JOAD AND THE KING AND COUNTRY DEBATE 1933
Excerpt from “Virtual History – Alternatives and Counterfactuals” edited by Niall Ferguson (Picador 1997) (Ch 5 – “Hitler’s England : What if Germany had invaded Britain in May 1940?” by Andrew Roberts): “The ideal of the American President Woodrow Wilson – that diplomacy should cease to be a matter of secret treaties and alliance, and should become the preserve of a new League of Nations – was an attractive one, as the ten million votes cast in the so-called Peace Ballot of 1934-5 revealed (and the Nation’s Prize-winning essay “The Idea of Public Right” supported by Asquith in 1918 – Ed). Well-intentioned clergymen like Archbishop Temple of York and Lang of Canterbury were not the only one to embrace the attractive but impractical principle of ‘collective security’. It was in the debating chamber of the Oxford Union in 1933 that perhaps the most famous demonstration of such feelings took place – striking in that it was a demonstration by traditionallyconservative Oxford men. Arguing for the motion ‘That this House refuses in any circumstances to fight for King and Country, Cyril Joad warned his audience : ‘Bombers would be over Britain in twenty minutes of the declaration of war with a western European power. And a single bomb can poison every living thing in an area of three-quarters of a square mile’ (Oh, the age of pre-nuclear innocence! – Ed).When the tellers tallied up the votes, the result was as clear as it was sensational.: 275 votes for to 153 against. Churchill called it an ‘abject, squalid, shameless avowal…a very disquieting and disgusting symptom’. But his son Randolph’s attempts to have the motion erased from the union’s minutes were defeated.” (Note 6 – Source : “Prophet of Truth : Winston S Churchill 1922-1939” by Martin Gilbert – London 1990 Edition p 456n)
CORBYN AND THE QUEEN AND COUNTRY DEBACLE 2015 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has caused national media apoplexy by not singing the national anthem, such as The Daily Telegraph front page, “Corbyn snubs Queen and country” (Sept 16) – and triggered the ire of Winston Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames MP (“Corbyn under fire for silence during anthem”, Argus, Sept 17)
South Downs philosopher Cyril Joad caused similar media outrage in 1933 – and angered Winston Churchill – when he won a controversial Oxford Union Debate:
“That under no circumstances will we fight for King and Country”
What can we expect next from Jeremy Corbyn, which is likely to provoke further media attacks?
A clue might be found at another controversial Oxford Union Debate in 1950 – which ‘Professor’ Joad also won, and which angered and outraged Winston Churchill’s son Randolph:
“That this House regrets the influence exercised by the U.S. as the dominant power among the democratic nations”