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Pethick-Lawrence Papers Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer (1874–1965), knight, Prime Minister Imagen Con objetos digitales
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Letter from John Haynes Holmes to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

The Community Church, Park Avenue and Thirty-Fourth Street, New York City.—Congratulates him on his election victory over Winston Churchill.

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Transcript

The Community Church, Park Avenue and Thirty-Fourth Street, New York City
December 7th, 1923

Dear Mr. Pethick-Lawrence:

Hurrah! I am overjoyed at the great news this morning of your election to Parliament. And over Winston Churchill! What a smashing victory! That son of Marlborough must wish that he was back in the days of his great ancestor, when the laboring people had better manners.

Reports indicate that Baldwin and his cohorts got a defeat that they will not soon forget. I wonder what the future holds?

With congratulations and all best wishes, I remain

Very sincerely yours,
John Haynes Holmes

Mrs.† F. W. Pethick-Lawrence,
11 Old Square,
Lincoln’s Inn,
London, W.C.2, England

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† Sic.

Letter from Lord Thomson to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

United Service Club, Pall Mall, S.W.1.—Commends his letters describing his travels in India. Refers to the defeat of the Government in the Smethwick by-election, and suggests that Baldwin may call a general election if Churchill is faced with a choice between raising income tax or taxing imports.

Letter from J. M. Keynes to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

46 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury.—Thanks him for a copy of Hansard. Churchill seems to be having doubts (about the reform of the House of Lords?). Is not sorry an inquiry was refused, as it would have been premature.

Letter from Sir George Schuster to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

179 City Road, E.C.1.—Since the deputation to Amery was ineffective, a deputation should be sent to the Prime Minister (Churchill). Sets out the points to be made, drawing particular attention to the question of the strategic position of India after the war.

Transcript

179 City Road, E.C.1.
6th April, 1943.

Personal and strictly confidential

Dear Pethick-Lawrence

Reflecting on our deputation to Amery and the Indian debate in the House, I feel strongly that we in the House of Commons ought not to be content to leave matters where they are. It seemed to me that our deputation to Amery showed clearly that it is little use for us to talk to him. We really need to get right through to the Prime Minister. I therefore feel that we ought to ask the Prime Minister to receive a deputation about India.

I do not want to bother you with a long letter so I will put as briefly as possible the three points which I think we should make to him.

First: To impress on him the value of showing the Indian public—
that he is personally interesting himself in the Indian problem;
that he is determined to go ahead (in spite of his pre-war attitude); but that British action will be governed by certain clear principles which we consider to be right and that threats of political disturbance will not force us to abandon these.

Second: To impress on him our view as to the vital importance of getting the right man to India as Viceroy and not to allow this matter to drift on further.

Third: To raise with him the whole question of the strategic position of India in the post war world.

Whatever may be the political outcome one has to face the fact that India is not likely to attain great political stability in the early years of the new constitution. On the other hand India occupies a strategic position which represents one of the key points in the security structure of the world. It is a point which cannot be left open or as an invitation to new trouble-makers to step in. Presumably if, as contemplated in last year’s declaration, the British Government is to make a treaty with the new Indian Union, the provision of the necessary measures for the strategic security of the United Nations (naval bases, military garrisons, equipment for production of munitions, etc. etc.) will be one of the terms to be covered by the Treaty. I think we ought to ask whether these matters are receiving consideration (I have the case of the Irish ports very much in my mind) {1} and also particularly whether their significance is appreciated by the United States. United States opinion may criticise us for our handling of the Indian political situation because it is so easy to adopt high standards for other people’s problems; but, when it comes to strategic security, their interests will be identical with ours.

I will not develop this last point further. I am sure you will appreciate its significance. I touched upon it in my own speech in the India debate, but I did not want to say too much. It seems to me to have a vital bearing on the whole Indian Problem.

If you think there is any force in my line of argument perhaps we could have a few words about the matter in the House. I had already last week mentioned to Ammon my idea that some of us ought to try and see the Prime Minister. If you agree with this view it would then be a question of what sort of deputation should go, and this is also a matter on which I should like to have a few words with you.

Yours sincerely,
George Schuster

The Rt. Hon.
F. W. Pethick Lawrence, M.P.

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{1} ‘I have … mind’ added in the margin. Brackets supplied.

