Stanley Baldwin

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The Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

Stanley Baldwin ggbain.32267.jpg
Stanley Baldwin in 1920
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
7 June 1935 28 May 1937
Monarch
Preceded by Ramsay MacDonald
Succeeded by Neville Chamberlain
In office
4 November 1924 4 June 1929
Monarch George V
Preceded by Ramsay MacDonald
Succeeded by Ramsay MacDonald
In office
22 May 1923 22 January 1924
Monarch George V
Preceded by Bonar Law
Succeeded by Ramsay MacDonald
Lord President of the Council
In office
24 August 1931 7 June 1935
Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded by Lord Parmoor
Succeeded by Ramsay MacDonald
Leader of the Opposition
In office
5 June 1929 24 August 1931
Monarch George V
Preceded by Ramsay MacDonald
Succeeded by Arthur Henderson
In office
22 January 1924 4 November 1924
Monarch George V
Preceded by Ramsay MacDonald
Succeeded by Ramsay MacDonald
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
22 May 1923 28 May 1937
Preceded by Bonar Law
Succeeded by Neville Chamberlain
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
27 October 1922 27 August 1923
Prime Minister Bonar Law
Himself
Preceded by Sir Robert Horne
Succeeded by Neville Chamberlain
President of the Board of Trade
In office
1 April 1921 19 October 1922
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Sir Robert Horne
Succeeded by Sir Philip Lloyd-Greame
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
18 June 1917 1 April 1921
Servingwith Sir Hardman Lever (1917–1919)
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Sir Hardman Lever
Succeeded by Edward Hilton Young
Member of Parliament
for Bewdley
In office
29 February 1908  30 June 1937
Preceded by Alfred Baldwin
Succeeded by Roger Conant
Personal details
Born(1867-08-03)3 August 1867
Bewdley, Worcestershire, England
Died14 December 1947(1947-12-14) (aged 80)
Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, England
Resting place Worcester Cathedral
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s)
Lucy Ridsdale
(m. 1892;died 1945)
Children7, including Oliver and Arthur
Parents Alfred Baldwin (father)
Education
Occupation Industrialist
Signature Stanley Baldwin Signature.svg

Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG , PC , PC (Can) , JP , FRS (3 August 1867 14 December 1947) was a British Conservative Party statesman who dominated the government of the United Kingdom between the world wars, serving as Prime Minister on three occasions.

Privy Council of the United Kingdom Formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or just the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Queens Privy Council for Canada

The Queen's Privy Council for Canada, sometimes called Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada or simply the Privy Council, is the full group of personal consultants to the monarch of Canada on state and constitutional affairs. Responsible government, though, requires the sovereign or her viceroy, the Governor General of Canada, to almost always follow only that advice tendered by the Cabinet: a committee within the Privy Council composed usually of elected Members of Parliament. Those summoned to the QPC are appointed for life by the governor general as directed by the Prime Minister of Canada, meaning that the group is composed predominantly of former cabinet ministers, with some others having been inducted as an honorary gesture. Those in the council are accorded the use of an honorific style and post-nominal letters, as well as various signifiers of precedence.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the UK Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

Contents

Born to a prosperous family in Bewdley, Worcestershire, Baldwin was educated at Hawtreys, Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge. He joined the family iron and steel making business and entered the House of Commons in 1908 as the Member of Parliament for Bewdley, succeeding his father Alfred. He served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1917–1921) and President of the Board of Trade (1921–1922) in the coalition ministry of David Lloyd George and then rose rapidly: in 1922, Baldwin was one of the prime movers in the withdrawal of Conservative support from Lloyd George; he subsequently became Chancellor of the Exchequer in Bonar Law's Conservative ministry. Upon Bonar Law's resignation due to health reasons in May 1923, Baldwin became Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party. He called an election in December 1923 on the issue of tariffs and lost the Conservatives' parliamentary majority, after which Ramsay MacDonald formed a minority Labour government.

Bewdley town in the Wyre Forest District of Worcestershire, England

Bewdley is a small riverside town and civil parish in the Wyre Forest District of Worcestershire on the Shropshire border in England, along the Severn Valley a few miles to the west of Kidderminster and 22 miles (35 km) south west of Birmingham. It lies on the River Severn, at the gateway of the Wyre Forest national nature reserve, and at the time of the 2011 census had a population of 9,470. Bewdley is a popular tourist destination and is known for the Bewdley Bridge designed by Thomas Telford.

Worcestershire County of England

Worcestershire is a county in the West Midlands of England.

Hawtreys Preparatory School was an independent boys' preparatory school, first established in Slough, later moved to Westgate-on-Sea, then to Oswestry, and finally to a country house near Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire. In its early years it was known as St Michael's School.

After winning the 1924 general election, Baldwin formed his second government, which saw important tenures of office by Sir Austen Chamberlain (Foreign Secretary), Winston Churchill (at the Exchequer) and Neville Chamberlain (Health). The latter two ministers strengthened Conservative appeal by reforms in areas formerly associated with the Liberal Party. They included industrial conciliation, unemployment insurance, a more extensive old-age pension system, slum clearance, more private housing and expansion of maternal and childcare. However, continuing sluggish economic growth and declines in mining and heavy industry weakened Baldwin's base of support and his government also saw the General Strike in 1926 and the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act 1927 to curb the powers of trade unions. [1]

1924 United Kingdom general election

The 1924 United Kingdom general election was held on Wednesday 29 October 1924, as a result of the defeat of the Labour minority government, led by Ramsay MacDonald, in the House of Commons on a motion of no confidence. It was the third general election to be held in less than two years.

Austen Chamberlain British politician

Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, KG was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain and older half-brother of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (twice) and was briefly Conservative Party leader before serving as Foreign Secretary.

Winston Churchill Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during most of World War II

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was a member of the Liberal Party.

Baldwin narrowly lost the 1929 general election and his continued leadership of the party was subject to extensive criticism by the press barons Lord Rothermere and Lord Beaverbrook. In 1931, with the onset of the Great Depression Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald formed a National Government, most of whose ministers were Conservatives, and which won an enormous majority at the 1931 general election. As Lord President of the Council, and one of four Conservatives among the small ten-member Cabinet, Baldwin took over many of the Prime Minister's duties due to MacDonald's failing health. This government saw an Act delivering increased self-government for India, a measure opposed by Churchill and by many rank-and-file Conservatives. The Statute of Westminster 1931 gave Dominion status to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, while establishing the first step towards the Commonwealth of Nations. As party leader, Baldwin made many striking innovations, such as clever use of radio and film, that made him highly visible to the public and strengthened Conservative appeal.

1929 United Kingdom general election

The 1929 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 30 May 1929, and resulted in a hung parliament. It was the second of four general elections under the secret ballot and the first of three under universal suffrage in which a party lost the popular vote but gained a plurality of seats—the others of the four being 1874, 1951 and February 1974. In 1929 that party was Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Party, which won the most seats in the House of Commons for the first time, but failed to get an overall majority. The Liberal Party led by David Lloyd George regained some of the ground it had lost in the 1924 election, and held the balance of power.

Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook Anglo-Canadian business tycoon, politician, and writer

William Maxwell Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, PC, ONB was a Canadian-British newspaper publisher and backstage politician who was an influential figure in British media and politics of the first half of the 20th century. His base of power was the largest circulation newspaper in the world, the Daily Express, which appealed to the conservative working class with intensely patriotic news and editorials. During the Second World War he played a major role in mobilising industrial resources as Winston Churchill's Minister of Aircraft Production.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

In 1935, Baldwin officially replaced MacDonald as Prime Minister of the National Government, and won the 1935 general election with another large majority. During this time, he oversaw the beginning of the rearmament process of the British military, as well as the abdication crisis of King Edward VIII. Baldwin's third government saw a number of crises in foreign affairs, including the public uproar over the Hoare–Laval Pact, the remilitarisation of the Rhineland and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Baldwin retired in 1937 and was succeeded by Neville Chamberlain. At that time, Baldwin was regarded as a popular and successful Prime Minister, [2] but for the final decade of his life and for many years afterwards he was vilified for having presided over high unemployment in the 1930s and as one of the "Guilty Men" who had tried to appease Adolf Hitler and who had supposedly not rearmed sufficiently to prepare for the Second World War. Today, modern scholars generally rank him in the upper half of British prime ministers. [3]

1935 United Kingdom general election

The 1935 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 14 November 1935 and resulted in a large, albeit reduced, majority for the National Government now led by Stanley Baldwin of the Conservative Party. The greatest number of members, as before, were Conservatives, while the National Liberal vote held steady. The National Labour vote also held steady, but the resurgence in the main Labour vote caused over a third of their MPs, including party leader Ramsay MacDonald, to lose their seats.

