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Robert Blake and Wm. Roger Louis

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206262

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206262.001.0001

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How Churchill Became Prime Minister

How Churchill Became Prime Minister

Chapter:
(p.257) 15 How Churchill Became Prime Minister
Source:
Churchill
Author(s):

Robert Blake

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206262.003.0016

Winston Churchill was 54 when the Conservative Party narrowly lost the general election of June 1929 to a combination of Labour and Liberals. He had held all the principal offices of state except those of Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary. No man had more experience in public life, and he had every reason to expect high office when Stanley Baldwin returned to power — an event expected soon in light of the fragile position of the second Labour Cabinet under Ramsay MacDonald, 1929–1931. Churchill resigned on January 27, 1931 from the Conservative ‘Business Committee’, the equivalent of the modern Shadow Cabinet, because Baldwin supported the tentative moves by Lord Irwin (later Viscount Halifax) towards Indian self-government. Churchill believed that the Irwin-MacDonald-Baldwin policy would be a disaster for Britain, India, and the Empire. Churchill's outlook on foreign policy and defence has been given a retrospective consistency that the facts hardly warrant. Churchill became Prime Minister by default against the wishes of his own party and with only tepid acquiescence by the others.

Keywords:   Winston Churchill, Britain, Conservative Party, Stanley Baldwin, Ramsay MacDonald, India, Lord Irwin, foreign policy, Prime Minister

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