Letter from Sir George Schuster to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

179 City Road, E.C.1.—Raises the questions of the appointment of a new Viceroy and the future security of India. Suggests that Clark Kerr might make a capable Viceroy.

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Private and Personal

179 City Road, E.C.1.
11th May, 1943.

Dear Pethick-Lawrence,

I promised that I would let you have a note about India. There are really two distinct points:

A. The appointment of the Viceroy.

B. The need to bring a new reality into the discussions about the future of India by facing up to what will be required for the war security of that country and for preventing her from being a fatally weak piece in the structure of world security which the United Nations must want to erect. Facing up to what this means is needed—
1st. In India itself.
2nd. In the United States and other countries and
3rd. In this country.

I had meant to prepare a note on B. during the week-end, but I had to be in my constituency and had no time to complete it. **I will let you have it shortly.

A. and B. are closely interconnected. The urgent need is for a statesman as the British representative in India. If we had a man like Cromer in Linlithgow’s place history would have been quite different.

On both matters Winston’s attention is required. It may be that the decision is about the Viceroy has already been taken. I sincerely hope not, if the selection has been from those mentioned in the Press.

We have no ideal man available; but I have a feeling that Clerk-Kerr might be much better than any of these that have been mentioned. He was a very great success in China and has the reputation of having done well in Russia. That could mean a lot in India.

Yours
George Schuster

The Rt. Hon.
F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, M.P.,
House of Commons.

Letter from Sir George Schuster to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

House of Commons.—Agrees that certain points need to be settled before an approach is made to the Prime Minister (see 3/221). Will try to write a note shortly and arrange a meeting with two brigadiers with Indian Army experience. Thanks Pethick-Lawrence for his contribution.

Letter from Lady Pethick-Lawrence to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

From Lady Pethick Lawrence
Fourways, Gomshall, Surrey.
May 26. 1946.

This is our May 26th Beloved! & I woke early with thoughts of you, & my first action was to go through all your letters since you left me, beginning with with† March and continuing to your last lovely letter of May 18 {1}—up to your direct message of May 23 {2} transmitted to me & received by post from Mr Clausen {3} yesterday May 24. It was a joy to receive that little message & realize that we were so close together in thought, as indeed we are now. My memory goes back to 45 years ago—how very definitely & clearly certain moments in ones life stand isolated, as if they were moments ever-living, regardless of the passing of time. I can see you now clearly as you were then, & realize your gesture as you gathered me up in your arms, & there we were in the old arm-chair in the little room at Somerset Terrace. And now we are together again in a different way, & there are still chapters to be written to our life.

I gather from the broadcast last night as well as from the Times yesterday morning that you have reached that deadpoint of seeming frustration, that we knew had to come. I entirely realize the truth of that word spoken by Maud—“it is not I that am doing anything, but He”[.] {4} In other words I have realized for some time past, that only to a very small & limited extent do we as individual[s] shape events. Events shape destiny. Yet there are moments of definite crisis, when one individual act can influence results for generations—such as the outstanding act of Campbell Bannerman when against popular outcry, he gave the promise of citizenship to the defeated Dutch in S. Africa. He was not as the world estimates character, a “great” personality; yet he did a great deed, inspired by a great conception of democracy.

I wonder if you will read the leading article in The Times of May 24, on Egypt, in which Bevin’s policy in Egypt is unequivocally defended against Churchill’s attack. I was amazed. No such wise & far-seeing defence & justification have I seen in any Labour Paper or Magazine. For some time indeed ever since the Labour Party took office, The Times has been our best advocate.

I found the two letters I mentioned in my last letter, when I had to get the post, without enclosing them—one from Dorothy Plowman, which reflected the atmosphere of the home which we had made together here, & one from E. K. which reflected the impression made on one whom we had known since she was a child of two years old. For these letters as samples of many others that I receive daily, I feel truly thankful when I review our life together.

Nevertheless I do not want you to think that I have not had my small personal problems to deal with, during your absence, as you have had major world problems to deal with. Some of these personal problems we shall have to investigate & deal with together when you return. I have come to some quite definite conclusions with regard to them, & that definiteness you will like, as it is indefiniteness about details that you find it hard to deal with. I have been obliged to take a long-term view of the future, & can now see it as a whole, & after consultation & agreement with you, I should like soon after your return, to proceed to plan & to act. Meantime all is well & I give thanks from day to day, mainly for your health, but also for the health & well being of all here at the present time.