The Hoare–Laval Pact was an initially secret December 1935 proposal by British Foreign Secretary Samuel Hoare and French Prime Minister Pierre Laval for ending the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. Italy had wanted to seize the independent nation of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) as part of its Italian Empire and also avenge the 1896 Battle of Adwa, a humiliating defeat. The Pact offered to partition Abyssinia and achieved Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's goal of making the independent nation of Abyssinia into an Italian colony.

Spanish Civil War War between the Republicans and the Nationalists in Spain from 1936 to 1939

The Spanish Civil War took place from 1936 to 1939. Republicans loyal to the elected, left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, in alliance with the Anarchists and Communists, fought against a revolt by the Nationalists, an alliance of Falangists, Monarchists, Carlists, conservatives and Catholics, led by a military clique among whom General Francisco Franco soon achieved a preponderant role. Due to the international political climate at the time, the war had many facets, and different views saw it as class struggle, a war of religion, a struggle between dictatorship and republican democracy, between revolution and counterrevolution, between fascism and communism. It has been frequently called the "dress rehearsal" for World War II.

Early life: family, education and marriage

The Old Schools of Harrow School The Old Schools, Harrow School.JPG
The Old Schools of Harrow School
Mason College Mason Science College.png
Mason College

Baldwin was born at Lower Park House, Lower Park, Bewdley in Worcestershire, England to Alfred and Louisa Baldwin (née MacDonald), and through his Scottish mother was a first cousin of the writer and poet Rudyard Kipling, with whom he was close for their entire lives. The family was prosperous, and owned the eponymous iron and steel making business that in later years became part of Richard Thomas and Baldwins.

Alfred Baldwin (politician) British politician

Alfred Baldwin was an English businessman and Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP). He was the father of Stanley Baldwin, the Conservative Prime Minister.

MacDonald sisters

The Macdonald sisters were four Scottish women born during the 19th century, notable for their marriages to well-known men. Alice, Georgiana, Agnes and Louisa were the daughters of Reverend George Browne Macdonald (1805–1868), a Wesleyan Methodist minister, and Hannah Jones (1809–1875).

Rudyard Kipling English short-story writer, poet, and novelist

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work.

Baldwin's schools were St Michael's School, at the time located in Slough, Berkshire, followed by Harrow School, and finally Brighton College. [4] He later wrote that "all the king's horses and all the king's men would have failed to have drawn me into the company of school masters, and in relation to them I once had every qualification as a passive resister." [5] Baldwin then went on to the University of Cambridge, where he studied history at Trinity College. His time at university was blighted by the presence, as Master of Trinity, of Montagu Butler, his former headmaster who had punished him at Harrow for writing a piece of schoolboy smut. He was asked to resign from the Magpie & Stump (the Trinity College debating society) for never speaking, and, after receiving a third-class degree in history, he went into the family business of iron manufacturing. His father sent him to Mason College for one session of technical training in metallurgy as preparation. [6] As a young man he served briefly as a Second Lieutenant in the Artillery Volunteers at Malvern, [7] and in 1897 became a JP for the county of Worcestershire. [8]

Baldwin married Lucy Ridsdale on 12 September 1892. The couple had six surviving children [9] :

Baldwin's youngest daughter, Lady Betty, was severely injured by shrapnel in March 1941 as a result of a bombing raid which destroyed the Café de Paris nightclub she was attending and decapitated the famous bandleader Ken "Snakehips" Johnson. [11] She required facial reconstruction surgery from the pioneering surgeon Archibald MacIndoe. [11]

Baldwin proved to be adept as a businessman, and acquired a reputation as a modernising industrialist. He inherited £200,000, equivalent to £20,511,238in 2018, [12] and a directorship of the Great Western Railway on the death of his father in 1908.

Early political career

In the 1906 general election he contested Kidderminster but lost amidst the Conservative landslide defeat after the party split on the issue of free trade. In a by-election in 1908 he was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Bewdley, in which role he succeeded his father, who had died earlier that year. During the First World War he became Parliamentary Private Secretary to the party leader Bonar Law. In 1917 he was appointed to the junior ministerial post of Financial Secretary to the Treasury, where he sought to encourage voluntary donations by the rich to repay the United Kingdom's war debt, writing letters to The Times under the pseudonym 'FST', many of which were published. He relinquished to the Treasury one fifth of his own fortune (its total estimated at own account as £580,000) held in the form of War Loan stock worth £120,000. [13]

Joins Cabinet

Astley Hall near Stourport On Severn, Baldwin's home between 1902 and 1947 Astley, Worcs, Astley Hall 2 back.jpg
Astley Hall near Stourport On Severn, Baldwin's home between 1902 and 1947

Although he entered politics at a relatively late age, his rise to the top leadership was very rapid. In the Treasury he served jointly with Sir Hardman Lever, who had been appointed in 1916, but after 1919 Baldwin carried out the duties largely alone. He was appointed to the Privy Council in the 1920 Birthday Honours. In 1921 he was promoted to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade.

Chancellor of the Exchequer

In late 1922 dissatisfaction was steadily growing within the Conservative Party over its coalition with the Liberal David Lloyd George. At a meeting of Conservative MPs at the Carlton Club in October, Baldwin announced that he would no longer support the coalition, and famously condemned Lloyd George for being a "dynamic force" that was bringing destruction across politics. The meeting chose to leave the coalition, against the wishes of most of the party leadership. As a direct result Bonar Law was forced to search for new ministers for a Cabinet which he would lead, and so promoted Baldwin to the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the November 1922 general election the Conservatives were returned with a majority in their own right.

Prime Minister: First term (1923–1924)

Baldwin, unknown date Stanley Baldwin 02.jpg
Baldwin, unknown date

In May 1923 Bonar Law was diagnosed with terminal cancer and retired immediately; he died five months later. With many of the party's senior leading figures standing aloof and outside of the government, there were only two candidates to succeed him: Lord Curzon, the Foreign Secretary, and Baldwin. The choice formally fell to King George V acting on the advice of senior ministers and officials.

It is not entirely clear what factors proved most crucial, but some Conservative politicians felt that Curzon was unsuitable for the role of Prime Minister because he was a member of the House of Lords. Curzon was strong and experienced in international affairs, but his lack of experience in domestic affairs, his personal character quirks and his huge inherited wealth and many directorships at a time when the Conservative Party was seeking to shed its patrician image were all deemed impediments. Much weight at the time was given to the intervention of Arthur Balfour.

The King turned to Baldwin to become Prime Minister. Initially Baldwin was also Chancellor of the Exchequer whilst he sought to recruit the former Liberal Chancellor Reginald McKenna to join the government. When this failed he appointed Neville Chamberlain to that position.

The Conservatives now had a clear majority in the House of Commons and could govern for five years before holding a general election, but Baldwin felt bound by Bonar Law's pledge at the previous election that there would be no introduction of tariffs without a further election. Thus Baldwin turned towards a degree of protectionism which would remain a key party message during his lifetime. [14] With the country facing growing unemployment in the wake of free trade imports driving down prices and profits, Baldwin decided to call an early general election in December 1923 to seek a mandate to introduce protectionist tariffs which, he hoped, would drive down unemployment and spur an economic recovery. [15] He expected to unite his party but he divided it, for protectionism proved a divisive issue. [16] The election was inconclusive: the Conservatives had 258 MPs, Labour 191 and the reunited Liberals 159. Whilst the Conservatives retained a plurality in the House of Commons, they had been clearly defeated on the central issue: tariffs. [17] Baldwin remained Prime Minister until the opening session of the new Parliament in January 1924, at which time the government was defeated in a motion of confidence vote. He resigned immediately.

