Stanley Baldwin

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The greatest crime to our own people is to be afraid to tell the truth … the old frontiers are gone.

Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley KG PC (3 August 186714 December 1947) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on three separate occasions (1923–24, 1924–29 and 1935–37).




I get an obsession that everybody is out for what they can get during the war and it makes me sick.
  • I get an obsession that everybody is out for what they can get during the war and it makes me sick.
    • Letter to Lady Dickinson (28 November 1917), quoted in Robert Rhodes James (ed.), Memoirs of a Conservative: J. C. C. Davidson's Memoirs and Papers, 1910-1937 (1969), p. 79
  • A lot of hard-faced men who look as if they had done very well out of the war.
  • What about my Soul? That's all right. The essence of such service is unselfishness. My first thought has to be of others, of the relationship of Crown and people: there will be no room to think of money or of my own career.
    • Letter to J. C. C. Davidson (28 January 1919) on contemplating acceptance of government office, quoted in Robert Rhodes James (ed.), Memoirs of a Conservative: J. C. C. Davidson's Memoirs and Papers, 1910-1937 (1969), p. 95




  • The Prime Minister was described this morning in The Times, in the words of a distinguished aristocrat, as a live wire. He was described to me, and to others, in more steady language, by the Lord Chancellor, as a dynamic force, and I accept those words. He is a dynamic force, and it is from that very fact that our troubles, in our opinion, arise. A dynamic force is a very terrible thing; it may crush you, but it is not necessarily right. It is owing to that dynamic force, and that remarkable personality, that the Liberal Party, to which he formerly belonged, had been smashed to pieces; and it is my firm conviction that, in time, the same thing will happen to our party.


  • I am myself of that somewhat flabby nature that always prefers agreement to disagreement...When the Labour Party sit on these benches, we shall all wish them well in their effort to govern the country. But I am quite certain that whether they succeed or fail there will never in this country be a Communist Government, and for this reason, that no gospel founded on hate will ever seize the hearts of our people—the people of Great Britain. It is no good trying to cure the world by spreading out oceans of bloodshed. It is no good trying to cure the world by repeating that pentasyllabic French derivative, "Proletariat." The English language is the richest in the world in thought. The English language is the richest in the world in monosyllables. Four words, of one syllable each, are words which contain salvation for this country and for the whole world, and they are "Faith," "Hope," "Love," and "Work." No Government in this country to-day, which has not faith in the people, hope in the future, love for his fellow-men, and which will not work and work and work, will ever bring this country through into better days and better times, or will ever bring Europe through or the world through.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (16 February 1923), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 59-60
  • ...some of those to-day who are loudest in their protestations of international pacifism are loudest in their protestations that nothing but a class war can save society. No truer word was ever said by a philosopher than was said by Kant, a century ago or more, that we are civilised to the point of wearisomeness, but before we can be moralised we have a long way to go. It is to moralise the world that we all desire. ... We have to remember one more thing besides that, that since the War we must not make the mistake of thinking that what may be war weariness is necessarily an excess of innate good will, and we cannot help noting that there has arisen in Europe, in the few years since the peace, a strong local feeling in different places of an extreme nationalism which, unless corrected, may bear in what is not of itself an evil thing the seeds of much future peril for the peace and harmony of Europe.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (23 July 1923)
  • I have often thought, with reference to the late War...that it has shown the whole world how thin is the crust of civilisation on which this generation is walking. The realisation of that must have come with an appalling shock to most of us here. But more than that. There is not a man in this House who does not remember the first air raids and the first use of poisoned gas, and the cry that went up from this country. We know how, before the War ended, we were all using both those means of imposing our will upon our enemy. We realise that when men have their backs to the wall they will adopt any means for self-preservation. But there was left behind an uncomfortable feeling in the hearts of millions of men throughout Europe that, whatever had been the result of the War, we had all of us slipped down in our views of what constituted civilisation. We could not help feeling that future wars might provide, with further discoveries in science, a more rapid descent for the human race. There came a feeling, which I know is felt in all quarters of this House, that if our civilisation is to be saved, even at its present level, it behoves all people in all nations to do what they can by joining hands to save what we have, that we may use it as the vantage ground for further progress, rather than run the risk of all of us sliding in the abyss together.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (23 July 1923).
  • It is an easy thing to say, as many men say to-day, that this country should cut herself adrift from Europe, but we must remember that our island story is told, and that with the advent of the aeroplane we ceased to be an island. Whether we like it or not, we are indissolubly bound to Europe, and we shall have to use, and continue to use, our best endeavours to bring to that Continent that peace in which we and millions of men up and down Europe have an equal belief and an equal faith.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (23 July 1923).
  • The great task of this generation, in my view, is to save democracy, to preserve it and to inspire it. The ideal of democracy is a very fine one, but no ideals can run of themselves...All government of the people can be presented, as it were, on the circumference of a wheel, and government runs in very varying degree from the most complete and absolute autocracy, step by step, to chaos, and you find instances in history of governments passing through every phase on that circumference...Now we are at a point in that wheel, and that point is Democracy, with representative government. We have to remember that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and, I may add, eternal knowledge, eternal sympathy, and eternal understanding; and it is our duty in this generation to keep the State steady at the point to which we have attained, knowing full well the risks that lie on either hand by slipping back in the one direction of the wheel or the other, the one direction drawing to a curtailment of our liberty, the other direction being that in which liberty tends to licence.
    • Speech at the Philip Scott College (27 September 1923), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 149-150
  • Now, surely, when we want to educate ourselves for the purpose of citizenship...If you can clear the mind of cant and detect the fallacy, whatever guise it may be wearing, I think you have made a long step forward in the education that every citizen in a democracy that may hope to endure must have. I think that we all of us realise to-day that no civilised community is bound necessarily and by an inscrutable fate to progress, and there are such things in civilisation as checks, that there is such a thing as retrogression, and that the mere existence of a civilised community is no guarantee either for its continuance or for its progress— in other words, that unless we are the faithful guardians of such civilisation as we have already attained to, we run the risk of seeing the whole of the progress that has been made with such infinite labour up to our own time gradually slipping back and back and back.
    • Speech at the Philip Scott College (27 September 1923), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 150-151
  • This country of ours has been the birthplace and the home of some of the greatest movements that have yet arisen for human freedom and human progress, and the strength of our race is not yet exhausted. We have confused ourselves in Great Britain of recent years by a curious diffidence, and by a fear of relying upon ourselves. The result has been that many of those who have been eager for the progress of our country have only succeeded in befogging themselves and their fellow-countrymen, by filling their bellies with the east wind of German Socialism and Russian Communism and French Syndicalism. Rather should they have looked deep into the hearts of their own people, relying on that common sense and political sense that has never failed our race. ... [That] far from following at the tail of exploded Continental theorists, is ready once more to lead the way of the world as she was destined to do from the beginning of time, and to show other peoples, many peoples who have not yet learned what real political freedom is, that the mother of political freedom is still capable of guiding the way to her children and her children's children.
    • Speech at the Philip Scott College (27 September 1923), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 153-154
  • There is no greater need in the world, abroad and at home, than peace, peace from the warfare of arms and peace of spirit. Those are the things I intended to fight for during the time that I am Prime Minister, whether that time be long or short, and it is with that object—the object of peace above and before all things.
    • Speech at the Philip Scott College (27 September 1923), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 157
  • me, at least, this unemployment problem is the most crucial problem of our country. I regard it as such. I can fight it. I am willing to fight it. I cannot fight it without weapons. I have for myself come to the conclusion that—owing to the conditions that exist to-day in the world, having regard to the economic environment, having regard to the situation of our country—if we go on pottering along as we are we shall have grave unemployment with us to the end of time. And I have come to the conclusion myself that the only way of fighting this subject is by protecting the home market. (Loud and continued cheering.)
    • Speech to the National Unionist Association Conference in Plymouth (25 October 1923), quoted in The Times (26 October 1923), p. 17
  • I am just one of yourselves, who has been called to special work for the country at this time. I never sought the office. I never planned out or schemed my life. I have but one idea, which was an idea that I inherited, and it was the idea of service — service to the people of this country. My father lived in the belief all his life … It is a tradition; it is in our bones; and we have to do it. That service seemed to lead one by way of business and the county council into Parliament, and it has led one through various strange paths to where one is; but the ideal remains the same, because all my life I believed from my heart the words of Browning, "All service ranks the same with God". It makes very little difference whether a man is driving a tramcar or sweeping streets or being Prime Minister, if he only brings to that service everything that is in him and performs it for the sake of mankind.
    • Speech in Worcester (7 November 1923), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 19
  • To many the last five years have been a disenchantment. Every cloud has a silver lining, and we take strength from the fact that, through all the difficulties of the time, the strength and moderation of the character of our people has once again shown itself, and in our country, almost alone in Europe, have we had freedom from unconstitutional rebellion. And more than that, I think we may say of our own people that feelings of hatred and vengeance have no permanent root in their hearts.
    • Speech at the unveiling of the Board of Trade war memorial (19 December 1923), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 273-274


  • The future lies between hon. Members opposite and ourselves. We are not afraid on this side of the House of social reform. Members of our party were fighting for the working classes when Members or the ancestors of Members opposite were shackled with laissez faire. Disraeli was advocating combination among agricultural labourers years before the agricultural labourer had the vote, and when he first began to preach the necessity of sanitation in the crowded centres of this country, the Liberal party called it a "policy of sewage." We stand on three basic principles, as we have done for two generations past—the maintenance of the institutions of our country, the preservation and the development of our Empire, and the improvement of the conditions of our own people; and we adapt those principles to the changing needs of each generation. Do my Friends behind me look like a beaten army? We shall be ready to take up the challenge from any party whenever it be issued, wherever it is issued and by whomsoever it be thrown down.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (21 January 1924)
  • If there is any party in the State which, by its traditions and its history, is entitled to put in the forefront of its work and its programme the betterment of the conditions of life of the working classes, it is our party. (Hear, hear.) We were fighting the battle of the factory hand long before he had a vote; and when the Liberals were tied up in the shackles of laissez faire we were speaking in favour of the combination of working men, long before the Liberals had thought of the subject. It is more than 50 years ago that Disraeli was calling the attention of the country to housing and health questions, and they mocked him with the policy of sewage. The sanitation, or let me say the spiritual sanitation, of our people should have the first call on the historic Tory Party. It is just in the measure as we can convince the country, by the service we give the country, that we are as genuinely interested in these questions and as generally prepared to sacrifice ourselves in solving these questions as any member of the Labour Party, that the country will trust us and that the country will return us again into power.
    • Speech to a meeting of the Unionist Party at the Hotel Cecil (11 February 1924), quoted in The Times (12 February 1924), p. 17
  • Rhetoric, which I regard as one of the greatest dangers of modern civilization..."Self-determination" is another rhetorical term that may some day lead the nations into a bloody war. That is what rhetoric does. "Homes fit for heroes to live in," and "A world safe for democracy!" These, to my mind, are the quintessence of rhetoric, and it is against rhetoric in this sense that I am going to vote to-night.
    • Speech at the Cambridge Union (March 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 94-95
  • The rhetoric of to-day, the rhetoric we have to consider, is the rhetoric of the "Bulging corn bins." I suppose that this gift has been responsible for more bloodshed on this earth than all the guns and explosives that have ever been invented. If we look back only over the last century, was there anything more responsible for the French Revolution than the literary rhetoric of Rousseau, fanned by the verbal rhetoric of Robespierre and others, just as the Russian Revolution was due to the rhetoric of Kerensky—flatulent rhetoric which filled the bellies of his people with the east wind? That appalling twopenny-ha'penny gift of fluency, with the addition of a certain amount of training and of imagination in word-spinning, is the kind of rhetoric which stirs the emotions of the ignorant mob and sets it moving. It is because such forces can be set in motion by rhetoric that I have no regard for it, but a positive horror.
    • Speech at the Cambridge Union (March 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 95-96
  • I think that throughout this country there is to-day a far greater desire than there has ever been before to hear plain, unadorned statements of cases...Let us always remember this: when we come to big things we do not need rhetoric. Truth, we have always been told, is naked. She requires very little clothing. After all, St. Paul was no orator, and yet his speeches and his teachings seem to have spread and to have lasted a long time. I cannot help feeling that if we were to go back two thousand years I would back St. Paul and the results of his teaching against all the rhetoric of a Sunday paper or of the leading orators of the age.
    • Speech at the Cambridge Union (March 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 96-97
  • Sir Walter Scott, Wordsworth, Byron...Carlyle, Tennyson, John Henry Newman...Thackeray, Browning and Dickens. There was a galaxy of talent of the highest order in a literature that stands second to none in the world...No country can compare with our own in the literature of that period...I have always firmly held that there is no race with more ability latent than our own, or with a higher aptitude for mechanical genius. When the College was founded, Hargreaves, Arkwright and Crompton, all sons of working men, were inventing the machines which brought the cotton industry. I mention these names to show the stuff of which our people are made, and how that stuff is worth training and educating. It would be a very interesting subject, for anyone who cared to explore it, to see how many of the mechanical inventions which are light-heartedly attributed to Americans are really the product of British brains, whether they were British brains which have gone to work in that country, or the brains of children of British parents who have gone there.
    • Speech at Birkbeck College (20 March 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 143-144
  • There is no real republicanism except that of literature. If I find a human face light up at some quotation which everyone ought to know, that man, be he duke or dustman, is my brother. That is the bond of literature. Study it, the glorious literature of the first country in the world—your own.
    • Speech at Birkbeck College (20 March 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 146
  • I owe a great deal of my public and private life to my Nonconformist ancestry.
    • Speech to the Nonconformist Unionist League (8 April 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 269
  • Byron, a man who gave the world a better heart and a new pulse...The man who finds new pulses in the world is the man who will enjoy immortality. Byron was, if anything, a sower of new seed that had a great germinal force...Byron found the eyes of the people sealed, and opened them, and for that reason the gratitude of the nation should be given to him.
    • Speech to the Byron centenary luncheon (29 April 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 123-124
  • We want to help to better the conditions for our own people. We want to see our people raised, not into a society of State ownership, but into a society in which, increasingly, the individual may become an owner. There is a very famous sentence of Sir Henry Maine's, in which he said that the progress of our civilisation had been of recent centuries a progress on the part of mankind from status to contract. Socialism would bring him back from contract to status.
    • Speech to the Junior Imperial League (3 May 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 225
  • The Englishman is all right as long as he is content to be what God made him, an Englishman, but gets into trouble when he tries to be something else. There are chroniclers, or were chroniclers, who said it was the apeing of the French manners by our English ancestors that made us the prey of William the Norman, and led to our defeat at Hastings. Let that be a warning to us not to ape any foreign country. Let us be content to trust ourselves and to be ourselves.
    • Speech at the annual dinner of The Royal Society of St. George (6 May 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 2
  • Now, I always think that one of the most curious contradictions about the English stock is this: that while the criticism that is often made of us is not without an element of truth, and that is that as a nation we are less open to the intellectual sense than the Latin races, yet through that may be a fact, there is no nation on earth that has had the same knack of producing geniuses. It is almost a characteristic of the English race; there is hardly any line in which the nation has not produced geniuses, and in a nation which may people might think restrained, unable to express itself, in this same nation you have a literature second to none that has ever existed in the world, and certainly in poetry supreme.
    • Speech at the annual dinner of The Royal Society of St. George (6 May 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 2-3
  • The Englishman is made for a time of crisis, and for a time of emergency. He is serene in difficulties, but may seem to be indifferent when times are easy. He may not look ahead, he may not heed warnings, he may not prepare, but when he once starts he is persistent to the death, and he is ruthless in action. It is these gifts that have made the Englishman what he is, and that have enabled the Englishman to make England and the Empire what it is.
    • Speech at the annual dinner of The Royal Society of St. George (6 May 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 3-4
  • I think the English people are at heart and in practice the kindest people in the world...there is in England a profound sympathy for the under-dog. There is a brotherly and a neighbourly feeling which we see to a remarkable extent through all classes. There is a way of facing misfortunes with a cheerful face. It was shown to a marvellous degree in the war.
    • Speech at the annual dinner of The Royal Society of St. George (6 May 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 4-5
  • Then, in no nation more than the English is there a diversified individuality. We are a people of individuals, and a people of character...The preservation of the individuality of the Englishman is essential to the preservation of the type of the race, and if our differences are smoothed out and we lose that gift, we shall lose at the same time our power. Uniformity of type is a bad thing. I regret very much myself the uniformity of speech. Time was, two centuries ago, when you could have told by his speech from what part of England every member of Parliament came. He spoke the speech of his fathers, and I regret that the dialects have gone, and I regret that by a process which for want of a better name we have agreed among ourselves to call education, we are drifting away from the language of the people and losing some of the best English words and phrases which have lasted in the country through centuries, to make us all talk one uniform and inexpressive language.
    • Speech at the annual dinner of The Royal Society of St. George (6 May 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 5-6
To me, England is the country, and the country is England.
  • To me, England is the country, and the country is England. And when I ask myself what I mean by England when I am abroad, England comes to me through my various senses — through the ear, through the eye and through certain imperishable scents … The sounds of England, the tinkle of the hammer on the 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, the sight that has been seen in England since England was a land … the one eternal sight of England.
    • Speech at the annual dinner of The Royal Society of St. George (6 May 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 6-7
  • When I was a boy I knew the Odes of Horace backwards and forwards, and when I came to manhood year by year those odes came knocking at the door of my heart at the most unexpected times and places. So, even if you do not realise it now, the time will come when you will be thankful that you were steeped in Shakespeare as boys. In him we not only have, as Sir Gerald du Maurier said here not long ago, perhaps the greatest man the world has ever seen, but one who had a profound knowledge of human nature and of the world. Shakespeare was one of those few poets in whom we find the magic which comes straight from heaven, and which is the prerogative of the very greatest...Shakespeare's plays, no matter of what country he may be writing, are redolent of our own soil and of our own country people. The habit of thought and the outlook of Shakespeare's country people and of those wise men, Shakespeare's fools, may be found to-day in our rural counties.
    • Speech to the City of London School (13 June 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 120
  • To me the greatest value of the Commonwealth of Nations to which we belong is not necessarily an area in which to make money, but it is space in the world for the spreading and the increase of our own race, because I believe our own race to be the best in the world, and I believe that the progress of the world, morally and spiritually as well as economically, is bound up in the spread of our people with their ideas and with their ideals.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (18 June 1924)
  • The responsibility for progress rests not only on the Government, but on every man and woman in the country. The Government can go no faster in progress than the people will allow them to do. Willing co-operation in new methods is essential, and without the will to work progress is not possible, and with constant stoppages of industry progress is not possible.
    • Speech at the Albert Hall (4 December 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 70
  • It is a testing time for democracy...Democracy, democratic government, calls for harder work, for higher education, for further vision than any form of government known in this world. It has not lasted long yet in the West, and it is only by those like ourselves who believe in it making it a success that we can hope to see it permanent and yielding those fruits which it ought to yield. The assertion of people's rights has never yet provided that people with bread. The performance of their duties, and that alone, can lead to the successful issue of those experiments in government which we have carried further than any other people in this world. Democracy can rise to great heights; it can also sink to great depths. It is for us so to conduct ourselves, and so to educate our own people, that we may achieve the heights and avoid the depths.
    • Speech at the Albert Hall (4 December 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 70-71
  • When we speak of Empire, it is in no spirit of flag-wagging...we feel that in this great inheritance of ours, separated as it is by the seas, we have yet one home and one people...great as the material benefits are, we do not look primarily to them. I think deep down in all our hearts we look to the Empire as the means by which we may hope to see that increase of our race which we believe to be of such inestimable benefit to the world at large; the spread abroad of people to whom freedom and justice are as the breath of their nostrils, of people distinguished, as we would fain hope and believe, above all things, by an abiding sense of duty. If ever the day should come when an appeal to that sense of duty falls on deaf ears among our own kin, that day indeed would be the end of our country and of our Empire, to which you and I have dedicated our very lives.
    • Speech at the Albert Hall (4 December 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 71-72
  • We have to-day perhaps the most magnificent opportunity of service to our country that has ever been given to any party. You who have just been elected to the House of Commons are, by the testimony of your fellow-countrymen, their natural leaders for the next four or five years. It is your duty, your primary duty, to educate that great democracy of which we are all a part...Can there be anything that stands before us more clearly or poignantly than the groups of our fellow-countrymen who listened in faith to what we had to say, who trusted us and have given us their confidence, and who believe in their hearts that we have come to London to do what we can to right those things that are hard and difficult for them, and to help them in what is always the difficult struggle that they have in life? Don't ever lose touch with your constituency; don't ever mistake the voice of the clubman and the voice of the Pressman in London for the voice of the country. It is the country that has returned you; it is the country which will judge you.
    • Speech at the Albert Hall (4 December 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 72-73
  • I want to see the spirit of service to the whole nation the birthright of every member of the Unionist Party—Unionist in the sense that we stand for the union of those two nations of which Disraeli spoke two generations ago; union among our own people to make one nation of our people at home which, if secured, nothing else matters in the world.
    • Speech at the Albert Hall (4 December 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 73