Charlie Marsh is spending the weekend here, & is occupying your room. She asked to come & is always very happy here. Yesterday in late afternoon we had a most perfect & heavenly ride in the car, to Ranmore Common, which I have not seen for 7 years: from the approach near Dorking to the return through East Horsley & Clandon. We were really entranced by the loveliness from beginning to end. We have saved petrol & shall have enough when you return for a day’s ride to the coast.

We have had a spell of cold winds (not frost) & grey skies, without rain. Vegetation is at its height, but no growth of seedlings for the past 2 or 3 weeks because of drought & cold wind. Nevertheless the flowering season is some weeks ahead of time (due to the very warm & sunny April)[.] We have begun bottling the gooseberries & making jam. With great love & with constant thoughts & blessing,

Your own.

I wonder whether an air-flight to the Caves of Ajanta will be possible during the Wait of Congress & Muslim Verdict.

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{1} PETH 6/171.

{2} PETH 6/173?

{3} The name is indistinct.

{4} This remark, made by Maud Coote at Easter, had been mentioned by Lord
Pethick-Lawrence in his letter of 18 May (PETH 6/171).

† Sic.

Letter from Lady Pethick-Lawrence to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

June 3. 1946 {1}

My Dearest,

Do not let the delay in your return, give you any idea that you are missing the English summer. May 12 was the last summer day we have had. April was like June. The last 3 weeks have been March, & still, day after day we have gales of wind & storms of rain—sometimes sleet & hail. I read in the Paper today that in June the barometer has been lower than any day since Christmas. Not that we have had much frost. We have a good crop of soft fruit & apples, though no pears or plums. The violent wind tosses the trees & plants, like a storm tosses the waves on the ocean, while the clouds darken the sky. I hope it will be better weather for the Victory Parade {2}. No doubt interest & enthusiasm will work up during the next 5 days, but so far I find no sentiment expressed except disillusion. Even leading articles & Churchill’s speech have to recognize & attempt to deal with public apathy. Guildford & other towns too have refused to co-operate. The public feel that it is an exhibition of futility & waste. London has been much disfigured & spoilt for Londoners. It is not a happy time, & the real tragedy is brought home to people like G. G. {3} who could get no bread on Saturday, because she was too late in going out for it, & no milk because of the strike.

I have had a cable from Madeleine that she is scheduled to arrive in Southampton Dock next Wednesday, June 6th. She will take the train from Southampton to Woking, & on to Guildford where I shall meet her with the car. She has a transitional visa, & can only remain a short time. Probably she will stay at Fourways over Whit Monday, & we shall all go to London on June 11 & 12. I have avoided London for some weeks. There is much to do & see to here. I am giving much attention to the garden, and the little staff here needs a good deal of handling.

I have had very few official invitations during your absence[.] But I had one to meet F. M. Smuts {4}, and as I could not go, I wrote to salute him, and have had a charming personal reply in his own hand writing. I received a letter from Mrs Price Hughes yesterday, to tell me that she is constantly with us both in her thoughts. She is 93, & her writing is as good as ever. We had a very pleasant visit from Stuart & Ruth, though it rained hard all the time. There are 5 of your wild roses out today. I wish I could send you one. Farewell my darling. Keep well & serene, & enjoy the present moment. All here are well. May has arranged to spend a week with Dorothy to make room for Madeleine, should you have been able to get back. You remember we have booked rooms in Ventnor from June 24—July 8. May will stay with Tom & there will be a room for you at the week end or whenever you want it at my Guest House or at the Hotel near Trewartha. If the soft fruit ripens just then, Lydia will want to overlook the bottling, although she can show Violet & leave it to her after one or two experiments.

No food of any kind must be wasted.

And so again God be with thee.

Your own.
Patz

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{1} The address printed on the writing-paper is 11 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, W.C.2, but the letter was clearly written at Fourways.

{2} The national Victory Parade, to be held on 8 June.

{3} Probably Gladys Groom.

{4} i.e. Field Marshal Smuts.

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to the editor of The Spectator (Wilson Harris)

The circumstances under which Churchill became Prime Minister were not as L. S. Amery represents them in his review of Churchill’s book (The Gathering Storm).