Leader of the Opposition (1924)

Baldwin successfully held on to the party leadership amid some colleagues' calls for his resignation. [18] For the next ten months, an unstable minority Labour government under Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald held office. On 13 March 1924, the Labour government was defeated for the first time in the Commons, although the Conservatives decided to vote with Labour later that day against the Liberals. [19]

During a debate on the naval estimates the Conservatives opposed Labour but supported them on 18 March in a vote on cutting expenditure on the Singapore military base. [19] Baldwin also cooperated with MacDonald over Irish policy to stop it becoming a party-political issue. [20] [21]

The Labour government was negotiating with the Soviet government over intended commercial treaties -- 'the Russian Treaties' -- to provide most favoured nation privileges and diplomatic status for the UK trade delegation; and a treaty that would settle the claims of pre-revolutionary British bondholders and holders of confiscated property, after which the British government would guarantee a loan to the Soviet Union. [22] Baldwin decided to vote against the government over the Russian Treaties, which brought the government down on 8 October. [23]

The general election held in October 1924 brought a landslide majority of 223 for the Conservative party, primarily at the expense of an unpopular Liberal Party. Baldwin campaigned on the "impracticability" of socialism, the Campbell Case, the Zinoviev letter (which Baldwin thought was genuine, and the Conservatives leaked to the Daily Mail at a most damaging time to the Labour campaign; the letter is now widely believed to have been a forgery [24] ) and the Russian Treaties. [25] In a speech during the campaign Baldwin said:

It makes my blood boil to read of the way which Mr. Zinoviev is speaking of the Prime Minister today. Though one time there went up a cry, "Hands off Russia", I think it's time somebody said to Russia, "Hands off England". [26]

Prime Minister: Second term (1924–1929)

W. L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada (left) and Baldwin at the Imperial Conference, October 1926 KingBaldwin1926.jpg
W. L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada (left) and Baldwin at the Imperial Conference, October 1926

Baldwin's new Cabinet now included many former political associates of Lloyd George: former Coalition Conservatives: Austen Chamberlain (as Foreign Secretary), Lord Birkenhead (Secretary for India) and Arthur Balfour (Lord President after 1925), and the former Liberal Winston Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer. This period included the General Strike of 1926, a crisis that the government managed to weather, despite the havoc it caused throughout the UK. Baldwin created the Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies, a volunteer body of those opposed to the strike which was intended to complete essential work. [27]

Visit of the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) to Rideau Hall, Ottawa August 1927. Front row: left-right: 2nd, W. L. Mackenzie King; 4th, Viscount Willingdon; 5th, the Prince of Wales; 6th, Prince George; 8th, Baldwin KingRoyals1927.jpg
Visit of the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) to Rideau Hall, Ottawa August 1927. Front row: left-right: 2nd, W. L. Mackenzie King; 4th, Viscount Willingdon; 5th, the Prince of Wales; 6th, Prince George; 8th, Baldwin

At Baldwin's instigation Lord Weir headed a committee to "review the national problem of electrical energy". It published its report on 14 May 1925 and in it Weir recommended the setting up of a Central Electricity Board, a state monopoly half-financed by the Government and half by local undertakings. Baldwin accepted Weir's recommendations and they became law by the end of 1926. [28]

The Board was a success. By 1939 electrical output was up fourfold and generating costs had fallen. Consumers of electricity rose from three-quarters of a million in 1920 to nine million in 1938, with annual growth of 700,000 to 800,000 a year (the fastest rate of growth in the world). [28]

One of his legislative reforms was a paradigm shift in his party. This was the Widows, Orphans and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act of 1925, which provided a pension of 10 shillings a week for widows with extra for children, and 10 shillings a week for insured workers and their wives at 65. This transformed Toryism, away from its historic reliance on community (particularly religious) charities, and towards acceptance of a humanitarian welfare state which would guarantee a minimum living standard for those unable to work or who took out national insurance. [29] In 1927, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Leader of the Opposition (1929–1931)

In 1929 Labour returned to office as the largest party in the House of Commons (although without an overall majority) despite obtaining fewer votes than the Conservatives. [30] In opposition, Baldwin was almost ousted as party leader by the press barons Lords Rothermere and Beaverbrook, whom he accused of enjoying "power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages". [31]

Ramsden argues that Baldwin made dramatic permanent improvements to the organisation and effectiveness of the Conservative Party. He enlarged the headquarters with professionals, professionalised the party agents, raised ample funds, and was an innovative user of the new mass media of radio and film. [32]

Lord President of the Council (1931–1935)

By 1931, as the economy headed towards crisis, both in Britain and around the world, with the onset of the Great Depression, Baldwin and the Conservatives entered into a coalition with Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. [33] This decision led to MacDonald's expulsion from his own party, and Baldwin, as Lord President of the Council, became de facto Prime Minister, deputising for the increasingly senile MacDonald, until he once again officially became Prime Minister in 1935.

One central and vitally important agreement was the Statute of Westminster 1931, which conferred full self-government upon the Dominions Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, while preparing the first steps towards the eventual Commonwealth of Nations, and away from the designation 'British Empire'. [34] In 1930, the first British Empire Games sports competition was held successfully among Empire nations in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

His government then secured with great difficulty the passage of the landmark Government of India Act 1935, in the teeth of opposition from Winston Churchill, spokesman for the die-hard imperialists who filled the Conservative ranks. [35]

Disarmament

Baldwin did not advocate total disarmament but believed that, as Sir Edward Grey had stated in 1925, "great armaments lead inevitably to war". [36] However he came to believe that, as he put it on 10 November 1932: "the time has now come to an end when Great Britain can proceed with unilateral disarmament". [37] On 10 November 1932 Baldwin said:

I think it is well also for the man in the street to realise that there is no power on earth that can protect him from being bombed. Whatever people may tell him, the bomber will always get through, The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves...If the conscience of the young men should ever come to feel, with regard to this one instrument [bombing] that it is evil and should go, the thing will be done; but if they do not feel like that – well, as I say, the future is in their hands. But when the next war comes, and European civilisation is wiped out, as it will be, and by no force more than that force, then do not let them lay blame on the old men. Let them remember that they, principally, or they alone, are responsible for the terrors that have fallen upon the earth. [37]

This speech was often used against Baldwin as allegedly demonstrating the futility of rearmament or disarmament, depending on the critic. [38]

With the second part of the Disarmament Conference starting in January 1933, Baldwin attempted to see through his hope of air disarmament. [39] However he became alarmed at Britain's lack of defence against air raids and German rearmament, saying it "would be a terrible thing, in fact, the beginning of the end". [40] In April 1933 the Cabinet agreed to follow through with the construction of the Singapore military base. [41]

On 15 September 1933 the German delegate at the Disarmament Conference refused to return to the Conference and Germany left altogether in October. On 6 October Baldwin, in a speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, pleaded for a Disarmament Convention and then said:

when I speak of a Disarmament Convention I do not mean disarmament on the part of this country and not on the part of any other. I mean the limitation of armaments as a real limitation...and if we find ourselves on some lower rating and that some other country has higher figures, that country has to come down and we have to go up until we meet. [42]

On 14 October Germany left the League of Nations. The Cabinet decided on 23 October that Britain should still attempt to cooperate with other states, including Germany, in international disarmament. [43] However between mid-September 1933 and the beginning of 1934 Baldwin's mind changed from hoping for disarmament to favouring rearmament, including parity in aircraft. [44] In late 1933 and early 1934 he rejected an invitation from Hitler to meet him, believing that visits to foreign capitals were the job of Foreign Secretaries. [45] On 8 March 1934 Baldwin defended the creation of four new squadrons for the Royal Air Force against Labour criticisms and said of international disarmament:

If all our efforts for an agreement fail, and if it is not possible to obtain this equality in such matters as I have indicated, then any Government of this country—a National Government more than any, and this Government—will see to it that in air strength and air power this country shall no longer be in a position inferior to any country within striking distance of our shores. [46]

On 29 March 1934 Germany published its defence estimates, which showed a total increase of one-third and an increase of 250% in its air force. [47]

A series of by-elections in late 1933 and early 1934 with massive swings against government candidates—most famous was Fulham East with a 26.5% swing— convinced Baldwin that the British public was profoundly pacifist. [48] Baldwin also rejected the "belligerent" views of those like Churchill and Robert Vansittart because he believed that the Nazis were rational men who would appreciate the logic of mutual and equal deterrence. [49] He also believed war to be "the most fearful terror and prostitution of man's knowledge that ever was known". [50]

Prime Minister: Third term: (1935–1937)

With MacDonald's health in decline, he and Baldwin changed places in June 1935: Baldwin was now Prime Minister, MacDonald Lord President of the Council. [51] In October that year Baldwin called a general election. Neville Chamberlain advised Baldwin to make rearmament the leading issue in the election campaign against Labour, saying that if a rearmament programme were not announced until after the election, his government would be seen as having deceived the people. [52] However, Baldwin did not make rearmament the central issue in the election. He said he would support the League of Nations, modernise Britain's defences and remedy deficiencies; but he also said: "I give you my word that there will be no great armaments". [53] The main issues in the election were housing, unemployment and the special areas of economic depression. [53] The election gave 430 seats to National Government supporters (386 of these Conservative) and 154 seats to Labour.

