Would Halifax have been a better PM than Churchill?




 
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October 31st, 2011  
MontyB
 
 

Topic: Would Halifax have been a better PM than Churchill?


Halifax in my opinion was more of a pragmatist and far less of a dreamer than Churchill.
Halifax was pro-appeasement in terms of the occupation of the Rhineland and Austria but he wanted to support Czechoslovakia and seemed happy to go to war over Poland.

Further to this he was prepared to at least listen to German peace overtures in 1939-40 but there seems little chance he would have sued for peace had no equitable one been offered by Germany indicated by this quote to the American President...

Quote:
'If necessary, we shall continue the war alone and we are not afraid of that. But I trust you realise, Mr President, that the voice and force of the United States may count for nothing if they are withheld too long.' - 15 May 1940:
Just another hypothetical question...
November 1st, 2011  
lljadw
 
I thought that this quote was attributed to Churchill,and was from a later period ?
November 1st, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
My personal opinion is that Churchill was the better man, he didn't trust Hitler as far as he could throw him. Churchill warned parliament many times that was was imminent, as history shows he was ignored and branded a war monger.

Again if I remember correctly, FDR thought Britain was finished thanks to Joe Kennedy and another bloke (I can't remember his name off hand), FDR initially approached the Canadian PM regarding some sort of treaty for mutual protection. William Lyon Mackenzie King stated that his loyalties laid with Britain.

Churchill was convinced that the only way he could get FDR to back Britain, was to show him that Britain would not roll over easily and meant business. The attack on the French Fleet showed that Churchill was serious. If I remember correctly FDR stated "Churchill might be a drunk and a war monger, but he's a fighter."

I don't think Halifax would have the courage to do what Churchill did.

Churchill at the closing days of the war in Europe warned the world of the intentions of the Soviet Union. Churchill didn't trust Stalin either. Again he was ignored until it was too late.

Again, my opinion for what its worth, one of the reasons behind Churchill's downfall at the end of WW2 was his determination to prevent the National Health Service and Welfare State being brought into being. Britain's poor and working class often couldn't afford medical treatment and suffered because of it.

As I have said before, Churchill was the right man at the right time.
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November 1st, 2011  
Seehund
 
All great people of history succeed and fail. But the impact of great peoples' successes outweigh those of their failures, and Churchill is no different. As a statesman and leader with a keen eye for strategic opportunity, even though not all his plans and ideas were successful, he at least understood that the key to Britain's ability to exert political and diplomatic leverage on the global stage, and military power when required, was derived from Britain's maritime power.

Alliances were made and decisions taken that ensured the UK survived and then was able to contribute to an Allied victory. Eastern Europe was in the Soviet sphere of influence the second Russian tanks drove through it. That Greece did not go the same way might be seen as a plus in the Churchill story from a historical perspective. Churchill was a flawed hero! But what hero does not have flaws?
November 1st, 2011  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BritinAfrica
My personal opinion is that Churchill was the better man, he didn't trust Hitler as far as he could throw him. Churchill warned parliament many times that was was imminent, as history shows he was ignored and branded a war monger.

Again if I remember correctly, FDR thought Britain was finished thanks to Joe Kennedy and another bloke (I can't remember his name off hand), FDR initially approached the Canadian PM regarding some sort of treaty for mutual protection. William Lyon Mackenzie King stated that his loyalties laid with Britain.

Churchill was convinced that the only way he could get FDR to back Britain, was to show him that Britain would not roll over easily and meant business. The attack on the French Fleet showed that Churchill was serious. If I remember correctly FDR stated "Churchill might be a drunk and a war monger, but he's a fighter."

I don't think Halifax would have the courage to do what Churchill did.

Churchill at the closing days of the war in Europe warned the world of the intentions of the Soviet Union. Churchill didn't trust Stalin either. Again he was ignored until it was too late.

Again, my opinion for what its worth, one of the reasons behind Churchill's downfall at the end of WW2 was his determination to prevent the National Health Service and Welfare State being brought into being. Britain's poor and working class often couldn't afford medical treatment and suffered because of it.

As I have said before, Churchill was the right man at the right time.
In part I agree but there is also a part of me that thinks Churchill's intransigence exasperated the problem, the fact that he did not trust Hitler (rightly or wrongly) mean't that there was no other option but war, you could argue that he was right about Stalin (and there is no argument that he was a paranoid megalomaniac) as well but history shows that many of the Russian actions post war were more through paranoia than agression.

Basically I think in many ways Churchill painted himself into a corner and then just happened to have a can of paint remover with him to facilitate the escape.