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Transcript

11th. October, 1948.
To the Editor of “The Spectator”

Sir,—

The Churchillian Epic

In the interests of Historical accuracy I must express my dissent from the impression conveyed by the conculding† paragraph of Mr. Amery’s review of Mr. Churchill’s book {1}.

No doubt it is true that it was the decision of the three men on May 10, 1940 that made Mr. Churchill Prime Minister. But this decision was based on the political situation in the House of Commons.

It was generally recognised that in the national emergency there must be a Coalition Government. The Labour Party had refused to serve under Mr. Chamberlain. The question of serving under Lord Halifax never arose, but it is inconceivable that they would have agreed, first, because he was in the upper House and secondly, because he had been an active supporter of Mr. Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of Hitler. They were prepared to serve under Mr. Churchill. No other possible choice presented itself.

These facts may not have been positively known at the time by all the three men. But there was the strongest presumptive evidence that they were true.

Yours etc.,
[blank]

The Editor,
The Spectator,
99, Gower Street,
London, W.C.1.

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{1} The Second World War, Vol. 1: The Gathering Storm.

† Sic.

Letter from L. S. Amery to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

112 Eaton Square, S.W.1.—His own view of the circumstances under which Churchill became Prime Minister has been corroborated by Brendan Bracken.

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112 Eaton Square, S.W.1.
12th October, 1948.

My dear Pethick,

I shall be interested to see your letter in The Spectator. Curiously enough I had information directly contrary to your conclusion only three days ago. Brendan Bracken told a friend of mine that on the evening of May 9th 1940 Attlee told him that he would be willing to serve under Halifax but not under Winston. Bracken vigorously argued about this and ended by shaking Attlee considerably. In any case the decision, if it had been subjected to a Parliamentary vote, would certainly have gone to Halifax as the overwhelming majority of the Conservatives would have preferred him, as a safer man. Don’t forget that up to the last Winston was widely distrusted on all sides.

Yours sincerely,
L S Amery

The Rt. Hon. Lord Pethick-Lawrence of Peaslake.

I fear the above is confidential so I cannot use it to reply to your letter!

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Times of India’, 4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1.—Defends his view of Jinnah’s rôle in the partition of India. Is convinced that Congress was largely responsible for alienating him.

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The Times of India, London Branch:
4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1

Dear Lord Pethick Lawrence,

I was very interested to have your letter of October 13th. When I wrote to you I was thinking more of the narrower question of the splitting of the Punjab, referred to by Sir Henry Craik, than to the larger issue of the partition of India. Both form part of the same picture and it may be that in some respects Jinnah was only one factor in the circumstances which brought about partition. But he was a very important factor and his attitude, following the introduction of the new Constitution in 1937, was decisive. Every time the British Government faced the question of Indian political advancement, Jinnah demanded Pakistan and thus blocked agreement. You know more about what happened during the visit of the Cabinet Mission, but in Volume IV of the account of the Second World War entitled “The Hinge of Fate”, Churchill records that at the time of the Cripps Mission his Cabinet considered a plan to declare India a Dominion after the war. He was then faced with a note from Mr. Jinnah declaring that if any constitutional move was intended the Pakistan scheme must be accepted, a statement which was backed up by Sir Firoz Khan Noon, then a member of the Government of India. There is no doubt that Churchill was deeply impressed by these notes and sent them to President Roosevelt in justification of his attitude.

There may be something in what your Indian financier friend said to you after August 15, 1947, but my strong conviction—based on experience—is that the Congress was largely responsible for alienating Jinnah. They refused to take Jinnah and the Pakistan idea seriously. At the time of the famous Calcutta Unity Conference in the twenties, when Jinnah was still a Congressman at heart, they could have achieved an agreement with him on terms which would have preserved the unity of the country. From a logical point of view the Congress leaders, as I know, had justification for their attitude, but logic sometimes makes bad politics. I have no doubt British Governments in the past sometimes found Hindu-Moslem animosity very convenient, but on the need to preserve Indian unity there was always insistence, and I know that Viceroys like Halifax and Linlithgow were very strong on that point both in public and in private. I also know that many of my Indian friends took that same view as the Indian financier whom you quote, and one cannot say that it is entirely baseless. But I still feel that the main fault rested with the Congress mishandling of Jinnah, especially in the days when he was still a Congress supporter.

One or two people whom I met in the Club after your address, including Lord Hailey, agreed with me that you put up a very good case.

Yours sincerely,
Francis Low
(Sir Francis Low)