Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 10 May 1941
The House of Commons debate, intended to be an inquest on the ill-fated expedition to Greece, was so dangerously ill-timed that the Government was given little to answer and got its vote of confidence with supreme ease. The figures, 447 to 3, are evidence of the conviction of the House that this is no time to review, much less to arraign the conduct of the war.
Only the incorrigible belief of democracy that its liberties are in jeopardy from hour to hour unless the searchlight of publicity is continually switched on to the guardians of those liberties, can account for our amazing readiness to hand one more advantage to an enemy bristling with them. Here, not on the morrow of defeat but on the very day, we sit down and talk it over in council, pouring into the greedy car of the enemy a wealth of comment of which he may be relied upon to make the most astute use. It is magnificent, but it is not war.
Our appalling honesty and candour are gifts which the enemy gladly and cleverly uses, but nothing will ever make him understand his good fortune. He could understand and appreciate why no official news of the fighting in Greece was available from the British side for seven days, but he would be puzzled to guess why so old a campaigner as Mr. Lloyd George should complain of this and declare that our steadfast people deserve better treatment. They certainly deserve to be given every chance to win, and reviewing this Commons debate we cannot see that the British people has gained from it anything of value.
Under provocation the Government lifted sufficient of the veil to reveal a picture of which German propaganda will make effective use a picture of Britain still toiling in the rearward of Germany’s war potential, still dangerously dependent on outside aid, still uncomfortably conscious that “what’s to come is still unsure.” It is a picture to stir the British spirit to new resolve and new effort no doubt, but it is none the less a clear gift to Goebbels.
Some discontent with the efficiency of our service of information about the enemy was expressed not for the first time, in this debate; we are apparently determined that the enemy shall have no similar cause of dissatisfaction. When we have talked “about it and about,” the war will be won and lost by deeds, not words. Rather than not have the nation fully instructed in matters in which it can help, we would risk enlightening the enemy, but we cannot see what possible purpose of ours can be served by a gaggle of politicians publicly discussing strategy and demanding the best and latest information.
We are in for a long, hard, tough tussle with a powerful and quick-witted enemy; let us copy at least some of his military virtues, including the virtue of common sense.