I am not sure on this one (and reality is we will never know) but I am inclined to believe Halifax may have proved to be just as effective if not more so especially in the earlier years of the war.
November 1st, 2011  
lljadw
 
From another POV:Halifax had no enemies (maybe,because he had no convictions? :he was an appeaser when the appeasers dominated,partisan of the war to the end,when Churchill was PM),he was trimming his sails according to the wind ,well,a politician .He was liked by Labour,he was the darling of the establishment.
and, Churchill:would it be an exageration to say that,before the war, he was detested by every one ?
And,Chamberlain :would it not be a good description to say that he was stubborn,with convictions ?
Whatever,about Halifax as PM during the war :I doubt that he would last ,because
1)while Chamberlain was keeping Winston on his place,I doubt that Halifax could do this
2)Chamberlain had the unconditional support of the Tories (majority in the Commons),but,it is not certain that this support would be inherited by Halifax:till the death of Chamberlain,Britain had in fact 2 PM's:Churchill and Chamberlain,but,after november 1940,the Chamberlainites became Churchillians,and, Halifax ? He was exiled to Washington(inimaginable while Chamberlain was there),and,no Tory protested .
November 1st, 2011  
Seehund
 
If Halifax became PM, Churchill would have effectively become the Minister of Defence: steps like this had begun before 10 May with his chairing of the Defence Committee. Halifax as PM would leave Churchill as the most prominent Minister in the House of Commons, and the one increasingly running the war effort - a job Halifax admitted he was not best fitted for. So, even if Winnie doesn't become PM in May 1940, he would still be all but PM in effect.
November 1st, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seehund
If Halifax became PM, Churchill would have effectively become the Minister of Defence: steps like this had begun before 10 May with his chairing of the Defence Committee. Halifax as PM would leave Churchill as the most prominent Minister in the House of Commons, and the one increasingly running the war effort - a job Halifax admitted he was not best fitted for. So, even if Winnie doesn't become PM in May 1940, he would still be all but PM in effect.
I agree, Churchill was in my opinion made of sterner stuff and more willing to take chances. I believe Halifax was more suited to his job as ambassador to the US. I don't see Halifax visiting the front lines on North Africa or Europe as Churchill did. Churchill's I believe helped boost the morale of British troops and the people at home.
November 1st, 2011  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seehund
If Halifax became PM, Churchill would have effectively become the Minister of Defence: steps like this had begun before 10 May with his chairing of the Defence Committee. Halifax as PM would leave Churchill as the most prominent Minister in the House of Commons, and the one increasingly running the war effort - a job Halifax admitted he was not best fitted for. So, even if Winnie doesn't become PM in May 1940, he would still be all but PM in effect.
Yes but with the failures of the war in the early days the role of Minister of Defence may well have been a poisoned chalice.

I would also argue that Halifax was an "appeaser" only when he believed that appeasement would work, he was for appeasement in both the Rhineland which was German territory anyway and Austria as long as it was peaceful but he was far from an appeaser over Czechoslovakia and pushed for military support for the Czechs and more or less told Germany they would go to war over Poland.
November 2nd, 2011  
Seehund
 
Halifax had come to realised that appeasement had failed during the meetings at Munich over the Sudetenland, it was Chamberlain who pushed for the agreement. Some may think that Lord Halifax "might" have dealt with Hitler if he had been appointed PM after Chamberlain stepped down in early 1940, but it appears that he had taken himself "out of consideration" for the post and by July at least had completely abandoned any idea that peace could be made with the Nazis or the Fascists.

As Lord Halifax broadcast Britain's answer to the world, Monday, Jul. 29, 1940 in response to Hitlerís speech asking the British to come to terms with Germany and "save themselves" from the horrors of war, his voice was deep, full of religious feeling, hollow and lonely as an empty church. It was not a voice to inspire fury, but it did instill hope, a sense of justice, a calmness of conscience.

"Hitler has now made it plain that he is preparing to direct the whole weight of German might against this country. This is why in every part of Britain, in great towns and villages alike, there is only one spirit of indomitable resolution. Nor has anyone any doubt that if Hitler were to succeed it would be the end, for many besides ourselves, of all those things which, as we say, make life worth living. We realize that the struggle may cost us everything, but just because the things we are defending are worth any sacrifice it is a noble privilege to be the defenders of things so precious. . . .

"We shall not stop fighting until freedom, for ourselves and others, is secure.. ..

"Where will God lead us? Not, we may be sure, through easy or pleasant paths. That is not His way. He will not help us to avoid our difficulties. What He will do is to give to those, who humbly ask, the spirit that no dangers can disturb. . . ."

I certainly could be incorrect here, but his (Halifax's) own words seem to belie any thought of making a deal with Hitler because, now it was too late...That had not stopped him from trying to reach a so called compromise though and that is something I for one will never rise in his defence for. While Churchill was doing his utmost to rally the nation he and others of like ilk if not seditious....were trying to reach a compromise with the very nation that Chruchill was rallying the nation, its tropps and his fellow mp's to see his view over the appeasers that were still operating even as late as June 1940...Halifax, Hoare and Butler being some pretty big proponents at a negotiated peace still even at that stage.

And then he was gone....Ambassador to the USA. Again Churchill at his best...
 


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