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Editorial – “The Answer to Defeat is Victory”

14 June 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 14 June 1941

“The Answer to Defeat is Victory”

Mr. Churchill’s speech on Tuesday, dispelled the thundercloud that settled over public opinion here and in the Dominions after the disaster of Crete. Rage and disappointment ha d vented themselves in ill-informed and ill-considered criticism. Beneath it, however, was the good sense of a nation with an instinct for fairness. In Parliament there was no disposition to press home criticisms of which the papers have been full.

Even Mr. Hore Belisha, who had permitted himself a dangerous degree of candour in public a few days before the debate, had sufficiently repented the impropriety or unwisdom of that course when called upon to make good his attitude in Parliament. There he was prepared to allow full weight to the great and inescapable difficulties which hamper the Government’s conduct of the war. Nevertheless, he had talked too long and too loudly to escape responsibility for justifying his indictment of the Government and its political and military executives, and Mr. Churchill had a simple task in demolishing and deflating him. At the first touch of the lash, Mr. Hore Belisha appealed for “no recriminations,” remembering too late what a ” wicked tiger ” was this who, when attacked, defended himself.

We can well spare these criticisms and recriminations; Mr. Churchill would have been glad to be relieved of the necessity for turning aside to deal with them. Nevertheless, they provided an opportunity for a statement which ought to have not merely a steadying, but a stimulating effect on the country, so packed was it with logic and common sense. Doubtless, the enemy will make perverted use of the speech but that disadvantage is offset by a new and stern call to the country to realise how long and hard is the road still before us, how much leeway has yet to be made up, how great are the numerical and strategical advantages of the enemy, how much must still be done in the factories, as well as in the field to make us safe from defeat and in a position to build up victory.

It also gave Mr. Churchill another opportunity of grim but gay reminder of the great successes achieved by Great Britain with all arms on many fronts. The debate itself was an instance—and Mr. Churchill did not fail to make the point—of the handicap which democracy imposes on its champions in their struggles with dictators, who are under no obligation to turn aside from the battle in order to offer apologies or explanations to the crowd.

For leaders like Hitler and Mussolini, war is a much simpler business, for neither regards himself as accountable to God or man for errors, omissions and misdeeds. The monumental common sense of Mr. Churchill, however, is an immense asset to the nation and he knows how to give it full value and to turn even criticism to national account. ” The answer to defeat is victory.” Mr. Churchill is no doubt the man to lead us to victory—there is no other in sight—but it is for the whole nation, exerting its whole strength and spirit, to supply the answer.