London (Feb. 5)
Sir Herbert Samuel’s position in the Cabinet has become one of uncertainty as a result of his speech in the House of Commons yesterday, following Mr. Chamberlain’s statement on the Tariff Policy of the Government, in which he attacked the Government proposals, and a demand for his resignation, it is understood, is being pressed by a large number of Conservative members of Parliament and in many of the newspapers to-day.
Can Sir Herbert Samuel remain a member of the Cabinet? the “Daily Telegraph” asks. This was the question, it continues, asked a hundred times in the Lobby last night after the Home Secretary had spoken on the Tariff resolutions. Conservative members were not only surprised, but indignant, that a prominent member of the Government should have interpreted the agreement to disagree in such a manner as to permit of a root and branch denunciation of Ministerial policy.
The Daily Express” declares that Sir Herbert Samuel’s speech has precipitated an acute Cabinet crisis. Political annals have no parallel of such a speech, it says. It loft the Opposition with nothing to say. Sir Herbert Samuel had constituted himself His Majesty’s Opposition. The resentment among the Tory members grew in intensity as the night progressed. So strong was the feeling that many of them left the House while Sir Herbert was speaking and went straight to the Whips’ office
to say that after hearing Sir Herbert Samuel’s speech they meant to support the censure motion on Monday against the departure from the doctrine of collective responsibility. Samuel must go, was the cry of the lobbies last night.
The Liberal papers take a similar view. It has not been Mr. Neville Chamberlain’s day, but Sir Herbert Samuel’s, the “Manchester Guardian” writes. Nothing else than his speech was talked of in the lobbies, whether among Tories, Liberals, or Labour men. It was so assured, so devastating, and it went on unrelentingly, and was delivered over the whole field of the new policy. The Tories were undisguisedly angry. They are furious against Sir Herbert Samuel. The Cabinet majority were astonished by Sir Herbert’s ruthlessness. They did not suspect for a moment that the free hand meant a fist. It sounded for all the world like a resignation speech, many remarked to night.
The “News Chronicle” writes that an intensive “Samuel Must Go” campaign among a section of the Conservatives was the immediate result of Sir Herbert Samuel’s speech. None withhold praise for the courage of the Home Secretary in making his speech, it says, but some of the more extreme Conservatives were talking last night of pressing the Prime Minister to dismiss him if he failed to resign.
The possibility of Sir Herbert Samuel as a convinced Free Trader in a Tariff Government resigning in order to become the leader of the Opposition was foreshadowed in the “Evening Standard” several months ago (quoted in the J.T.A. Bulletin of Nov. 2nd.). Great things might come from such a step, the paper suggested. Sir Herbert Samuel would in this event, be the natural heir to the premiership. When the turn of the Opposition comes, he would be the obvious Prime Minister. All this, too, with the added satisfaction that here the path of duty is the path to glory.