Appeasement And Public Opinion Essay

2211 words - 9 pages

To what extent was British public opinion the reason that Britain adopted the policy of appeasement?

After a defeat in WW1 Germany was left seriously impacted (want this to be changed?ritain adopted the policy of appeasement? reason thAT torians have argued that milirary am by-election showed the true anti-war). This gave Chancellor Adolf Hitler the perfect opportunity to expand Germany’s territories and get rid of the restrictions placed on Germany after the war. Therefore, Britain’s policy of appeasement aimed to please Germany in order to prevent further conflict, and after the horrific events of WW1 most of the British public supported this. With the horrors still fresh in the ...view middle of the document...

Therefore it could be argued that the adoption of appeasement was taken because if not there would be public outcry. There had also been many other indicators that showed the extent to which British public opinion opposed war. The results of the Oxford University debate of 1934-35 suggested strong anti-war feelings. Stanley Baldwin cited the events as an indication of public opinion as a whole, stating “that was the feeling of the county in 1933-34”. By 1928 all men and women had the vote, meaning MPs were at the mercy of a far bigger electorate. In addition, the rapid growth of mass media meant that public opinion had a greater influence than at any other time in Britain’s history. In October 1938 there was a by-election for the Oxford City constituency when the local Conservative MP, Captain R.C. Browne died. The candidates were Quintin Hogg, a Conservative a conservative and A.D. Lindsay an opponent of appeasement. The by-election was fought almost entirely on appeasement. The strongly pro-appeasement Daily Mail commented, “Oxford crystallised the true segments of the British people” (Daily Mail October 1938). Overall, public opinion could be seen as the most important reason as to why Britain adopted the policy of appeasement because the feelings of the public not only affected the British citizens, but the government also. The government did not want to risk public outcry or the loss of votes by promoting war, so therefore appeasement was the best option. However, Bell and other historians argue that economic difficulties were the main reason Britain adopted appeasement.
Another factor which contributed to the adoption of appeasement was economic difficulties. Chamberlain was chancellor at the time meaning he was in charge of Britain, including her economy. Europe’s economy however was still recovering from WW1 and the Wall Street Crash, the government could not afford to re-arm meaning the military were too weak. Chamberlain, knowing what the people wanted, prioritised both jobs and housing over weaponry emphasising to Chamberlain that the public were against conflict. Schmidt, Stromberg and historian Keith Middlemass all argue that all argue that “British economic weakness played a role in the creation of the Appeasement policy”. Around 3 million people were unemployed and the government desperately needed to invest into social issues, saying that; “appeasement was pursued for the primary purpose of preserving domestic stability”. Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald set up the Defence Requirements Committee that allowed the government to make recommendations toward future spending; as a result budgeting was cut and was used to fund other areas. Therefore, if costs towards future defences where decreasing then more money would be available for more influential areas that needed treatment, such as housing. Therefore this contributed to why appeasement was adopted as money was tight and there was no need for dramatic spending if appeasement...

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