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Britain needs more Stanley Baldwins 100 years after taking office, he remains our best PM

The man who invented modern Conservatism. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis/Getty Images)

The man who invented modern Conservatism. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis/Getty Images)


May 22, 2023   7 mins

One day in the late Twenties, during his second spell as Prime Minister of the greatest imperial power on the planet, Stanley Baldwin fell into conversation with a stranger on a train. A stocky, pleasant-looking man in a tweed three-piece suit, the very picture of middle-class ordinariness, Baldwin had never been very gregarious. Perhaps, as the train pulled out of the station, he was already poring over his government papers. Perhaps he had buried himself in a volume of his beloved Wordsworth, or in one of his cousin Rudyard Kipling’s short stories. Perhaps he was sitting back, eyes closed, dreaming of his native Worcestershire. Or perhaps he was frowning over The Times crossword, pen in hand, as he sometimes did in the Commons when a debate was dragging on.

Then his neighbour in the first-class carriage leaned over and tapped him on the knee. “You are Baldwin, aren’t you?” the man said. “You were at Harrow in ’84.”

The Prime Minister nodded. The man sat back, satisfied. Then, a minute or so later, the man leaned forward and tapped him on the knee again. “Tell me,” he said affably, “what are you doing now?”

Even if that story isn’t true — and if it is, it could only have come from one person — it tells you something about the modest man who first became Prime Minister on 22 May 1923, exactly 100 years ago.

In many ways, Stanley Baldwin dominated the first half of the 20th century. He was Prime Minister three times in the Twenties and Thirties, for a total of more than seven years, and co-ran the country alongside Ramsay MacDonald for four more. He was the first mass-media premier, with a grasp of radio unmatched by his contemporaries, and appealed to a new, genuinely democratic electorate, including women as well as men. He stood for democracy in the age of the dictators, and steered his country through the General Strike, the Depression and the Abdication. And he weathered the storms of office to step down in 1937 at a moment of his own choosing, admired and respected even by his opponents.

That Baldwin is barely remembered today, then, could hardly be more unjust. His reputation took a crippling blow when he was traduced as one of the so-called Guilty Men, savaged in a thoroughly mendacious short book for his supposed appeasement of Nazi Germany. Even now some writers, foolishly parroting the clichés of the past, accuse him of sending Britain defenceless into the Second World War, even though Baldwin actually commissioned almost 100 new RAF squadrons in the teeth of fierce opposition from a near-pacifist Labour Party. And when he appears on television or in films, it is only as a dithering foil for the dynamic Churchill, never as the brilliantly canny operator who effectively invented modern Conservatism.

Yet whenever people lament the passing of an age of decent, serious, public-spirited politicians, they could be talking about Stanley Baldwin. In almost every respect, he was a walking rebuke to his modern-day successors. And what’s more, he was a far more interesting character than almost all of our current MPs put together.

Born in 1867, the son of a paternalistic Worcestershire industrialist, he did indeed go to Harrow, where he got into trouble for writing his own pornography — this was, of course, an age before teenagers were spoon-fed — and sending it to his cousin at Eton. This cast a serious blight over his schooldays, and young Stan hoped to make a fresh start at Cambridge.

But then — disaster! His old headmaster, who despised him, was appointed as Master of Trinity, Stan’s college. More misery. In the end, he graduated with a Third in history, having made virtually no impression on his contemporaries at all.

When he got back home to Worcestershire, his father Alfred — a stern and serious man — said grimly: “I hope you won’t get a Third in life.” Fortunately, he didn’t. Quite the opposite.

Baldwin didn’t inherit his father’s Bewdley constituency until he was nearly 41, having spent the intervening years working for the family iron-making firm. No doubt today he’d be mocked as a nepo baby. But like his father, Stanley was a deeply dutiful man, who prayed on his knees every night and took his Anglican faith enormously seriously.

