“Prosperity is on our Threshold”
Churchill maintained a demanding speaking schedule throughout the winter months. Addressing the Leeds Chamber of Commerce on January 20th, he spoke of a brighter future for the economy: “The world is now peaceful; the harvests have been good; from many quarters come the reports that trade is on the mend. We know that unemployment has been sensibly reduced and, apart from coal, substantially reduced, and reduced in spite of a continually increasing population of wage-earners. None of these conditions was present in August. There was nothing but gloom then, and now there is modest hope. Hope for all; hope for the manufacturer; hope for the merchant; hope for the artisan; hope for those who are out of employment. [Cheers.] A brightening and a broadening hope. Prosperity, that errant daughter of our house who went astray in the Great War, is on our threshold.”
Some at this time looked upon Churchill with a jaundiced eye. Sir Samuel Hoare enjoyed WSC’s hospitality on a weekend at Chartwell on February 13th, and two days later wrote to Lord Beaverbrook that Churchill was “convinced that he is to be the prophet to lead us into the Promised Land in which there will be no income tax and everyone will live happily ever afterwards. The trouble is that he has got so many schemes tumbling over each other in his mind, that I am beginning to wonder whether he will be able to pull any one of them out of the heap.”
On 17 March, Churchill was appointed to a special Cabinet Committee to evaluate the recommendations on the coal subsidies and working conditions in the mines from the Royal Commission headed by Sir Herbert Samuel. But Churchill took no part in the government’s discussion with the mine owners and the miners, which was conducted by Prime Minister Baldwin.
On 24 March, Churchill spoke critically in the Commons on the position of the United States regarding repayment of inter-Allied war debts: “It is a very remarkable fact that at the present moment the amount that the United States is receiving from Europe under arrangements which have already been made is approximately equal to the whole amount of reparations which Germany is paying. But the distribution of the receipts from Germany and the payments to the United States is entirely different. The bulk of the receipts from Germany go to France, who at present is making no payments on account of her War debts, and the bulk of payments to the United States are made by this country largely out of our own resources….It seems to me an extraordinary situation…all the pressure of debt extraction will draw reparations…from the devastated and war stricken countries of Europe, which will flow in an unbroken stream across the Atlantic to that wealthy and prosperous and great Republic. I believe that these facts will not pass out of the minds of any responsible persons, either in the United States or in Europe.”