of the world was the same as ever: a balance of power should be secured, British interests must be defended, strong alliances had to be formed. In November he particularly advised the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, to build the closest possible military and diplomatic links to America. Importantly however, the aim was not to prepare for conflict but for stability, because 'The fact that . . . the English-speaking world is bound together, will enable us to be . . . better friends with Soviet Russia and . . . win us the respect of that realistic

____________________
1
Lord Winterton, Orders of the Day ( 1953), 317.

-19-

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