Perhaps the best illustration of his sense of national responsibility was his letter to The Times on 24 June 1919. Baldwin, who was now Financial Secretary to the Treasury, noted that the country had run up colossal debts to pay for the Great War. This, he said, gave “the wealthy classes 
 an opportunity of service which can never recur 
 Let them impose upon themselves, each as he is able, a voluntary levy.”

For his part, he announced that he was giving up 20% of his fortune — a donation worth about £33 million today — to pay off the debt and relieve poor taxpayers of the burden. A nice gesture — but there was a twist. Baldwin didn’t sign his name: indeed, he made the editor of The Times promise not to tell anybody who had written the letter, because he didn’t want the attention. If you want to make your head ache, just try to imagine Matt Hancock doing that.

Even at that stage, nobody would have tipped Baldwin as a future PM. Compared with the man of the hour, the charismatic, flamboyant, monstrously priapic David Lloyd George, he seemed utterly ordinary. But Baldwin’s ordinariness — or his appearance of ordinariness, which isn’t the same thing at all — was his superpower. At the crucial meeting at the Carlton Club in October 1922, when the Tories decided to ditch Lloyd George and break up the wartime coalition, it was Baldwin’s voice that carried the day.

In private, Baldwin thought “the Goat”, with his taste for flogging peerages and interfering with other people’s wives, a “corrupter of public life”. And so, calmly, devastatingly, he plunged in the knife. Lloyd George, he told his colleagues, had once been called a “dynamic force”. But, said Baldwin, “a dynamic force is a very terrible thing; it may crush you”.

That was the end of Lloyd George — and the making of Baldwin. Less than a year later, after an election had smashed the Liberals and brought the Tories a crushing majority, George V invited him to become Prime Minister. Once again our hero stepped over the bleeding body of a flashier, louder rival — this time Lord Curzon, former viceroy of India, the most arrogant man on the planet. Curzon thought Baldwin a man “of the utmost insignificance”. When the King told him that he was picking Baldwin anyway, he burst into tears.

So, armed with his religious faith, his boringness and his Cambridge Third, Baldwin ascended to the highest office in the land. In reality, of course, he wasn’t boring at all. Time magazine called him “a perfect John Bull in physical and mental makeup”; but as any lecturer in beauty therapy will tell you, makeup takes work.

Baldwin’s background was in industry, but he was brilliant at playing the country yeoman. In his most famous speech, a paean to romantic nostalgia, he evoked “the sounds of England, the tinkle of hammer on anvil in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the sight of a plough team coming over the brow of a hill”.

All this was pure fantasy. The sounds of Baldwin’s England were record players, radios, motorbikes and vacuum cleaners. They were motor cars chugging through suburban estates, builders hammering away at Tudorbethan semis. But as he realised, if only unconsciously, middle-class suburban modernity came with a deep longing for what had been lost.

Baldwin offered his voters stability, rootedness, a sense of tradition. Watch one of his YouTube clips — my favourite is this tremendously endearing speech at a retirement home for elderly actors — and it’s hard not to feel immediately reassured. He seems the very embodiment of old England. But of course the whole thing is a performance — and given the medium, a very modern one.

To some of his better-remembered contemporaries, Baldwin’s success was utterly baffling. Churchill, when playing chess, would gesture at his opponent’s pawns with the words: “Bring out your Baldwins.” Orwell said that he was “simply a hole in the air”. They were both wrong. Voters in the Twenties and Thirties understandably shrank from the reckless, belligerent adventurism that had sacrificed so many lives at Gallipoli. Most voters were more like Bilbo Baggins, the very personification of Baldwin’s England, who made his first appearance during the great man’s final months in office. “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

As for being a hole in the air, that too was all part of the performance. Baldwin’s appeals to unflashy common sense were a brilliant way of presenting the Conservatives as the sensible, unthreatening, alternative to Labour’s supposed crypto-Bolshevism. And in reality, he was a much more nervous, restless figure than people realised. Colleagues watching him on the front bench noticed how he would twitch and fidget with nerves, exhibiting tics you can still detect on YouTube today. His oddest quirk was his habit of picking up books, lifting them to his face and sniffing them, which has never been properly explained. Some strange Harrovian fetish?