Rearmament

Baldwin's younger son A. Windham Baldwin, writing in 1955, argued that his father Stanley planned a rearmament programme as early as 1934, but had to do so quietly to avoid antagonising the public whose pacifism was revealed by the Peace Ballot of 1934–35 and endorsed by both the Labour and the Liberal oppositions. His thorough presentation of the case for rearmament in 1935, the son argues, defeated pacifism and secured a victory that allowed rearmament to move ahead. [54]

On 31 July 1934, the Cabinet approved a report that called for expansion of the Royal Air Force to the 1923 standard by creating 40 new squadrons over the following five years. [55] On 26 November 1934, six days after receiving the news that the German air force would be as large as the RAF within one year, the Cabinet decided to speed up air rearmament from four years to two. [56] On 28 November 1934 Churchill moved an amendment to the vote of thanks for the King's Speech, which read: "...the strength of our national defences, and especially our air defences, is no longer adequate". [57] His motion was known eight days before it was moved, and a special Cabinet meeting decided how to deal with this motion; it dominated two other Cabinet meetings. [58] Churchill said Germany was rearming; he requested that the money spent on air armaments be doubled or tripled in order to deter an attack; and that the Luftwaffe was nearing equality with the RAF. [59] Baldwin responded by denying that the Luftwaffe was approaching equality and said it was "not 50 per cent" of the RAF. He added that by the end of 1935 the RAF would still have "a margin of nearly 50 per cent" in Europe. [60] After Baldwin said the government would ensure the RAF had parity with the future German air force Churchill withdrew his amendment. In April 1935 the Air Secretary reported that although Britain's strength in the air would be ahead of Germany's for at least three years, air rearmament needed to be increased; so the Cabinet agreed to the creation of an extra 39 squadrons for home defence by 1937. [56] However, on 8 May 1935 the Cabinet heard that it was estimated that the RAF was inferior to the Luftwaffe by 370 aircraft and that in order to reach parity the RAF must have 3,800 aircraft by April 1937—an extra 1,400 above the existing air programme. It was learnt that Germany was easily able to outbuild this revised programme as well. [61] On 21 May 1935, the Cabinet agreed to expanding the home defence force of the RAF to 1,512 aircraft (840 bombers and 420 fighters). [56] On 22 May 1935 Baldwin confessed in the Commons: "I was wrong in my estimate of the future. There I was completely wrong." [62]

On 25 February 1936, the Cabinet approved a report calling for expansion of the Royal Navy and the re-equipment of the British Army (though not its expansion), along with the creation of "shadow factories" built by public money and managed by industrial companies. These factories came into operation in 1937. In February 1937 the Chiefs of Staff reported that by May 1937 the Luftwaffe would have 800 bombers compared to the RAF's 48. [63]

In the debate in the Commons on 12 November 1936, Churchill attacked the government on rearmament as being "decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. So we go on, preparing more months and years – precious, perhaps vital, to the greatness of Britain – for the locusts to eat". Baldwin replied:

I put before the whole House my own views with an appalling frankness. From 1933, I and my friends were all very worried about what was happening in Europe. You will remember at that time the Disarmament Conference was sitting in Geneva. You will remember at that time there was probably a stronger pacifist feeling running through the country than at any time since the War. I am speaking of 1933 and 1934. You will remember the election at Fulham in the autumn of 1933...That was the feeling of the country in 1933. My position as a leader of a great party was not altogether a comfortable one. I asked myself what chance was there...within the next year or two of that feeling being so changed that the country would give a mandate for rearmament? Supposing I had gone to the country and said that Germany was rearming and we must rearm, does anybody think that this pacific democracy would have rallied to that cry at that moment! I cannot think of anything that would have made the loss of the election from my point of view more certain...We got from the country – with a large majority – a mandate for doing a thing that no one, twelve months before, would have believed possible. [64]

Churchill wrote to a friend: "I have never heard such a squalid confession from a public man as Baldwin offered us yesterday". [65] In 1935 Baldwin wrote to J. C. C. Davidson (in a letter now lost) saying of Churchill: "If there is going to be a war – and no one can say that there is not – we must keep him fresh to be our war Prime Minister". [66] Thomas Dugdale also claimed Baldwin said to him: "If we do have a war, Winston must be Prime Minister. If he is in [the Cabinet] now we shan't be able to engage in that war as a united nation". [66] The General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Walter Citrine, recalled a conversation he had had with Baldwin on 5 April 1943: "Baldwin thought his [Churchill's] political recovery was marvellous. He, personally, had always thought that if war came Winston would be the right man for the job". [67]

The Labour Party strongly opposed the rearmament programme. Clement Attlee said on 21 December 1933: "For our part, we are unalterably opposed to anything in the nature of rearmament". [68] On 8 March 1934 Attlee said, after Baldwin defended the Air Estimates, "we on our side are out for total disarmament". [46] On 30 July 1934 Labour moved a motion of censure against the government because of its planned expansion of the RAF. Attlee spoke for it: "We deny the need for increased air arms...and we reject altogether the claim of parity". [68] Sir Stafford Cripps also said on this occasion that it was fallacy that Britain could achieve security through increasing air armaments. [68] On 22 May 1935, the day after Hitler had made a speech claiming that German rearmament offered no threat to peace, Attlee asserted that Hitler's speech gave "a chance to call a halt in the armaments race". [69] Attlee also denounced the Defence White Paper of 1937: "I do not believe the Government are going to get any safety through these armaments". [70]

Abdication of Edward VIII

The accession of King Edward VIII, and the ensuing abdication crisis, brought Baldwin's last major test in office. The new monarch was "an ardent exponent of the cause of Anglo-German understanding", and had "strong views on his right to intervene in affairs of state," but the "Government's main fears ... were of indiscretion." [71] The King proposed to marry Wallis Simpson, an American woman who was twice divorced. The high-minded Baldwin felt that he could tolerate her as "a respectable whore," so long as she stayed behind the throne, but not as "Queen Wally". [72]

Mrs. Simpson was also distrusted by the government for her known pro-German sympathies, and she was believed to be in "close contact with German monarchist circles". [71]

During October and November 1936, Baldwin joined the Royal Family in trying to dissuade the King from that marriage, arguing that the idea of having a twice-divorced woman as the Queen would be rejected by the government, by the country, and by the Empire; and that "the voice of the people must be heard." [73] [74] As the public standing of the King would be gravely compromised, the Prime Minister gave him time to reconsider the notion of this marriage. [75] According to the historian Philip Williamson, "The offence lay in the implications of [the King's] attachment to Mrs. Simpson for the broader public morality and the constitutional integrity which were now perceived—especially by Baldwin—as underpinning the nation's unity and strength." [76]

News of the affair was broken in the newspapers on 2 December. [77] There was some support for the wishes of the King, especially in and around London. The romantic royalists Churchill, Mosley, and the press barons, Lord Beaverbrook of the Daily Express and Lord Rothermere of the Daily Mail , all declared that the king had a right to marry whichever woman he wished. [77] This crisis assumed a political dimension when Beaverbrook and Churchill tried to rally support for the marriage in Parliament. [13] However, the King's party could only muster 40 Members of Parliament in support, [78] and majority opinion sided with Baldwin and his Conservative government. [77] The Labour leader, Clement Attlee, told Baldwin "that while Labour people had no objection to an American becoming Queen, [he] was certain they would not approve of Mrs. Simpson for that position", especially in the provinces and in the Commonwealth countries. [79] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang, held that the King, as the head of the Church of England, should not marry a divorcée. [80] The Times argued that the monarchy's prestige would be destroyed if "private inclination were to come into open conflict with public duty and be allowed to prevail." [77]

