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

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  • #16
    Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
    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.
    True, for a time Chamberlain remained Conservative Party leader too, even though Churchill was PM; In fact, Churchill had his greatest critics in the Conservative Party, for a while anyway. National All-Party governments depend on all party support, all the time. Being able to keep a National Government together during WW2 was one of Churchill's greatest accomplishments. The anti-thesis of the intrigue and political split of WW1. That last statement might make a good subject for debate.

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    • #17
      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.

      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.
      Interesting question, but one that I don't think was really that important. WC's important period imho was 39-41, since his strength was that of a charismatic leader to keep Britain in the war. Once the Soviets, and even more importantly, the USA are involved, then the war was never really in doubt, and his major attribute as an asset to the nation was no longer as important.
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      • #18
        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        Interesting question, but one that I don't think was really that important. WC's important period imho was 39-41, since his strength was that of a charismatic leader to keep Britain in the war. Once the Soviets, and even more importantly, the USA are involved, then the war was never really in doubt, and his major attribute as an asset to the nation was no longer as important.
        Good point, they don't call you Nick the Noodle for no reason.

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        • #19
          The country was at war
          During wartime anything is possible, if he was making a hash of it and lost the respect of the nation and his colleagues I don't see why he could not be replaced . Rules change when needed

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          • #20
            Who would be the best replacement deserves more attention here. From similar discussions in the past my understanding is Atlee would have been the likely choice. ?

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            • #21
              Not Atlee, ...

              Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
              Who would be the best replacement deserves more attention here. From similar discussions in the past my understanding is Atlee would have been the likely choice. ?
              ... at least not under the circumstances that prevailed. Under the Parliamentary system, whether National or Coalition, if Parliament debates and shows non-confidence in the sitting King's Government by vote, then that government falls, the Prime Minister must go see the King and resign, and a general election is called. Now if the minority Labour Party were to prevail in such an election, winning a majority with or without the support of any other parties, then the King would ask the Labour PM designate (Atlee) to form his Government.

              By contrast, Chamberlain to Churchill was allowed in house, election not required. The Tory Government of the day had a large Parliamentary majority, Chamberlain survived a non-confidence vote, but by a smaller majority, which meant that a significant portion of the sitting Tory membership, had voted against Chamberlain's Government. A General Election wasn't necessary, or called for, but a reshuffling of the Cabinet was, but it would still be dominated by Tories. Labour indicated that they would support Churchill, certain Chamberlainite appeasers were out, Chamberlain remained in the Cabinet. It would take some time to woo the Tory dissenters, but Churchill managed it, and that large Parliamentary majority would show confidence in his Government.
              Last edited by Marmat; 03 Apr 14, 20:53.
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              • #22
                Would an Axis breakthrough on the El Alamein Line during the First Battle of El Alamein (July 1st-3rd 1942) and its following military consequences for the Eight Army in North Africa have created a political atmosphere that very well could have resulted in Churchill being voted out of power and/or his government being replaced?

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Marmat View Post
                  ... at least not under the circumstances that prevailed. Under the Parliamentary system, whether National or Coalition, if Parliament debates and shows non-confidence in the sitting King's Government by vote, then that government falls, the Prime Minister must go see the King and resign, and a general election is called. Now if the minority Labour Party were to prevail in such an election, winning a majority with or without the support of any other parties, then the King would ask the Labour PM designate (Atlee) to form his Government.

                  ....
                  So who would be the most likely new PM in 1942?

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                    Who would be the best replacement deserves more attention here. From similar discussions in the past my understanding is Atlee would have been the likely choice. ?
                    While as deputy Prime Minister he would have replaced Churchill short term if he had been taken seriously ill or died during this period, as a member of the Labour party, he was unlikely to get enough support from the Conservative majority in the House Of Commons to replace him permanently if Churchill had lost a vote of confidence. The most likely candidate would be his fellow Tory, Eden.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Marmat View Post
                      ... at least not under the circumstances that prevailed. Under the Parliamentary system, whether National or Coalition, if Parliament debates and shows non-confidence in the sitting King's Government by vote, then that government falls, the Prime Minister must go see the King and resign, and a general election is called. Now if the minority Labour Party were to prevail in such an election, winning a majority with or without the support of any other parties, then the King would ask the Labour PM designate (Atlee) to form his Government.
                      The situation is complicated by the fact that normal party politics had been suspended, with the agreement of all the major political parties, and a coalition formed. So while Churchill might have lost his position it's not clear if this would have meant the end of the coalition or that the coalition would have continued with a different leader without the need for a general election.