A century on, then, Baldwin ought to be much better known. To academic historians like his biographer Stuart Ball, his accomplishments are obvious. In an age of seething political turbulence, he turned the Tories into the dominant party of government, enlisting working-class and middle-class voters beneath the banners of common sense. His affable, consensual style meant Britain entered the late Thirties as a relatively contented, cohesive country — especially when compared with future allies such as France and the United States, let alone Germany and Italy. There will always be questions about the pace of rearmament. But Baldwin’s contribution to victory was arguably deeper and more important. Thanks to him, Britain entered the war united — perhaps the greatest asset of all.

Today people love to judge our predecessors according to our own moral and cultural standards – and here Baldwin also comes out remarkably well. His eldest son Oliver, traumatised by his experiences in the trenches, became a Left-wing Labour MP, opposed to everything his father believed in. Stanley confessed to his daughter that he “nearly died” when he first saw Oliver glaring at him from the Opposition benches. But he was not a man to hold a grudge; father and son were reconciled eventually, and their letters make for deeply moving reading.

And there’s something more. Oliver wasn’t just a socialist; he was gay. Some Conservative MPs would have had a stroke at the very thought, and Stanley’s cousin Rudyard Kipling was so appalled by such “beastliness” that he severed all relations with his nephew. But Baldwin remained the ever-loving father. Whatever his personal convictions, he accepted his son’s partner, John Boyle, as part of the family, and would often drive over to visit them at their Oxfordshire farmhouse. If he ever murmured the slightest syllable of criticism, there’s no sign of it.

So perhaps the last word should go to Oliver, whose memoir of his father’s final days in December 1947 is reprinted in Philip Williamson’s wonderful collection of Baldwin’s letters. “He died as he would have wished,” Oliver wrote, “peacefully in bed. No bed-clothes were ruffled, no attempt made to ring a bell or turn on a light.”

That was entirely in character, and perhaps that’s why he’s barely remembered today. But Stanley Baldwin deserves better. He wasn’t just a great politician. He was a great man.


Dominic Sandbrook is an author, historian and UnHerd columnist. His latest book is: Who Dares Wins: Britain, 1979-1982

dcsandbrook

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Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

An excellent eulogy to a great man, thank you.
Perhaps Mr Sandbrook you could do the same for Baldwin’s successor, Neville Chamberlain?

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

However, as PM he was effectively condoning illegal behaviour (being gay was a crime then) when many others were being prosecuted for it?
Understandable as a father but as PM I would call it hypocrisy.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I think that you will find that being gay was neither a crime nor illegal, however, buggery was.

John Greatorex
John Greatorex
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Yes, a distinction that is deliberately obliterated by today’s ‘love is love’ activists. The law on buggery applied to people whatever their sexual orientation. Equality.

John Greatorex
John Greatorex
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Yes, a distinction that is deliberately obliterated by today’s ‘love is love’ activists. The law on buggery applied to people whatever their sexual orientation. Equality.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I think that you will find that being gay was neither a crime nor illegal, however, buggery was.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

However, as PM he was effectively condoning illegal behaviour (being gay was a crime then) when many others were being prosecuted for it?
Understandable as a father but as PM I would call it hypocrisy.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

An excellent eulogy to a great man, thank you.
Perhaps Mr Sandbrook you could do the same for Baldwin’s successor, Neville Chamberlain?

Simon Davies
Simon Davies
1 year ago

I have to confess I share Baldwins quirk of sniffing books, but I only do it when I’m reading them. There’s something about the smell of ink on paper that I love.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Davies

Don’t we all sniff the pages of books ?

