churchill as 1940 prime minister
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Churchill: 1940 PM
Churchill: 1940 PMWhy did he become PM?What was his leadershipstyle?How justified is the view that he was a great wartime leader?
"Nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat"Why would he become PM?
Political recordWar recordRelationship with party record
NorwayChurchill wanted to attack Norway, for supplies. Did so- despite possibility of bringing Germany in to occupy Norway.Many think forces should have been concentrated in France due to difficulties of Norway campaign.Raided the Altmark (German supply ship with 300 Allied prisoners). Worked. Popular in Britain, but did hasten the German's actions in Norway.This was when the Germans took Norway after some blunders by the Allies (planning, Germans knew what they were up to).Norway's impact on ChurchillChamberlain took the blame- despite it being Churchill who initiated the campaign.Churchill blamed the Norwegians. And him not having enough of a free hand.Historians (not contemporaries) criticise him for losing the moral high ground. And for not planning for the Germans knowledge of the plans. And diverting resources. And for giving conflicting orders and being indecisive.British people liked the Altmark affair.Royal Navy had done well, sinking ten destroyers and a famous battleship. Churchill associated with this.Two Sources: compare as evidence.Modern Historian"The Norway campaign was flawed in concept and massively mismanaged by Churchill. He hardly seemed able to make up his mind... He was unrepentant blaming it on the 'impotence and fatuity of waging war by committee.Churchill"Failure! Stalemate! Such in the first week of May 1940 were the only results we could show. Considering the prominent part I played in these events and the impossibility in explaining difficulties or our methods of conducting war, it was a miracle that I survived and maintained public esteem and Parliamentary confidence.Other factors in Churchill becoming PMChurchill's oratoryChamberlain's resignation.Halifax (viable alternative) reluctance to stand. Churchill made it clear that he was standing with the support of Chamberlain and Halifax (important- because it was the King who was reluctant to appoint him).Some sources
Churchill's leadership styleSpeechesPopularity as a symbol of defiance. Ability to rally the nation. Popular viewChurchill's actions?Churchill's government was running out of time in 1940 (after French surrender)- he had to consider negotiating with the Germans (not something the public were told!)But, Churchill did not accept Halifax's suggestion that Britain should find out what Hitler's terms would be because he assumed they would be overlordship of Central Europe.What do we have to support this?Genuine fear of invasion from the Germans in Britain- but the navy would have destroyed any German landings. Churchill in a position to know this (although this is more a hindsight position).Battle of Britain boosted morale.Decision to send a force to North Africa to protect Egypt was brave when the army had barely recovered from being evacuated from France.Is this true?Churchill's friend A.l. Rows and the family biographer wrote in his book the Later Churchills published in 1958"By the end of the year 1940 a remarkable transformation had come over the outlook for us. The Battle of Britain had defeated all serious threat of invasion. Suez was firmly held and one of the Axis parties (Italy) had been started on the road to defeat... Transcendent as were the services yet to come from Churchill, 1940 must rank as his finest hour, along with the nation's, for in that year, his contribution made the difference between defeat and survival."Was Churchill right to fight this war?Very controversial viewpoint. Certainly morally repugnant. Some consider it to be an insult to those who fought in WW2.National existence not threatened by Hitler's conquest of Eastern Europe. Mein Kampf had little that was hostile to Britain in it. Hostile to Russia- which Britain had poor relations with as early as 1917.We weakened ourselves more in concessions to USA and the USSR, did not save Poland and did not preserve the British Empire but lost it.Britain might have been more able to preserve its empire against Japanese assaults on South East Asia.ButNo one could have predicted the collapse of the French.Maintenance of balance of power in Europe was a long standing British policyIf the Germans had beaten Russia then Britain's position would have been very vulnerable.Any agreement with Hitler could not be relied upon- also there would be involvement in Nazi racist policies.