chapter  22
27 Pages

The Parties and the Dispute 1. Divided We Stand

It was not easy but peculiarly difficult for the Opposition to approve anything done by the Government, although occasionally the feat was accomplished. When that happened, it was usually in the sphere of foreign affairs. That may seem surprising. It should not be so. The truth is that, in that sphere, there was a wide measure of agreement between the political parties about what should and what should not be done. Basic agreement existed, at any rate, between the Government itself and most of the leading members of the Opposition, and between the main bodies of their respective followers in the country. That is why criticism of the Government’s conduct of foreign affairs had to be made so largely by way of seeking to identify Government policy with the views expressed by those members of the Government parties, particularly members of the Conservative Party, who were out of harmony with that policy. The most fruitful sources of ammunition for purposes of attack were provided by such men as Mr. Amery and Mr. Churchill, and, best of all, by the Beaverbrook and Rothermere newspapers. In the same way, counter-attack could be most effectively made by drawing upon the utterances of the more extreme pacifists, or

the more extreme Leftists, or the more zealous Covenanters; and, in the circumstances of the period, it was an easy task to identify the views expressed by people in those groups with the official Opposition.