Richard Aucock
Richard Aucock
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes we do!

Richard Aucock
Richard Aucock
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes we do!

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Davies

Don’t we all sniff the pages of books ?

Simon Davies
Simon Davies
1 year ago

I have to confess I share Baldwins quirk of sniffing books, but I only do it when I’m reading them. There’s something about the smell of ink on paper that I love.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
1 year ago

https://winstonchurchill.org/publications/finest-hour/finest-hour-101/how-churchill-saw-others-stanley-baldwin/
“Shortly after the war,” writes Gilbert, “when he was asked to send Baldwin, then aged eighty, a birthday letter, [Churchill] declined to do so, writing to an intermediary: ‘I wish Stanley Baldwin no ill, but it would have been much better had he never lived.’
“In my long search for Churchill,” Gilbert concluded, “few letters have struck a clearer note than this one. Churchill was almost always magnanimous: his tribute to Neville Chamberlain in 1940 was among the highpoints of his parliamentary genius. But he saw Baldwin as responsible for the ‘locust years’ when Britain, if differently led, could have easily rearmed, and kept well ahead of the German military and air expansion, which Hitler had begun in 1933 from a base of virtual disarmament. Churchill saw Baldwin’s policies, especially with regard to Royal Air Force expansion, as having given Hitler the impression, first, that Britain would not stand up to aggression beyond its borders, and second, that if war came Britain would not be in a position to act effectively even to defend its own cities.”
In the end, that was enough to damn Stanley Baldwin perhaps as no other contemporary Briton in Churchill’s eyes.

Last edited 1 year ago by Justin Clark
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Justin Clark

“Stanley Baldwin was the most formidable politician I have ever known in our public life”.*

WSC as mercurial as ever!

(*Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 8 vols., 1974, VIII: 8007-08):

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

It’s that old difference between a politician and a statesman. Baldwin was the former but only superficially the latter.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

It’s that old difference between a politician and a statesman. Baldwin was the former but only superficially the latter.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Justin Clark

“Stanley Baldwin was the most formidable politician I have ever known in our public life”.*

WSC as mercurial as ever!

(*Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 8 vols., 1974, VIII: 8007-08):

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Justin Clark
Justin Clark
1 year ago

https://winstonchurchill.org/publications/finest-hour/finest-hour-101/how-churchill-saw-others-stanley-baldwin/
“Shortly after the war,” writes Gilbert, “when he was asked to send Baldwin, then aged eighty, a birthday letter, [Churchill] declined to do so, writing to an intermediary: ‘I wish Stanley Baldwin no ill, but it would have been much better had he never lived.’
“In my long search for Churchill,” Gilbert concluded, “few letters have struck a clearer note than this one. Churchill was almost always magnanimous: his tribute to Neville Chamberlain in 1940 was among the highpoints of his parliamentary genius. But he saw Baldwin as responsible for the ‘locust years’ when Britain, if differently led, could have easily rearmed, and kept well ahead of the German military and air expansion, which Hitler had begun in 1933 from a base of virtual disarmament. Churchill saw Baldwin’s policies, especially with regard to Royal Air Force expansion, as having given Hitler the impression, first, that Britain would not stand up to aggression beyond its borders, and second, that if war came Britain would not be in a position to act effectively even to defend its own cities.”
In the end, that was enough to damn Stanley Baldwin perhaps as no other contemporary Briton in Churchill’s eyes.

Last edited 1 year ago by Justin Clark
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I have to agree that the “accepted version” of the history here – just as with Neville Chamberlain – is far too simplistic (and frankly just lazy).
Checking my copy of Churchill’s “Great Contemporaries”, written in 1937.
No chapter on Stanley Baldwin, Ramsey McDonald or Lloyd George. Yet Rosebery, Curzon, F. E. Smith and Philip Snowden all have chapters. Quite extraordinary.
The chapter on “Hitler and his Choice” is surprising ambivalent – fully acknowledging the errors of the Allies (basically the French) in pursuing excessive reparations – and also considering the possibility Hitler might come good:
“Thus the world lives on hopes that the worst is over, and that we may yet live to see Hitler a gentler figure in a happier age”.
Churchill still considers that a possibility. Writing in 1937. After Baldwin had resigned.
My mother had a set of British encyclopedias published in the late 1930s in which the coverage of Hitler was equally accomodating.

