Finest Hour 153, Winter 2011-12
Chancellor Winston – Churchill on Gold and the Exchequer
Everybody said that I was the worst Chancellor of the Exchequer that ever was. And now I’m inclined to agree with them. So now the world’s unanimous.”
—Circa 1930, reported by the historian A.L. Rowse, who added: “There is something endearing about a head of that grim department who could say [that] after dinner one evening.”
I wish [Montagu Norman, Philip Snowden and the monetary ex- perts] were admirals or generals. I can sink them if necessary. But when I am talking to bankers and economists, after awhile they begin to talk Persian, and then they sink me instead.”
—1924, to Robert Boothby
We are often told that the Gold Standard will shackle us to the United States. I will deal with that in a moment. I will tell you what it will shackle us to. It will shackle us to reality. For good or for ill, it will shackle us to reality.”
—House of Commons, 4 May 1925
I never heard any argument more strange and ill-founded than that the return to the Gold Standard is responsible for the condition of affairs in the coal industry. The Gold Standard is no more responsible for the condition of affairs in the coal industry than is the Gulf Stream.”
—West Essex Conservative and Unionist Association, 25 July 1925, responding to a charge by Lloyd George.
In carrying out a great change like the return to the Gold Standard, it has been necessary to move with extreme care. So many objects have to be kept in view at the same moment that delicacy and judgment are required at every step. I think that in the Treasury and in the Bank of England we have the most skilful advisers and financiers that any country can show. At any rate they are respected all over the world, so there is no reason why they should be looked down upon at home.”
—Sheffield Hippodrome, 3 November 1925
The decision and inspiration…which led President Hoover [to proclaim a year’s moratorium on the payment of war debts] has been received by all members of the university with sincere acclaim. The unwholesome accumulation of gold in the only two countries which benefit from those uneconomic and non-commercial payments has largely paralysed world credit, checked the flow of trade, paralysed prices, especially the prices of prime commodities, and has made it impossible for millions of workers on both sides of the Atlantic to earn their daily bread.”
—Bristol University, 27 June 1931
I can hardly describe with what eagerness [we are watching] President Roosevelt’s valiant effort to solve the riddle of the sphinx. Once again the United States has become a pioneer, breaking with sturdy axemanship a path through the forest, and striving not only to blaze a trail, but to make a road which, if ever it is opened, the world will surely follow….We have broken free from gold. You [Americans] have broken free from gold. Gold soars upward on the wings of panic. But where are we to find a resting place for the soles of our feet? Surely in our own virtue and in the intrinsic value of our new efforts; in the faithful conduct of our finances and in the association of our joint strength and reputation. The only alternative is that we wall ourselves up in our respective pens like the old robber barons in their feudal castles.”
—”The Bond Between Us,” Colliers, 4 November 1933. Britain left the Gold Standard on 20 September 1931.
Referenced from Richard M. Langworth, ed., Churchill By Himself: The Life, Times and Opinions of Winston S. Churchill (London: Ebury Press, 2008, rep. 2010).