29 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 13

Sut,—In his justifiable attempt to be quite fair to Mr.

Chamberlain Mr. Wilson Harris fails to be equally fair to the Opposition when he says that it " did everything it could to thwart " a rearmament policy during " the vital years of the middle 'thirties." That is a misleading half-truth one would not expect such a writer to repeat. Does not Mr. John F. Kennedy come much nearer the truth in his able and impartial study of those vital year in Why England Slept, when he points out no less than five times, in relation to each of the years 1934-8, that Labour's attitude to rearmament was largely conditioned by its whole-hearted support of, and the Govern- ment's apparent indifference to, a policy of real collective security?

" It voted against the defence measures because they were part of the Government's foreign policy . . . not because it felt Britain should continue to neglect her armaments." (1936.) " They would resist the estimates " because they took " the view that rearmament must be related to the whole questions of the League of Nations and collective security." (1937.) " They wanted to register their disapproval of the Government's foreign policy, which they felt had, by its renunciatioan of collective security, caused the unsettled condition of the world, which, the Government argued, necessitated the extensive armaments." (1938.) It may be argued that Labour should have supported to the full a policy of rearmament when it was evident that the Government would not give adequate support to collective security, but it was certainly the Government's lukewarm attitude to the latter which created Labour's lukewarm attitude to rearmament.—Faithfully yours,


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