R Jog
R Jog
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Baldwin was far more accurate about the genocidal Churchill (cf. Bengal Famine) than the other way around. “The die-hard opinions of George III couched in the language of Edmund Burke.”

R Jog
R Jog
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Baldwin was far more accurate about the genocidal Churchill (cf. Bengal Famine) than the other way around. “The die-hard opinions of George III couched in the language of Edmund Burke.”

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I have to agree that the “accepted version” of the history here – just as with Neville Chamberlain – is far too simplistic (and frankly just lazy).
Checking my copy of Churchill’s “Great Contemporaries”, written in 1937.
No chapter on Stanley Baldwin, Ramsey McDonald or Lloyd George. Yet Rosebery, Curzon, F. E. Smith and Philip Snowden all have chapters. Quite extraordinary.
The chapter on “Hitler and his Choice” is surprising ambivalent – fully acknowledging the errors of the Allies (basically the French) in pursuing excessive reparations – and also considering the possibility Hitler might come good:
“Thus the world lives on hopes that the worst is over, and that we may yet live to see Hitler a gentler figure in a happier age”.
Churchill still considers that a possibility. Writing in 1937. After Baldwin had resigned.
My mother had a set of British encyclopedias published in the late 1930s in which the coverage of Hitler was equally accomodating.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

“In his (Baldwin’s) most famous speech, a paean to romantic nostalgia, he evoked “the sounds of England, the tinkle of hammer on anvil in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the sight of a plough team coming over the brow of a hill”. Now i know what John Major plagiarised.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

John Major the Poundshop Baldwin you mean

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

John Major the Poundshop Baldwin you mean

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

“In his (Baldwin’s) most famous speech, a paean to romantic nostalgia, he evoked “the sounds of England, the tinkle of hammer on anvil in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the sight of a plough team coming over the brow of a hill”. Now i know what John Major plagiarised.

F Hugh Eveleigh
F Hugh Eveleigh
1 year ago

What a delight to read and to realise that I must find out more about Mr Baldwin.

F Hugh Eveleigh
F Hugh Eveleigh
1 year ago

What a delight to read and to realise that I must find out more about Mr Baldwin.

Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
1 year ago

For many years I largely accepted the Churchill/Orwell view of Baldwin, even though I’d long changed my mind about Neville Chamberlain. Having in the past year or two read the work of the likes of Phillip Williamson, Stuart Ball, David Jarvis etc on the period though I have come away thinking much more highly of Baldwin. Although very different in many respects from Lord Salisbury, I think both were very sophisticated and clever politicians that their face value image may not have suggested and both did a lot to secure the relative Tory hegemonies of their respective eras.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
1 year ago

For many years I largely accepted the Churchill/Orwell view of Baldwin, even though I’d long changed my mind about Neville Chamberlain. Having in the past year or two read the work of the likes of Phillip Williamson, Stuart Ball, David Jarvis etc on the period though I have come away thinking much more highly of Baldwin. Although very different in many respects from Lord Salisbury, I think both were very sophisticated and clever politicians that their face value image may not have suggested and both did a lot to secure the relative Tory hegemonies of their respective eras.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Layfield
Steve Truman
Steve Truman
1 year ago

Why does the writer think that only one person could have divulged the conversation in the first class carriage? If Mr Baldwin answered his interlocutor truthfully – and why should he have not – then either of those two men could have told the story. And it is not stated that they were alone in the carriage, so anyone else there at the time could have spoken of it as well.

