A Congressman I respect, observing America’s budget problem, has proposed an elaborate plan to fix it. In the process he has not wilted under the inevitable assault directed toward anyone who defies the status quo by proposing genuine change and workable solutions.
Intending to prepare a speech, his private office asked me to verify what Churchill said in 1936, when Britain’s Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, put politics before country by failing to act—in a way that, he said, reminded him of certain political behavior today. Speaking before Parliament, Baldwin bluntly admitted that his failure to act to rearm Britain in the face of Nazi Germany was owed to his fear that he might lose an election.
Churchill’s comments are in his book, The Gathering Storm, pages 169-70 of the British edition (London: Cassell, 1948), in the middle of Chapter XII in all editions):
…on November 12  I severely reproached Mr. Baldwin for having failed to keep his pledge “[to] see to it that in air strength and air power this country shall no longer be in a position inferior to any country within striking distance of its shores.” I said: “The Government simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. So we go on preparing more months and years—precious, perhaps vital, to the greatness of Britain—for the locusts to eat.”
Prime Minister Baldwin replied to Churchill with an astonishing admission:
You will remember at that time there was probably a stronger pacifist feeling running through this country than at any time since the war…. Supposing I had gone to the country and said that Germany was rearming, and that we must rearm, does anybody think that this pacific democracy would have rallied to that cry at that moment? I cannot think of anything that would have made the loss of the election from my point of view more certain.
This, said Winston Churchill,
was indeed appalling frankness. It carried naked truth about his motives into indecency. That a Prime Minister should avow that he had not done his duty in regard to national safety because he was afraid of losing the election was an incident without parallel in our Parliamentary history.