Mr Churchill´s Speech in U.S.A.

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Mr Churchill´s Speech in U.S.A.

On 11 March 1946 the Cabinet discussed the speech which Churchill had made at Fulton, Missouri.  It had been suggested in the USA, Russia and elsewhere that the British Government had seen and approved the speech before it was made.  The Foreign Secretary said that he proposed to take the line that the views given in the speech were Churchill´s own and that the policy of the Government towards Russia had been defined in the speech that he had made in the House of Commons in February 1946.  They also discussed whether it was right that a government department should assist in giving publicity to speeches made by members of the Opposition.

The following extracts give a flavour of what was said in Cabinet:

E.B.

Suggd in U.S. Press tht. we were consulted in advance. Hope all will make it clear that we didn´t see it in advance. V. embarrassing tht. it was circulated here by M of I. some hours before speech was made.

P.M.

The U.S. asked for M of I. to handle it. But if Truman spoke in U.S., M of I. wd. normally handle it?

E.B.

Think not. Reverse: speech made here is circulated thro´ B.I.S. in U.S.A. Now if Tr. spoke U.S. agencies here wd. handle it. Anyhow, it´s v. embarrassing to me. And policy on this for the future shd. be made clear.

J.J.L.

In H/C. AE. sincerely denied tht. WSC. was going to spk. as McGovern said he wd.

H.M.

B.I.S. was handling this in U.S.: M of I. had it, & all newspp. wanted it. As a pure matter of mechanics M of I. helped them. You can´t ignore the offl. posn of Leader of Opposition. And cd. you discriminate acc. to nature of the speech. Can we deny to Leader/Opposn the mechanical resources of M of I. Let us consider future policy by all means: but all arguments aren´t on one side.

P.M.

Don´t believe M of I. cd. have refused when they had the copy. They were commd by action taken in U.S. And I believe B. Embassy started it, by agreeing to attack press offr. to W.S.C. It was news & M of I. handled it as such.

E.B.

I will enquire into B. Emb. part in this. On the merits, I have decided not to offer any comment on this speech.

A.B.

I hope E.B. won´t follow this line. We shd. have a view on this. And if we are assocd with it in world opinion, we shd. say when we disagree. We´ll be pressed in H/C. to say so.

P.M.

We can say - our posn has bn. made plain in Debate. And will be again.

R.S.C.

Cd. you add to reply to P.Q. tht. there was no consultn with H.M.G. It has bn. specifically alleged in U.S. Press.

P.M.

"HMG. had no knowledge of contents before delivered" I will add that. That will cover Driberg´s P.Q. to P.M.G. Tuesd.

E.B.

I want Party to stand on my last speech. That is our policy.

Taken from C.M. 23(46) - Meeting held on 11 March 1946.