While some recent critics have complained that "Baldwin refused the reasonable request for time to reflect, preferring to keep the pressure on the King – once again suggesting that his own agenda was to force the crisis to a head", and that he "never mentioned that the alternative [to the marriage] was abdication", [81] the House of Commons immediately and overwhelmingly came out against this marriage. [13] The Labour and Liberal parties, the Trades Union Congress, [82] and the Dominions of Australia and Canada, all joined the British cabinet in rejecting the King's compromise, initially supported, and perhaps conceived by, [83] Winston Churchill, [84] for a morganatic marriage that had originally been made on 16 November. [13] The crisis threatened the unity of the British Empire, since the King's personal relationship with the Dominions was their "only remaining constitutional link." [85]

Baldwin still hoped that the King would choose the throne over Mrs. Simpson. [13] For the King to act against the wishes of the cabinet would have precipitated a constitutional crisis. [13] Baldwin would have had to resign, [86] and no other party leader would have served as the Prime Minister under this King, [75] [77] with the Labour Party having already having indicated that it would not form a ministry to uphold impropriety. [13] Baldwin told the Cabinet one Labour MP had asked, "Are we going to have a fascist monarchy?" [82] When the Cabinet refused the morganatic marriage, King Edward decided on his own volition to abdicate. [77]

The King's final plea, on 4 December, that he should broadcast an appeal to the nation, was rejected by the Prime Minister as too divisive. [13] [87] Nevertheless, at his final audience with King Edward on 7 December, Baldwin offered to strive all night with the King's conscience, but he found him to be determined to go. [13] Baldwin announced the King's abdication in the Commons on 10 December. Harold Nicolson, an MP who witnessed Baldwin's speech, wrote in his diary:

There is no moment when he overstates emotion or indulges in oratory. There is intense silence broken only by the reporters in the gallery scuttling away to telephone the speech...When it was over...[we] file out broken in body and soul, conscious that we have heard the best speech that we shall ever hear in our lives. There was no question of applause. It was the silence of Gettysburg...No man has ever dominated the House as he dominated it tonight, and he knows it. [88]

After the speech, the House adjourned and Nicolson bumped into Baldwin as he was leaving, who asked him what he thought of the speech. Nicolson said it was superb, to which Baldwin replied: "Yes ... it was a success. I know it. It was almost wholly unprepared. I had a success, my dear Nicolson, at the moment I most needed it. Now is the time to go." [89]

The King abdicated on 11 December, and he was succeeded by his brother, George VI. Edward VIII was assigned the title of the Duke of Windsor by his brother, and then he married Mrs. Simpson in France in June 1937, after her divorce from Ernest Simpson had become final.

Baldwin had defused a political crisis by turning it into a constitutional question. [13] His discreet resolution met with general approval and restored his popularity. [77] He was praised on all sides for his tact and patience, [13] and was not in the least put out by the protestors' cries of "God save the King—from Baldwin!" "Flog Baldwin! Flog him!! We—want—Edward." [90]

John Charmley argues in his history of the Conservative Party that Baldwin was pushing for more democracy, and less of an old aristocratic upper-class tone. Monarchy was to be a national foundation, whereby the head of the Church. the State, and the Empire, by drawing upon 1000 years of tradition, could unify the nation. George V was an ideal fit: "an ordinary little man with the philistine tastes of most of his subjects, he could be presented as the archetypical English paterfamilias getting on with his duties without fuss." Charmley finds that George V and Baldwin, “made a formidable conservative team, with their ordinary, honest, English decency proving the first (and most effective) bulwark against revolution.” Edward VIII, flaunting his upper-class playboy style, suffered from an unstable neurotic character, He needed a strong stabilizing partner—a role Mrs. Simpson was unable to provide. Baldwin’s final achievement was to smooth the way for Edward to abdicate in favor of his younger brother who became George VI. Father and son both demonstrated the value of a democratic king during the severe physical and psychological hardships of the world wars, and the tradition was carried on by Elizabeth II. [91]

Retirement

Baldwin photographed by the American press on board a ship, with his wife and daughter Stanley Baldwin 3.jpg
Baldwin photographed by the American press on board a ship, with his wife and daughter
Coat of Arms of Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel. Coat of Arms of Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC, PC (Can), JP, FRS.png
Coat of Arms of Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel.

Leaving office and peerage

After the coronation of George VI, Baldwin announced on 27 May 1937 that he would resign the premiership the next day. His last act as Prime Minister was to raise the salaries of MPs from £400 a year to £600 and to give the Leader of the Opposition a salary. This was the first rise in MPs' wages since their introduction in 1911 and it particularly benefited Labour MPs. Harold Nicolson wrote in his diary that it "was done with Baldwin's usual consummate taste. No man has ever left in such a blaze of affection". [92] Baldwin was knighted as a Knight of the Garter (KG) on 28 May [93] and ennobled as Earl Baldwin of Bewdley and Viscount Corvedale, of Corvedale in the County of Salop on 8 June. [13] [94]

Attitude to appeasement

Baldwin supported the Munich Agreement and said to Chamberlain on 26 September 1938: "If you can secure peace, you may be cursed by a lot of hotheads but my word you will be blessed in Europe and by future generations". [95] Baldwin made a rare speech in the House of Lords on 4 October where he said he could not have gone to Munich but praised Chamberlain's courage and said the responsibility of a Prime Minister was not to commit the country to war until he was sure that it was ready to fight. If there was a 95% chance of war in the future, he would still choose peace. He also said he would put industry on a war footing tomorrow as the opposition to such a move had disappeared. [96] Churchill said in a speech: "He says he would mobilise tomorrow. I think it would have been much better if Earl Baldwin had said that two and a half years ago when everyone demanded a Ministry of Supply". [97]

Two weeks after Munich, Baldwin said (prophetically) in a conversation with Lord Hinchingbrooke: "Can't we turn Hitler East? Napoleon broke himself against the Russians. Hitler might do the same". [98]

Baldwin's years in retirement were quiet. After Chamberlain's death in 1940, Baldwin's perceived part in pre-war appeasement made him an unpopular figure during and after World War II. [99] With a succession of British military failures in 1940, Baldwin started to receive critical letters: "insidious to begin with, then increasingly violent and abusive; then the newspapers; finally the polemicists who, with time and wit at their disposal, could debate at leisure how to wound the deepest." [99] He did not have a secretary and so was not shielded from the often unpleasant letters sent to him. [100] After a bitterly critical letter was sent to him by a member of the public, Baldwin wrote: "I can understand his bitterness. He wants a scapegoat and the men provided him with one". His biographers Middlemas and Barnes claim that "the men" almost certainly meant the authors of Guilty Men . [101]

Letter to Lord Halifax

After Lord Halifax made a speech on the strength of prayer as the instrument which could be invoked by the humblest to use in their country's service, Baldwin wrote to him on 23 July 1940:

With millions of others I had prayed hard at the time of Dunkirk and never did prayer seem to be more speedily answered to the full. And we prayed for France and the next day she surrendered. I thought much, and when I went to bed I lay for a long time vividly awake. And I went over in my mind what had happened, concentrating on the thoughts that you had dwelt on, that prayer to be effective must be in accordance with God's will, and that by far the hardest thing to say from the heart and indeed the last lesson we learn (if we ever do) is to say and mean it, ‘Thy will be done.’ And I thought what mites we all are and how we can never see God's plan, a plan on such a scale that it must be incomprehensible. And suddenly for what must have been a couple of minutes I seemed to see with extraordinary and vivid clarity and to hear someone speaking to me. The words at the time were clear, but the recollection of them had passed when I seemed to come to, as it were, but the sense remained, and the sense was this. ‘You cannot see the plan’; then ‘Have you not thought there is a purpose in stripping you one by one of all the human props on which you depend, that you are being left alone in the world? You have now one upon whom to lean and I have chosen you as my instrument to work with my will. Why then are you afraid?’ And to prove ourselves worthy of that tremendous task is our job. [102]

