London: Conservative and Unionist Central Office, 1949. First edition. Pamphlet. This is the first and only edition of Winston Churchill’s speech of 23 July 1949. The 19-page, wire-stitched pamphlet bound in illustrated wraps measures 8.5 x 5.5 inches (21.6 x 14 cm) and is bound in coated paper wraps, the front cover with a photograph of Churchill addressing the crowd. Condition is very good. The fragile wraps binding remains complete and firmly attached, both original binding staples firm with only light surface corrosion, the wraps with no loss or tears. We note light soiling and a triangular crease at the lower left of the rear cover and a tiny bump at the lower right corner affecting the contents as well. The contents are crisp and clean with no previous ownership marks and no spotting or appreciable age-toning.
This is a partisan speech given at a mass rally for Conservatives in Wolverhampton on 23rd July 1949. Churchill was speaking as head of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition against the Labor government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who had served as Churchill’s Deputy Prime Minister during the Second World War. Churchill blames the Socialists for postwar disappointments and hardships endured by the British people: "From her high and proud position at the end of the War, they have brought Great Britain low alike in prosperity and reputation, both at home and abroad. They have squandered the reserves and resources which have been gathered in the past; they have darkened and narrowed the future of every man, woman, and child in this famous island."
Nationalization is singled out as a particularly failed strategy. Any measure of success achieved by the opposition is credited to massive subsidies from the U.S. and Canada, while the "Socialist spendthrifts and muddlers" are simultaneously blamed for squandering this largesse. That the Conservative Party was led by and dependent upon Churchill was rather remarkable. Churchill had famously left the Conservative party in 1904, not returning until 1924. Despite this return, Churchill warred with, and was ostracized by, the Conservatives throughout most of the 1930s. Only the cataclysmic failure of Chamberlain and his fellow Conservative appeasers allowed Churchill to become Prime Minister and lead the Conservative Party during the Second World War.
But despite his war leadership and his personal popularity, Churchill’s Conservative Party arguably cost him his hard-fought premiership. Four years before giving this speech, despite having done so much to win the war, Churchill faced frustration of his postwar plans when his wartime government fell to Labour’s landslide victory over the Conservatives in the July 1945 General Election. It is noteworthy that the same election saw Churchill’s own constituency re-elect him with a landslide margin in his favor. Churchill would be relegated to Leader of the Opposition for more than six years until the October 1951 General Election, when Churchill’s Conservatives outpaced Labour, returning Churchill to 10 Downing Street for his second and final premiership.
Reference: Cohen A245, Woods A126. Item #005692