  • If there is is my training, which has given me, whether I can use it or not, a knowledge and a sympathy very difficult for any man to attain who has had an exclusively political training I regard it as of the greatest value to myself that during the formative years of my life, and during the ten and twenty years when I first started work in the world, I worked in close contact with all classes of people in this country, and enjoyed, through no credit to myself, the goodwill which I have inherited from generations that have gone before me and left behind a name for honesty, fair play, right judgment, and kindliness to those with whom they worked. Through that, whether I succeed or not, I believe I have an understanding of the mind of the people of the country which I could have gained in no other way. It is through this that I have that ineradicable belief and faith in our people which sustains me through good times and evil, and it is because of this that I have every confidence that, whatever troubles may come to this country, or in this country at any time, the native strength and virtue of our people will overcome everything. There is only one thing which I feel is worth giving one's whole strength to, and that is the binding together of all classes of our people in an effort to make life in this country better in every sense of the word. That is the main end and object of my life in politics.
    • Speech in Stourport (12 January 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 15-16
  • The continent of Europe, a continent separated from us indeed by a narrow strip of ocean, but joined to us by a hundred links of commerce and of humanity, indissolubly bound up with our fate, whether we like it or not. ... until you have stability you can have no confidence, and until you have confidence you can never get that increased productive power which is one of the absolute necessities for the bettering of our own trade in England...It is that cursed and diabolic suspicion between man and man and nation and nation that robs Europe of that sense of security that is essential to the unity of spirit which we must have before the world can function aright.
    • Speech in Birmingham (5 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 25-27
  • And so it is, seven years nearly after the War, that we yet see this prolonged and intensified depression, and this horrible figure of unemployment...We stand to-day at a point where, roughly speaking, one out of every ten of the insured population is out of work...But there is no direct remedy from the State alone. There can be no direct remedy by private men alone. Nothing can be done unless we can all pull together with a will. And I am—and I speak seriously—quite profoundly thankful that the Labour Party have been in office, and for this reason: that they now know that they, no more than any other Government, have been able to produce a panacea that would remedy unemployment. And in their hearts they must admit that they have no remedy which can be guaranteed to cure this disease and at the same time maintain unimpaired the international position and power of the British Empire.
    • Speech in Birmingham (5 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 30-31
  • I am whole-heartedly with those men who talk about disarmament on the Continent, peace on the Continent, and the removal of suspicion on the Continent, but far more do I plead for disarmament at home, and for the removal of that suspicion at home that tends to poison the relations of man and man, the removal of which alone can lead us to stability for our struggling industry, and create the confidence in which our people may be able to move forward to better things...It is one of the paradoxes of public life that from the very lips which preach pacifism abroad we hear the cries for war at home. Who was it said of Rousseau that he was a lover of his kind, but a hater of his kin? The children of such a philosophy can only bring damnation to this country.
    • Speech in Birmingham (5 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 32-33
  • I want a truce of God in this country, that we may compose our differences, that we may join all our strengths together to see if we cannot pull the country into a better and happier condition. It is little that a Government can do; these reforms, these revolutions must come from the people themselves. The organisations of employers and men, if they take their coats off to it, are far more able to work out the solutions of their troubles than the politicians...So let those who represent labour and capital get down to it, and seek and pursue peace through every alley and every corner of this country...And if I have a message to-night for you and the people of this country, it is just this. I would say: "England! Steady! Look where you are going! Human hands were given us to clasp, and not to be raised against one another in fratricidal strife."
    • Speech in Birmingham (5 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 33-34, 40
  • I often wonder if all the people in this country realise the inevitable changes that are coming over the industrial system in England...owing to the peculiar circumstances of my own life, I have seen a great deal of this evolution taking place before my own eyes. I worked for many years in an industrial business, and had under me a large number, or what was then a large number, of men...I was probably working under a system that was already passing. I doubt if its like could have been found in any of the big modern industrial towns of this country, even at that time. It was a place where I knew, and had known from childhood, every man on the ground, a place where I was able to talk with the men not only about the troubles in the works, but troubles at home where strikes and lock-outs were unknown. It was a place where the fathers and grandfathers of the men then working there had worked, and where their sons went automatically into the business. It was also a place where nobody ever "got the sack," and where we had a natural sympathy for those who were less concerned in efficiency than is this generation, and where a number of old gentlemen used to spend their days sitting on the handle of a wheelbarrow, smoking their pipes. Oddly enough, it was not an inefficient community. It was the last survivor of that type of works, and ultimately became swallowed up in one of those great combinations towards which the industries of to-day are tending.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 March 1925)
  • day there came a great strike in the coalfields. It was one of the earlier strikes, and it became a national strike. We tried to carry on as long as we could, but of course it became more and more difficult to carry on, and gradually furnace after furnace was damped down; the chimneys erased to smoke, and about 1,000 men who had no interest in the dispute that was going on were thrown out of work through no fault of their own, at a time when there was no unemployment benefit. I confess that that event set me thinking very hard. It seemed to me at that time a monstrous injustice to these men, because I looked upon them as my own family, and it hit me very hard—I would not have mentioned this only it got into the Press two or three years ago—and I made an allowance to them, not a large one, but something, for six weeks to carry them along, because I felt that they were being so unfairly treated. But there was more in it really than that. There was no conscious unfair treatment, of these men by the miners. It simply was that we were gradually passing into a new state of industry, when the small firms and the small industries were being squeezed out. Business was all tending towards great amalgamations on the one side of employers and on the other side of the men...We have to see what wise statesmanship can do to steer the country through this time of evolution, until we can get to the next stage of our industrial civilisation.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 March 1925)
  • In this great problem which is facing the country in years to come, it may be from one side or the other that disaster may come, but surely it shows that the only progress that can be obtained in this country is by those two bodies of men—so similar in their strength and so similar in their weaknesses—learning to understand each other, and not to fight each other...we are moving forward rapidly from an old state of industry into a newer, and the question is: What is that newer going to be? No man, of course, can say what form evolution is taking. Of this, however, I am quite sure, that whatever form we may has got to be a form of pretty close partnership, however that is going to be arrived at. And it will not be a partnership the terms of which will be laid down, at any rate not yet, in Acts of Parliament, or from this party or that. It has got to be a partnership of men who understand their own work, and it is little help that they can get really either from politicians or from intellectuals. There are few men fitted to judge, to settle and to arrange the problem that distracts the country to-day between employers and employed. There are few men qualified to intervene who have not themselves been right through the mill. I always want to see, at the head of these organisations on both sides, men who have been right through the mill, who themselves know exactly the points where the shoe pinches, who know exactly what can be conceded and what cannot, who can make their reasons plain; and I hope that we shall always find such men trying to steer their respective ships side by side, instead of making for head-on collisions.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 March 1925)
  • We find ourselves, after these two years in power, in possession of perhaps the greatest majority our party has ever had, and with the general assent of the country. Now, how did we get there? It was not by promising to bring this Bill in; it was because, rightly or wrongly, we succeeding in creating an impression throughout the country that we stood for stable Government and for peace in the country between all classes of the community...We have our majority; we believe in the justice of this Bill which has been brought in to-day, but we are going to withdraw our hand, and we are not going to push our political advantage home at a moment like this. Suspicion which has prevented stability in Europe is the one poison that is preventing stability at home, and we offer the country to-day this: We, at any rate, are not going to fire the first shot. We stand for peace. We stand for the removal of suspicion in the country. We want to create an atmosphere, a new atmosphere in a new Parliament for a new age, in which the people can come together. We abandon what we have laid our hands to. We know we may be called cowards for doing it. We know we may be told that we have gone back on our principles. But we believe we know what at this moment the country wants, and we believe it is for us in our strength to do what no other party can do at this moment, and to say that we at any rate stand for peace...Although I know that there are those who work for different ends from most of us in this House, yet there are many in all ranks and all parties who will re-echo my prayer: "Give peace in our time, O Lord."
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 March 1925)
  • I think some of us found that we were getting to cling much more loosely to material wealth, and to realise that wealth was made to be a servant and not a master—that as a servant it had a most useful function to perform, that as a master it meant damnation.
    • Speech in Leeds (13 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 61-62
  • We were not peculiarly impressed with speeches that talked of the glorious time that was coming after the war. We realised what the war meant in the world. We felt the foundations of civilisation in Europe cracking. We knew as business men that for a generation this country and the world would be as a whole far, far poorer, and we realised early the struggle that must result to repair the cracks in the foundations of our civilisation and to restore to the country that level of prosperity which she had enjoyed before the war. I think, too, many of us had little faith in supermen. I think that our experience in business had taught us that, as a matter of fact, there are no such things as supermen, and that we should have to rely on the innate common-sense, integrity, courage and faith of the common men and women of this country if we were to make good.
    • Speech in Leeds (13 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 62
  • It was for that reason, feeling as I did, that I was driven into the course which I embraced in December, 1916, when I accepted Mr. Bonar Law's offer to serve as his Parliamentary Secretary. I did that deliberately, because I believed that at my time of life, having already sufficient means to be independent of the active business in which I had passed my life up to then, I had the opportunity of giving my services to the country without any feeling that it was necessary to be remunerated for them. There is nothing singular in that. There must have been millions of men who felt as I did. I have never said, or believed, that that service which I had the opportunity of rendering was one whit higher or better than any other. All service ranks the same, according to the spirit in which it is performed. One of the sources of the great strength of our country in every part of the kingdom is that there are men who have no personal ambition for themselves to get where the limelight is brightest and publicity is greatest. And as long as our country can go on producing that type, which I am thankful to say it is producing from all classes of the community—so long as that is the case, I should never despair of England.
    • Speech in Leeds (13 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 62-63
  • It became evident to me long before the war was over that the effect of it, which would hit this country hardest in the years immediately succeeding, was the tragedy of the loss of the men who were just qualifying and getting ready to be the leaders of our younger men...There is nothing in the first twenty years after the war that can make good to this country the loss of so many men of that age. And that was an additional reason why we men who were middle-aged already when the war began should have banded ourselves together by the time the war ended under a vow to our better selves that we would give for the rest of our lives, as a thank-offering to the dead, nothing but the best services we could render to our country. It has become our lot not to seek the ease that we might legitimately seek, but to carry on to the end and help the next generation that is coming along—the generation that was too young to fight—help that to take its place as and when the time comes. It is, and it will be, a tremendous burden on the older men, but it is their proud contribution—the giving of the best they can to help a broken and a shattered world.
    • Speech in Leeds (13 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 63-64
  • The atmosphere in [the last twenty] years has been, in many parts of the country, poisoned. I do not wish to say anything here about where the faults may lie. But I do want to say that I realise, as you do, that a great deal of the propaganda which has been done during the last twenty years—the propaganda of a kind that teaches class hatred—has in many places done its evil and its poisonous work...the work that has been done in that direction cannot be undone in a moment. And it will mean the utmost goodwill, the utmost force of example to bring about, to any great extent, something better and something on which we may erect a permanent and stable building.
    • Speech in Leeds (13 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 66-67
  • What we have to to humanise the system of limited liability.
    • Speech in Leeds (13 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 67
  • I want to see the ranks of employers throw up a man who will lead his men, making it the principal task of his life to be the mediator in all subjects affecting their work, whilst standing up, as he is entitled to do, for the order he represents. There can be no finer career for a young man than to go into business, not with the object only of making a fortune...but with the idea of making his contribution towards getting the whole of these relations on a firmer footing. There can be no finer work for men who, as boys, went out to France, and learnt what a British regiment was, than to try and get something of the spirit of the British regiment into their industry.
    • Speech in Leeds (13 March 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 68-69
  • The word Imperialism still has to many people in this country a rather sinister meaning. They associate it—wrongly in my view and in your view—the idea of exploitation, of riding roughshod over the world, of jingoism and of selfishness in public policy. It was not that to Lord Milner, and it is not that to us. It is rather this—the spreading throughout such parts of the world as we control, or in which we have influence, of all those ideas of law, order, and justice which we believe to be peculiar to our own race. It is to help people who belong to a backward civilisation, wisely to raise them in the scale of civilisation—an extraordinarily difficult task, and one which needs wisdom for its consummation. There is no country in the world upon whom that task has been imposed to the same degree as our own country, and it is undoubtedly by the way in which we fulfil that task that we shall be judged at the bar of history, not perhaps to-day, but by those who come after us of our own blood.
    • Speech in Oxford (15 May 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 185-186
  • Those of us who love the country and country things feel in our bones the urbanisation of our land and the need that something should be done to preserve our birds and our flowers.
    • Speech at the unveiling of the Hudson Memorial in Hyde Park (19 May 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 129
  • Our Empire grew from the adventurous spirit of our fathers. They went forth, urged by the love of adventure, by the passion for discovery, by the desire for a freer life in new countries. Wherever they went, they carried with them the traditions, the habits, the ideals of their Mother Country. Wherever they settled they planted a new homeland. And though mountains and the waste of seas divided them, they never lost that golden thread of the spirit which drew their thoughts back to the land of their birth. Even their children, and their children's children, to whom Great Britain was no more than a name, a vision, spoke of it always as Home. In this sense of kinship the Empire finds its brightest glory and its most essential strength. The Empires of old were created by military conquest and sustained by military domination. They were Empires of subject races governed by a central power. Our Empire is so different from these that we must give the word Empire a new meaning, or use instead of it the title Commonwealth of British Nations...I am sure that none among us can think upon this Commonwealth of British nations, which men and women of our own race have created, without a stirring of our deepest feelings.
    • Empire Day message (1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 213-214
  • Bewdley, as most of you know was in distant times a sanctuary town to which a man, whatever his sins, might flee and be safe from justice. So, whatever the rude waves of the outside world buffet me with more than usual vigour, I have only to remember that in Bewdley, there is sanctuary even for a Prime Minister...I have never failed to find in my own country understanding, sympathy and support, and even when life seems to most difficult and the fences in front unclimbable, I can turn back in memory and recollection to this peaceful spot by the side of the river where I first drew breath and in the memory of which I am able to draw strength. There could have been no more typical English surroundings in which to cherish the earliest memories. I remember as a child, looking up the river from the bridge into that mysterious and romantic land of Shropshire, so close to us, from which my people came only three generations before and watching the smoke of the train running along the little railway through places bearing names like Wyre Forest, Cleobury Mortimer, Neen Sollars and Tenbury - names steeped in romance and redolent of the springtime of an England long ago passed but whose heritage is ours.
    • Speech in Bewdley (8 August 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 10-11
  • Words are the currency of love and friendship, of making and marketing, of peace and war. Nations are bound and loosed by them. Three or four simple words can move waves of emotion through the hearts of multitudes like great tides of the sea: "Lest we forget." "Patriotism is not enough."
    • Speech at his inauguration as Lord Rector of The University of Edinburgh (6 November 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 78
  • Better to doubt methodically than to think capriciously.
    • Speech at his inauguration as Lord Rector of The University of Edinburgh (6 November 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 83
  • There is nowhere in the world, I believe, a higher standard of commercial honour than that which prevails in this country. And the same is true of our Courts of Law, which enjoy a world-wide prestige.
    • Speech at his inauguration as Lord Rector of The University of Edinburgh (6 November 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 84
  • What is the explanation of this evil reputation which attaches not to politicians of one party, but to the whole race? Primarily, I suppose, it is due to the fact that ever since States began to be they have been in peril and have trusted to force for their safety. War has been their normal history...With war and the preparation for war go the stratagems of diplomacy, the dropping of the ordinary code of morals, a holiday for truth, and an aftermath of cynicism...In the arena of international rivalry and conflict men have placed patriotism above truthfulness as the indispensable virtue of statesmen.
    • Speech at his inauguration as Lord Rector of The University of Edinburgh (6 November 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 85-86
  • The politician is much nearer in type to the barrister and advocate than to the scientist...The advocate and the politician are more interested in persuasion than in proof. They have a client or a policy to defend. The political audience is not dishonest in itself, nor does it desire or approve dishonesty or misrepresentation in others, but it is an audience only imperfectly prepared to follow a close argument, and the speaker wishes to make a favourable impression, to secure support for a policy. It is easy to see how this may lead to the depreciation of the verbal currency and to the circulation of promises which cannot be cashed.
    • Speech at his inauguration as Lord Rector of The University of Edinburgh (6 November 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 89-90
  • The price man has to pay for the good things he enjoys is constant watchfulness lest they be employed for evil. Has not this been the case from the dawn of history with drink, language, and liberty? ...Let us take our stand on public right and a law of nations with Grotius rather than with Machiavelli; let us seek to moralise our public intercourse and reduce the area of casuistry and duplicity. That is not only the accepted principle of the best amongst us, but it is, I am sure, in harmony with a widespread instinct in the British people. It asserted itself in August 1914 when it was made plain that ethics was not a branch of politics, but the reverse. It is at the root of our support of the League of Nations.
    • Speech at his inauguration as Lord Rector of The University of Edinburgh (6 November 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 91
  • The fundamental question is how to make the most of the individual, with all his idiosyncrasies, in his work...these depressing features of the Industrial Revolution, whatever they have brought in their train inside workshops, have had a tendency to bring in their train outside workshops one very bad thing, and that is a dislike of work itself. If work can be presented in a palatable form, I am not sure that the ordinary human being does not like it, provided that he gets a reasonable amount of play. The real enemies are overwork, under-payment, insecurity and bad conditions...We must not exaggerate what is possible. You cannot abolish repetitive work; you cannot, even in a Socialist State; and, after all, the monotony of the workman's life is very much due to the monotony of the consumers' demands. If a man wants the same thing every day, the man who provides it will have a monotonous task.
    • Speech to the National Institute of Industrial Psychology (12 November 1925), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 55-56


