Courtesy Reuters

The "United" Kingdom

WHEN Hitler's troops reoccupied the Rhineland a member of the German delegation at the London Conference tackled a prominent Labor Member of Parliament. "The Labor Party has always been sympathetic to Germany's cause," he said. "What attitude are you taking up?" The Labor Member replied that in such a matter his party would undoubtedly support the attitude of the National Government. The Nazi threw up his hands in astonishment. "You in England," he said, "seem to have accomplished Hitler's work of unification without any revolution at all. You are united in spite of your party labels and without any National Socialist creed."

This is a revealing conversation. It provides the most important clue to that appearance of unity which has been commented upon by so many visitors to England during the period of the Coronation and of the Imperial Conference. Party bitterness and class antagonism have been even less in evidence than usual in Britain -- where they have always been comparatively mild. And the main reason is the menace and the warning of Fascism on the Continent. This, which might not at first seem strange, is in fact surprising; because it has come about under a Government which has not been hostile to the Fascist Powers, but, on the contrary, strikingly complacent before their aggression. In this article I want briefly to show how this anomaly has occurred.


Let us first take the example of the abdication of Edward VIII. From a distance it seemed that England could scarcely fail to be torn by so remarkable and shattering an event. British worship of George V had reached astonishing heights; to the outsider, British idolatry of Edward VIII seemed scarcely less extravagant. But the incredible happened. The King of England was dismissed "like an office-boy," as one Member of Parliament put it, or, if we prefer romantic language, he abdicated like a prince in a novelette because he preferred love to the throne. Could anything be more disturbing than his

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