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Could Winston Churchill have been voted out of power in mid-1942?

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  • Could Winston Churchill have been voted out of power in mid-1942?

    Could Winston Churchill have been voted out (by and in Parliament) of power (being replaced as Prime Minister) in mid-1942?

    When asked what his most worried political period of the Second World War was, Winston Churchill replied that it was mid-1942 (July-October 1942) instead of the expected period of mid-1940 to the end of 1941. He was genuinely concerned that he would be voted out of power, most likely through and by Parliament, which could have resulted in the next Prime Minister coming to a peace-like settlement with Germany and thus the Axis Powers.

    By mid-1942 Britain and the British Empire had been fighting the Second World War for almost three years with little, to no, decisive military victories being achieved while suffering a seemingly continuous succession of military defeats.

    Many (and at an ever increasing rate) of British people, but more importantly politicians blamed the lack of military victories, but mostly the seemingly endless military defeats on Winston Churchill. This was due to his amateurish running of many military affairs, especially the conduct of military operations.

    Perhaps if the Axis military forces in North Africa had successfully broken through the El Alamein Line in July 1942 and the likely British military defeat following it (or even the possibility of this) may have been, for some politicians, the last straw for Churchill.

  • #2
    It seems that after the surrender of the British Army at Tobruk that the Parliament was going to wait until Churhill returned from the US to vote a "No Confidence" motion against Churchill, but Roosevelt (sic) had promised full millitary aide to Britain, so he never faced that no confidence motion, but had he faced it, he would have lost that no confidence motion and would have no choice but to resign from Parliament thus leaving his seat vacant, one posible choice was to get Lord Halifax to become the candidate for Churchill's seat, run uncontested, have a by-election and declared a member of the House of Commons, thus consitutionally becomes Prime Minister.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by WarMachine View Post
      Could Winston Churchill have been voted out (by and in Parliament) of power (being replaced as Prime Minister) in mid-1942?

      When asked what his most worried political period of the Second World War was, Winston Churchill replied that it was mid-1942 (July-October 1942) instead of the expected period of mid-1940 to the end of 1941. He was genuinely concerned that he would be voted out of power, most likely through and by Parliament, which could have resulted in the next Prime Minister coming to a peace-like settlement with Germany and thus the Axis Powers.
      Peace offers are unlikely. Halifax and the rest understood the problem nazi Germany represented. Beyond that any terms that did not screw one side would have been disadvantage to the other. Any agreement would have been a edifice of cards, if anything could be agreed on at all.

      Removing Churchill would have represented a desire for a more sensible leadership at the top. Better strategy as it were.

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      • #4
        There were two Votes of Confidence in !942.

        The first, at the end of January, resulted in a government majority of 464 - 1.

        The second, which was specifically a vote of no confidence in Churchill, took place on 1 July, 1942, at the time of Auchinleck's Alamein.

        The proposal of no confidence was put forward by a right of centre MP, Sir John Wardlaw-Milne, and collapsed into farce when Sir John proposed that there should be:

        a dominating figure to run the war and also a generalissimo to command all the armed forces.

        and nominated the Duke of Gloucester! Whether for one or both roles was never made clear.

        Churchill won the vote by 475 - 25.

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        • #5
          I think the only way Churchill could have been voted out by Parliament would have been if he'd lost the confidence of Cabinet. For that to happen he would have to have made a blunder of epic proportions over something important, such as domestic or imperial policy. While neither happened, there is the possibility of it, given some of Churchill's military brainfarts.

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          • #6
            My take is Op Shingle (Anzio) was Churchills last major direct influence. After that Brooke, Eisenhower, and the others were able to polite argue away his interferance. At least in the ETO. In terms of grand strategy and Allied politics his last moment was over at the Terhan confrence in September 1943, if not sooner. Maybe he still got his way in Asia, but at the Terhan meeting he was clearly with a weak vote and arguments.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
              My take is Op Shingle (Anzio) was Churchills last major direct influence. After that Brooke, Eisenhower, and the others were able to polite argue away his interferance. At least in the ETO. In terms of grand strategy and Allied politics his last moment was over at the Terhan confrence in September 1943, if not sooner. Maybe he still got his way in Asia, but at the Terhan meeting he was clearly with a weak vote and arguments.
              The difficult part about Shingle was the lack of resources to exploit what was an overwhelmingly successful landing- 13 casualties on the first day!

              After the landing, Mark Clarke should have loaded anything that could float and swarmed the port of Netunno. If they had breached the Alban hills and disrupted the inland rail line form Rome, Kesselring has to order a general retreat.
              The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                It seems that after the surrender of the British Army at Tobruk that the Parliament was going to wait until Churhill returned from the US to vote a "No Confidence" motion against Churchill, but Roosevelt (sic) had promised full millitary aide to Britain, so he never faced that no confidence motion, but had he faced it, he would have lost that no confidence motion and would have no choice but to resign from Parliament thus leaving his seat vacant, one posible choice was to get Lord Halifax to become the candidate for Churchill's seat, run uncontested, have a by-election and declared a member of the House of Commons, thus consitutionally becomes Prime Minister.
                While a no confidence vote could have forced his resignation from the position of Prime Minister, it wouldn't have effected his position as a Member of Parliament.
                Lord Halifax was a Lord therefore he cannot be a member of the House Of Commons. He could become a non-voting* Prime Minister but he would have to have the backing of the majority of the MP's in the House Of Commons to do so.


