* World War II Britain General Election 1935

World War II: Britain -- General Election (1935)

Figure 1.--Here is some electioneerting in London for the 1935 ekection. In would bebonebof thebmost cosequential of the 20th century. Politically, pacifism was in the air. Nothing could have been better for Hitler and his rapidly rearming NAZI Reich.

The British General election of 1935 was one of the most consequantial of the 20th century. There would not be another national ballot for 10 years. The Conservatives would win an overwheaming victory, nearly 48 percent of the vote, giving them an 387 Members of Parliament (MPS), a huge majority. The opposition Labour Party had only 154 MPs and all the other parties only 63 MPsThis provided the Conservatives total control of national politics. It was a continuation of the National Government coalition, but a coaltion totally controlled by the Conservatives. Unemployment and foreign policy were major issues in the election. The election was held late in the year (November 14). In many ways a by election held earlier determined the policies of the Conservative Party which won the election. Prime-minister Baldwin was shocked when Labour won a by-election in Fulham East, a safe Conservative constiuency. Pacifusm was clearly in the air. Labour turned a Conservative majority in the previoius electionm into a 5,000 vote victory. It should be understood where Labour stood at the time. Labour would come to be an important cog in Churchill's struggle to cinfront the NAZis, but that was not where the Labour Pary and the much reduced Liberal Party stood in 1935. Despite the massuve NAZI Rearmament program--the Liberals and Labour were determined to cut defense spending. Many openly expoused disarment. The Liberals were commited to disarmament full stop. Labour Leader George Lansbury disnand the Army and dismiss the Air Force and dare the world (meaning Germany), "Do your worst!". Of course that is precisely what Hitler and the NAZIs would do. At the Labour Party Conference (October 1933), Lanbour delefates vited in favor of total diasarmaent and a general stike in resomse to an actual war. The victorious Labour candidate in Fulkham East ran on disarmament and pacifism. [Bouverie, p.25.] In response Baldwin and the Conservatibes ran the 1935 campaign based on a defense policy, not of matching the Germans but on basing British security on collective security and the League of Nations. Fulham East also convinced Balwin and Chanberlain that the country would not stand for a massive rearmament program, because it was perceived by many as beligerant and had imoression at the time as leading to another War. It was widely believed at the time that World War I was caused by the Arms Race and the so called 'Merchants of Death. Thus Appeasement was seen as being the only realistic alternative. Appeasement was supported by a large number of prominent Britons. There were anti-apopeasers, but they were a distinct minority in 1935.


Bouverie, Tim. Appeasing Hitler: Chamberlain, Churchill and the Road to War (Bodley Head: London, 2019, 497p.


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Created: 11:52 AM 9/24/20208
Last updated: 12:37 AM 9/25/2020