The political career properly viewed is really a kind of Ministry.
  • Why did the [Roman] Empire come into existence at all, and why, having come into existence, did it perish? ...Surely the character of the Roman played as great a part in the rise of the Empire as his character played in the fall? me the outstanding and peculiar strength of the Roman character lies in the words pietas and gravitas. These were the foundations of a patriotism which alone could carry the burden of Empire, a patriotism innate, a motive force of incalculable power, yet something at its best so holy that it was never paraded, sought no reward, was taken for granted, and had no single word to express it.
    • Speech to the Classical Association (8 January 1926), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 103-104
  • A character founded on pietas and gravitas had its roots in truth, and I am proud to think that the English word has been held in no less honour than the Roman...It is from Ammian, who wrote while the legions were leaving Britain, that we learn that the Roman word could no longer be trusted. That is to me a far more significant portent than the aggregation of the population in cities, the immense luxury, and the exhaustion of the permanent sources of wealth, all of which combined to sap that very character whose continued existence was necessary for the life of the State.
    • Speech to the Classical Association (8 January 1926), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 105
  • There are fears amongst those who are responsible for government to-day, fears not yet gripping us by the throat but taking grisly shape in the twilight, that the Great War, by the destruction of our best lives in such numbers, has not left enough of the breed to carry on the work of Empire. Our task is hard enough, but it will be accomplished; yet who in Europe does not know that one more war in the West, and the civilization of the ages will fall with as great a shock as that of Rome? She has left danger-signals along the road; it is for us to read them.
    • Speech to the Classical Association (8 January 1926), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 106
  • Believing as I do that much of the civilisation and culture of the world is bound up with the life of Western Europe, it is good for us to remember that we Western Europeans have been in historical times members together of a great Empire, and that we share in common, though in differing degrees, language, law, and tradition. That there should be wars between nations who learned their first lessons in citizenship from the same mother seems to me fratricidal insanity.
    • Speech to the Classical Association (8 January 1926), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 107
  • In Athens and Rome...every ultimate problem was theirs, as it is ours, and the more you open your soul to their appeal the more profound your pity for stumbling humanity, the more eager your effort to bind together the family of man rather than to loosen it. It is no blind chance that has led one of our greatest scholars to devote his life to the ideal of the League of Nations. Rather it is his desire to make his contribution to redeeming the failure of those very Greeks whom he, more perhaps than any living man, has helped this modern world to understand.
    • Speech to the Classical Association (8 January 1926) on Gilbert Murray, quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 115-116
  • There is nothing the country needs so much as another Wesley or Whitefield...To-day the world seems more irreligious than it has ever been in the Christian era. Irresponsible pleasure-seeking and prodigal luxury abound; church-going has lost the hold it had in our childhood; and candidates for the Ministry are less in number than years past. But I believe this condition of affairs will pass.
    • Speech at the Langham Hotel (11 February 1926), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), pp. 195-196
  • I find there, especially among the Labour Party, many men who fifty years ago would inevitably have gone into the Christian Ministry. They have been drawn into political life from a deep desire to help the people. Such men are common in all parties to-day...I certainly agree with many observers that since the war the manifest forces of Satan have been more conspicuously at large. But the very manifestation of these forces is calling other forces into the field.
    • Speech at the Langham Hotel (11 February 1926), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 196
  • The political career properly viewed is really a kind of Ministry.
    • Speech at the Langham Hotel (11 February 1926), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 197
  • I am a man of peace. I am longing and working and praying for peace, but I will not surrender the safety and security of the British constitution. You placed me in power eighteen months ago by the largest majority accorded to any party for many, many years. Have I done anything to forfeit that confidence? Cannot you trust me to ensure a square deal to secure even justice between man and man?
    • Speech on BBC radio on the General Strike (8 May 1926), as quoted in Baldwin : A Biography by Keith Middlemas and John Barnes (1969), p. 415
  • The Government took emergency measures to control food supplies, to commandeer all forms of transport, to preserve order, and to stop the export of such coal as might be in the ports. Now into those few hours there were thus crowded events of a staggering character, and, had they taken place among a less disciplined people than our own people, riot and revolution would have quickly followed. But our race is not a raw and untried race. The country, true to its finest traditions, kept its head, and by keeping its head won the admiration, the reluctant admiration, of the world.
    • Speech in Chippenham (12 June 1926) on the General Strike, quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 159
  • It was recognized, and recognized fairly, that when you get large bodies of workmen together they cannot, nor is it fair to expect them to, negotiate individually against the more powerful management that controls large bodies of men; and so it was that, to secure effective freedom of contract, power was given for man to join himself to man for that very purpose of bettering his position. The trade union as we know it came into being to meet the new conditions of industry. It was essential then, and for that purpose it will continue to be essential. This country is the birthplace of that kind of combination—this country, which has been the birthplace of every effort to free mankind by legitimate and evolutionary means, and will continue to be so, long after the efforts of other and less happy countries have gone down in failure and disaster.
    • Speech in Chippenham (12 June 1926), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 161.
  • Two years before the war the then Government of Lord Oxford was confronted with an epidemic of strikes. The quarrel of one trade became the quarrel of all. This was the sympathetic strike...In the hands of one set of leaders, it perhaps meant no more than obtaining influence to put pressure on employers to better the conditions of the men. But in the hands of others it became an engine to wage what was beginning to be called class warfare, and the general strike which first began to be talked about was to be the supreme instrument by which the whole community could be either starved or terrified into submission to the will of its promoters. There was a double attitude at work in the same movement: the old constitutional attitude...of negotiations, keeping promises made collectively, employing strikes where negotiations failed; and on the other hand the attempt to transform the whole of this great trade union organization into a machine for destroying the system of private enterprise, of substituting for it a system of universal State employment...What was to happen afterwards was never very clear. The only thing clear was the first necessity to smash up the existing system. This was a profound breach with the past, and in its origin it was from a foreign source, and, like all those foreign revolutionary instances, it has been very largely secretive and subterranean. This attitude towards agreements and contracts has been a departure from the British tradition of open and straight dealing. The propaganda is a propaganda of hatred and envy.
    • Speech in Chippenham (12 June 1926), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 164-165.
  • It is a great tribute to the good qualities of the strikers, who are our own people, that they showed that sense of discipline and restraint in obedience to their instructions. Many of them obeyed their orders from their sense of loyalty, orders of which they disapproved themselves, but if that strike had been successful it would have meant industrial ruin, not only to the miners, but to the whole country.
    • Speech in Chippenham (12 June 1926) on the General Strike, quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 167.
  • It may have been a magnificent demonstration of the solidarity of labour, but it was at the same time a most pathetic evidence of the failure of all of us to live and work together for the good of all. I recognize the courage that it took on the part of the leaders who had taken a false step to recede from that position unconditionally...It took a great deal more courage than it takes their critics now, who are blaming them for not going straight on, whatever happened. But if that strike showed solidarity, sympathy with the miners—whatever you like—it showed something else far greater. It proved the stability of the whole fabric of our own country, and to the amazement of the world not a shot was fired. We were saved by common sense and the good temper of our own people.
    • Speech in Chippenham (12 June 1926) on the General Strike, quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 167-168.
  • Our people are not going to throw over Parliament to set up divine right either of the capitalist or of the trade unionist, and we are not going to bow down to a dictatorship of either...I want to see our British Labour movement free from alien and foreign heresy. I want to see it pursued and developed on English lines, led by English men.
    • Speech in Chippenham (12 June 1926), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 169-170.
  • Perpetual strife can only lead to poverty and oppression, and peace alone can remove these two spectres of poverty and oppression.
    • Speech in Chippenham (12 June 1926), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 171.
  • You have to realize that these years in which we are living, the years into which we are entering, are going to be, as no years before have been, the real testing-time of democracy...We in this country may make a fearful mess of it; and if we make a mess of it, we shall get something much worse—we shall get a tyranny of some kind or other. I don't know what form of tyranny it may be. It may be the communist tyranny; it may be tyranny from the other end. But if you cannot evolve a sound and sane democracy, that will be the fate of the country.
    • Speech to the thirtieth anniversary of the Junior Imperial League in Kingsway Hall (19 June 1926), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 17-18.
  • If I were to be asked what two of the root principles are which we should always keep in view in trying to decide on a political issue, in judging of legislation, in judging of political action, I think I should say common sense and the preservation of what always has been the most precious thing in this country—individual freedom. If you apply these tests, you will seldom go far wrong. There are many people to-day who think you can cure the ills of the world by legislation: but you must examine the legislation they propose to see whether it is adapted to the practical experience of daily life, whether the freedom of the individual is affected by it. And if you cannot be satisfied on those points, you may be quite sure that that legislation in the long run will do more harm than it will do good.
    • Speech to the thirtieth anniversary of the Junior Imperial League in Kingsway Hall (19 June 1926), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 18-19.
  • The conception of freedom in our country was one so precious, so hallowed, it has been obtained as the result of such age-long struggles, that I felt convinced that in no other country, whatever advantages in other respects they may have over us—in no other country was freedom treasured and regarded as it was in this country, and in its attainment there was no country in the world that had anything which in all circumstances it could teach us.
    • Speech to the thirtieth anniversary of the Junior Imperial League in Kingsway Hall (19 June 1926), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 19.
  • September of the year 490 B.C. was to my mind a more cardinal moment of fate for Europe than August 1914. Western civilization...was saved in its infancy at Marathon, and ten years later by Leonidas and by the men of Salamis...had it not been for that decade there would have been nothing to prevent Eastern Europe being orientalized and the ultimate fight for the hegemony of Europe would have been left to the Persians and the Carthaginians. But for the Greeks there would have been no civilization as we know it, and we should all have been dark-skinned people with long noses...England is the natural home of liberty and free institutions, and in her endeavour to secure these blessings for the world no country ought to be quicker than she in acknowledging her debt to Hellas.
    • Speech to the annual meeting of the British School at Athens in London (2 November 1926), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 205.


  • ...that chauvinistic spirit which so often has been the curse of modern Europe. The best way in which you can develop a true national feeling and put your own country in the pride of place which belongs to her is to do it in communion with other nations and with the sole object of improving the world at large. It is not from disillusionment we have suffered since the War; we are taking a more sober view both of ourselves and of the world...Nationalism can take on some very ugly shapes. It looks as if as many crimes will be committed in its name as in the name of Religion or of Liberty. Indeed the source of the trouble is that Nationalists are apt to assume the garments of Religion...Love of one's country has been perverted into hatred of our neighbour's country by the preaching of lop-sided intellectuals, who themselves generally manage to escape the martyrdom they provide for others.
    • Speech to the St. David's Day Banquet in Cardiff (1 March 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 46-47.
  • We cannot without damage to our soul's health destroy the roots which bind us to the land and language of our birth. The love of country is a deep and universal instinct, freighted with ancient memories and subtle associations. Men who deny their national spiritual heritage in exchange for a vague and watery cosmopolitanism become less than men; they starve and dwarf their personalities; they turn into a sort of political eunuch.
    • Speech to the St. David's Day Banquet in Cardiff (1 March 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 50.
  • In our thought of Empire to-day there is nothing in the nature of flag-wagging or boasting of painting the map red. No! Only a sense of pride in the race from which we spring—a pride which makes us humble in our own eyes, and resolute to make ourselves as worthy as we may of the heritage and responsibilities which are ours.
    • Broadcast from 10 Downing Street, London (24 May 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 60.
  • ...for us alone are still opportunities denied to other nations. It is open to us to settle and work in any climate we may choose and in almost any part of the world, and find ourselves amongst people who speak our tongue, who obey our laws, who cherish the same ideals, and worship according to the rites familiar to us, who are subjects of the same Sovereign; and to this we—Tory, Liberal and Labour alike—to make our unity such a reality that men and women regard the Empire as one, and that it may become possible for them to move within its bounds to New Zealand, to Australia, to South Africa, to Canada, as easily and as freely as from Glasgow to London or Bristol to Newcastle.
    • Broadcast from 10 Downing Street, London (24 May 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 60-61.
  • We who have inherited this Empire are proud of it, and it is right that we should be proud. With our pride there should mingle gratitude to those who have gone before us, by whose efforts this Empire has grown. In a world still suffering from the shock of war, the British Empire stands firm as a great force for good...It stands in the sweep of every wind, by the wash of every sea, a witness to that which the spirit of confidence and brotherhood can accomplish in the world.
    • Broadcast from 10 Downing Street, London (24 May 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 63.
  • That dualism of the Church and the Chapel taken together has been one of the most potent influences in the life of our country. The one fostering, perhaps, more than the other, the respect for authority and tradition and the sense of historical continuity; the other laying its main emphasis on individual obedience to eternal law. They both have defects of their qualities, but they have both been, and are, and will be great social forces with great political consequences. Both at their best penetrate life with serious purpose, and are in constant war with that spirit of secularism which finds its paradise in idleness and frivolity, with which no country can ever prosper.
    • Speech in Cornwall (23 June 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 55.
  • Lately some picked graduates from Canada are beginning to play their part in looking after those parts of the Empire where the white man goes out, often alone, to teach, to educate and to bring along the more backward races of Empire. There is no more self-sacrificing work, there is no finer work, and you see Canadians to-day in the Sudan, Malaya, Mauritius, and in the colonial service generally—medical men, highly educated men in the Civil Service, helping to bear the white man's burden. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that it is not enough for a country to concentrate solely on making a lot of money for itself; that a real spiritual force comes into it when its sons are ready, as for generations Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen have been ready, to give up the comforts and ease of home life and go out on that pioneer work to bring forward those backward parts of the world and try to help them to benefit from the things that have profited us to much in the years past.
    • Speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto (6 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 75-76.
  • The greatest hope I have for our country is in the widespread kindling of that real desire for education which I regard as almost the only fruit of the war on which I can look with satisfaction...we are apt to lose sight of the importance of education as an end in itself. If you regard education solely from the point of view of enabling you to earn a salary, useful as that may be, you miss one of the best things for which education stands.
    • Speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto (6 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 76-77.
  • We in England also suffer very much...from very clever physicians who are always prepared to prescribe for the body politic with a great deal of intellectual agility, which is equalled only by their ignorance of human nature. These people in Europe are called the "intelligentsia"—a very ugly word for a very ugly thing.
    • Speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto (6 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 78.
  • I may confess to men here, of a stock so largely English, that our English intelligence is sometimes apt to be despised by nations that think they are quicker-witted than we are. Our most valuable real estate is our character—its steadiness, its reliability, its personal integrity, its capacity for toleration and for a quiet, humorous boredom with things. The general strike in England, which was not without its alarming aspects, illustrated all these qualities in our people.
    • Speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto (6 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 79.
  • I always maintain that the great service that education renders to democracy is the same service that we hope to gain from religion. They work, or ought to work, hand in hand. It is to keep the moral weights and measures true to standard; and not only true to standard—true to the highest standard. And let us have that applied impartially to all classes of the community from the top to the bottom. There are those who would empty the conception of the state of all moral qualities, and they would confine education to a bread-and-butter business. If I may paraphrase Nurse Cavell's dying words, such patriotism is not enough. Moral standards, applied as I suggest, are the surest way to achieve that fundamental social unity which is postulated by democracy.
    • Speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto (6 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 79-80.
  • There is no precedent for the British Commonwealth of Nations...we have wrought for ourselves a common tradition which transcends all local loyalties and binds us as one people. The Empire of our dreams, if not always of our deeds, is compacted of great spiritual elements—freedom and law, fellowship and loyalty, honour and toleration...To-day when we think of Empire we think of it primarily as an instrument of world peace.
    • Speech to a dinner given by the Province of Ontario (6 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 91-92.
  • I think that to those of us who have watched the development of the Middle West and the Far West nothing is more remarkable, nothing pays a higher tribute to the finest qualities of our race, than the way in which law and order are maintained from coast to coast.
    • Speech in Regina, Canada (13 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 105.
  • There are kind critics of the British race who say that we know how to combine three things—religion, patriotism and profit—better than any other nation. There are other and more complimentary explanations of our success in North America. The real fact lies in this: we transported our own stock into the new world...We had the inestimable advantage of being longer than any other country in Europe a free country, and our people pushed cross the seas in their little boats to plant the seed of freedom which had grown and flourished at home. In those people and their spirit of adventure you have the origins of Canada and of Manitoba.
    • Speech in Winnipeg, Canada (13 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 107-108.
  • There is no more romantic episode in English history, or in the haphazard building of the Empire, than the story of the "Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson's Bay." To look for the North-west passage while they made profits out of furs, to obtain a charter of sovereignty over the lands which contained all the waters flowing into that bay, and yet to leave those lands unexplored for many, many years—this is a typically British proceeding. They sought the western equivalents of "ivory and apes and peacocks," and they found an empire as a by-product. They created a great tradition, a tradition which is your own to-day, of discipline and endurance round a commercial ideal. They treated the Indians as a source of profit, yet they treated them with justice and with kindliness. They kept one eye on dividends and another on exploration. What race besides our own could be so casual, so far-sighted, so inconsistent and so successful?
    • Speech in Winnipeg, Canada (13 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 108-109.
  • You very often hear and you sometimes read in newspapers not friendly to the British race that there signs of decadence in Great Britain. Don't you believe a word of it. The people at home are the same people who fought shoulder to shoulder with you for four years all over the world. They are the same stock which created the Maritime Provinces and Ontario. They are the same stock that built up this country. The stock is the same as it ever was, and it is as fine as it ever was.
    • Speech in Winnipeg, Canada (13 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 116-117.
  • The fortunes of a nation are determined above everything by the quality of its people.
    • Speech at Douglas Castle, Lanarkshire, Scotland (27 August 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 129.
  • Your work in social service, whatever form it may take, requires exactly those two things that my work requires...patience and faith in human worth. Those are the real foundations of democracy, not equality in the sense in which that word is so often used. We are not all equal, and never shall be; the true postulate of democracy is not equality but the faith that every man and woman is worth while.
    • Speech to the annual meeting of the Union of Girls' Schools (27 October 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), pp. 150-151.
  • Your country is a country for men from the North, the hardy virile races. Quality before quantity any day. Build up with the best. What does it matter if it is a hundred years, or two hundred years, or more, before your country is full? Keep the stock you have, and the men and women you have, and see that the coming generations are in no way inferior to them.
    • Speech to the Canada Club, London (21 November 1927), quoted in Our Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 141.
  • England totally disarmed and an easy prey to hostile forces! Can you think of anything more likely to excite cupidity and hostile intention? We should sink to the level of a fifth rate Power, our Colonies would be stripped from us, our commerce would decline, famine and unemployment would stalk the land. … I share your longing for peace. God forbid that it should be again disturbed! The constant and undivided effort of the Government is for its preservation. But I have yet to learn that the cause of peace can be served by rendering our country impotent.
    • Letter to Arthur Ponsonby (16 December 1927); published in Semi-detached Idealists: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1854-1945 (2000) by Martin Ceadel, p. 271


  • If I did not believe that our work was done in the faith and hope that at some day, it may be a million years hence, the Kingdom of God will spread over the whole world, I would have no hope, I could do no work, and I would give my office over this morning to anyone who would take it.
    • Speech to the British and Foreign Bible Society (2 May 1928); published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 92 - 93
  • For too long people have forgotten what a genius there is in the ordinary people of this country...the English stock is a true stock; and our people are the same people as those who built our cathedrals and our village churches: who carved the sculptures and who carved the screens inside them.
    • Speech upon receiving the Freedom of the City of Winchester (6 July 1928), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 115.
  • No country is more beautiful than England.
    • Speech upon receiving the Freedom of the City of Winchester (6 July 1928), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 116.
  • Wesley was a great Englishman, first and last...if any one single man stood between England and the monstrous upheavals on the Continent, it was John Wesley...He was typically English: the best native qualities of the Englishman were in him, and were raised to such an extraordinary pitch that they became genius...Historians of that century who filled their pages with Napoleon and had nothing to say of John Wesley now realise that they cannot explain the nineteenth-century England until they can explain Wesley. And I believe it is true to say that you cannot understand twentieth-century America unless you can understand Wesley.
    • Speech to the 150th anniversary meeting of Wesley's Chapel, London (1 November 1928), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 94-98.