                * He would not be to allowed to vote in any of the debates and bills put before the House Of Commons
                Last edited by redcoat; 27 Mar 14, 18:22.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by redcoat View Post
                  While a no confidence vote could have forced his resignation from the position of Prime Minister, it wouldn't have effected his position as a Member of Parliament.
                  Lord Halifax was a Lord therefore he cannot be a member of the House Of Commons. He could become a non-voting* Prime Minister but he would have to have the backing of the majority of the MP's in the House Of Commons to do so.


                  * He would not be to allowed to vote in any of the debates and bills put before the House Of Commons
                  But here is the kicker, would Churchill's ego allow him to continue to serve after a vote of no confidence had gone badly for him, surely he would have resigned from Parliament as well. The way i see it, it would give the British Government a clean break from Churchill's influence, and once he resigns his seat, it clear the way for Lord Halifax to resign leave the House of Lords and challenge Churchill's seat uncontested in a snap by-election, thus he is entitled by constitution to be full voting Prime Minister as member of the House of Commons and he can still retain he his official title of Lord Halifax.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                    But here is the kicker, would Churchill's ego allow him to continue to serve after a vote of no confidence had gone badly for him, surely he would have resigned from Parliament as well.
                    Don't see why he would. After the Galliopli campaign in WW1, Churchill resigned from the cabinet, but he retained his seat in Parliament.
                    The way i see it, it would give the British Government a clean break from Churchill's influence, and once he resigns his seat, it clear the way for Lord Halifax to resign leave the House of Lords and challenge Churchill's seat uncontested in a snap by-election, thus he is entitled by constitution to be full voting Prime Minister as member of the House of Commons and he can still retain he his official title of Lord Halifax.
                    No he can't, it's called the House Of Commons for a reason.
                    Also, he can only be Prime Minister with the backing of the majority of MP's in the coalition, and by 1942 Halifax was a yesterdays man, he wouldn't have been picked by the coalition to lead parliament, it would have probably been someone like Eden, pro-war but seen as more sensible.

                    In 1942 the discontent was about the governments running of the war, not the war itself.

                    PS: Halifax didn't want to do it in 1940, so I don't see why he would in 1942.
                    Last edited by redcoat; 28 Mar 14, 17:13.

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                    • #11
                      I just read an interesting book called the invasion of 1950
                      In the book Churchill was replaced as prime minister in 1943 and Britain and the commonweal were at peace with Germany, until 1950 that is. The USA never entered the war because Japan attacked the Soviet Union.
                      It's a good fiction book and churchill gets reinstated to lead Britain again

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                        But here is the kicker, would Churchill's ego allow him to continue to serve after a vote of no confidence had gone badly for him, surely he would have resigned from Parliament as well. The way i see it, it would give the British Government a clean break from Churchill's influence, and once he resigns his seat, it clear the way for Lord Halifax to resign leave the House of Lords and challenge Churchill's seat uncontested in a snap by-election, thus he is entitled by constitution to be full voting Prime Minister as member of the House of Commons and he can still retain he his official title of Lord Halifax.
                        This would not have been possible, as far as I know, until after the Peerage Act of 1963, which was passed in order to enable a certain Viscount Stansgate to return to the House of Commons as Anthony Wedgwood Benn/Tony Benn.

                        Numerous others followed the same course, including Alec Douglas Home.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Doveton Sturdee View Post
                          This would not have been possible, as far as I know, until after the Peerage Act of 1963, which was passed in order to enable a certain Viscount Stansgate to return to the House of Commons as Anthony Wedgwood Benn/Tony Benn.

                          Numerous others followed the same course, including Alec Douglas Home.
                          Thanx for the info, much appreciated.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
                            I think the only way Churchill could have been voted out by Parliament would have been if he'd lost the confidence of Cabinet. For that to happen he would have to have made a blunder of epic proportions over something important, such as domestic or imperial policy. While neither happened, there is the possibility of it, given some of Churchill's military brainfarts.
                            That's probably right but when he formed the government he formed a "National Government" with members from all parties appointed to cabinet. Churchill said that the formation of a National Government was not a condition given to him by the King when he kissed hands, but it was felt that a National Government was needed for the war effort. So the members of either the Liberal party or the Labour Party withdrawing support for the Government probably would have forced a Churchill resignation.

                            Also, the Parliament was elected in 1935, and term was extended for a year 5 times during the war, each time the House of Lords had to agree, so he needed their confidence too.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sparlingo View Post
                              That's probably right but when he formed the government he formed a "National Government" with members from all parties appointed to cabinet. Churchill said that the formation of a National Government was not a condition given to him by the King when he kissed hands, but it was felt that a National Government was needed for the war effort. So the members of either the Liberal party or the Labour Party withdrawing support for the Government probably would have forced a Churchill resignation.

                              Also, the Parliament was elected in 1935, and term was extended for a year 5 times during the war, each time the House of Lords had to agree, so he needed their confidence too.
                              Thanks. Which means if the Conservatives start giving themselves airs they don't deserve, Churchill could have problems. But that would require a number of his party colleagues collectively losing the plot.

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