We've highlighted the parts of the document which appear in the transcription below.
Lord Privy Seal (Stamp)
11 Downing Street
My Dear Prime Minister
I was sorry to hear that you’ve had a stormy voyage. I hope your journey improved.
Events in the Far East have upset the public, newspapers and MPs, most of whom didn’t seem to know about the dangers which we’ve known about for months.
The House was therefore irritable and difficult.
There’s also a good deal of worry about the defence of India and the political situation there. All political parties are worried about this so we can’t ignore it. The Evening Standard, Mail and Herald newspapers are demanding action of some kind on the Indian political situation.
We’ve looked again at the situation in the Far East and have done our best to send more troops. Earle Page [Australian politician and former Australian Prime Minister] has been very stubborn and the tone in Australia is very critical. I think that I’ve demonstrated to him that we’re doing our best in the circumstances, but he brings up past events.
The Russian Front and Libya are bright spots in a rather gloomy landscape, but we all understand how serious it is that Japan has entered the war.
The general public will gradually understand the position. With all good wishes for Christmas to you and the party,
Lord Privy Seal [Stamp]
P.M. [Prime Minister] saw in Washington.
11 Downing Street,
My Dear Prime Minister
I was sorry to hear that you had had a stormy voyage I hope you have had a better time in the later part of the journey.
Events in the Far East have rather disturbed public, press and M.Ps most of whom seem to have been oblivious of the danger of which we have been conscious for months.
House was therefore fractious and difficult …
There is also a good deal of apprehension about the defence of India with which is connected anxiety as to the political situation. This cannot be ignored as it transcends Party divisions. The Evening Standard and the Mail and other papers have now joined the Herald in demanding action of some kind on the Indian political position.
We have reviewed the Far Eastern position in the Defence Committee and have done our utmost to reinforce. Earle Page has been very persistent and the tone in Australia is very critical. I think that I have demonstrated to him that we are doing our utmost in the circumstance, but he harps on the past.
The Russian Front and Libya are bright spots in a rather gloomy landscape, but we none of us have been under any delusions as to what Japan’s entry into the war meant.
The general public will gradually appreciate the position.
With all good wishes for Christmas to you and the party
Clement Attlee [hand-written signature]
These are extracts from a letter from Clement Attlee to Churchill on recent debates in the House of Commons, 20 December 1941.
Churchill (Conservative) became Prime Minister in May 1940 and formed a National Government with Clement Attlee (Leader of the Labour Party) effectively acting as his deputy. When Japan attacked the American naval base of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, on 7 December 1941, the US finally entered the Second World War. Churchill was eager to discuss the priorities for the war and sailed to the US to meet with President Roosevelt and stayed there for four weeks at the end of 1941 to early 1942. Attlee was left in charge and sent regular reports like this one to Churchill on the mood of the country and of Parliament.
Even though the National Government formed by Churchill in May 1940 contained politicians from the Conservative and Labour parties, there was still opposition and heated debate about issues in parliament and MPs frequently criticised the government over the handling of the war. This was particularly true of the war in the Far East where Britain lost a lot of territory to Japan in 1941 and India appeared to be under threat. Attlee was a supporter of granting India independence after the war but Churchill opposed the idea. Earle Page, referred to in the letter, was an Australian politician and the former Australian Prime Minister.
Remember, we’re hoping that the source can be useful to us in investigating whether opinion in Britain was divided on the question of Indian independence. The sources can be analysed in two ways:
Which of the inferences below can be made from this source?
|On a scale of 1-5 how far do you agree that this source supports this inference?||Which extract(s) from the source support your argument?|
|This letter is particularly useful because it’s a private communication between Attlee and Churchill.|
|Attlee would have a reason to exaggerate disagreement in the House of Commons.|
|Personal letters like this can’t be trusted to show what Attlee really thought because he’d want to show how effective he was as a future Prime Minister.|
|There is evidence that some people in Britain supported Indian independence.|
|There is evidence that some people in Britain opposed Indian independence.|
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