The morale of the people of Great Britain at the present time is excellent. Their mood is one of expectancy and confidence. They are awaiting an invasion and have no doubts as to their ability to repel it. But no moods endure indefinitely, and from the point of view of propaganda it is important that we should prepare for what is to come.
Either the invasion will take place and be defeated or else it will be indefinitely postponed. In either case there will be a reaction of opinion and people will begin to ask themselves the question "What next?" It seems highly probable that this phase will be accompanied by peace offers from Germany, of which faint indications have already been apparent. The German case would be that they had accomplished their purpose; that they wished to introduce a new order into the continent of Europe; that they had never desired a war with Great Britain, but that Great Britain and France had declared war on them while they were engaged in rectifying the situation of Poland.
Now that they had overcome all their enemies on the continent why should the useless struggle continue? Great Britain could not win the war except by starving the continent of Europe, which would be a crime against humanity. Britain, possessing in her colonies and dominions the largest Empire in the world, should be content to leave Europe alone.
Important waterways, the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal should be internationalised; the colonial situation in North Africa should be readjusted; Italy should be assured of her rights in the Mediterranean, but otherwise no claims would be made against Great Britain in spite of all the damage she had done to Germany. She would be left in possession of her vast empire, her prosperous commerce and her command of the sea. Such a peace offensive would be more dangerous than any invasion. The object of it would be to give Germany time to consolidate her gains, to replenish her resources, to strengthen her fleet, with a view to a far more formidable invasion of Great Britain in the future, launched probably without warning in time of peace. The danger of such a peace offensive would lie in the fact that it would make a very wide appeal. To those suffering from war-weariness and lack of vision it would seem eminently fair and reasonable.
People would ask themselves for what it was that they were fighting. They surely could not be expected to continue a world war for the sake of Poland. Still less could they be asked to sacrifice themselves for the small neutral countries which had refused to collaborate with us until they were attacked, which had appealed for our help when it was too late, and which had collapsed ingloriously. As for France, after the treachery of the Petain Government very few English People would be found willing to make sacrifices on her behalf. The cry would be that we should wash our hands of Europe and concentrate upon the development of our overseas possessions, which has always been the policy of the Isolationists.
In order to be prepared for this perilous situation the Government should now formulate in their own minds, with a view to conveying it to the people, a clear and definite picture of the cause that is at stake. Hated as Nazism and Fascism appear to us we must recognise that to millions of young people in Europe they constitute a faith and an inspiration, rendered today still more imposing by the wreaths of victory with which they are adorned. They have also the glamour of revolution, of a new order, of a better world.
So long as we are fighting for our own island we need have no fear but that our cause will stir the emotions of our people just as deeply as this new philosophy stirs the minds of our enemies. But when the island ceases to be the issue, when the menace to it has been, withdrawn, something else must be put in its place to stimulate the temper of the nation. If it then be thought that we are fighting merely to restore the Europe of Versailles and the England of the last two decades, the hearts of the people may begin to fail them because their heads will not convince them of the justice of their cause.
It is perfectly true that Hitler is both introducing a new order and uniting Europe. He is fashioning the whole continent on the totalitarian pattern, he is moulding it into one entity under Germany's heel. He claims that he is thus preventing the possibility of future European war. So long as his successful tyranny endures, his claim holds good, but the answer to this should plainly be that Great Britain is also anxious to see a united Europe, but Europe united by goodwill and in friendship, not by force and in terrors, a Europe based upon some federal system, details of which, will be worked out after the war with the glad co-operation of all the nations, a Europe in which armaments will be pooled and trade barriers will be broken down, and in which each nation will be allowed to conduct its own affairs in its own way with the same kind of freedom as each state in the American Union possesses. It is not necessary here to elaborate the scheme, but it would be the duty of those engaged on propaganda to elaborate it.
Not only would such a scheme give to the people in this country a cause to fight for, but it would also encourage the resistance and revive hopes of all the people of the vassal nations who would again have something definite to which they could look forward. No country possesses such good credentials as Great Britain for putting forward such a scheme, since we alone can point to a previous and successful experiment on similar lines. We can show how our own free Commonwealth of democratic nations has been created, how well it has stood the test of two terrible wars. We can also point to the facts that we have introduced self-government in India; we have abolished the protectorate in Egypt, preferring to base our relations with that country on a treaty concluded with a freely elected Government; and we alone among the nations have, in Iraq, converted a mandated territory into an independent kingdom. The other side of propaganda on these lines should concern itself with the future at home. Here again there should be a policy and a programme.
All evidence goes to show that the greater part of Hitler's success in winning over the minds of moderate, middle-aged Germans was due to the manner in which he solved the problem of unemployment. He has proved that the problem is not insoluble, and there is nothing that a Dictator can do which cannot be better accomplished by a Democracy. Here again it is not proposed to go into detail. We should proclaim that we do intend to make a better world at home in which the abuses of the past shall not be allowed to reappear. Unemployment, education, housing and the abolition of privilege should form the main plank of such a platform.
We must be careful not to slip into the error of appearing to be bribing men to fight by the promise of short hours and high wages when it is all over. We must not promise wealth and ease because that is a promise we could not fulfil. But we can promise in return for labour and sacrifice a greater equality of opportunity and a more even distribution of wealth. Here again, although no doubt many chances have been missed, our credentials are better than those of any other nation, for nowhere else has there been during the last 50 years so much social reform and so much progress.
If the views which I have somewhat vaguely adumbrated above meet with the general approval of the War Cabinet, the Ministry of Information would be provided with the guidance that is needed with regard to the principles upon which they should plan propaganda for the future.