Iron gates criticism

In September 1941, Baldwin's old enemy, Lord Beaverbrook, asked all local authorities to survey their area's iron and steel railings and gates that could be used for the war effort. Owners of such materials could appeal for an exemption on grounds of artistic or historic merit, which would be decided by a panel set up by local authorities. Baldwin applied for exemption for the iron gates of his country home on artistic grounds and his local council sent an architect to assess them. In December, the architect advised that they be exempt, but, in February 1942, the Ministry of Supply overruled this and said all his gates must go except the ones at the main entrance. [103] A newspaper campaign hounded him for not donating the gates to war production. The Daily Mirror columnist Cassandra denounced Baldwin:

Here was the country in deadly peril with half the Empire swinging in the wind like a busted barn door hanging on one hinge. Here was Old England half smothered in a shroud crying for steel to cut her way out, and right in the heart of beautiful Worcestershire was a one-time Prime Minister, refusing to give up the gates of his estate to make guns for our defence – and his. Here was an old stupid politician who had tricked the nation into complacency about rearmament for fear of losing an election.... Here is the very shrine of stupidity.... This National Park of Failure.... [104]

There were fears that if the gates were not taken by the proper authorities, "others without authority might". [105] Thus, months before any other collections were made, Baldwin's gates were removed except for those at the main entrance. Two of Beaverbrook's friends after the war claimed that this was Beaverbrook's decision despite Churchill saying, "Lay off Baldwin's gates". [106] At Question Time in the House of Commons the Conservative MP Captain Alan Graham said: "Is the honourable Member aware that it is very necessary to leave Lord Baldwin his gates in order to protect him from the just indignation of the mob?" [107]

Comments on politics

During the war, Winston Churchill consulted him only once, in February 1943, on the advisability of his speaking out strongly against the continued neutrality of Éamon de Valera's Ireland. Baldwin saw the draft of Churchill's speech and advised against it, which advice Churchill followed. [108] A few months after this visit to Churchill, Baldwin told Harold Nicolson, "I went into Downing Street... a happy man. Of course it was partly because an old buffer like me enjoys feeling that he is still not quite out of things. But it was also pure patriotic joy that my country at such a time should have found such a leader. The furnace of the war has smeltered out all base metals from him". [109] To D. H. Barber, Baldwin wrote of Churchill: "You can take it from me he is a really big man, the War has brought out the best that was in him. His head isn't turned the least little bit by the great position he occupies in the eyes of the world. I pray he is spared to see us through". [110]

In private, Baldwin defended his conduct in the 1930s:

the critics have no historical sense. I have no Cabinet papers by me and do not want to trust my memory. But recall the Fulham election, the peace ballot, Singapore, sanctions, Malta. The English will only learn by example. When I first heard of Hitler, when Ribbentrop came to see me, I thought they were all crazy. I think I brought Ramsay and Simon to meet Ribbentrop. Remember that Ramsay's health was breaking up in the last two years. He had lost his nerve in the House in the last year. I had to take all the important speeches. The moment he went, I prepared for a general election and got a bigger majority for rearmament. No power on earth could have got rearmament without a general election except by a big split. Simon was inefficient. I had to lead the House, keep the machine together with those Labour fellows. [111]

In December 1944, strongly advised by friends, Baldwin decided to respond to criticisms of him through a biographer. He asked G. M. Young, who accepted, and asked Churchill to grant permission to Young to see Cabinet papers. Baldwin wrote:

I am the last person to complain of fair criticism, but when one book after another appears and I am compared, for example, to Laval, my gorge rises; but I am crippled and cannot go and examine the files of the Cabinet Office. Could G. M. Young go on my behalf? [111]

Last years and death

Worcester Cathedral, grave of the 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley and his wife Lucy, nee Ridsdale Worcester Cathedral Baldwin of Bewdley grave.jpg
Worcester Cathedral, grave of the 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley and his wife Lucy, née Ridsdale

In June 1945, Baldwin's wife Lucy died. Baldwin himself by now suffered from arthritis and needed a stick to walk. When he made his final public appearance in London in October 1947 at the unveiling of a statue of George V, a crowd of people recognised and cheered him, but by this time he was deaf and asked: "Are they booing me?" [112] Having been made Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 1930, he continued in this capacity until his death in his sleep at Astley Hall near Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, on 14 December 1947. He was cremated in Birmingham and his ashes buried in Worcester Cathedral.

Baldwin was a member of the Oddfellows and Foresters Friendly Society. [113]

Styles of address

Legacy

Memorial to the 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley near his home, Astley Hall Astley, Worcs, Baldwin memorial 1.jpg
Memorial to the 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley near his home, Astley Hall

Upon his retirement in 1937, he had received a great deal of praise; the onset of World War II would change his public image for the worse. Baldwin, Chamberlain and MacDonald were held responsible for Great Britain's military unpreparedness on the eve of war in 1939. Peter Howard, writing in the Sunday Express (3 September 1939), accused Baldwin of deceiving the country of the dangers that faced it in order not to re-arm and so win the 1935 general election. [116] During the ill-fated Battle of France, in May 1940, Lloyd George in conversation with Winston Churchill and General Ironside railed against Baldwin and said "he ought to be hanged". [117] In July 1940, a bestseller Guilty Men appeared, which blamed Baldwin for failing to re-arm enough. In May 1941 Hamilton Fyfe wrote an article ("Leadership and Democracy") for Nineteenth Century and After which also laid these charges against Baldwin. In 1941, A. L. Rowse criticised Baldwin for lulling the people into a false sense of security; as a practitioner in "the art of taking the people in":

what can this man think in the still watches of the night, when he contemplates the ordeal his country is going through as the result of the years, the locust years, in which he held power? [118]

Churchill firmly believed that Baldwin's conciliatory stance toward Hitler gave the German dictator the impression that Britain would not fight if attacked. Though known for his magnanimity toward political rivals such as Chamberlain, Churchill had none to spare for Baldwin. "I wish Stanley Baldwin no ill," Churchill said when declining to send him 80th birthday greetings in 1947, "but it would have been much better had he never lived." Churchill also believed that Baldwin, rather than Chamberlain, would be most blamed by subsequent generations for the policies that led to "the most unnecessary war in history". An index entry in the first volume of Churchill's "History of the Second World War" (The Gathering Storm) records Baldwin "admitting to putting party before country" for his alleged admission that he would not have won the 1935 election if he had pursued a more aggressive policy of rearmament. Churchill selectively quoted a speech in the Commons by Baldwin that gave the false impression that Baldwin was speaking of the general election when he was speaking of the Fulham by-election in 1933, and omits Baldwin's actual comments about the 1935 election: "We got from the country, a mandate for doing a thing [a substantial rearmament programme] that no one, twelve months before, would have believed possible". [119] In his speech on Baldwin's death, Churchill paid him a double-edged yet respectful tribute: "He was the most formidable politician I ever encountered in public life". [120]

In 1948, Reginald Bassett published an essay disputing the claim that Baldwin "confessed" to putting party before country, and claimed that Baldwin was referring to 1933/34 when a general election on rearmament would have been lost. [121]

In 1952, G. M. Young published an authorized biography of Baldwin that asserted that Baldwin united the nation and helped moderate the policies of the Labour Party. However Young accepted the chief criticisms of Baldwin: that he failed to re-arm early enough and that he put party before country. Young contends that Baldwin should have retired in 1935. Churchill and Beaverbrook threatened to sue if certain passages in the biography were not removed or altered. A settlement was reached to remove the offending sentences, and the publisher Rupert Hart-Davis had the "hideously expensive" job of removing and replacing seven leaves from 7,580 copies. [122]

In response to Young's biography, D. C. Somervell published Stanley Baldwin: An examination of some features of Mr. G. M. Young's biography in 1953 with a foreword by Ernest Brown. This attempted to defend Baldwin against the charges made by Young. Both Young and Somervell were criticised by C. L. Mowat in 1955, who claimed they both failed to rehabilitate Baldwin's reputation. [123]

In 1956, Baldwin's son A. W. Baldwin published a biography entitled My Father: The True Story. It has been written that his son "evidently could not decide whether he was answering the charge of inanition and deceit which grew out of the war, or the radical "dissenters" of the early 1930s who thought the Conservatives were warmongers and denounced them for rearming at all". [124]

In an article written to commemorate the centenary of Baldwin's birth, in The Spectator ("Don't Let's Be Beastly to Baldwin", 14 July 1967) Rab Butler defended Baldwin's moderate policies which, he claimed, helped heal social divisions. In 1969 the first major biography of Baldwin appeared, of over 1,000 pages, written by Keith Middlemas and John Barnes, both Conservatives who wished to defend Baldwin.

