Election Address at Woodford – carbon copy typescript with autograph corrections for his first public speech after his resignation as PM.
Churchill addresses his constituents in the run-up to the 1955 General Election, explaining that he “felt it [his] duty to resign [his] office as P.M. at a time and under conditions wh[ich] w[oul]d give whoever The Queen summoned to be my successor a fair chance of seeking a mandate f[ro]m the country. This alone w[oul]d give him the authority to confront and master the many difficult and anxious problems of our small and crowded island capable of exerting so g[rea]t an influence for peace and progress upon the mighty modern world”. The Conservative Government has presided over “an undoubted and remarkable recovery. From the brink of national bankruptcy we advanced to a greater prosperity than we have known before”, and Churchill “cannot believe that the electorate will wantonly or lightly reverse those policies … in order to return to the discredited and discarded theory and practice of Socialism”. He attacks the “two rivals for the leadership of the Socialist Party”, Atlee for his suggesting, on the eve of the Big Four summit in Geneva, that the length of National Service be cut, giving “the impression to the Communist world that Britain is on the run”; and he lays into Aneurin Bevan “this voluble careerist … a bad judge of foreign affairs and personalities”. With reference to the summit Churchill congratulates Eden on his “good fortune” in his efforts to bring about “the policy for which I have faithfully striven”. “Eisenhower’s earlier rejection of the summit plan had been overcome. Britain, France and the United States would go to the meeting ‘strong and united, seeking the peace of the world, the welfare of all mankind and that period of relaxed tension, disarmament, and all-round prosperity which is within our reach and may soon be within our grasp'” (Gilbert, VIII, p.1137). In conclusion he restates his credentials as a “lifelong opponent of Communism … a fallacious philosophy, fatal to individual and democratic liberty …”, and calls upon the electorate to grasp “the great opportunity of casting their votes in favour of the sincere effort for a friendly way of living between States great and small which has now to be made and nations all over the world are waiting on tenterhooks to see if Britain will rise to the occasion … In this terrible 20th century our country has played an honourable and famous part … let us make sure we do not cast away by casual or careless behaviour the reputation upon which both our influence in the world and our safety depend”. Typically laid out in a stanza-like form, visually cueing Churchill’s rhetorical emphases, this speech shows the great war-time leader extending his oratorical powers on behalf of his successor and into the era of the Cold War.
30 pages octavo. Carbon-copy typescript on onion skin paper with Churchill’s holograph amendments to 10 pages. Punch-hole through the top left-hand corners, slight crumpling at the head of the first leaf, short split at the head of the last, some words lost at the foot because of copy slippage, very good.
Bibliography: Churchill, The Unwritten Alliance: Speeches 1953 to 1959, pp. 251–6.Don't understand our descriptions? Try reading our Glossary