  • One thing that strikes me when I think of Booth is the nonsense that is talked to-day about the poverty of the Victorian age. Why the Victorian age is so unpopular to-day very largely arises from the fact that, in spite of all its faults, there was among its great men, who were numerous, a faith in goodness: there was a moral earnestness and there was a sense of duty and a performance of duty.
    • Speech to the Salvation Army William Booth Centenary Celebrations, London (10 April 1929), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 106-107.
  • This is Empire Day, and we lift up our eyes beyond our immediate surroundings and our everyday tasks to behold the great inheritance which is ours. Our feet are set in a large space, and if the Titan has known moments of weariness, if our burdens are heavy, our shoulders are yet broad, and they have long been fitted to bear the vast orb of our fate.
    • Speech in Hyde Park (24 May 1929), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 25. In 1902 Joseph Chamberlain said "The weary Titan staggers under the too vast orb of its fate".
  • As we study [the British Empire's] destiny, we are bound to think of it less as a human achievement than as an instrument of Divine Providence for the promotion of the progress of mankind.
    • Speech in Hyde Park (24 May 1929), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 26.
  • Tom Mosley is a cad and a wrong 'un and they will find it out.
    • On Oswald Mosley (21 June 1929). "They" were the Labour Party which had recently won a general election. Quoted in Whitehall Diary : Volume II (1969) by Thomas Jones, p. 195.
  • The mystery, the romance, the coincidence of real life far transcends the mystery and the romance and the coincidence of fiction. I would like at the beginning of my remarks to remind hon. Members of something that has always struck me as one of the strangest and most romantic coincidences that have entered into our political life. Far away in time, in the dawn of history, the greatest race of the many races then emerging from prehistoric mists was the great Aryan race. When that race left the country which it occupied in the western part of Central Asia, one great branch moved west, and in the course of their wanderings they founded the cities of Athens and Sparta; they founded Rome; they made Europe, and in the veins of the principal nations of Europe flows the blood of their Aryan forefathers. The speech of the Aryans which they brought with them has spread through out Europe. It has spread to America. It has spread to the Dominions beyond the seas. At the same time, one branch went south, and they crossed the Himalayas. They went into the Punjab and they spread through India, and, as an historic fact, ages ago, there stood side by side in their ancestral land the ancestors of the English people and the ancestors of the Rajputs and of the Brahmins. And now, after aeons have passed, the children of the remotest generations from that ancestry have been brought together by the inscrutable decree of Providence to set themselves to solve the most difficult, the most complicated political problem that has ever been set to any people of the world.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 November 1929).




  • ...that very loyalty to the past with its dream of beauty and with its real hardness and hardships. These things save us from what is the greatest peril of our age, the peril of materialism....The struggle against materialism in the hearts of our people is one of the greatest struggles of this age.
    • Speech upon receiving the Freedom of the Burgh of Inverness, Scotland (13 June 1930), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 191-192.
  • For Greek democracy failed, and the reasons for its failure are full of instruction. The great ruling ideas which the Greeks gave to the world, ideas which England later was to absorb and spread over a quarter of the globe, freedom and self-government, social equality and civic patriotism, these were corrupted by demagogues and flatterers of the people. It was so fatally easy to think that freedom meant doing what you like, that one man was not only as good as another but equally able to fill any office whatsoever, that majorities could do no wrong, that you could make Utopian laws for your own country without regard to what other nations or other empires were doing...Freedom of speech was stifled and public men who refused to advocate pleasures for the public multitude were banished. Politicians rivalled one another in bribing the electorate.
    • The John Clifford Lecture at Coventry (14 July 1930), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 35-36.
  • In the Protestant doctrine of the infinite value of the individual soul, on the one hand, and in the assembling together of the brethren in the church congregation, on the other, you have the seed-bed of modern democracy.
    • The John Clifford Lecture at Coventry (14 July 1930), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 38.
  • We...have enfranchised the whole adult and labouring population of these islands, saints and sinners alike, and are attempting the immense double enterprise not only of making each citizen count as one and an end in himself, but also of asking him to share effectively and intelligently in the responsibilities of municipal citizenship and imperial government...Democracy is still an aspiration and not a fact...What we have achieved is a democratic framework of government, which is not the same thing as a democratic society. We have perfected the machinery of popular government, and one immediate danger is that it may be seized and exploited in undemocratic ways for democratic ends. In the name of the sovereign people deeds may be done as cruel as those done by any Greek tyrant or mediaeval despot. It is terribly easy for those in power to confuse justice with the interest of the strong; but oppression of the few by the many is just as ugly as its opposite.
    • The John Clifford Lecture at Coventry (14 July 1930), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 39-40.
  • Our political capacity for avoiding upheavals, our gift for "animated moderation" (in Bagehot's phrase), has long been envied by our continental neighbours. They will find once again, I venture to prophesy, that we shall get together and modify presently our institutions to suit the new conditions. We are not good at planning ahead, but we have a gift for improvising and compromising.
    • The John Clifford Lecture at Coventry (14 July 1930), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 42.
  • There is a saying as old as the Greeks that it is more important to form good habits than to frame good laws. There is an undercurrent of suspicion that this is true and that, like patriotism, legislation is not enough. The hopes held out when laws are framed are not always realised when laws are passed...What happens to all the laws placed on the statute book? If half the hopes of their promoters had been realised, would not the millennium have arrived ere this?
    • The John Clifford Lecture at Coventry (14 July 1930), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 46.
  • All parties are deeply committed to intervention in the lives of the people. The goal of some is to convert the state into a universal Providence. Character is built up by innumerable acts of choice. If all or most of the crucial choices in life are made for you by the State, when then becomes of the democratic ideal...the management of and responsibility for our own lives, whether we be clever or stupid, good or bad?
    • The John Clifford Lecture at Coventry (14 July 1930), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 47
  • All parties are alike implicated in the measures of relief now in force. All are agreed that destitution ought not to be tolerated. But are we all quite happy that in giving John Smith state benefits in this wholesale way we are not at the same time taking away from John Smith something which will make him poor indeed?
    • The John Clifford Lecture at Coventry (14 July 1930), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 48.
  • I attended the Royal Opening of the Indian Conference yesterday...Our delegation is starting well, but Winston [Churchill] is in the depths of gloom. He wants the Conference to bust up quickly and the Tory Party to go back to pre-war and govern with a strong hand. He has become once more the subaltern of Hussars of '96.
    • Letter to J. C. C. Davidson (13 November 1930), quoted in Robert Rhodes James (ed.), Memoirs of a Conservative: J. C. C. Davidson's Memoirs and Papers, 1910-1937 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), p. 355.


The country represents the eternal values and the eternal traditions from which we must never allow ourselves to be separated.
  • Why is it, one is apt to ask on an occasion like this, that people come forward to make these gifts, and why should it be necessary to preserve spots like this? I think it answers to a very deep and profound instinct of the English people. We have become largely an urban folk, but there lies, deep down in the hearts of even of those who have toiled in our cities for two or three generations, an ineradicable love of country things and country beauty, as it may exist in them traditionally and subconsciously; and to them, as much as and even more than to ourselves, the country represents the eternal values and the eternal traditions from which we must never allow ourselves to be separated.
    • Speech at the handing over ceremony of Haresfield Beacon to the National Trust (10 January 1931), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 120.
  • We often hear it said in this country, and the words have a familiar smack about them, that what is wanted is a period of either firm or strong government [for India]. It is very difficult to define what is meant by that, but, assuming for a moment that we are in agreement as to what it means, I would say this. That is perfectly possible, but you can only hope to succeed on that policy alone on two assumptions; I am coming to the history in a moment. Those two assumptions are, first, unanimity among the political parties at home, and, secondly, continuity of policy. It was because both these preliminary necessities were absent in the case of Ireland that the Irish question went on, as it did, for a generation, and culminated, as it did, between the alternatives of complete surrender or war. Opinions differ as to the solution that was chosen. I, as a member of the Government at the time, supported the solution of surrender. I did not like it at the time, but I did it from conviction.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (26 January 1931).
  • No Party is so divided as mine. I have done my utmost to keep it together, but it ranges from Imperialists of the Second Jubilee to young advanced Democrats who are all for Irwin's policy. I am for that policy myself, and mean to say so.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (11 March 1931) about Indian Home Rule, quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 5.
  • Difficult as the course is, the dangers do not come from the difficulties; they come from extremists in India and at home. I will tell you what I mean. I am firmly convinced that such writings as appear in such papers as the Daily Mail will do more to lose India for the British Empire, will do more to cause a revolutionary spirit, than anything that can be done in any way by anyone else. I got many letters, I need hardly say, of all points of view. I had a very characteristic one last week...It was from a colonel; he was an old man, you could tell that by his writing; and he used this phrase: He said, "You and Lord Irwin are negrophiles." Perhaps he was a member of the United Empire party. That is not the way to cement the Empire. This sort of thing, and the spirit behind it, will break up our Empire infallibly, and that is what I am out to fight.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (12 March 1931).
  • What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, and power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.
    • Baldwin was attacking the leading press barons of his day (Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere); the phrase was suggested by Baldwin's cousin Rudyard Kipling (17 March 1931), quoted in The Times (18 March 1931), p. 18.
  • The time has come for us to look after ourselves, and as the foreigner protects himself, so we must put the interests of our own people first. We will ask the country also to enter into trade agreements with our own dominions, under which we will ask them to buy our own manufactured goods, we taking in exchange foodstuffs and raw materials. ... We will ask the electorate to give us powers to stimulate wheat-growing.
    • Newsreel interview (spring 1931), quoted in John Ramsden, A History of the Conservative Party: The Age of Balfour and Baldwin, 1902–1940 (1978), p. 320
  • What matters is that religion should sway our motives, sustain our principles, surround and bathe our spirits like a secret atmosphere as we go about our work...Religion, as we are all agreed, is not merely an affair of Christians in churches; it is an affair of Christians in politics, in diplomacy, in trade, in industry, in school, in sport. I think the popular judgment has accepted that as axiomatic.
    • Speech to the annual assembly of the Congregational Union, London (12 May 1931), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 80-81.
  • To elevate every desire, however obscene, into a good because it is desired may be the way of all flesh, but it is not the way of the Cross. And the moral anarchy which is said to pervade our not going to be countered by lowering the demands of religion, but by insisting on them. The notion that to enlist the support and enthusiasm of youth it is necessary to condone their vices is entirely to misjudge them, and to forfeit their respect. The churches are much more likely to fail in the long run because they demand too little than because they demand too much of human nature. The real tragedy of the position in which the young find themselves to-day arises from the collapse of the orthodoxy of past generations, and the failure to replace it by a confident coherent faith applicable to the conditions of to-day. Principles may be eternal, but their embodiment must be temporal.
    • Speech to the annual assembly of the Congregational Union, London (12 May 1931), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 83-84.
  • Do not let us imagine that discoveries in the world of the higher mathematics, of physics or biology are going to remove or even reduce our difficulties on the moral plane...The realm of morals is a world neither of quantity nor of chemical action. It is a world of values. It is precisely these values of right and wrong, of good and evil, of honesty and courage, which matter supremely for religion and national life...I am not despising science. I am only suggesting that moral values, eternal in their quality, transient in their form and application, are the foundation of a country's greatness. If moral values flourish in our common life all will be well with the nation.
    • Speech to the annual assembly of the Congregational Union, London (12 May 1931), published in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 86-87
  • Now this country of ours has a record of which we may well be proud. When we signed the various treaties pledging ourselves to tackle that question of disarmament in sincerity, in earnest, and in honour, we justified and backed our signature, and we have done all that one country by itself can do. We have reduced all our armaments. We occupy the fifth place in the world to-day in the strength of our Air Force. We have cut our Army to the bone, and we have engaged in treaties for the limitation of our Navy, and nothing more can be done by way of unilateral disarmament.
    • Speech in the City Hall, Hull (17 July 1931), quoted in The Times (18 July 1931), p. 14
  • I was anxious two years ago as to the line which our party would take on the Indian question. I believed that the one course was the only one for a progressive party—and a party must be progressive to live. I believed that the other course led to the destruction of the party.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (3 December 1931)


  • We shall put the tariff through and if it does well it will drop out of party politics very much like Free Trade did. Then leave suitable time to change the title of our Party to National, as there will be little which really divides us from the great bulk of the Liberals.
    • Remarks to Thomas Jones (28 January 1932), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (1954), pp. 25-26
  • Rightly or wrongly we have done with the old India; there's a new one afoot and we must make the best of it.
    • Remarks to Thomas Jones (27 February 1932), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (1954), p. 29
  • With Russia and America out of the League sanctions are a mistake. I've always thought so. You can't enforce them against a first-class power. The very people like Bob Cecil who have made us disarm, and quite right too, are now urging us forward to take action. But where will action lead us to? If we withdraw Ambassadors that's only the first step. What's the next? and the next? If you have economic boycott you'll have war declared by Japan and she will seize Singapore and Hongkong and we can't, as we are placed, stop her. You'll get nothing out of Washington but words, big words, but only words.
  • Had they ever thought of the parallel in the origins of Mohammedanism and Bolshevism—both springing out of Christianity, one proclaiming brotherhood and the other communism, but both proclaiming death and damnation upon all unbelievers. Within a century of the death of the prophet the Mohammedans had spread from Arabia to the Pyrenees by means of the sword and were stopped by Charles Martel at Tours. Russia throws up few great men but imagine what might happen if a Bolsehvik Peter the Great appeared on the scene.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (3 July 1932), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (1954), p. 43
  • I need not emphasise the extent to which the Government have not only talked of disarmament, but have put it into practice. The time has now come to an end when Great Britain can proceed with unilateral disarmament.
    • Speech in the Guildhall, London (9 November 1932), quoted in The Times (10 November 1932), p. 14
  • I think it is well also for the man in the street to realise that there is no power on earth that can protect him from being bombed. Whatever people may tell him, the bomber will always get through.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (10 November 1932)
  • The fellows I am most up against are the old gentlemen in the extreme Tory wing who sit in the smoking rooms of clubs and never do a hand's turn of work, but damn me for all I do... No country had the same stock to draw on for public works as we had. Public life could become beastly corrupt, but we could all help to keep it clean and free from graft.
    • Speech to a meeting in support of the National Government in the Victoria Hall, Sunderland (2 December 1932), quoted in The Times (3 December 1932), p. 12


  • I always dreaded Roosevelt's experiments and I think there will be an appalling mess up in America in a few months.
    • Letter to Thomas Jones (14 September 1933), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (1954), p. 115
  • During the Middle Ages, and indeed, throughout later years...Our boundary was the sea; it was a fixed boundary, and a boundary which none could cross when once there was a united nation able to guard that sea frontier; and it is owing to that, primarily and principally, that we were able to develop in this country our own peculiar civilisation and our own freedom in a security which was alien, at that time, to almost every other nation of the world.
    • Broadcast from London (25 September 1933), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 11
  • As a nation we grumble, we never worry, and the more difficult times are, the more cheerful we become. Indifferent we may be in many ways to what is going on in the world outside, but this indifference is soon shed in times of difficulty. We are always serene in times of difficulty. We are not a military nation, but we are great fighters—as we ought to be, from the stock of which I have told you. We have staying power, we are not rattled. I remember being very amused and rather pleased by a writer in The Times, who said that my spiritual home was in the last ditch. If that be so, I shared that ditch with most of my fellow-countrymen.
    • Broadcast from London (25 September 1933), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 13
  • Then, above all, the English people have a curious sense of humour, rather than wit. Humour comes from the heart; wit comes from the brain. We can laugh at ourselves. Do you remember what Ruskin said? "The English laugh is the purest and truest in the metals that can be minted," and indeed, only Heaven can know what the country owes to it. Well, laughter is one of the best things that God has given us, and with hearty laughter neither malice nor indecency can exist. And of all men who have shown us what that laughter can mean, none was like Dickens, every one of whose characters is English to the marrow; and if I might mention a living writer, I think the truest Englishmen are found in Mr. Priestley's novels.
    • Broadcast from London (25 September 1933), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 13
  • Kindliness, sympathy with the under dog, love of home! Are not these all characteristics of the ordinary Englishman that you know? He is a strong individualist in this, that he does not want to mould himself into any common mould, to be like everybody else; he likes to develop his own individuality. And yet he can combine for service. Some of the best things in this country have originated among our own common people with no help from governments—friendly society work, our trade unions, our hospitals and our education before the State took it in hand. Then the Englishman has a profound respect for law and order—that is part of his tradition of self-government. Ordered liberty—not disordered liberty, nor what invariably follows, tyranny; but ordered liberty, at present one of the rare things of this topsy-turvy world.
    • Broadcast from London (25 September 1933), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 13-14
  • I say that such qualities were never more needed in the word. Let us hold on to what we are; let us not try to be like anybody else...With our pertinacity, our love of freedom, our love of ordered freedom, our respect for law, our respect for the individual and our power of combining in service; indeed, in our strength and in our weakness, I believe, from my heart, that our people are fitted to pass through whatever trials may be before us, and to emerge—if they are true to their own best traditions—a greater people in the future than they have been in the past.
    • Broadcast from London (25 September 1933), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 14
  • It is no ready made article; it has grown through the centuries as native to our country and people as the oak, ash, or thorn. It has given her people freedom and taught them the difference between freedom and licence. That is the Constitution that is threatened to-day, not quite openly yet, by the Socialist Party in their conference, tendenciously by sketching a course of action which if it takes place means the destruction of the Constitution. You may dispute that as much as you like, but in effect taking away the executive power of the House of Commons is the way every tyranny starts. It is proletarian Hitlerism and nothing else, and it can be nothing else. I want you to realize it in time.
    • Speech in Birmingham (6 October 1933), quoted in The Times (7 October 1933), p. 14
  • It is characteristic of the British Public to look askance at any deliberate, systematic attempt to rationalise our institutions.
    • Speech at the Institute of Public Administration, London (26 October 1933), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 52
  • Perfect governments are only to be found where the prisons are full.
    • Speech at the Institute of Public Administration, London (26 October 1933), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 53
  • I am a Victorian. When I was young, I lived as everybody else did at that time, in the centre of a circle with a radius of about ten miles—so far as a pair of horses could draw me. Beyond that I hardly ever went, and I was isolated from other parts of England in a way impossible to conceive by those who have only known England as a country of motor roads and motor cars.
    • Speech to the annual dinner of the Yorkshire Society, London (8 November 1933), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 134
  • No matter what a man's conversation may be on the platform or what air of cynicism he may assume as his shield in daily life, yet underneath that surface, in ninety-nine Englishmen out of one hundred, there will be a love, which he sometimes cannot and sometimes will not explain, for the home in which either he at one time has lived or his parents or grandparents have lived before him.
    • Speech to the annual dinner of the Yorkshire Society, London (8 November 1933), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 137
  • There are two facts that are burned into our minds. In the age in which we live war is as fatal for the victors as for the conquered. The second point is that another European war would be the end of Western civilisation as we know it. In these circumstances what can any Government do but what this Government is doing—struggle without ceasing to attain an agreement in Europe on the limitation of arms? At this moment many men's hearts are failing them because of the difficulties that lie ahead... Our duty is to leave no stone unturned to overcome these political difficulties and resume our work of working out, even at the eleventh hour, a convention for the limitation of armaments.
    • Speech in Edinburgh (17 November 1933), quoted in The Times (18 November 1933), p. 14