In 1998 historian Andrew Thorpe wrote that, apart from the questions of war and peace, Baldwin had a mixed reputation. He was moved by social deprivation, but not to the point of legislation, and systematically avoided intervention in the economy and social system. He had a ruthless style that included insincerity. His advisors were second rank figures like Davidson and Bridgeman. Thorpe writes that "Essentially, Baldwin was a much more neurotic and insecure character than his public persona would have suggested", as shown by his nervous breakdown in 1936 that kept him out of action for three months. On the other hand Thorpe says Baldwin was a good coordinator of his coalition, and did not block colleagues who proposed various small reforms. Thorpe argues that his handling of the 1926 general strike was "firm and uncompromising" but he disliked the harsh Trade Disputes Act that followed because it was too far to the right of Baldwin's preferred middle-of-the-road. Thorpe praises his handling of the abdication crisis in 1936, which allowed Baldwin to leave office in a blaze of glory. Thorpe says he often lacked drive and was too easily depressed and too pessimistic and too neglectful of foreign affairs. On the other hand he achieved his primary goals of preserving capitalism, maintaining the parliamentary system and strengthening the Conservative party as a leading opponent of socialism. [125]

In 1999, Philip Williamson published a collection of essays on Baldwin which attempted to explain his beliefs and defended his policies as Prime Minister. Baldwin's defenders argued that, with pacifist appeasement the dominant political view in Britain, France, and the United States, he felt he could not start a programme of re-armament without a national consensus on the matter. Williamson argued that Baldwin had helped create "a moral basis for rearmament in the mid 1930s" that contributed greatly to "the national spirit of defiance after Munich". [126] Williamson admitted that there was a clear postwar consensus that repudiated and denigrated all inter-war governments: Baldwin was targeted with the accusation that he had failed to rearm Britain in the 1930s despite Hitler's threat. Williamson said that the negative reputation was chiefly the product of partisan politics, the bandwagon of praise for Churchill, selective recollections, and the need for scapegoats to blame for Britain's very close call in 1940. Only during the 1960s did political distance and then the opening of government records lead to more balanced historical assessments; yet the myth had become so central to larger myths about the 1930s and 1940s that it persists as conventional wisdom about the period. [127]

By 2004 Ball could report that among historians, "The pendulum has swung almost completely towards a positive view." He says "Baldwin is now seen as having done more than most and perhaps as much as was possible in the context, but the fact remains that it was not enough to deter the aggressors or ensure their defeat. Less equivocal was his rediscovery as a moderate and inclusive Conservative for the modern age, part of a 'one nation tradition'." [13]

Baldwin's governments as Prime Minister

First Government, May 1923 – January 1924

Changes

  • August 1923 – Neville Chamberlain took over from Baldwin as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir William Joynson-Hicks succeeded Chamberlain as Minister of Health. Joynson-Hicks' successor as Financial Secretary to the Treasury was not in the Cabinet.

Second Cabinet, November 1924 – June 1929

Changes

Third Cabinet, June 1935 – May 1937

Changes

  • November 1935 – Malcolm MacDonald succeeded J.H. Thomas as Dominions Secretary. Thomas succeeded MacDonald as Colonial Secretary. Lord Halifax succeeded Lord Londonderry as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords. Duff Cooper succeeded Halifax as Secretary for War. Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister became Viscount Swinton and Bolton Eyres-Monsell became Viscount Monsell, both remaining in the Cabinet.
  • December 1935 Anthony Eden succeeded Sir Samuel Hoare as Foreign Secretary and was not replaced as Minister without Portfolio.
  • March 1936 – Sir Thomas Inskip entered the Cabinet as Minister for the Coordination of Defence. Lord Eustace Percy left the Cabinet.
  • May 1936 – William Ormsby-Gore succeeded J.H. Thomas as Colonial Secretary. Lord Stanhope succeeded Ormsby-Gore as First Commissioner of Works.
  • June 1936 – Sir Samuel Hoare succeeded Lord Monsell as First Lord of the Admiralty.
  • October 1936 – Walter Elliot succeeded Collins as Scottish Secretary. William Shepherd Morrison succeeded Elliot as Minister of Agriculture. Leslie Hore-Belisha entered the Cabinet as Minister of Transport.