Steve Truman
Steve Truman
1 year ago

Why does the writer think that only one person could have divulged the conversation in the first class carriage? If Mr Baldwin answered his interlocutor truthfully – and why should he have not – then either of those two men could have told the story. And it is not stated that they were alone in the carriage, so anyone else there at the time could have spoken of it as well.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

The reality was that the majority of Briatin did not want to fight until the Blitz in late 1940. There was vast array of opinion against war and rearming namely: those traumatised by WW1; Methodist/ Quakers against war; Communists, Trade Union Leaders in general who wanted money spent on welfare and especially those from South Wales due to Churchill’s activities in the General Strike Strike; George Lansbury leader of Labour Party until 1935 and then Atlee; Fascists, those who liked German culture such as Maynard Keynes; George V because WW1, pacifists such as Vera Brittan.
Churchill supported Edward VIII which alienated many people, especially in the Empire.
Churchill did not understand modern warfare and would have spent money on oudated cavalry and expensive battle ships. What Britain needed were frigates which could be built in civilian shipyards which were faster than U Boats ( 18 Knots ) to protect convoys, aircarft carriers and destroyers to protect them. Also the Spitfire could have been upgraded so by the Battle Of Britain it was 20 to 30 mph faster and carreid 20mm cannons and 0.5 inch machine guns. A fighter force of 70 squadrons of upgraded Spitfires, 50 in the UK, ten in Middle East and10 in Singapore could have saved the situation.
The Trenchard Doctrine said bombers would always get through and cause 100,000 deaths, It was Baldwin and Chamberlain who startd the construction of Hurricanes and Spitfires in 1936 ti stop bombers.
By 1918 The RN had learnt how to fight U Boats and then forgot about them. One RN Captain Frederick Walker CB , DSO and three bars maintained his skills in anti U Boat fighting.
The best engineers in the 1920s and 1930s worked in aeronautics and radio which was why the RAF was the most technically advanced service. Churchill did not understand technology which was why he thought the 100 French divisions would repel the Germans.
Churchill, a cavalry officer would have spent money on horses, infantry and battleships completely ignored the fact that the Army was the most technically backward of the services and U boats were the threat at sea.The Army and to a lesser extent the RN did not attract the high calibre engineers in the 1920s and 1930s, the same way flying did.
Wars are often won by those who use the resources most wisely which means the right technology, in the right place at the right time which was why Dowding’s design of the defence of Britain was so brilliant.
Baldwin and Chamberlain enabled Britain to start the war as a united country, which apart from Germany, no other nation did. Most people considered Hitler was just the latest manifestation of Prussian Militarism . Churchil did not explain that Nazism was different, the worship of power. If Churchill had based his argument on defence of Britain; fighters to repel bombers and frigates to protect merchant ships, he may have obtained support. Instead people considered Churchill was planning a Gallipoli Mark II.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

