London: Conservative and Unionist Central Office, 1945. First edition, only printing. Pamphlet. This postwar pamphlet is the first edition only printing of Winston S. Churchill's 28 November 1945 speech to the Central Council of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations. Just four months before, on 26 July 1945, Churchill faced frustration of his postwar plans when his wartime government fell to Labour in a General Election landslide. Not until the General Election of October 1951 did the Conservatives regain their Parliamentary majority, returning Churchill to 10 Downing Street. In the interval, Churchill served as Leader of the Opposition.
Churchill’s speech was obviously shadowed by the recent Conservative defeat. Churchill opened his comments with a characteristically masterful Churchillian rhetorical flourish. He owned the electoral defeat, but cast it in the still-greater shadow of the wartime victory and his role therein: “You give a generous welcome to one who has led you through one of the greatest political defeats in the history of the Tory Party. It may perhaps be that you give me some indulgence for leading you in some other matters which have not turned out so badly.” Churchill said that ‘such facilities as remain to me’ would be used to organize an opposition Front Bench in the House of Commons ‘of really able, competent, modern-minded men’, to carry forward the cause ‘of the greatness of Britain’, now threatened by a Socialism which, ‘if not overcome and defeated, will cramp and press the British nation down to levels we have never contemplated’.
He warned of ‘fundamental quarrels’ soon to come: “It seems impossible to escape the fact that events are moving and will move towards the issue – ‘The People versus the Socialists’. On the one hand will be the spirit of our people, organised and unorganised, the ancient, glorious, British people, who carried our name so high and our arms so far in this formidable world. On the other side will be the Socialist doctrinaires with all their pervasive propaganda, with all their bitter class hatred, with all their love of tyrannizing, with all their Party machinery, with all their hordes of officials and bureaucracy.” Churchill declared to his party that this “impending shock” must be met by the Tories “as a true People’s Party…” – from whence comes the title of the speech. Churchill spoke these words two days before his seventy first birthday. He would continue to head the Conservative Party – through more than half a decade of Opposition and thereafter through his second premiership – well into his eightieth year.
The pamphlet is bound in wire-stitched paper wraps, measures 8.5 x 5.4 inches (21.6 x 13.7 cm) and is 12 pages in length, the final paragraph of the speech appearing on the rear cover of the pamphlet. Churchill's speech comprises the entirety of the contents. Condition approaches very good. The paper wraps are complete and firmly attached with no loss. The covers show moderate overall soiling, light wear to extremities, and a faint, angled crease to the rear cover. Both original binding staples, though tight, show some surface corrosion. The contents are clean with no previous ownership marks. Provenance is of note; this is the file copy of the "CONSERVATIVE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIAT", as evidenced by an oval purple ink stamp so stating on the upper front cover.
Reference: Cohen A217, Woods A108. Item #004885