Breitman Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

George Breitman

Churchill and Gallacher

They Mirror the Relations Between
the Kremlin and the ‘Democracies’

(20 September 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 38, 20 September 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On September 11 a discussion took place in the House of Commons in London which, brief though it was, shed a lot of light on the Churchill government’s attitude toward the Soviet Union and on the relations between the Stalinists and the “democratic” imperialists.

It revolved around the recent charge by Jack Tanner, leader of the Engineers Union, that Colonel J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon, Churchill’s Minister of Aircraft Production, had expressed the hope that the Red Army and the German Army would exterminate each other and thus enable British imperialism to regain its dominant position on the continent.

William Gallacher, lone Stalinist member of the House of Commons, asked Prime Minister Churchill if such a statement represented his government’s attitude.

Churchill replied that not only did it not reflect his government’s attitude, but that the Minister’s remarks, made at a “private gathering”, did not reflect, as reported, the attitudee of Colonel Moore-Brabazon either.

The capitalist press and the Daily Worker have been content to accept this as a denial of the charge that Moore-Brabazon and the Churchill government would like to see the Red Army as well as Hitler’s army, destroyed in the war.

Churchill Really Evaded the Question

But actually, as the subsequent discussion showed, Churchill was not denying this charge, he wasmnonly evading it. All that he was denying agreement with was a particular statement and the formulation of that statement.

“I happen to know what the views of my right honorable friend are,” he continued, “because on the day Hitler attacked Russia I told him on the telephone what line I was going to take, and he enthusiastically assented.

“Moreover, my right honorable friend has been all the while ardently at work sending hundreds of fighter aircraft to Russia, many of which have already reached there.

“Although the phrasing of what he said at a private gathering, taken out of its context, might be misconstrued, I am satisfied that he was and is in fullest accord with this government’s policy. Otherwise I should not have appointed him.”

Churchill concluded by saying that he was “astonished that anyone could have taken the mischievous action of making this a sensation, which does nothing but harm to Russia as well as Britain and leads to suspicion between those whose fortunes are linked together.”

Churchill was annoyed that the whole question had been brought into the open by Tanner: he doesn’t want anyone getting suspicious about his war policy.

Since Churchill had denied that even Moore-Brabazon stood for the anti-Soviet policy with which he was charged, a Laborite, Emmanuel Shinwell, arose to ask Churchill if he would state whether Moore-Brabazon had admitted making the statement attributed to him.

“I think that would not be helpful to the general interest,” was Churchill’s interesting reply.

Churchill had said that Moore-Brabazon’s statement might be “misconstrued” if “taken out of its context.” What was it that Moore-Brabazon said that might be misconstrued this way? Just what was the context from which it was taken ? Why does Churchill think it would not be “helpful

to the general interest to state exactly what his Minister’s statement was? The fact that he does not quote the actual statement made is very significant. The likelihood is that it cannot be repeated without being construed in just the way that Tanner did!

And the maker of this statement which does not bear repetition, remember, “was and is in the fullest accord with this government’s policy”!

Churchill’s Evidence

Churchill attempts to make up for not quoting Moore-Brabazon’s statement by pointing to what Moore-Brabazon has been doing: that is, he has been at work sending hundreds of planes to the Soviet Union, “many of which have already reached there.”

This “material evidence” of what Moore-Brabazon has been doing is cited by Churchill as proof that Moore-Brabazon could not possibly be a supporter of the policy attributed to him. But this is only another and a more artful way of evading the question. For the sending of aircraft to the Soviet Union is not at all incompatible with the policy of so conducting the war that both the Soviet and the Germa’n Armies will be destroyed and Britain left in a position to dictate its own terms after the war.

As a. matter of fact, at this stage of the war, it is perfectly compatible. At this stage, where the Soviet Union can use all the aid it gets, the only logical way from the viewpoint of the British imperialists to carry out a policy of fighting the most immediate danger, the Nazi army, and at the same time preventing the Red Army from winning a definite victory, is by giving some aid to the Soviet Union – some aid, enough to continue the war and weaken Germany, but not enough to permit the Soviet Union to win. This is the policy now being carried out by the “democratic” imperialists.

And the great crime of the Stalinists is precisely that they do not expose this policy of Churchill, but hide it and call on the workers to support him because for his own purposes he sends the USSR a little aid.

Gallacher sensed the evasion, though he did not care to expose it, and he asked another question. He asked if Churchill was prepared to “clear out all those in the government who are not 100 per cent behind the Soviet Union.”

This was too much for Churchill. He does not intend to give the Stalinists anything but the privilege of supporting his policies. This privilege certainly does hot extend as far as permitting them to help form those policies. As for this demand of Gallacher – it would mean clearing out the whole government, including Churchill himself, for the only thing that that government is 100 per cent behind is the interests of British imperialism. If those interests include for the time being a little aid to the Soviet Union in return for a breathing spell from Hitler, as well as political support by the Stalinists – all right.

But 100 per cent or even 2 per cent support of the Soviet Union is impossible for the forces represented by Churchill who hates the workers’ state as much today as he did 22 years ago when he led the interventionist attacks against it.

Churchill’s Rebuff

So he answered “coldly” and with contempt: “I do not think that I should be prepared to receive guidance in policy or conduct from an honorable gentleman who, it is notorious, has to change his opinions whenever he is ordered to by a body outside this country.”

Whereupon Gallacher lost his temper and blurted out some truths about this red-baiter. Demanding a withdrawal of this “insulting remark,” he cried out: “It is a dirty, cowardly, rotten action on the part of the Prime Minister. It is the action of a blackguard. It is a foul and dirty lie.”

But when Gallacher had time to think it over, he realized that he had not been following the Stalinist line of supporting and covering up Churchill, so he got down on his knees and ate humble pie.

“After very deep reflection about what occurred this morning,” he said, “I want to apologize to you, sir, and to the House for the offensive words I used when I put to you my point of order, and I want to make a complete withdrawal of the offensive remarks made and directed toward the Prime Minister.”

In this incident is reflected not only Churchill’s, but the Kremlin’s political line as well. Churchill hates the Soviet Union and will make no concessions to it that will conflict with the interests of the capitalist class he represents. The Stalinists know this, although they will not admit it to the workers, and in return for the aid and promises of aid which Churchill gives them, they conceal Churchill’s role and aims, and call on the British and American workers to support his imperialist war.

Class conscious workers who want to defend the Soviet Union can support the political line of neither. Instead, they must concentrate on continuing the class struggle in their own country and fighting for an independent working class defense of the USSR.

Breitman Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 25 May 2016