  • I would say that we are the only defenders left of liberty in a world of Fascists. ... these fascists and communists are the successors today of the wars of the sects.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (27 February 1934), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (1954), p. 124
  • Our freedom is our own—civil and religious. We are so accustomed to it, as to the air we breathe, that we take it for granted...And that freedom did not drop down on us like the manna from Heaven: it has been fought for from the beginning of our history, and the blood of men far better than ourselves has been shed to obtain it. It is the result of centuries of resistance to the power of the executive, and it has brought us an equal justice and trial by jury, and freedom of worship, and freedom of opinion—religious and political.
    • Broadcast from London (6 March 1934), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 17
  • Government is carried on in this country more cleanly, I believe, than in any country of the world. It is the rarest thing in our local popular government, as in the government of our country, to find men who fall by the way and yield to temptations that may come from the direction of corruption or undue influence. There is a magnificent tradition handed down from the earliest times in this country, of public service—service for the good of all our brothers in whatever their station of life.
    • Broadcast from London (6 March 1934), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 20
  • And for us in this country to think of having, for example, a dictatorship—a popular form of government in many countries to-day—would, on our part, be an act of consummate cowardice, an act of surrender, of throwing in our hands, a confession that we were unable to govern ourselves...In this country we do not want what I call the "get-rich-quick" mind. Speed and efficiency are very good things, and they are, perhaps, the idols of this generation. But they do not necessarily go together. Acceleration, as I have often said, is not a synonym for civilisation. It is quite true the State coach of this country may be going through heavy ground, the wheels may be creaking; but are you quite sure that the wheels of the State coach are not creaking to-day in Moscow, in Berlin, in Vienna? Are you quite certain that they are not creaking even in the United States of America?
    • Broadcast from London (6 March 1934), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 21
  • Dictatorship is like a giant beech tree—very magnificent to look at in its prime, but nothing grows underneath it.
    • Broadcast from London (6 March 1934), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 21
  • Democracy, it is quite true, has been a failure in many countries, but let me put this idea before you. Democracy was grafted in those countries on a stem of Absolutism, and the graft does not do well. It is not a natural growth, and in many countries Democracy blundered into chaos...But for us to surrender our liberty would indeed be to graft something completely alien on to the stem of an old oak. Do not forget, in spite of what is happening abroad, there are freedom-loving men and women in every country to-day in Europe. And you cannot think what anxiety they are looking to this country to-day as the last stronghold of freedom, standing like a rock in a tide that is threatening to submerge the world.
    • Broadcast from London (6 March 1934), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 23
  • When one is young one is always in a hurry, and it may well be to-day that those two alien plants—for they neither have their roots in England—Communism and Fascism, may appeal to many of you. This is a free country. You can support either creed, and you can support it in safety, but I want to put this to you. If there be one thing certain, to my mind it is this. That if the people of this country in great numbers were to become adherents of either Communism or Fascism there could only be one end to it. And that one end would be civil war.
    • Broadcast from London (6 March 1934), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 23
  • We don't know what Germany really intends. We do know and have long known that France is pacific, and is not a potential enemy. We cannot say that about Germany.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (28 April 1934), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (1954), p. 129
  • Let us never forget this; since the day of the air, the old frontiers are gone. When you think of the defence of England you no longer think of the chalk cliffs of Dover; you think of the Rhine. That is where our frontier lies.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (30 July 1934)
  • There was a deliberate attempt today to bring that question of peace and war into party politics. He had a leaflet which was issued at the municipal elections in Birmingham. He would give in half-a-dozen words the principal points it contained. This was to advocate the candidature of a Socialist candidate...: "The Unionist Party want war. Your husbands and sons will be the cannon fodder. More guns and poison gas will mean still dearer food. Register your disgust with the policy of the warmongers by voting Labour." A more nauseous and lying document than that he had never read, even in the days of Chinese labour.
    • Speech in St. Andrew's Hall, Glasgow (23 November 1934), quoted in The Times (24 November 1934), p. 7
  • Never so long as I have any responsibility in governing this country will I sanction the British Navy being used for an armed blockade of any country in the world until I know what the United States of America is going to do.
    • Speech in St. Andrew's Hall, Glasgow (23 November 1934), quoted in The Times (24 November 1934), p. 7
  • The right hon. Gentleman's statement was that Germany has already at this moment a military air force which is approaching equality with our own, and that by this time next year, if Germany continues to execute her programme without acceleration and if we continue to carry out the increase announced to Parliament in July last, the German military air force will be at least as strong as, and may be stronger than, our own...It is not the case that Germany is rapidly approaching equality with us...Even if we confine the comparison to the German air strength and the strength of the Royal Air Force immediately available in Europe, Germany is actively engaged in the production of service aircraft, but her real strength is not 50 per cent. of our strength in Europe to-day. As for the position this time next year, if she continues to execute her air programme without acceleration and if we continue to carry out at the present approved rate the expansion announced to Parliament in far from the German military air force being at least as strong as and probably stronger than our own, we estimate that we shall still have in Europe a margin—in Europe alone—of nearly 50 per cent.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (28 November 1934)
  • There is no country...where there are not somewhere lovers of freedom who look to this country to carry the torch and keep it burning bright until such time as they may again be able to light their extinguished torches at our flame. We owe it not only to our own people but to the world to preserve our soul for that.
    • Speech at University of Durham to the Ashridge Fellowship, as quoted in The Times (3 December 1934); also in Christian Conservatives and the Totalitarian Challenge, 1933-40 by Philip Williamson, in The English Historical Review, Vol. 115, No. 462 (June 2000)
  • Just remember. What have we taught India for a century? What have we taught her to expect? We have preached English institutions, democracy, and all the rest of it. We have dinned it in her ears, we have taught her the lesson, and she wants us to pay the bill to some extent. Now remember this. I have often talked in this country of the changes that have come at home through the War and since the War. Those changes have left no part of the world intact. There is a wind of nationalism and freedom running round the world and running as strongly in Asia, as he who runs may read, as in any part of the world.
    • Speech to the Central Council of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations in the Queen's Hall (4 December 1934), quoted in The Times (5 December 1934), p. 9


  • I should like to make an observation to right honourable and honourable Gentlemen opposite. It is that I do not think they will help to produce the atmosphere in Europe which is so desirable by issuing papers that have been issued by the National Council of Labour, headed 'Hit Hitler'.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (11 March 1935); published in Hansard, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 299 cols. 50-1.
  • I want, if I may, to address a few words to the Opposition [Labour Party]...Whatever may be said of this Parliament in years to come and whatever may be said of the right hon. Gentleman's party, I believe that full tribute will be given to him and to his friends. As I and those on these benches who take part in the daily work of the House so well know, the Labour party as a whole have helped to keep the flag of Parliamentary government flying in the world through the difficult periods through which we have passed. They were nearly wiped out at the polls. Coming back with 50 Members, with hardly a man among them with experience of government, many would have thrown their hands in. But from the first day the right hon. Gentleman led his party in this House, they have taken their part as His Majesty's Opposition—and none but those who have been through the mill in opposition know what the day-to-day work is—with no Civil Service behind them, they have equipped themselves for debate after debate and held their own and put their case. I want to say that partly because I think it is due, and partly because I know that they, as I do, stand in their heart of hearts for our Constitution and for our free Parliament, and that has been preserved in the world against all difficulties and against all dangers.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (22 May 1935). This speech reduced the Labour leader George Lansbury to tears (Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 149.)
  • "Magna Carta is the Law: Let the King look out."
    So it has always been with tyrants among our own people: when the King was tyrant, let him look out. And it has always been the same, and will be the same, whether the tyrant be the Barons, whether the tyrant be the Church, whether he be demagogue or dictator — let them look out.
    • Speech at Westminster Hall (4 July 1935); published in This Torch of Freedom: Speeches and Addresses (1935), p. 4
  • It is often said to-day by detractors of democracy, at home and particularly abroad, that the parliamentary system has failed. After all, this is the only country...where parliamentary government has grown up, the only country in which it is traditional and hereditary, where it is flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. Whatever failures may have come to parliamentary government in countries which have not those traditions, and where it is not a natural growth, that is no proof that parliamentary government has failed.
    • Speech to the Empire Parliamentary Association's Conference in Westminster Hall (4 July 1935); published in This Torch of Freedom: Speeches and Addresses (1935), p. 5
  • We know ourselves what difficult times we live in. We know equally, and we are conscious of the fact, that with us—all of us at home and overseas—there rests the responsibility whether this form of government will remain, or whether it will fail. It is therefore good that we who meet from all corners of the world to take counsel with one another, should, at any rate among ourselves, hold this torch of freedom alight, and alive, until other nations come to see our ways.
    • Speech to the Empire Parliamentary Association's Conference in Westminster Hall (4 July 1935); published in This Torch of Freedom: Speeches and Addresses (1935), pp. 5-6.
  • Rightly or wrongly I was convinced you could not deal with unemployment without a tariff. After the war, opinion was more fluid and open. On political grounds, the tariff issue had been dead for years and I felt it was the one issue which would pull the party together including the Lloyd George malcontents. The Goat [Lloyd George] was in America. He was on the water when I made the speech and the Liberals did not know what to say. I had information that he was going protectionist, and I had to get in quick. No truth that I was pushed by Amery and the cabal. I was loosely in the saddle and got them into line in the Cabinet. Dished the Goat, as otherwise he would have got the Party with Austen and F. E. and there would have been an end to the Tory Party as we know it. I shall not forget the surprise and delight of Amery. It was a long calculated and not a sudden dissolution. Bonar had no programme, and the only thing was to bring the tariff issue forward.
    • Remarks to Thomas Jones, explaining why he had called the 1923 general election (September 1935), quoted in Keith Middlemas and John Barnes, Baldwin: A Biography (1969), p. 212
  • Trade unionism, like friendly societies, is a peculiarly English growth. This country is the native soil in which such democratic institutions are indigenous. They are an integral part of the country's life, and they are a great stabilizing influence...Watch carefully the continuous efforts that are made by the Communist Party in this country to get control of and to destroy trade unionism. They do not want to destroy it for nothing. A free trade unionism is a bulwark of popular liberty. If trade unionism were destroyed you would be a long way on the road to Communism, and via Communism to Fascism.
    • Speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth (4 October 1935), quote in The Times (5 October 1935), p. 17.
  • The lessons of this crisis have made it clear to us that in the interests of world peace it is essential that our defensive services should be stronger than they are to-day. When I say that I am not thinking of any kind of unilateral rearmament directed either in reality or in imagination against any particular country, as might have been said to be the case before the War. It is a strengthening of our defensive services within the framework of the League, for the sake of international peace, not for selfish ends...I will not be responsible for the conduct of any Government in this country at this present time, if I am not given power to remedy the deficiencies which have accrued in our defensive services since the War.... One of the weaknesses of a democracy, a system of which I am trying to make the best, is that until it is right up against it it will never face the truth.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (23 October 1935).
  • We live under the shadow of the last War and its memories still sicken us. We remember what modern warfare is, with no glory in it but the heroism of man.
    • Speech to the Peace Society (31 October 1935), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 322.
  • I hear sometimes of the necessity for creating an "international mind." I am afraid that my heart is too stubbornly local for me to follow that high thought...I am an impenitent patriot; like Gilbert's heroic figure, "I remain an Englishman." I do not want daily to become more and more like my neighbour, nor would it gratify my self-esteem if he became daily more like me.
    • Speech to the Peace Society (31 October 1935), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), p. 332.
  • The dispute between the League and Italy is real, but it is not more real than our being true to our pledged word to the League we wish also to preserve an old friendship. But loyalty to our pledge is inescapable, for, as the Secretary of State said in his recent Note to the French Government, we look on the League as the only escape from "the senseless disasters of the past." That is the key to our whole action and to our every motive.
    • Speech to the Peace Society (31 October 1935), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 336-337.
  • Do not fear or misunderstand when the Government say they are looking to our defences. It does not mean that we look upon force as the judge and law-giver in the affairs of nations. We do not dedicate ourselves to such evil, and there is here no spirit whatever of aggression. But weakness, or wavering, or uncertainty, or neglect of our obligations—obligations for peace—doubts of our own safety give no assurance of peace; believe me, quite the reverse. Do not fear that it is a step in the wrong direction. You need not remind me of the solemn task of the League—to reduce armaments by agreement. I know, and I shall not forget. But we have gone too far alone, and must try to bring others along with us. I give you my word that there will be no great armaments.
    • Speech to the Peace Society (31 October 1935), quoted in This Torch of Freedom (1935), pp. 338-339.
  • We desire to go on working to maintain world peace, and to strengthen the League of Nations, and I give you my word – and I think you can trust me by now – our defence programme will be no more than is sufficient to make our country safe and enable us to fulfil our obligations. That much we must have.
    • Film broadcast (31 October 1935), quoted in John Ramsden, A History of the Conservative Party: The Age of Balfour and Baldwin, 1902–1940 (1978), p. 345
True to our traditions, we have avoided all extremes. We have steered clear of fascism, communism, dictatorship, and we have shown the world that democratic government, constitutional methods and ordered liberty are not inconsistent with progress and prosperity.
  • True to our traditions, we have avoided all extremes. We have steered clear of fascism, communism, dictatorship, and we have shown the world that democratic government, constitutional methods and ordered liberty are not inconsistent with progress and prosperity.
    • Newsreel appearance after the general election (November 1935)
    • Variant: We, true to our traditions, avoided all extremes, have steered clear of fascism, communism, dictatorship, and have shown the world that democratic government, constitutional methods and ordered liberty are not inconsistent with progress and prosperity.
    • As quoted in Cinema, Literature & Society : Elite and Mass Culture in Interwar Britain (1987) by Peter Miles and Malcolm Smith, p. 22
  • I have seldom spoken with greater regret, for my lips are not yet unsealed. Were these troubles over I would make a case, and I guarantee that not a man would go into the Lobby against us.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (10 December 1935) on the Abyssinian crisis.


  • Thomas Jones: What did you mean by the sentence in your speech, when you said, if only you could tell all you knew no vote would be cast against you?
    Stanley Baldwin: That was not a very wise sentence; it shows the danger of rhetoric. I had in mind the menace of war; our fleet would be in real danger from the small craft of the Italians operating in a small sea. Had we gone to war our anti-aircraft munitions would have been exhausted in a week. We have hardly got any armaments firms left.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (7 January 1936), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 160
  • With two lunatics like Mussolini and Hitler you can never be sure of anything. But I am determined to keep the country out of war. ...[Hankey] thinks sanctions were put in [the Covenant of the League of Nations] at the request of the Americans. Likely enough, as they would be the first to run away from enforcing them. You will not get our people for a long time yet to be willing to pledge themselves to go to war for objects in the east of Europe.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (30 April 1936), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 191.
  • of the home market? That has made mass production possible.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (30 April 1936), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 192
  • There is no doubt that to our people, whether they live on the sea-coast, in the great towns, or inland, the Royal Navy is in some subtle way the repository of the spirit and the tradition of our nation.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 May 1936).
  • One of these days I'll make a few casual remarks about Winston [Churchill]. Not a speech—no oratory—just a few words in passing. I've got it all ready. I am going to say that when Winston was born lots of fairies swooped down on his cradle gifts—imagination, eloquence, industry, ability, and then came a fairy who said "No one person has a right to so many gifts", picked him up and gave him such a shake and twist that with all these gifts he was denied judgment and wisdom. And that is why while we delight to listen to him in this House, we do not take his advice.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (22 May 1936), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 204.
  • The 1922 Club gave me a dinner in the House the other night and I think I had a great success...I had just a note or two to keep me right. I said there were some who doubted whether I was a dyed-in-the-wool Tory. I told them I wore Tory colours in my pram in the 1868 election. My father voted Whig then, but our cook was a Tory and she saw to my politics. For 94 years a Tory had represented Bewdley. I told them of my fight at Kidderminster, how I had come back from a visit to the United States a protectionist, how we were stirred by Joseph Chamberlain's tariff campaign, how we blundered badly over the Taff Vale decision. How when the war ended we were in a new world and how class conscious and revolutionary it was; how I felt that our Party was being destroyed and how I determined to do what I could to rescue it. I did not mention L[loyd] G[eorge] or Winston [Churchill]. Then in 1931 we conformed to the King's wish and all my colleagues agreed with me in doing so. I then touched on German rearmament and claimed that we could not have got this country to rearm one moment earlier than we did.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (22 May 1936), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 204.
  • Toryism, as we know it, was illuminated, expounded, and made a gospel for a large portion of this country by the genius of Benjamin Disraeli. Most of us who have worked for our great party have founded our beliefs on, and derived our inspiration from that statesman.
    • Speech to the centenary dinner of the City of London Conservative and Unionist Association (2 July 1936), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 37-38.
  • The Government decided...that they would support at Geneva the raising of "sanctions" which were imposed against Italy in the latter part of last year...but the action of the "sanctions" imposed was not swift enough in practice to effect what we had all hoped might be possible, and there came a point when further pressure might well have led to war. Now we have been called all kinds of names because we have not brought the country to war, and those who have principally criticised us have been those who hitherto have been noted for their pacifist views and not for their support of the strengthening of the arms of this country. You may not know that every day of my life, when I sit at my work in the Cabinet room, I sit under the portrait of a great Prime Minister...Sir Robert Walpole, whose great boast was, and whose great reputation rested on, this—that, except on one occasion, he kept his country out of him was attributed that well-known remark, when a war against his will had been forced on him, that the people were now ringing the bells but they would soon be wringing their hands.
    • Speech to the centenary dinner of the City of London Conservative and Unionist Association (2 July 1936) on the Italo-Abyssinian War, quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 40-41.
  • War is a very terrible thing, and, when once let loose in Europe, no man can tell how far it will spread, and no man can tell when or how it will stop. I am quite content in these circumstances to be called a coward if I have done what I could, in accordance with the views of every country in Europe, to keep my own people out of war.
    • Speech to the centenary dinner of the City of London Conservative and Unionist Association (2 July 1936) on the Italo-Abyssinian War, quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 41-42.
  • If this country was again to be prepared to impose "sanctions" against any country, she should not do it with her eyes shut, but she should know that the imposition of "sanctions" might very possibly, very probably, bring in its train war...she must so prepare herself that she could fulfil obligations under the Covenant in any circumstances. That is why we got the mandate at the last General Election which we did, and that is why this country is now preparing herself in the event of its being necessary at any time to take up obligations under the Covenant with whatever may result.
    • Speech to the centenary dinner of the City of London Conservative and Unionist Association (2 July 1936) on the Italo-Abyssinian War, quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), p. 42.
  • I have tried so far as I can to lead this country into the way of evolutionary progress, but I have tried to warn it against revolutionary progress, and I have tried to bring about a unity of spirit in the nation. I have done that, not only because it is right in itself, but because one watches this country becoming year by year more urbanised, more industrialised, and the potential dangers to this country becoming greater and greater lest at any time and in any way her communications, the constant flow of food and of raw materials, might ever be interrupted. Her life is an artificial life, and anything that tends to upset it, to break those cords and those strings, might ruin our country in a thousandth part of the time it has taken to build it up.
    • Speech to the centenary dinner of the City of London Conservative and Unionist Association (2 July 1936), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 43-44.
  • There can be no such thing in the long run as the prosperity of an isolated nation...until the trade of the world once more begins to move from one country to another and goods can be exchanged and paid for—until that happens there is no permanency to the security we have gained. Does not that bring us back to this, that while we all know that we have got to go on, and go on quickly, with this matter of armaments, there is driven into us once more the mad folly of Europe to-day in the expenditure she is making on armaments at the sacrifice of her international trade? We have to do what we can in our conversations with foreign countries to show the folly of this, which, if protracted too long, may bring ruin to us all. Therefore we have still to hold on to the faith that sooner or later it may be possible once again to discuss the reduction of armaments. If and when that time comes we must all of us throw our weight into the effort. This massing of huge armaments on the Continent, even the work that we are doing—the money would be far better used for the progress of the world.
    • Speech to the centenary dinner of the City of London Conservative and Unionist Association (2 July 1936), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 44-45.
  • I cannot rival L[loyd] G[eorge] at that sort of speech—full of clever thrusts, innuendos, malicious half-truths. To L[loyd] G[eorge] and Winston [Churchill] it is all part of a game; as for me, I cannot make speeches which are sheer and mere dialectic...If I had made the sort of speech about L[loyd] G[eorge] that I could have made it would be a cruel attack on an old man and it would have done no good. All through his career, except during the War, he has done no end of harm, and his Versailles peace was iniquitous and his conduct after the peace execrable.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (7 July 1936), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 227.
  • I have no doubt in my own mind that many of the troubles of this world are due to the fact that we have lost our best, and so many of our best, who to-day would be among our leaders. I am confident of this: that if the dead could come back to life to-day there would be no war. They would never let the younger generation taste what they did. You have all tasted that bitter cup of war. They drank it to the dregs, and even after all these years the dead are doing their work. Within the last few months, for the first time, the French, Germans and ourselves united to preserve the burying places of our dead. On June 8th there was a little conference in London, and the French and Germans laid their colours on our Cenotaph. When men can do that there should be no more fighting.
    • Speech to the Canadian Pilgrimage at Westminster Hall, London (29 July 1936), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 63-64.
  • We none of us know what is going on in that strange man's mind. We all know the German desire as he has come out with in his book [Mein Kampf] to move East, and if he moves East, I shall not break my heart, but that is another thing. I do not believe he wants to move West, because West would be a very difficult programme for him … If there is any fighting in Europe to be done, I should like to see the Bolsheviks and Nazis doing it.
    • Baldwin to the deputation at the end of July, 1936, as quoted in Baldwin : A Biography by Keith Middlemas and John Barnes (1969), p. 947, p. 955.
  • I put before the whole House my own views with an appalling frankness. From 1933, I and my friends were all very worried about what was happening in Europe. You will remember at that time the Disarmament Conference was sitting in Geneva. You will remember at that time there was probably a stronger pacifist feeling running through this country than at any time since the War. I am speaking of 1933 and 1934...My position as the leader of a great party was not altogether a comfortable one. I asked myself what chance was there...within the next year or two of that feeling being so changed that the country would give a mandate for rearmament? Supposing I had gone to the country and said that Germany was rearming and that we must rearm, does anybody think that this pacific democracy would have rallied to that cry at that moment? I cannot think of anything that would have made the loss of the election from my point of view more certain. I think the country itself learned by certain events that took place during the winter of 1934–35 what the perils might be to it. All I did was to take a moment perhaps less unfortunate than another might have been, and we won the election with a large majority...[In 1935] we got from the country—with a large majority—a mandate for doing a thing that no one, 12 months before, would have believed possible.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (12 November 1936).
  • I saw the King on Monday, 16th November, and I began by giving him my view of a possible marriage. I told him that I did not think that a particular marriage was one that would receive the approbation of the country. That marriage would have involved the lady becoming Queen. I did tell His Majesty once that I might be a remnant of the old Victorians, but that my worst enemy would not say of me that I did not know what the reaction of the English people would be to any particular course of action, and I told him that so far as they went I was certain that that would be impracticable.
    • Speech in the House of Commons on the Abdication of Edward VIII (10 December 1936).
  • Yes, it was a success. I know it. It was almost wholly unprepared. I had a success, my dear Nicolson, at the moment I most needed it. Now is the time to go.
    • Harold Nicolson's diary entry (10 December 1936) recording Baldwin's comments after listening to Baldwin's speech on the Abdication of Edward VIII. Quoted in Nigel Nicolson (ed.), Harold Nicolson: Diaries and Letters. 1930-1939 (London: Collins, 1966), p. 286.