Cultural depictions

See also

Notes

  1. Philip Williamson, "The Conservative Party 1900 – 1939," in Chris Wrigley, ed., A Companion to Early 20th-Century Britain, (2003) pp 17-18
  2. "Unthinkable? Historically accurate films". The Guardian. London. 29 January 2011.
  3. Paul Strangio; et al. (2013). Understanding Prime-Ministerial Performance: Comparative Perspectives. Oxford UP. pp. 224, 226. ISBN   978-0-19-966642-3.
  4. "Baldwin, Stanley (BLDN885S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. Baldwin, Stanley (1926). On England. Penguin Books. p. 162.
  6. K. Feiling, The Life of Neville Chamberlain (London, 1970), 11
  7. Middlemas and Barnes (1969). Baldwin: a biography. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 21.
  8. Who Was Who, 1941–1950. A and C Black. 1952. p. 52.
  9. The peerage.com, entry for 1st Earl Baldwin
  10. The peerage.com, entry for Lady Esther Baldwin
  11. 1 2 Belton, Neil. The Good Listener: Helen Bamber, a Life against Cruelty. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998, p.52
  12. George, Robert Lloyd (October 2016). A Modern Plutarch: Comparisons of the Greatest Western Thinkers. The Overlook Press. ISBN   9781468314113.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Stuart Ball, Baldwin, Stanley, first Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (1867–1947), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2008). Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  14. Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Labour. 1920–1924. The Beginnings of Modern British Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1971), p. 329.
  15. A. J. P. Taylor, English History, 1914–1945 (Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 206.
  16. Nick Smart, "Baldwin's Blunder? The General Election of 1923." Twentieth Century British History 7#1 (1996): 110-139.
  17. Self, Robert (1992). "Conservative reunion and the general election of 1923: a reassessment". Twentieth Century British History. 3 (3): 249–273. doi:10.1093/tcbh/3.3.249.
  18. Cowling, The Impact of Labour, p. 383.
  19. 1 2 Cowling, The Impact of Labour, p. 410.
  20. Cowling, The Impact of Labour, p. 411.
  21. Keith Middlemas and John Barnes, Baldwin: A Biography (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), pp. 269–70.
  22. Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 271–2.
  23. Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 273–4.
  24. The Hidden Hand, BBC Parliament, 4 December 2007
  25. Cowling, The Impact of Labour, pp. 408–9.
  26. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 275.
  27. "Bookwatch: The General Strike". Pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  28. 1 2 Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 393–4.
  29. Mastering Modern World History Norman Lowe, 2nd edition (and later eds.), 1966, Macmillan ISBN   9780333465769
  30. Williamson, Philip (1982). "'Safety First': Baldwin, the Conservative Party and the 1929 General Election" (PDF). Historical Journal. 25 (2): 385–409. doi:10.1017/s0018246x00011614.
  31. William D. Rubinstein (2003). Twentieth-Century Britain: A Political History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 176. ISBN   9780333772249.
  32. John Ramsden, The Age of Balfour and Baldwin, 1902–1940 (1978)
  33. Philip Williamson, "1931 Revisited: The Political Realities." Twentieth Century British History 2#3 (1991): 328-338.
  34. Baldwin: The Unexpected Prime Minister, by Montgomery Hyde, 1973
  35. N. C. Fleming, "Diehard Conservatism, Mass Democracy, and Indian Constitutional Reform, c. 1918–35." Parliamentary History 32#2 (2013): 337-360.
  36. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 722.
  37. 1 2 Middlemas and Barnes, p. 735.
  38. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 736.
  39. Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 736–7.
  40. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 738.
  41. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 739.
  42. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 741.
  43. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 742.
  44. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 743.
  45. Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 748–51.
  46. 1 2 Middlemas and Barnes, p. 754.
  47. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 756.
  48. Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 745–6.
  49. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 757.
  50. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 759.
  51. Taylor, p. 378.
  52. Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Hitler. British Politics and British Policy, 1933–1940 (Chicago University Press, 1977), p. 92.
  53. 1 2 Taylor, p. 383.
  54. A. Windham Baldwin, My Father: The True Story (1955)
  55. Correlli Barnett, The Collapse of British Power (London: Methuen, 1972), p. 412.
  56. 1 2 3 Barnett, p. 413.
  57. R. A. C. Parker, Churchill and Appeasement (Macmillan, 2000), p. 45.
  58. Parker, p. 45.
  59. Martin Gilbert, Churchill. A Life (Pimlico, 2000), pp. 536–7.
  60. Gilbert, pp. 537–8.
  61. Barnett, p. 414.
  62. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 818.
  63. Barnett, pp. 414–15.
  64. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 970, p. 972.
  65. Gilbert, p. 567.
  66. 1 2 Middlemas and Barnes, p. 872.
  67. Lord Citrine, Men and Work. An Autobiography (London: Hutchinson, 1964), p. 355.
  68. 1 2 3 Barnett, p. 422.
  69. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 819.
  70. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1030.
  71. 1 2 Middlemas and Barnes, p. 979.
  72. Philip Williamson, Stanley Baldwin: Conservative Leadership and National Values (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 326.
  73. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 990.
  74. Norman Lowe, Mastering Modern British History, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1989), p. 488.
  75. 1 2 Middlemas and Barnes, p. 992.
  76. Williamson, p. 327.
  77. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Lowe, p. 488.
  78. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1008.
  79. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1003.
  80. G. I. T. Machin, "Marriage and the Churches in the 1930s: Royal abdication and divorce reform, 1936–7." Journal of Ecclesiastical History 42.1 (1991): 68-81.
  81. Lynn Prince Picknett and Stephen Clive Prior, War of the Windsors (2002) p. 122.
  82. 1 2 Williamson, p. 328.
  83. Pearce and Goodland (23 May 1991). British Prime Ministers From Balfour to Brown. Transworld Publishers Ltd. ISBN   9780415669832 . Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  84. Pearce and Goodland (2 September 2013). British Prime Ministers From Balfour to Brown. Routledge. p. 80. ISBN   9780415669832 . Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  85. Williamson, p. 327
  86. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 998.
  87. Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 1006–7.
  88. Harold Nicolson, Diaries and Letters. 1930–1939 (London: Collins, 1966), pp. 285–286.
  89. Nicolson, p. 286.
  90. Foreign News: Baldwin the Magnificent – TIME, Time Magazine (21 December 1936).
  91. John Charmley (2008). A History of Conservative Politics Since 1830. pp. 129–30. ISBN   9781137019639.
  92. Nicolson, p. 301.
  93. "No. 34403". The London Gazette . 1 June 1937. p. 3508.
  94. "No. 34405". The London Gazette . 8 June 1937. p. 3663.
  95. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1045.
  96. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1046.
  97. Cato, Guilty Men (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1940), p. 84.
  98. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1047.
  99. 1 2 Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1055.
  100. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1054, p. 1057.
  101. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1058 and note 1.
  102. The Earl of Halifax, Fulness of Days (London: Collins, 1957), p. 225.
  103. Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 1059–60.
  104. Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 1056–7.
  105. Baldwin, My Father: The True Story, p. 321.
  106. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1061.
  107. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1060.
  108. Middlemas and Barnes, pp. 1065–6.
  109. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1065.
  110. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 066.
  111. 1 2 Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1063.
  112. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1070.
  113. "The Peerage"
  114. Irvine, J. C. (1948). "Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, K. G. 1867–1947". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society . 6 (17): 2–5. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1948.0015. JSTOR   768907.
  115. "Official Welcome to Princes and Premier". The Ottawa Evening Journal . XUL (198) (5 O'Clock ed.). 2 August 1927. p. 1. Stanley Baldwin, Premier of Great Britain, also accepted membership in the Privy Council
  116. Howard would later have a reconciliation with Baldwin and tried to get Baldwin to support Moral Re-Armament. Middlemas and Barnes, p. 1062.
  117. Colonel Roderick Macleod and Denis Kelly (eds.), Time Unguarded. The Ironside Diaries. 1937–1940 (New York: David McKay Company, 1963), p. 311.
  118. A. L. Rowse, 'Reflections on Lord Baldwin', Political Quarterly, XII (1941), pp. 305–17. Reprinted in Rowse, End of an Epoch (1947).
  119. Robert Rhodes James, Churchill: A Study in Failure (Pelican, 1973), p. 343.
  120. Middlemas & Barnes 1969, p1072
  121. Reginald Bassett, 'Telling the truth to the people: the myth of the Baldwin 'confession',' Cambridge Journal, II (1948), pp. 84–95.
  122. Hart-Davis, Rupert (1998) [First ed. published]. Halfway to Heaven: Concluding memoirs of a literary life. Stroud Gloucestershire: Sutton. p. 38. ISBN   978-0-7509-1837-4.
  123. C. L. Mowat, 'Baldwin Restored?', The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 27, No. 2. (June 1955), pp. 169–174.
  124. Barbara C. Malament, 'Baldwin Re-restored?', The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Mar. 1972), p. 88.
  125. Andrew Thorpe, "Stanley Baldwin, first Earl Baldwin of Bewdley." in Biographical Dictionary of British Prime Ministers (1998) pp 278-79.
  126. Philip Williamson, Stanley Baldwin. Conservative Leadership and National Values (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 361.
  127. Philip Williamson, "Baldwin's Reputation: Politics and History, 1937–1967," Historical Journal (Mar 2004) 47#1 pp 127–168
  128. For membership and dates see David Butler, British Political Facts 1900–1985 (6th ed. 1986) pp 14-15.
  129. "No. 32892". The London Gazette . 28 December 1923. p. 9107.
  130. For membership and dates see David Butler, British Political Facts 1900–1985 (6th ed. 1986) pp 17-18.
  131. For membership and dates see David Butler, British Political Facts 1900–1985 (6th ed. 1986) pp 22-25.

Further reading

Primary sources

Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Hardman Lever
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1917–1921
Served alongside: Sir Hardman Lever
Succeeded by
Edward Hilton Young
Preceded by
Sir Robert Horne
President of the Board of Trade
1921–1922
Succeeded by
Sir Philip Lloyd-Greame
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1922–1923
Succeeded by
Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by
Bonar Law
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
22 May 1923 – 22 January 1924
Succeeded by
Ramsay MacDonald
Leader of the House of Commons
1923–1924
Preceded by
Ramsay MacDonald
Leader of the Opposition
1924
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
4 November 1924 – 4 June 1929
Leader of the House of Commons
1924–1929
Leader of the Opposition
1929–1931
Succeeded by
Arthur Henderson
Preceded by
The Lord Parmoor
Lord President of the Council
1931–1935
Succeeded by
Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded by
The Viscount Snowden
Lord Privy Seal
1932–1934
Succeeded by
Anthony Eden
Preceded by
Ramsay MacDonald
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
7 June 1935 – 28 May 1937
Succeeded by
Neville Chamberlain
Leader of the House of Commons
1935–1937
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alfred Baldwin
Member of Parliament for Bewdley
1908–1937
Succeeded by
Roger Conant
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bonar Law
Leader of the British Conservative Party
1923–1937
Succeeded by
Neville Chamberlain
Academic offices
Preceded by
David Lloyd George
Rector of the University of Edinburgh
1923–1926
Succeeded by
Sir John Gilmour
Preceded by
Austen Chamberlain
Rector of the University of Glasgow
1928–1931
Succeeded by
Compton Mackenzie
Preceded by
The Viscount Haldane
Chancellor of the University of St Andrews
1929–1947
Succeeded by
The Duke of Hamilton
Preceded by
The Earl of Balfour
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
1930–1947
Succeeded by
Jan Smuts
Preceded by
The Earl of Balfour
Visitor of Girton College, Cambridge
1930–1947
Succeeded by
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Records
Preceded by
The Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor
Oldest living Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1945–1947
Succeeded by
Winston Churchill
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
Viscount Corvedale

1937–1947
Succeeded by
Oliver Baldwin

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