Editorial – The Cripps Touch

28 February 1942

South Yorkshire Times, Saturday, Feb. 28th, 1942.

The Cripps Touch

The House of Commons has been helped through its crisis of nerves by the Prime Minister, who has had to take his eye off the war in order to soothe these children crying in the dark. He has met their demand for changes in the Government, and the shuffling appears to have mollified them, though the more the Administration is changed the more it is the same thing.

Those who have gone out are probably no great loss, and those who have come in are probably no great gain, with the single exception of Sir Stafford Cripps, who had previously been invited into the Government. Why it should be assumed that a man faced with Mr. Churchill’s colossal task prefers to work with poor tools and rejects good ones out of perversity, is beyond our comprehension.

Those who believe that will believe anything, including the unfitness of Mr. Churchill himself to lead us through the Valley of Humiliation. Mr. Churchill is apparently satisfied that, grim as our present predicament is, we can carry the additional handicap of a chattering and chiding Parliament, though he may very well have had in mind these foolish and dangerous public debates when he declared the other day that “ only our follies can beat us.”

The accession of Sir Stafford Cripps is generally welcomed. Undoubtedly he brings additional authority, derived in part from his Russian connection, but in the main from his exceptional gifts, especially of crisp and incisive exposition. He gave us a taste of this quality when for the first time he replied for the Government in this week’s debate and took a rapid but stern survey of the home front, the rallying of which ought to be his special province. We believe that he will supply that quickening of tempo and temper, that “sense of urgency.” to use his own phrase, which no other Minister, or anything short of the direct menace and malice of the enemy, has been able to stir in us.

Mr. Churchill has been too pre-occupied with the conduct of the war, and with cheering up the nation in the face of disaster and misfortune to give serious time or thought to the health and discipline of the home front. Mr. Morrison and Mr. Bevin have done much by persuasion, and have extracted astonishing results from the voluntary system. The resources of free will are well-nigh exhausted, and plain compulsion alone will now bring into play the forces which patriotism has left untouched and unmoved.

Sir Stafford Cripps will supply the firmer domestic leadership for which the country has been looking and longing. This is not a free fight, but a fight for freedom and the nation awaits its orders .