  • In the remote parts of that countryside where I was born and where old English phrases linger, though they may now be dying, even now I hear among those old people this phrase about those who die "He has gone home." It was a universal phrase among the old agricultural labourers, whose life was one toil from their earliest days to their last, and I think that that phrase must have arisen from the sense that one day the toil would be over and the rest would come, and that rest, the cessation of toil, wherever that occurred would be home. So they say, "He has gone home." When our long days of work are over here there is nothing in our oldest customs which so stirs the imagination of the young Member as the cry which goes down the Lobbies, "Who goes home?" Sometimes when I hear it I think of the language of my own countryside and my feeling that for those who have borne the almost insupportable burden of public life there may well be a day when they will be glad to go home. So Austen Chamberlain has gone home. ...he had an infinite faith in the Parliamentary system of this country. Let us resolve once more that we can best keep his memory bright by confirming our own resolution that government of the people by the people shall never perish on this earth.
  • ...ideas may be very dangerous things. There is no country in Europe that has a constitution comparable to ours. I do not mean by using that word "comparable" that I am assuming that ours is the best. I merely affirm that they have been all different; that there is no constitution like ours, which has evolved through the centuries into the constitution as we know it to-day. Therefore it is a more easy matter for ideas to sweep people off their feet in those countries. Throughout the whole of Russia, and of Germany and Italy, you have peoples numbering hundreds of millions who are governed by ideas alien to the ideas which we hold in this country. They are the ideas of Communism and of differing forms of Fascism. Now, whatever those ideas may produce for those countries, what I want to warn you about is that neither of those ideas can ever do anything to help our country in solving her own constitutional problems. They are exotic to this country. They are alien. You could not graft them on to our system any more than you could graft a Siberian crab on an oak.
    • Speech to the Bewdley Unionist Association in Worcester (10 April 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 100-101.
  • I do not think there is any single thing more important for our people, and for those who form public opinion, than to keep our people immune, so far as they can be so kept, from the virus of either Communism or Fascism. Our constitution has been evolved...There are some people who speak wildly and loosely about sudden and fundamental changes. Look out for them, and remember that our party, full of ideas of progress to-day as any other party that exists, has always stood, in Disraeli's words, "for the maintenance of the Constitution." ...any attempt at sudden constitutional changes of a fundamental nature would not be maintaining the Constitution...the whole virtue of our people...has been the way in which we have adapted ourselves, and adapted the instruments that we use to give effect to our wishes; and we have adapted ourselves without bloodshed and without hatred among ourselves. Far, far the most important thing that we have to do is to keep this country at from those strange crises that to-day are rushing round the world.
    • Speech to the Bewdley Unionist Association in Worcester (10 April 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 102-104.
  • The time was, when I was a boy, when people hardly dreamed that the day would come when there would be large numbers of Members in this House who could not afford to perform their duties here unless they had an allowance; but I think, looking at the whole Continent of Europe, that, the more the basis of our liberty and our Constitution is broadened, the better for our country. Would anyone who remembers the old days here go back to them and give up what we have gained? This Chamber, the most famous Chamber in democratic government in the world, is now open to all, and, once you admit that everybody has a right to be elected to this House if he can, you cannot logically create or leave a financial bar.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (12 April 1937) announcing an increase in MP's salaries.
  • I claim that, unlike the totalitarian States, we have managed to secure both progress and orderly development in industry while still preserving to a large measure individual freedom and our individual enterprise, qualities upon which ultimately all our trade and industry depend.
    • Speech to the Federation of British Industries (13 April 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), p. 115.
  • Improvements in housing—in which the Government has played a large part—is another direction in which standards have tended since the War to appreciate. Comfortable housing is an essential condition to the welfare and happiness of the people.
    • Speech to the Federation of British Industries (13 April 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), p. 116.
  • I come back to speed, and I want my last words to be on speed. I see a danger ahead that our people may become mechanised, not only in body, but mechanised in mind. I dread the mass mind. I dread the loss of that independent individualist character which has made this nation what it is. I dread the growth of that materialistic view of life which, to my mind, is a danger both to body and to soul. We must see to it that in some way we can preserve the character of our people to meet the changed conditions of the age, and see that our character triumphs over our environment.
    • Speech to the Federation of British Industries (13 April 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 116-117.
  • When we look round and consider the state of the world to-day, we see on every side bewilderment and doubt...I am no pessimist; I believe that in the end the countries of the world will find peace and prosperity—but that road will be a long and a hard one. For such a journey...above all, there is need of leadership. No one country—no group of countries—is so qualified to provide that leadership as the British Empire...I say this with no idea that we are necessarily better than other people, but because of our experience. For we, the peoples of the Empire, in our relations with one another, have set an example of mutual co-operation in the solution of our problems, such as, I believe, no group of nations has ever before achieved. We have demonstrated to the world in actual practice that difficulties can be resolved by discussion as they cannot be resolved by force.
    • Broadcast from London (16 April 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 120-121.
  • What is the alternative to collective bargaining? There is none except anarchy, and there are rare elements in the country that would like to see anarchy in the trade unions—in my view the most dangerous thing for the country that could happen. Another alternative is force, but we may rule out force in this country, and I would lay it down that, so long as the industrial system remains as it is, collective bargaining is the right thing. I have no doubt about that. And yet we all know in our heart of hearts that it may be a clumsy method of settling disputes, and that the last word has not been spoken. Some day, when we are all fit for a democracy, we shall not need these aids, but certainly for my part, and as long as I can see ahead, unless there is that change in human nature which we are always hoping for, collective bargaining will be a necessity.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 May 1937).
  • There is no doubt that to-day feeling in totalitarian countries is, or they would like it to be, one of contempt for democracy. Whether it is the feeling of the fox which has lost its brush for his brother who has not I do not know, but it exists. Coupled with that is the idea that a democracy qua democracy must be a kind of decadent country in which there is no order, where industrial trouble is the order of the day, and where the people can never keep to a fixed purpose. There is a great deal that is ridiculous in that, but it is a dangerous belief for any country to have of another. There is in the world another feeling. I think you will find this in America, in France, and throughout all our Dominions. It is a sympathy with, and an admiration for, this country in the way she came through the great storm, the blizzard, some years ago, and the way in which she is progressing, as they believe, with so little industrial strife. They feel that that is a great thing which marks off our country from other countries to-day. Except for those who love industrial strife for its own sake, and they are but a few, it indeed is the greatest testimony to my mind that democracy is really functioning when her children can see her through these difficulties, some of which are very real, and settle them—a far harder thing than to fight.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 May 1937).
  • The whole world has its eye to day on London. The whole world is represented in London, and they are all coming here to be with us in what, to the vast majority of our people, will be a period of rejoicing for many days, culminating in that age-long service in the Abbey a week to-day. In the Abbey on this day week our young King and his Queen, who were called suddenly and unexpectedly to the most tremendous position on earth, will kneel and dedicate themselves to the service of their people, a service which can only be ended by death. I appeal to that handful of men with whom rests peace or war to give the best present to the country that could be given at that moment, to do the one thing which would rejoice the hearts of all the people who love this country, that is, to rend and dissipate this dark cloud which has gathered over us, and show the people of the world that this democracy can still at least practise the arts of peace in a world of strife.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 May 1937).
  • Dogmatism is the prerogative of youth.
    • Speech to the Empire Rally of Youth at the Royal Albert Hall (18 May 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), p. 161.
  • The twenty post-War years have shown that war does not settle the account. There is a balance brought forward. When emancipation is achieved a new slavery may begin. The moment of victory may be the beginning of defeat. The days which saw the framing of the League of Nations saw the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Should both be entered on the credit side? Twenty years ago we should all have said, "Yes"; to-day the reply would be doubtful, for both have belied the hopes of mankind and given place to disillusion. Freedom for common men, which was to have been the fruit of victory, is once more in jeopardy in our own land because it has been taken away from the common men of other lands.
    • Speech to the Empire Rally of Youth at the Royal Albert Hall (18 May 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 162-163.
  • To-day Europe is neither at war nor at peace, but stands at armed attention...That, in itself, is a sufficiently melancholy, devastating reply to all the efforts of the lovers of peace. But what is much worse is this: peace in some quarters is proclaimed as a bad dream, and war sanctified as an ideal for rational men. As long as the British Empire lasts we will raise our voices against these false gods.
    • Speech to the Empire Rally of Youth at the Royal Albert Hall (18 May 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 163-164.
  • Let me proclaim my faith...Here we have ceased to be an island, but we are still an Empire. And what is the secret? Freedom, ordered freedom, within the law, with force in the background and not in the foreground...It is an Empire organised for peace...It deifies neither the State nor its rulers. The old doctrine of the divine right of Kings has gone, but we have no intention of erecting in its place a new doctrine of the divine right of States. No State that ever was is worthy of a free man's worship.
    • Speech to the Empire Rally of Youth at the Royal Albert Hall (18 May 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 164-165.
  • The King is the symbol of the union, not only of an Empire, but of a society which is held together by a common view of the fundamental nature of man. It is neither the worship of a tribe nor a class. It is a faith, a value placed upon the individual, derived from the Christian religion. The Christian State proclaims human personality to be supreme; the servile State denies this. Every compromise with the infinite value of the human soul leads straight back to savagery and the jungle. Expel this truth of our religion, and what follows? The insolence of dominion, and the cruelty of despotism. Denounce religion as the opium of the people, and you swiftly proceed to denounce political liberty and civil liberty as opium. Freedom of speech goes, tolerance follows, and justice is no more.
    • Speech to the Empire Rally of Youth at the Royal Albert Hall (18 May 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), p. 165.
  • The fruits of the free spirit of man do not grow in the garden of tyranny...As long as we have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, men will turn their faces towards us and draw their breath more freely. The association of the peoples of the Empire is rooted, and their fellowship is rooted, in this doctrine of the essential dignity of the individual human soul. That is the English secret.
    • Speech to the Empire Rally of Youth at the Royal Albert Hall (18 May 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 165-166.
  • The torch I would hand to you, and ask you to pass from hand to hand along the pathways of the Empire, is a Christian truth rekindled anew in each ardent generation. Use men as ends and never merely as means; and live for the brotherhood of man, which implies the Fatherhood of God. The brotherhood of man to-day is often denied and derided and called foolishness, but it is, in fact, one of the foolish things of the world which God has chosen to confound the wise, and the world is confounded by it daily. We may evade it, we may deny it; but we shall find no rest for our souls, or will the world until we acknowledge it as the ultimate wisdom. That is the message I have tried to deliver as Prime Minister in a hundred speeches.
    • Speech to the Empire Rally of Youth at the Royal Albert Hall (18 May 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 166-167.
  • One of the reasons why our people are alive and flourishing, and have avoided many of the troubles that have fallen to less happy nations, is because we have never been guided by logic in anything we have done. If you will only do as I have done—study the history of the growth of the Constitution from the time of the Civil War until the Hanoverians came to the Throne—you will see what a country can do without the aid of logic, but with the aid of common sense.
    • Speech to the Empire Day and Coronation Banquet of the Combined Empire Societies, London (24 May 1937), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 154-155.
  • In none of these countries [Russia, Italy and Germany] was it possible to make to the people such an appeal as went home to the heart of our people, an appeal based on Christianity or ethics … The whole outlook in the dictator countries was so completely different from ours that for a long time people here could not understand how it was possible for these nations not to respond to the same kind of appeal as that to which our people responded. But they were beginning to realise it now...The only argument which appealed to the dictators was that of force.
    • Baldwin to the Cabinet in 1937 during his last days as Premier, as quoted in The Collapse of British Power (1972) by Correlli Barnett, p. 449


  • The real need of the day is … moral and spiritual rearmament … God's Living Spirit can transcend conflicting political systems, can reconcile order and freedom, can rekindle true patriotism, can unite all citizens in the service of the nation, and all nations in the service of mankind.
    • Baldwin's response to the Munich crisis, as quoted in The Times (10 September 1938)
  • I knew that I had been chosen as God's instrument for the work of the healing of the nation.
    • Letter from 1938, as quoted in My Father : The True Story (1955) by A. W. Baldwin, pp. 327 - 328


  • Civilisation may perish as the result of war: it would certainly perish as the result of Nazi-ism triumphant beyond the borders of the country of its birth...And now we know that should the challenge come, we shall be there. In Luther's words “we can no other.” We were there when the Spanish galleons made for Plymouth: we were on those bloody fields in the Netherlands when Louis XIV aimed at the domination of Europe: we were on duty when Napoleon bestrode the world like a demi-god, and we answered the roll call, as you did, in August, 1914. We can no other. So help us, God.
    • Speech to the University of Toronto (April 1939), quoted in An Interpreter of England. The Falconer Lectures (1939), pp. 117-118.


  • Did I tell you that I had quite a nice letter from Winston [Churchill]? I thought I ought to send him a line but I wasn't sure whether I should get an acknowledgement! I think he is the right man at the moment and I always did feel that war would be his opportunity. He thrives in that environment.
    • Letter to J. C. C. Davidson (22 June 1940), quoted in Robert Rhodes James (ed.), Memoirs of a Conservative: J. C. C. Davidson's Memoirs and Papers, 1910-1937 (1969), p. 427
  • With millions of others I had prayed hard at the time of Dunkirk and never did prayer seem to be more speedily answered to the full. And we prayed for France and the next day she surrendered. I thought much, and when I went to bed I lay for a long time vividly awake. And I went over in my mind what had happened, concentrating on the thoughts that you had dwelt on, that prayer to be effective must be in accordance with God's will, and that by far the hardest thing to say from the heart and indeed the last lesson we learn (if we ever do) is to say and mean it, 'Thy will be done.' And I thought what mites we all are and how we can never see God's plan, a plan on such a scale that it must be incomprehensible. And suddenly for what must have been a couple of minutes I seemed to see with extraordinary and vivid clarity and to hear someone speaking to me. The words at the time were clear, but the recollection of them had passed when I seemed to come to, as it were, but the sense remained, and the sense was this. 'You cannot see the plan'; then 'Have you not thought there is a purpose in stripping you one by one of all the human props on which you depend, that you are being left alone in the world? You have now one upon whom to lean and I have chosen you as my instrument to work with my will. Why then are you afraid?' And to prove ourselves worthy of that tremendous task is our job.
    • Letter to Lord Halifax (23 July 1940), quoted in The Earl of Halifax, Fulness of Days (1957), p. 225
  • The critics have no historical sense. I have no Cabinet papers by me and do not want to trust my memory. But recall the Fulham election, the Peace Ballot, Singapore, sanctions, Malta. The English will only learn by example. When I first heard of Hitler, when Ribbentrop came to see me, I thought they were all crazy. I think I brought Ramsay and Simon to meet Ribbentrop. Remember that Ramsay's health was breaking up in the last two years. He had lost his nerve in the House in the last year. I had to take all the important speeches. The moment he went I prepared for a General Election and got a bigger majority for re-armament. No power on earth could have got re-armament without a General Election except by a big split. Simon was inefficient. I had to lead the House and keep the machine together with those Labour fellows.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (21/22 January 1941), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (1954), p. 482.
  • I went out into Downing Street a happy man. Of course it was partly because an old buffer like me enjoys feeling that he is still not quite out of things. But it was also pure patriotic joy that my country at such a time should have found such a leader. The furnace of war has smelted out all base metals from him.
    • On his meeting with Winston Churchill, quoted in Harold Nicolson's diary (21 July 1943), Nigel Nicolson (ed.), Harold Nicolson: Diaries and Letters. 1939-1945 (1967), p. 286.
  • My tongue, not my pen, is my instrument.
    • Conversation with Thomas Jones (7 January 1946), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters. 1931-1950 (1954), p. 540.