The reality was that the majority of Briatin did not want to fight until the Blitz in late 1940. There was vast array of opinion against war and rearming namely: those traumatised by WW1; Methodist/ Quakers against war; Communists, Trade Union Leaders in general who wanted money spent on welfare and especially those from South Wales due to Churchill’s activities in the General Strike Strike; George Lansbury leader of Labour Party until 1935 and then Atlee; Fascists, those who liked German culture such as Maynard Keynes; George V because WW1, pacifists such as Vera Brittan.
Churchill supported Edward VIII which alienated many people, especially in the Empire.
Churchill did not understand modern warfare and would have spent money on oudated cavalry and expensive battle ships. What Britain needed were frigates which could be built in civilian shipyards which were faster than U Boats ( 18 Knots ) to protect convoys, aircarft carriers and destroyers to protect them. Also the Spitfire could have been upgraded so by the Battle Of Britain it was 20 to 30 mph faster and carreid 20mm cannons and 0.5 inch machine guns. A fighter force of 70 squadrons of upgraded Spitfires, 50 in the UK, ten in Middle East and10 in Singapore could have saved the situation.
The Trenchard Doctrine said bombers would always get through and cause 100,000 deaths, It was Baldwin and Chamberlain who startd the construction of Hurricanes and Spitfires in 1936 ti stop bombers.
By 1918 The RN had learnt how to fight U Boats and then forgot about them. One RN Captain Frederick Walker CB , DSO and three bars maintained his skills in anti U Boat fighting.
The best engineers in the 1920s and 1930s worked in aeronautics and radio which was why the RAF was the most technically advanced service. Churchill did not understand technology which was why he thought the 100 French divisions would repel the Germans.
Churchill, a cavalry officer would have spent money on horses, infantry and battleships completely ignored the fact that the Army was the most technically backward of the services and U boats were the threat at sea.The Army and to a lesser extent the RN did not attract the high calibre engineers in the 1920s and 1930s, the same way flying did.
Wars are often won by those who use the resources most wisely which means the right technology, in the right place at the right time which was why Dowding’s design of the defence of Britain was so brilliant.
Baldwin and Chamberlain enabled Britain to start the war as a united country, which apart from Germany, no other nation did. Most people considered Hitler was just the latest manifestation of Prussian Militarism . Churchil did not explain that Nazism was different, the worship of power. If Churchill had based his argument on defence of Britain; fighters to repel bombers and frigates to protect merchant ships, he may have obtained support. Instead people considered Churchill was planning a Gallipoli Mark II.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Dinsdale Pirhana sometimes believed he was Stanley Baldwin, and was being stalked by a giant hedgehog called Spiny Norman?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Dinsdale Pirhana sometimes believed he was Stanley Baldwin, and was being stalked by a giant hedgehog called Spiny Norman?

Richard Rolfe
Richard Rolfe
1 year ago

The letter to the Times was signed “FST,” so I think most readers realised the writer’s identity.

Richard Rolfe
Richard Rolfe
1 year ago

The letter to the Times was signed “FST,” so I think most readers realised the writer’s identity.

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 year ago

“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for blog comment sections. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for breakfast!”

Alan Healy
Alan Healy
1 year ago

Heard a similar story about Bonar Law .

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
1 year ago

Thank you for this informative journalistic portrait of Stanley Baldwin. This American has some content to add, to whit:
About ten years ago, I happened upon a very old special edition of the Times of London. I noticed that the yellowed, ragged tabloid newspaper was a May 20, 1937 issue was a Commemorative Issue; it followed the May 12 Coronation of George VI.
Of course it was a fascinating read. The entire front page is a letterpress reproduction of a picture of The Archbishop placing the crown on the head of George VI. While gently turning those ancient pages, I arrived at a special section entitled “News of the Week.”
Of course, the main event was the Coronation, which which we so recently witnessed as it was re-enacted for King Charles III.
But further down on that newsy, texty page was an article: Mr. Baldwin to the Conference. Here it is, as printed in 1937:

The Imperial Conference at its opening meeting in St. James Palace chose Mr. Baldwin for president. Mr. Baldwins first words were devoted to the memory of King George V. He went on to say that the self-governing communities of the British Commonwealth were partners in a great enterprise, jointly responsible for an experiment the success or failure of which must profoundly influence the future of mankind. They were agreed that foreign affairs and defence should be the main subjects of the conference.

With so many of the most powerful nations of the world expanding their armed forces, we in this country (Mr. Baldwin said) have decided that it is our duty to put our defences in order, at a cost the magnitude of which you know. We deplore the necessity but we have no choice. 

We shoulder that burden for the security of this island, which is still the heart of the Empire, but also that we may be equipped to fulfill our responsibilities in guarding the security of the Empire oversea, and as a loyal member of the League of Nations. 

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Stanley Baldwin had a whippet called Kiekergaard, according to Doug and Dinsdale Pirhana…