On becoming Prime minister, Churchill’s first task was to form new government. Given the desperate situation unfolding across the whole of Europe this needed to be a Government of national Unitary and political alliances. To look at how far was the success of the wartime coalition due to Churchill’s leadership, we must first look at what success means, the favourable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavours.
Churchill can be praised for winning the battle inside the Conservative Party for carrying on with the war against Germany, choosing a broad-based and effective coalition Cabinet, handling important and difficult allies such as Stalin, President Roosevelt and De Gaulle key in the success of the war with strong allies Hitler had nobody to look to in support and finally his ability to exploit successfully the strengths of British scientists and code breakers.
Churchill can also be criticized about many decisions he made and took he placed too much reliance on mass bombings as a tactic of the war many people believed that this was causing needless loss of life, also his handling of the allies can be criticised; for example in allowing himself to be outmanoeuvred by Stalin lead to a feeling of Churchill’s weakness in the big 3.
Churchill in the time of the war was more focused on the ending of the War rather than the policies of the home front, as soon as war broke out; the government passed the Emergency Powers (defence) Act 1939 by which the government was granted authority to make regulations covering any aspects of life necessary to secure the defence of the realm. Hundreds of regulations issued under this act during the war. Government became much more centralised. Ministries where set up for food and shipping, information and economic warfare.
Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour, oversaw the allocation of labour. Bevin could direct anyone to work at any job. From late-1943, young men were conscripted for work in the coal mines, while women where encouraged to work in munitions. In doing so he reduced the numbers of unemployed by 2 million. I believe due to this and other policies laid down by the Labour side of the coalition focusing on the home front, Churchill was out shone by the Labour Officials at the time as they had the future of Britain in mind unlike Churchill they weren’t just thinking about the present situation.
There were occasionally intense disagreements within the cabinet, and many criticisms of Churchill. There was opposition from independently minded Labour MPs, such as Aneurin Bevan and also from several women Mp’s who stood up for women s interests. The biggest revolt which took place in the Coalition was in support of a back bench Labour motion critical of the governments’ negative reaction to the Beveridge report. Behind the wartime propaganda image of national unity, there was frequent grumbling and sarcastic jokes about government mistakes and inefficiencies.
The Second World War in financial strife in effect, Britain paid for the Second World War like the first, partly by higher taxation but largely through internal and external borrowing. However, it became very dependent upon lend-lease and empire aid its exports were no longer able to pay for more than a fraction of its imports. By 1945, Britain faced massive depts. This led the need for the Political parties to plan for Post war Britain. The war led to a more generous attitude towards social welfare – the hated ‘means test’ was abolished in 1941. All three political parties set up their own committees to examine key issues of reconstruction.
Between 1942 and 1945, a whole series of reports, and acts of parliament were issued by the coalition government. Some changes, such as the 1944 Education Act were made before the 1945 election but most of the wartime promises for social reform were eventually carried out by Atlles’s post war labour. We can see by this that it was not only a singular effort and a sole driving force by Hitler for which the success of the coalition is due. We can also see that not much was actually passed during the war time this might have been to due to Churchill’s submenus’ to win the war out right rather than thinking of post war factors.
In summarising the evidence I believe Churchill was more of a figure head and a war monger than a Politician think of Britain’s future he was more focused on winning the war rather than trying to secure the home fronts safety and the future of Britain this is also why I believe the conservatives lost the 1945 election. They hoped to win it with Churchill being the Great War hero but in matter of fact the Labour government where seen as the great heroes for defending the people and the home front.