Part Two: In Opposition 1945-1951
‘Grinding and gnawing peace’
...Speaking of the economic situation, Churchill described Conservative policy as the creation of ‘an active, independent, property-owning democracy’, and he added: ‘our policy is an adequate basic standard, and above that, within just and well-known laws, let the best man win—’
...Speaking to the boys at Harrow School on November 4, Churchill commented that the problems of ‘blaring and crashing war’ had been replaced by those ‘of grinding and gnawing peace’.*
*‘Mr Moore, Ladies and Gentlemen’, 4 November 1947: Churchill papers, 2/336. Among the boys in Churchill’s audience were two future Kings, Feisal of Iraq and Hussein of Jordan.
As he prepared for his journey to Morocco, Churchill again saw Mackenzie King, to whom a year earlier he had spoken of his fears of Western disunity in confronting Russia. Having heard Ernest Bevin speak on the previous day of the possibility of an Anglo-American confrontation with Russia, Mackenzie King asked Churchill, on November 26, ‘how America could possibly mobilize forces at this time for another war’. King recorded Churchill’s reply in his diary. The Americans ‘would, of course, begin the attack in Russia itself’. They had plans ‘all laid for this, for over a year’. Churchill added:
What the Russians should be told at the present conference, if they are unwilling to co-operate, is that the nations that have fought the last war for freedom, have had enough of this war of nerves and intimidation. We do not intend to have this sort of thing continue indefinitely. No progress could be made and life is not worth living. We fought for liberty and are determined to maintain it. We will give you what you want and is reasonable in the matter of boundaries. We will give you ports in the North. We will meet you in regard to conditions generally. What we will not allow you to do is to destroy Western Europe; to extend your régime further there. If you do not agree to that here and now, within so many days, we will attack Moscow and your other cities and destroy them with atomic bombs from the air. We will not allow tyranny to be continued.
Mackenzie King’s account continued:
…from Churchill’s words, it would seem as if his inside information was to the effect that America was expecting that she might have to act in a short time and had made her plans accordingly. Churchill said he believed if Molotov and Stalin and others were told that this is what would happen, they would yield and put an end to their bluff. He really believed they were hoping to increase their territories as Hitler had sought to increase his by bluff, etc. <...> He turned to me and he said:
‘I told you many, many years before this last war… that England would be at war within five years, and that she ran the risk of not possessing our own island at the end of that time. You remember this?’ I told him that I indeed remembered it, and had made a memo of it at the time. He said: ‘I am telling you now what I see in the future.’
...‘Papa!’ I said.
‘What are you doing, Winston?’
‘I am trying to copy your portrait, the one you had done when you went over to Ulster in 1886.’
‘I should never have thought it,’ he said.
‘I only do it for amusement,’ I replied.
‘Yes, I am sure you could never earn your living that way.’