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                      • #26
                        The term used ...

                        Originally posted by redcoat View Post
                        The situation is complicated by the fact that normal party politics had been suspended, with the agreement of all the major political parties, and a coalition formed. So while Churchill might have lost his position it's not clear if this would have meant the end of the coalition or that the coalition would have continued with a different leader without the need for a general election.
                        ... was "National Government", since the Tories already held a Parliamentary majority on their own; Coalition usually means 2-plus usually like minded parties are required to attain a majority to govern. Here, with Labour's agreement, and by adding Labour members to Ministerial positions in a sharing of government, certain rules of parliament, like the calling and timing of elections, could be suspended. Churchill was on record as preferring National Government, since philosophically he straddled a line between left-wing Tory, and right-wing Grit anyway.

                        I think if Churchill were to survive a vote of non-confidence with a reduced majority as Chamberlain did, the Tory Party Chairman would call a meeting of the Party Executive to nominate a successor; the sitting Tories could be canvassed by the Gov't Whip for approval, or they could actually vote. I think Labour would insist that the change would come contingent on a separation of Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense, so we're talking two appointees. Eden was of course Churchill's heir apparent, but 2 years earlier his rival had been Lord Halifax; the King had preferred Halifax, and he was certainly still available, and by this time had acquired a great deal of experience working with Americans. Likewise, Lord Chatfield had served as Minister for Coordination of Defence, until Churchill arrived. While not exactly the same as Defense Minister, he was very able, and George VI was a former Navy man. Other tough, strong minded and capable men, untainted by either Chamberlain's Appeasers, or service in Churchill's Cabinet, were Duff Cooper and Leo Amery. So, if the Tories were willing to weather the setback, and remained hell bent to win the war with their US ally, then you could see the King appointing Eden (or Halifax depending on circumstances) as PM, with Chatfield, Cooper, or Amery as MoD, with a Labour Foreign Minister, perhaps Atlee.
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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Marmat View Post
                          So, if the Tories were willing to weather the setback, and remained hell bent to win the war with their US ally, then you could see the King appointing Eden (or Halifax depending on circumstances) as PM, with Chatfield, Cooper, or Amery as MoD, with a Labour Foreign Minister, perhaps Atlee.
                          The reason Churchill faced no-confidence votes in 42 wasn't because of the war itself, it was due to the fact that with both the USA and the Soviets now on our side, some in parliament were expecting to see things going a little better on the battlefront for the British forces.
                          As for Halifax I think by 42 he is no longer in contention ( I'm not even sure he would have wanted to be), the House would be seeking someone seen as far more pro-war, and untainted by pre-war policy.
                          Last edited by redcoat; 31 May 14, 04:21.

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                          • #28
                            Sure, ...

                            Originally posted by redcoat View Post
                            The reason Churchill faced no-confidence votes in 42 wasn't because of the war itself, it was due to the fact that with both the USA and the Soviets now on our side, some in parliament were expecting to see things going a little better on the battlefront for the British forces.
                            As for Halifax I think by 42 he is no longer in contention ( I'm not even sure he would have wanted to be), the House would be seeking someone seen as far more pro-war, and untainted by pre-war policy.

                            ... I'll buy that. I added Halifax to the mix simply because at some point, in some office, someone in the official diplomatic linkage between Churchill and FDR is going to say "It's none of our business of course, but we aren't that keen on ***** and would prefer dealing with *****." Eden wasn't allowed much leeway as Foreign Minister, but he wasn't nearly as pro-US as Churchill, and was more inclined towards the Soviets; he wanted a more distinctly British foreign policy. The Cabinet, which would have more weight in any decision could lean towards Eden, or even feel enough pressure to take Cripps for that very reason, or be swayed towards a more compliant Halifax-esque type.

                            I'm not sure that the Cabinet would want a Churchillian fire eater as PM, given that the MoD would be responsible for the conduct of the war, replacing Churchill's milquetoast service ministers in Cabinet itself. The PM would be more of a traditional managing, moderating, steering influence; mindful, but not micromanaging junior officers, or in transit to Washington or Cairo on any excuse.
                            "I am Groot"
                            - Groot

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