  • The Conservatives can't talk of class war: they started it.
    • G. M. Young, Stanley Baldwin (1952), p. 31
  • O how I long for the days when, if the Japs were cheeky, we showed them the guns of the China Squadron, and no more was heard.
    • G. M. Young, Stanley Baldwin (1952), p. 68
  • G. M. Young: It must have been clear to you, and MacDonald and Neville Chamberlain, that Churchill at all events was safer inside the Cabinet than outside. What kept him out?
    Baldwin: India. He had gone about threatening to smash the Tory party on India, and I did not mean to be smashed.
    • G. M. Young, Stanley Baldwin (1952), pp. 186-187

Quotes about Baldwin

Alphabetised by surname
  • The truth is that Mr. Baldwin is doing a very remarkable work. He is restoring the whole quality and tone of British politics. In abeyance during the war, political life suffered a serious lowering of standard in the insidious and pervasive influence of Mr. Lloyd George. Superb as he was in a crisis, Mr. Lloyd George's purely political methods were tainted. Mr. Baldwin has brought into public life a pleasant savour, freshness and health. It is the fragrance of the fields, the flavour of apple and filbert and hazel hut, all the unpretentious, simple, wholesome, homely but essential qualities, suggestions, traditions of England, that Mr. Baldwin has substituted for the over-charged, heavy-laden decadent atmosphere of post-war days. He has shown the nation...that, in the modern world, there is a place and an essential place for the stedfast, disinterested, self-reliant and modest qualities of the English gentleman... In his shrewd and deep simplicity of character, his patience, his passion for the community and for its welfare, his refusal to treat his fellow-countrymen as enemies, perhaps, too, in an occasional gaucheness, a tendency to expose himself gratuitously to the almost contemptuous criticism of persons of a more complete "trade finish," and, most certainly, in an essential loneliness of spirit, however well hidden under a quizzical and cheerful companionableness, it is Abraham Lincoln whom Mr. Baldwin recalls. And, further, like Lincoln, Mr. Baldwin, it is clear, has that rarest and finest of all the qualities of a leader—the power of liberating and calling in aid the deeper moral motives that lie in the hearts of men.
    • 'A Back-Bench Conservative', The Times (12 August 1925), p. 7
  • He was not so effective on the platform as in the House of Commons, but there he obtained for several years such ascendancy that, if a member interrupted him, it seemed almost like brawling in church.
    • A colleague of Baldwin's quoted in Thomas Jones, 'Baldwin, Stanley', The Dictionary of National Biography, 1941–1950, eds. L. G. Wickham Legg and E. T. Williams (1959), p. 50
  • In regard to yourself, let me say that I have never found, and could never desire, a more straightforward and scrupulously honourable opponent, or one who more completely satisfied my ideal of an English gentleman.
    • H. H. Asquith to Baldwin (1926), quoted in G. M. Young, Stanley Baldwin (1952), p. 54
  • I believe I am voicing the feelings of all hon. Members irrespective of party when I say that we all greatly regret his departure from our midst... [I]t is the hope of all of us that he may long be spared to enjoy health and happiness and the rest and the leisure which he has amply earned. This is not the occasion on which to attempt any appraisal of his work as a statesman and public man; it is, indeed, unfinished. Future historians will, no doubt, disagree, as we in this House disagree, about the merits or demerits of his policy and his actions, but I am certain they will be at one in acclaiming him as a great parliamentarian who possessed in a singular degree the faculty of judging the temper of this House and responding to its mood. They will, I think, also recall him as one who inspired affection as a man even in those who were opposed to him as a politician.
    • Clement Attlee (Leader of the Labour Party) in a speech in the House of Commons (31 May 1937) after Baldwin's retirement from the premiership.
  • I always felt myself, when he was speaking, that although he disagreed with us, he understood better than any man on the other side, the reasons and emotions that inspired our actions. In this understanding I think his earlier experience helped. On the one hand, his family connections with a circle that included William Morris, on the other, his work as one of the heads of a great industrial enterprise, gave him a broad outlook... He had a keen sense of duty to the country that he loved so well. He had a high sense of social obligation... He had a vision of the Britain he wanted to see. He was, I think, nostalgic for the past; he looked back with regret to the past when relationships between employer and worker were more personal than is generally the case today. I recall him telling me once that when his men were on strike, he took care that the women and children should have food... [H]e appeared to be in many ways a typical Englishman alike in his virtues and his failings. I was for many years his political opponent, but I always regarded him not only with respect but with affection, and I enjoyed those friendly personal relations which we cherish in our political life.
  • Stanley has been in politics practically all the time we have been married - about 30 years. Some women say they don’t want their husbands in politics because of its effect upon their temperament. My husband has remained unchanged. He is sweet-tempered, he is just that kind of a man.
    • Lucy Baldwin, 1923
  • [I]t was Stanley Baldwin...who personified the spirit of the age to a greater degree than any other man. So well indeed did he focus the aspirations of his countrymen and reflect them back that the epoch seemed to take its character from him, as the Victorian age had from Queen Victoria... As a man and as prime minister, Baldwin was patient, slow-moving, whimsical, blessed with a fine sense of humour; ruminative; shrewd and wise within his limits. He never drove his colleagues; a kindly man, he was, as he himself admitted, a bad butcher... His kindliness and gentleness also made it impossible for him to ruthlessly attack his political opponents... Baldwin, believing as he did that considerateness was "the central English virtue", hated strife, shrank from conflict, constantly sought to heal division and bitterness, whether in his own cabinets, the country or the world. In this too he personified the deepest feelings of his countrymen. His speeches seldom manifested combative argument; instead they evoked moods; he was a Delius or a Debussy among political speakers. And the favourite mood was one of a sunset calm and nostalgia, in which the British nation, like an old couple in retirement enjoying the peaceful ending of the day, contemplated some sweep of English landscape and hearkened to the distant church bells. Nothing could have been more congenial to the contemporary British temperament than this tranquillity, in which desperate problems or dangers could be put out of mind, and energetic, possibly painful, action shirked or put off; nothing could have been more welcome to his hearers than this evocation of all things kindly, gentle and decent...
    Baldwin, Victorian that he was, saw politics – even international politics – as he saw the whole of human life, in terms of religion; of, in his own words, "doing secular acts from a spiritual motive". He believed that it "is precisely these values of right and wrong, of good and evil, of honesty and courage, which matter supremely for religion and national life...moral values, eternal in their quality, transient in their form and application, are the foundation of a country's greatness..." ... Such were the rulers and such was the nation to which befell after the Great War the task of preserving the power of England.
  • He, more than anybody else, broke up the [Lloyd George] Coalition. Why did he do so? He had seen that the government of the country was losing the moral character which had distinguished it during the Victorian period. He believed that if this moral decay continued it would be fatal to the greatness and glory of England. To strike at it, and root it out for ever, meant striking at some of the most brilliant intellects in the Coalition, and destroying some of the most promising of political careers in both parties. But he believed that it would be better for the country to have a less brilliant government, and for his party to go into the wilderness, even for a long period, than to continue a system which was poisoning the whole atmosphere of public life. The effect of his decision led immediately to two reforms of the very highest significance. He swept away the dominance of the Press, and he cleansed the Honours of their shame... He has restored the old standards. He has repaired the ancient barriers. Never again, so long as he is loyally supported by the best elements of his party, will the flood of Fleet Street return to Whitehall. Public life is again clean.
  • [Baldwin's] genius in this respect more than made up for his limitations as orator or debater. Baldwin was a master of the art of creating feeling, but an even greater one at the important art of detecting it. He would attack, not the argument being put forward, but the feeling behind it of which the case was the expression. When defending himself, he would not deploy fact after fact in skilful order, but appeal to the nobler and more humane feelings of his enemy. He was a great disarmer, though now and again he hit back like a butcher.
    • Aneurin Bevan, quoted in Keith Middlemas and John Barnes, Baldwin: A Biography (1969), p. 667
  • Mr. Baldwin was held in very great respect by the Trades Unions and any statement made by him has great weight... [T]hey regretted that the General Strike was so often mentioned and that they believed that Mr. Baldwin's real opinions of them and of the trade union movement was expressed in his “Peace in Our Time” speech.
    • Ernest Bevin to Geoffrey Fry (24 January 1934), quoted in Keith Middlemas and John Barnes, Baldwin: A Biography (1969), pp. 483–484
  • He believed that social obligations went with wealth and he lived by that precept.
  • Stanley Baldwin had at least this virtue: he tried to bring both sides together. He tried to understand the labour movement and to bring industrial peace to our country. If that was the verdict then I would be very happy to be associated with Mr. Baldwin but not I think in every other way.
  • Baldwin, who succeeded him [David Lloyd George], was temperamentally much more convinced that war was hateful. In a way he was too pacific by nature. I remember his asking me whether I believed that the coercive powers in the Covenant were necessary. I think it was largely the influence of his dislike of military action that produced the Abyssinian fiasco. If Lloyd George believed too much in force, Baldwin believed in it too little.
  • [S]ince I am a disreputable demagogic sort of person, holding that most reforms are too slow rather than too fast — from all this it will be easily and naturally deduced that my favourite politician is Mr. Baldwin. The deduction may not be swift and obvious; but it is sound. When I say my favourite politician, I mean in so far as any politician can be anybody’s favourite. [...] But if I were in practical politics (which God forbid), and if they involved me in that particular problem of party allegiance, I should support Mr. Baldwin for all I was worth, or rather for all he is worth — which is not a little. I should support him even though I disagree with him; on the ground that at least he is more liberal than the Liberals, more social than the Socialists, and immeasurably more patriotic than the Imperialists. I should support him through thick and thin; for I think the opposing theories are pretty thin and the impudence a bit thick. I should support him especially against his loyal and devoted followers. But I value him very specially for this: that I do think he is the one politician alive who has some inner understanding of the English people.
  • I had no idea he could show such power. The whole Conservative Party turned round and obeyed without a single mutineer. I cease to be astonished at anything.
    • Winston Churchill, after Baldwin persuaded his own backbenchers to drop a private member’s bill intended to cripple trade-union and Labour party finances, 1925, quoted in Philip Williamson, Baldwin Papers: A Conservative Statesman, 1908-1947 (2004), p. 169
  • The Government simply cannot make up their mind, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent. So we go on preparing more months and years—precious, perhaps vital to the greatness of Britain—for the locusts to eat.
  • I wish Stanley Baldwin no ill, but it would have been much better if he had never lived.
    • Winston Churchill on declining to send an eightieth birthday letter to Baldwin, as quoted in The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill (2001) edited by Dominique Enright, p. 58
  • My idea was that the Conservative Opposition should strongly confront the Labour Government on all great imperial and national issues, should identify itself with the majesty of Britain as under Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury, and should not hesitate to face controversy, even though that might not immediately evoke a response from the nation. So far as I could see, Mr. Baldwin felt that the times were too far gone for any robust assertion of British imperial greatness, and that the hope of the Conservative Party lay in accommodation with Liberal and Labour forces, and in adroit, well-timed manoeuvres to detach powerful moods of public opinion and large blocks of voters from them. He certainly was very successful. He was the greatest party manager the Conservatives had ever had. He fought, as their leader, five general elections, of which he won three. History alone can judge these general issues.
    • Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Volume One: The Gathering Storm [1948] (1950), p. 44
  • I may here set down a comparative appreciation of these two Prime Ministers, Baldwin and Chamberlain, whom I had known so long and under whom I had served or was to serve. Stanley Baldwin was the wiser, more comprehending personality, but without detailed executive capacity. He was largely detached from foreign and military affairs. He knew little of Europe, and disliked what he knew. He had a deep knowledge of British party politics, and represented in a broad way some of the strengths and many of the infirmities of our Island race. He had fought five General Elections as leader of the Conservative Party and had won three of them. He had a genius for waiting upon events and an imperturbability under averse criticism. He was singularly adroit in letting events work for him, and capable of seizing the ripe moment when it came. He seemed to me to revive the impressions history gives of Sir Robert Walpole, without of course the eighteenth century corruption. and he was master of British politics for nearly as long.
    • Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Volume One: The Gathering Storm [1948] (1950), p. 189
  • Baldwin, Stanley … confesses putting party before country, 169-70; ...
    • Winston Churchill, index entry in "The Second World War : Volume I : The Gathering Storm" (1948)
  • He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.
    • Winston Churchill (attributed), quoted in Antony Jay, Lend Me Your Ears: Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations (2010),p. 71
  • Baldwin did not succeed as "a man of the highest character" until the election of 1924. What his victory then showed was that his function was to tie together the moral, industrial, agrarian, libertarian, Anglican and nonconformist bodies of resistance in a not yet fully demagogic combination of naïveté, decency and understatement... If Baldwin ever wanted to do anything positive with power, December 1923 seems to have cured him. Thereafter at the same time as a rural social order was passing, he invented a mindless rural persona which, through a new image of pipe-smoking simplicity, aimed to lessen the distance from an electorate whose voting practice at last had shown that "at core...the working man [was] sound". He peddled a modest morality which, even if not "the old England of the villages...getting a bit of its own back for once", made a point of distinguishing its own reputation from the reputations attributed, rightly or wrongly, to Rothermere the "lecher", Northcliffe the syphilitic, Derby the pantaloon, Birkenhead the drunk, Beaverbrook the adventurer, Horne the "Scotch cad", commercial traveller and smooth ladies' man, Salvidge the "Tammany boss" with his hand in the till and the moral and political indecency of Lloyd George... There can still be no doubting the intention of the nervous imagination with which the "real pen" in Kipling's family approached the task of governing a nation in which a million men had died and 8½ million women had got the vote since Birkenhead's sword had first been sharpened.
    • Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Labour, 1920–1924: The Beginning of Modern British Politics (1971), p. 421
  • Baldwin's methods had been slow. He avoided detail; critics said that he avoided thought. He did not avoid thought about the major problem of the time. He assumed that, since constitutional safeguards would not stop socialism "if the Socialists [were] determined", persuasion had to work instead.
    Considering that he was a reactionary Tory, his achievement was remarkable. By the time he began his third period as Prime Minister, no politician doubted that his freedom from "high and dry Toryism" made him "totally acceptable" to his non-Conservative colleagues, to the "mugwumps", "clericals" and earnest, theoretical "liberals" who were to be found in all parties and to the many Labour politicians for whom his "quintessentially English" combination of peaceful intentions and a "modern outlook" provided a social reassurance which no other Conservative could provide.
    Baldwin aimed to demonstrate the humanity, responsibility and social edgelessness of industrial wealth... [H]is speeches became statements of decency and law in face of the "wild menace of totalitarianism". He talked about England and the English and did not "hesitate to speak in plain terms of Christianity".
    • Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Hitler: British Politics and British Policy, 1933–1940 (1975), p. 259
  • Baldwin presented the working-class movement as created by average men who were very much like himself and would respond to a message of conciliation. In implying the existence of a strong, gentle and happy people who had not been perverted by "intellectuals" and "press-lords", he held up a repertoire of social heroes, none of whom resembled Beaverbrook or Layton and most of whom reflected, in sometimes eccentric ways, the qualities which the English were supposed to admire. The context was pre-industrial. Though "rural society" had "disappeared" in Baldwin's lifetime, his rhetoric implied an admiration of its virtues... Was Baldwin creating a myth? Probably not... It is likely that Baldwin felt as he spoke, meant what he said and really thought, like his admirers, that he was "recalling" them to "the fundamentals of life".
    • Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Hitler: British Politics and British Policy, 1933–1940 (1975), p. 260
  • Baldwin had moral, social and aesthetic beliefs, and also a religion, but few of his beliefs were political. He was pessimistic about purpose and felt an instinctive resistance to it. Though he succeeded, where necessary, in mastering the reluctance that he felt, his interests were spiritual and atmospheric, his instrument of demonstration the wand rather than the baton.
    What he wanted to express were the feelings of a "decent Englishman". In imagination he lived a version of what these were and created a teaching about what they should be. In doing so, he did something that no twentieth-century politician, except Grey, had quite done before. In doing it he implied a consonance between the politics of the public-school gentleman of middle-rank, literary interests and rural tastes and the reticence of the body of the people as a whole. "Englishmen", he wrote in 1935, "may appear to take [their] mutual loyalties for granted: we don't talk about them. But it is good once and again to break the silence of our instinctive reserve and say to each other what we might regret never having said if death came to one of us unexpectedly."
    • Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Hitler: British Politics and British Policy, 1933–1940 (1975), pp. 260-261
  • Not even a public figure. A man of no experience. And of the utmost insignificance.
    • Lord Curzon's reaction after Baldwin was appointed Prime Minister (c. 22 May 1923), quoted in Harold Nicolson, Curzon: The Last Phase, 1919–1925: A Study in Post-war Diplomacy (1934), p. 355
  • Stanley Baldwin embodied many of the characteristic qualities of the people of this country. He had an intense love of his country and its traditions and its literature, but, above all, he admired its sanity, steadfastness, courage and leadership during all the upheavals and storms that have beset the world. His greatest attribute was tolerance. He hated quarrels and disputes and was ever concerned to bring about and foster a better understanding and good will between all peoples. ... [H]e was guided throughout by his own sturdy common sense and his passionate devotion to his country. His supreme aim was to maintain the position of Britain in the Commonwealth of Nations—as mediator and friendly arbiter and, above all, as moral leader and guide. He was a master of English, and many of his speeches reached the high level which places good prose on the same lofty plane as good poetry... They were so lofty in ideal and couched in such fine and noble language, that already they have passed into the rich store of English classics. He was the soul of honour; honest, generous and loyal. He was modest, he was shy, but, when once he had extended his friendship to anyone it was an abiding friendship which never faltered, and was always most warm when it was most needed. Those of us who were fortunate in possessing that friendship will always cherish it, and particularly shall we recall his kindliness and his encouragement to those of a younger generation than his own. In paying our tribute to Lord Baldwin we salute a great democrat, a true Englishman and a constant lover of peace and concord.
    • Clement Davies (Leader of the Liberal Party) in a speech in the House of Commons (15 December 1947) after Baldwin's death
  • If the Conservative Party jettisons Mr. Baldwin it will sacrifice its greatest electoral asset... So long as Mr. Baldwin leads the Conservative Party so long will its "right" wing be unable to dominate the party's counsels and narrow its purposes—of this the Trade Disputes Bill was a sufficient example... Nor, with Mr. Baldwin as its Leader, will the Conservative Party ever sink to become the creature of millionaire newspaper owners or a mere appanage of big business.
  • If there was one issue above all others about which Stanley Baldwin cared deeply, it was understanding in industry. It was his life ambition to try to make a contribution in this sphere, and I think that he achieved it. Some here will recall...the last speech that Stanley Baldwin ever made in this House. It was on 5th May, 1937. Negotiations in the coalfields were not going well; there was tension which was reflected in a Debate in this House. Stanley Baldwin felt that this was a situation to which he could make his last contribution as a Member of this House, and he did so simply, sincerely and successfully. When I saw Lord Baldwin last, only a few weeks ago, it was of that speech he spoke to me. It was for speeches like these, and actions like these that he would, I am sure, wish to be remembered, and without doubt they played their part in promoting national unity for the ordeal which lay ahead... Stanley Baldwin was a patient and tolerant man of wide human sympathies. He knew his fellow countrymen and found friends among them in every walk of life. Anything in the nature of class consciousness or snobbery was anathema to him. He was incapable of vindictiveness or rancour and rarely showed resentment even at the harshest sayings of his critics. His strength as a Parliamentarian—and it was a formidable strength—lay rather in the reserve and reasonableness with which he would state his case... [H]e was in all things essentially, characteristically English an Englishman who worked in industry and who loved the countryside.
  • There were few new Conservative Members in the Parliament of 1923. I remember the advice that Baldwin gave us. He spoke of the Labour Members, now for the first time supporting a government of their own party. In those days the overwhelming majority of them were trade unionists, who had spent their working lives in factories or the mines. "Though", Baldwin said, "you may have had better educational advantages, do not presume upon that, they know more about unemployment insurance than you. Above all, never be sarcastic at their expense."
    • Anthony Eden, The Eden Memoirs: Facing the Dictators (1962), p. 5
  • This administration under Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and that of Mr. Baldwin, which followed a year later, were marked by much industrial strife, culminating in the General Strike of 1926. Baldwin's handling of this critical phase was deft and sure. He sensed unerringly, as he was to do later during the abdication of King Edward VIII, the British people's sentiments and led them without hesitation. In the aftermath of the General Strike, he rejected vengeful acts. No British statesman in this century has done so much to kill class distinctions nor felt them. It was his policy to fuse Disraeli's two nations and his success is no mean monument. If in foreign affairs there were faults of omission, on the home front he practised a positive statesmanship which influenced the future. It was his faith in the British people and his conviction that they should be led in no selfish spirit of class advantage, that drew many of the younger men in his party towards him and held their loyalty. We had seen British soldiers fight and die together, we did not see why the nation should not live together and did not think Socialism necessary to make this possible. Baldwin was the antithesis of the hard-faced men who were alleged to have dominated the Conservative Party immediately after the first world war. In character and purpose he expressed what we wanted to achieve in politics at home.
    • Anthony Eden, The Eden Memoirs: Facing the Dictators (1962), p. 5
  • He was of the generation of the White Marxists who preceded the Red. The only foreigner he recognised, using the only slogan he feared – and anticipated – was the man still to come who should say, ‘Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.’ It was his preoccupation, almost his obsession, to see that when that tocsin sounded there would be no chains left in England. He won that war.
    • Walter Elliot, Time and Tide (15 November 1952), quoted in Keith Middlemas and John Barnes, Baldwin: A Biography (1969), p. 696
  • In Britain the inter-war years were marked by a decline in the power of two traditionally important institutions: the monarchy and the military. In December 1936 Edward VIII abdicated, having been bullied into doing so by the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, who disapproved of the American divorcée he wished to marry and who asserted that the British public (and the governments of the Dominions) shared his sentiments. The armed forces, meanwhile, were starved of cash on the principle that there would not be another major war for at least ten years - a 'Ten-Year Rule' that was introduced in 1919 and reaffirmed annually until 1932. In Japan the opposite happened. Monarch and military both grew more powerful. The Japanese answer to the Depression was not national socialism, as it was in Germany. It was imperial militarism.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. 289
  • As long as you are at the head of a Government, it will stand for what is honourable. The iron entered into my soul, when Ll[oyd] G[eorge]'s Government after the war let down and corrupted public life at home and destroyed our credit abroad. Ever since it has been a relief to have public honour reestablished and you will always stand for that.
    • Edward Grey to Baldwin (5 January 1929), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 243
  • Baldwin said that one of the least enjoyable duties of a Conservative leader was to listen to lectures on the laziness of the working class from men whose idea of a hard day's work was to spend an hour blowing greenfly off their roses with the smoke of a cigar.
    • Douglas Hurd, An End to Promises: Sketch of a Government, 1970–74 (1979), p. 87
  • What [Free Churchmen] have felt is — that in you we have had a man at the head of our national affairs whom we could entirely trust. I am just old enough to remember the kind of faith Free Churchmen had in Mr. Gladstone. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say they have placed a very similar faith in you.
    • Rev. J. D. Jones to Baldwin (19 May 1937), quoted in Philip Williamson, 'The doctrinal politics of Stanley Baldwin', Michael Bentley (ed.), Public and Private Doctrine: Essays in British History presented to Maurice Cowling (1993), pp. 207-208
  • We got S. B. to admit the truth of the story that he was asked by an old Harrovian in a railway compartment, who saw S. B. sporting the old tie: 'Were you not at Harrow in my time? What have you been doing since?' And this was when S. B. was Prime Minister.
    • Thomas Jones to Lady Grigg (1 June 1935), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters, 1931-1950 (1954), p. 150
  • There was an attraction at first that Mr Baldwin should not be clever. But when he forever sentimentalises about his own stupidity, the charm is broken.
    • Skidelsky (1992:232) quoting Keynes Papers PS/6
  • In 1914 there was a...deeper antagonism in the industrial field between the employers and the workers... To-day I find an atmosphere completely different... I asked myself how it came about that so marked a change had taken place during the last few years. I tried, with a friend who was walking with me, to trace the development back to some point in time. We went back to a speech you made in the House of Commons when Fred Macquisten introduced a Bill which would have affected the Trade Unions. Your speech was made in opposition to the Bill... It seemed to me, this evening, that in your speech you made flesh the feelings of us all, that the antagonism, the bitterness, the class rivalry were unworthy, and that understanding and amity were possible... May I add that, though you see little of us nowadays, your name is often on our lips and thoughts of you in our hearts.
    • Labour MP David Kirkwood to Baldwin on his 1925 "Peace in Our Time" speech (1939), quoted in G. M. Young, Stanley Baldwin (1952), pp. 95–96
  • I rarely escape the conclusion, especially when I read your major speeches, that it is tradition rather than fundamentals that has placed you among the forces of the right.
    • Harold Laski to Baldwin (6 March 1933), quoted in Philip Williamson, Stanley Baldwin: Conservative Leadership and National Values (1999), p. 346 and G. M. Young, Stanley Baldwin (1952), p. 54
  • There was no one half so good at the business of getting the middle class and the working class to vote the same way.
    • Marquis of Linlithgow to Lady Salisbury (16 June 1936), quoted in Philip Williamson, 'The doctrinal politics of Stanley Baldwin', Michael Bentley (ed.), Public and Private Doctrine: Essays in British History presented to Maurice Cowling (1993), p. 204
  • Baldwin still baffles me. He must have a good deal of ability, and a certain recklessness which wears the aspect of courage. But he certainly lacks judgement, industry, drive, initiative, resourcefulness and no man can lead the nation out of its great trouble who lacks these qualities. He is either a very great man with a purpose beyond the plumbing of ordinary minds—or he is a bloody fool. He has some of the attributes of the impostor—nay many. He has an abnormal conceit which persuades himself and therefore others that he is superior in essential to those who surround or preceded him. If he pulls it off then he will put on a pedestal by countless worshippers and it might take long before he is found out.
    • David Lloyd George to Frances Stevenson (20 August 1925), quoted in My Darling Pussy: The Letters of Lloyd George and Frances Stevenson, 1913–41, ed. A. J. P. Taylor (1975), p. 97
  • Mr. Baldwin is a kind of malleable and talkative Coolidge. He has many of the qualities that appeal to the common man. He is by no means brilliant, but the sentiments he gives facile and occasionally felicitous expression to in his many speeches are of the order of thought that passes for common sense with the average British mind. But he has no initiative, and he lacks definiteness and firmness of purpose. He also differs from the American President in the fact that he is altogether devoid of industry, and never works out his problems. His instincts are amiable and kindly. He would prefer to live at peace with all manner of men if he only knew how. But he has never taken pains at any task, and the result is that no piece of work, legislative or administrative, stands to his credit.
    • David Lloyd George, newspaper article (13 April 1927), quoted in John Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–1931 (1977), p. 167
  • A straightforward and honourable Englishman.
    • Labour MP William Lunn during the 1924 general election campaign (October 1924), quoted in John Ramsden, A History of the Conservative Party: The Age of Balfour and Baldwin, 1902–1940 (1978), p. 203
  • In all essentials Stanley Baldwin’s outlook is very close to ours.
  • [Baldwin is] a pure utopian [who had turned] Disraelianism [from] a sham...into an honest sentiment of pleasing odour.
    • Ramsay MacDonald, diary (18 May 1925), quoted in Philip Williamson, 'The doctrinal politics of Stanley Baldwin', Michael Bentley (ed.), Public and Private Doctrine: Essays in British History presented to Maurice Cowling (1993), p. 203
  • Baldwin...was undoubtedly looked up to with something like affection by Members in every part of the House. The young and progressive wing of his party had a special regard for him. His speeches, particularly on industrial problems, struck just the note which we thought appropriate and illuminating. The fact that the Right wing and especially the so-called "Industrials" had little love for him, confirmed our feelings... In these early days, I knew him only as the man who had led us to a great electoral victory and who had made it possible, through his reputation for decency and fair-mindedness, to win the support of working men and women throughout the country.
  • Baldwin had made a deep impression, upon all those who heard it, by his broadcast in the previous election. The radio broadcast...was used effectively for the first time in 1924... Baldwin had adopted a method—afterwards perfected by President Roosevelt—of what was to be called "the fireside chat". He was simple, clear, moderate, and seemed to remember the vital point that in a radio speech...the audience is confined to two or three people in their own homes. They want talk, not a speech... At the time of the General Strike his wisdom and sympathy impressed us all, as had his famous speech on the Political Levy Bill the year before... He affected to dislike "intellectuals". But that is a common pose of men of high intellectual qualifications; and Baldwin was certainly much more of a sensitive artist than of a rugged countryman. For he was half Celt... Even to the most superficial observer it was clear that Baldwin operated at his best in a crisis, and this was followed by a need for rest and recuperation. He was highly strung, nervous, and indeed the opposite in almost every way to the "image"...which the party machine built up of him. It was said of Lord Liverpool that the secret of his policy was that he had none. To some extent, this was true of Baldwin also. Protection, "safeguarding", defence, above all European problems, did not excite him unduly. He was not a great administrator. He was an influence, and an influence for good. The fact that he commanded the respect and even affection of the Labour Opposition confirmed our admiration for our leader.
  • His...purpose was so to conduct the affairs as to bridge the dangerous division into which the nation had fallen in the years immediately following the First War. He therefore set out by studied moderation to win for himself a position almost above party. Baldwin wooed the Labour Members in the House of Commons and won their confidence. His whole philosophy led him to regard it as one of his main tasks to make the Labour Party safe for democracy, and to lead it away from revolutionary to constitutional methods. Moreover, he knew that the Conservative Party had no future unless it could win the support of that central body of electors... It should therefore be the Centre and Left of the Conservative Party which should dominate its policies, and not the Right. In this spirit and by such methods, class strife and crude ideologies would be gradually tamed. It was partly owing to his example and understanding that the terrible suffering and discontent, caused by large-scale unemployment, did not take the form of dangerous and subversive movements.
  • Nevertheless, if, in the important task of preserving and fostering the underlying unity of the nation on which its ultimate strength depends, Baldwin succeeded, in the supreme duty of a Prime Minister—the preservation of honourable peace and the military posture to enable Britain to play in any period her appropriate role—he failed. He left to his successor, in terms of the foreign situation and the ability of Britain to meet the rapidly approaching dangers, a bleak and barren heritage, although he handed on, at any rate in terms of human feeling, a country where kindliness and decency still ruled, and men and women, when the test came, had the spirit to meet it worthily.
  • Stanley Baldwin was a successful Premier because every conventional Englishman knew that he shared his prejudices and represented his interests.
    • Kingsley Martin, Editor. A Second Volume of Autobiography. 1931-45 (1968), p. 21
  • He ambled along, dilatory always, but instinctively astute. He misled everyone but responded quickly to popular moods. I learnt from close friends of his that fear of war was always a principal motive of his policy, or lack of it... He knew, like Chamberlain after him, that rearmament was the first step to another German war, and there was truth in the accusation made by his Right-Wing critics that he and MacDonald obstructed the increases of British defence that would normally have been considered necessary if Britain was to defend the Empire without powerful allies. Baldwin was never an Imperialist. At the same time, he did nothing to make the Disarmament Conference a reality and everything to destroy the alternative policy of collective security. His fear and hatred of war were perfectly sincere and he ended his famous 'the-bomber-will-always-get-through' speech by an earnest appeal to youth to prevent such a horror... What was the key to Baldwin?...It was the Worcestershire countryside and the works of Mary Webb, a warm-hearted popularizer of country life, not the ideas and values of his cousin, Rudyard Kipling, which appealed to him. In short, he was a 'Little Englander'. His disliked foreigners and believed that England could not survive another war. Big ideas like the League were dangerous, but the British people would fight for their interests if sufficiently hard-pressed. They might have to arm against Hitler, and though he did not much care about the Empire, he thought it treasonable to talk, as many were doing, about returning the colonies to Germany... He drew contrast between the tranquil, old-world life of the countryside...and the dire results of a civilization of mechanical speed, ruthlessly binding every worker to a conveyor belt... Humane, kindly, the outlook of a genial country gentleman, not of Kipling, and not - no, certainly not, of the Federation of British Industries... He had the right qualities of leading a coalition. He acted like a Conservative, spoke like a Liberal and was always in words and actions a true representative of the great British middle-class.
    • Kingsley Martin, Editor. A Second Volume of Autobiography. 1931-45 (1968), pp. 191-199
  • No British Prime Minister of the last seventy years has been more harshly stereotyped than Stanley Baldwin. No one has been so much ignored, after the initial judgements of contemporaries had been made.
  • To contemporary historians Mr. Baldwin is the Good Man, the Idealist, the Honourable Gentleman. He has every qualification for the part. I am inclined to believe that he is the only politician in our time who has honestly put his party before himself and his country before his party...We forget neither Lord Balfour's white-hot idealism, nor Lord Oxford's passionate interest in the working man, nor Mr. Lloyd George's selfless indifference to power, when we say that under no other leader could England have come through the General Strike so well. He has proved to us convincingly that cleverness is not enough...We are so unused to hearing a politician called 'The Good' that for the moment we have nothing but bouquets to throw at our Mr. Baldwin. But this will not last. The time will come when we shall be looking round for other ammunition.
    • A. A. Milne, By Way of Introduction (1929), pp. 64, 68-69
  • Baldwin risked the loss of his country in war rather than risk the loss of his party in an election. In foreign and defence policy he played politics with the life of Britain through his squalid electoral calculations; in his home policy he bequeathed to the next generation our present industrial structure through his lazy timidity which sought to avoid trouble at all costs. The doom of defeat was averted despite Baldwin, but the nemesis of the Baldwin epoch still haunts our country.
  • "You are a believer, Mrs. Baldwin", I whispered to her. "I am indeed", she replied, "and I must tell you that every morning when we rise we kneel together before God and commend our day to Him, praying that some good work may be done in it by us. It is not for ourselves that we are working, but for the country and for God's sake. How else could we live?" She looked at me sincerely and naturally, and I realized the simple earnestness of their conception of life.
    • Erik Palmstierna, Åtskilligia Egenheter (1950), p. 7, translated in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters, 1931-1950 (1954), p. xxxiv
  • [A]ny criticism of Mr. Baldwin was little short of blasphemy.
    • Charles Petrie, Twenty Year's Armistice—and After: British Foreign Policy Since 1918 (1940), p. 117
  • People of all parties came to see him, particularly the Labour men, many of whom he liked. I am sure no one can know Baldwin without liking him, even getting fond of him.
  • Just seven years ago I sent home a despatch in which I summarised all the sinister passages of Mein Kampf and drew attention to the revival of militarism which could only have one end i.e. war. And that was the concern of all who were threatened. This despatch which was called the Mein Kampf despatch made a considerable sensation but was pigeon-holed in due course. Neither MacDonald nor Baldwin would face facts. The former is dead – the latter completely discredited. Blame attaches to several of the present Ministers. The safety of the Empire is more important than balanced budgets or disarmament aspirations. Baldwin & Co. literally gambled with the safety of the Empire and this was unpardonable. Our Government should have started to rearm intensively after the reoccupation of the Rhineland which showed what Hitler thought of international obligations. You may say that the country would not have stood for re-armament. What then is the rôle of a government? Should it be to keep itself and its party in power at all costs or, if necessary, to tell the country unpalatable truths. If Baldwin had resigned on the question of rearmament the resignation of a Government with such an overwhelming majority would have produced an immense effect.
  • The central figure is beyond question that of Mr. (now Lord) Baldwin... He was Prime Minister when the German rearmament reached dimensions which clearly necessitated a national effort in response. He shut his eyes to the evidence before him. He procrastinated when the evidence could no longer be ignored. He feared opposition from the electorate, but he neither tested the will of the people by a declaration of policy nor attempted to guide it by informing them of the danger which confronted them. He vacated his office with the nation unprepared—unprepared even to prepare... It was only, however, the fateful period in history which began in January 1933 that revealed most fully these defects, of an intermittent will to action and a disinclination to work at distasteful tasks, and made them a great national disaster. He lulled the growing anxiety of the nation by a pledge of air parity with the nearest Power within striking distance. He did nothing to implement it. In one of the most extraordinary confessions a Prime Minister has ever made he has admitted that he refrained from ever proposing the policy which he thought the safety of the country required because he believed it would be unwelcome to the people—the public whom he had not only not instructed but had led into a fool's paradise. Not absence of vision, nor incapacity to judge the needs of a situation, or even to act when the will was there—but a recurrent lethargy of the will was his undoing—and ours.
    • Arthur Salter, Security: Can We Retrieve it? (1939), pp. 194, 197-198
  • Breakfasted...with Smuts at the Savoy... I asked him what he thought of Baldwin who was something of a dark horse. Was he strong and was he able? Smuts gave a somewhat qualified judgment on both points. An excellent man he said and thoroughly well meaning and honest, but lacking, he evidently thought, in judgment and drive.
    • C. P. Scott, diary (27 October 1923), quoted in The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911–1928, ed. Trevor Wilson (1970), p. 446
  • Lunched with Ramsay MacDonald at the Athenaeum... The Government was absolutely discredited in the country. It was the feeblest and foolishest within memory and a real discredit to the country... As to poor Baldwin I was talking to him the other day about something and he was entirely at sea... He is an extraordinary failure. He does not know what he wants to do and, if he did, he has no power to assert himself—the weakest prime minister within memory.
    • C. P. Scott, diary (23 July 1927), quoted in The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911–1928, ed. Trevor Wilson (1970), pp. 489-490
  • As Leader of a party the right hon. Member for Bewdley was a generous and chivalrous opponent; as the Leader of the House we knew that its honour and dignity were safe in his hands; and as long as spaciousness of mind and spirit, and therefore breadth of human sympathy and understanding, are qualities which are honoured in this country, so long will he be reckoned among the greatest of our Parliament men. ... The right hon. Member for Bewdley goes from this House to another place, and our confident good wishes go with him for his health and vigour. We may be sure, not only, as the Leader of the Opposition said, that he will enjoy his leisure and rest but that he will yet play a formidable part in the affairs of the nation.
    • Archibald Sinclair (Leader of the Liberal Party) in a speech in the House of Commons (31 May 1937) after Baldwin's retirement from the premiership
  • [Mr Baldwin is] an honest and decent man [and although I disagree with] the Conservatives on every point...he found them on the whole honourable men who at least stuck to their opinions.
    • Labour MP Henry Slesser during the 1924 general election campaign (October 1924), quoted in John Ramsden, A History of the Conservative Party: The Age of Balfour and Baldwin, 1902–1940 (1978), p. 203
  • Mr. Stanley Baldwin had not an enemy on our side of the House, and he was trusted by all our members. His weakness as a leader of the Tory Party was that he was incapable of political meanness. He neither made low accusations nor delivered foul blows; and if he rarely soared into the regions of lofty rhetoric or of fine achievement, he never descended to the commonplace in either. Reliable, friendly, and solid, without tricks or frills, he was liked by everybody.
  • One well-remembered speech was made by Mr. Baldwin...on the 6th March 1925. The occasion was the discussion of a Private Member's Bill dealing with the political funds of the Trade Unions. Mr. Baldwin...strongly deprecated raising this controversial issue when at that time it was most important that nothing should be done to create the suspicion that Parliament was attacking the Trade Unions... He concluded his speech with the words: "Although I know that there are those who work for different ends from most of us in this House, yet there are many in all ranks in all Parties who will re-echo my prayer, 'Give peace in our time, O Lord.'" It was significant that the greatest volume of cheers which followed the conclusion of Mr. Baldwin's speech came not from his own Party but from the Labour benches. I hardly remember a speech which made at the time it was delivered such a deep impression upon the House of Commons. It was a revelation of the real Stanley Baldwin. It showed a sympathy with the poor, and intense desire to promote co-operation between capital and labour. No one could doubt his sincerity and his good intentions. The speech revealed the deep-seated and fundamental differences between the sane and sober Conservatism of Mr. Baldwin and the old Toryism of the great body of his Party. It was a speech which will always be remembered by those who had the privilege of hearing it.
    • Philip Snowden, An Autobiography. Volume Two, 1919–1934 (1934), pp. 741-742
  • In a world of voluble hates, he plotted to make men like, or at least tolerate, one another. Therein he had much success, within the shores of this island. He remains the most human and lovable of all the Prime Ministers.
  • The real change came with the choice of Baldwin to be Prime Minister... The new P.M. caught the public imagination...almost immediately that he took office. His placidity, his common sense, his moderation, his modesty and his obvious sincerity caused people to say "This is the man, a typical Englishman, for whom we have been looking for so long. We are sick of Welshmen and lawyers, the best brains and supermen. We want the old type of English statesman, who is fair minded, judicious and responsible, rather than the man who is so clever that he thinks ahead of everyone else."
    • Lord Winterton to Lord Lytton (11 September 1923), quoted in Keith Middlemas and John Barnes, Baldwin: A Biography (1969), p. 211
  • The supreme test of your statesmanship between 1924 and 1937 is now at hand. If this Government shows itself ready to govern constitutionally it will be because you taught them to be a Parliamentary and not a Revolutionary party. It has always been my conviction that whatever else you achieved this transcends all others. It was, as I know from talks we had in those days, your constant and conscious aim, and I believe that history will credit you, more than any man of our generation, with having saved Parliamentary Government.
    • Letter to Baldwin shortly after Labour won its first majority in Parliament (c. June 1945), quoted in G. M. Young, Stanley Baldwin (1952), p. 254
  • The one dominant motive all through with him was fear of Lloyd George and his influence. It was fear of L. G.'s influence, combined with Winston's, over Austen and F. E. that led him to the amazing offer of the Exchequer to Winston. Later on it was largely to keep out Winston and L. G. that he consented to the no less disastrous coalition with Ramsay MacDonald.
    • A Conservative ex-Cabinet Minister to Thomas Jones (12 November 1951), quoted in Thomas Jones, A Diary with Letters, 1931–1950 (1954), p. xxxii
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