Pacifism

Pacifism was one of the main reasons for following the policy of appeasement in the early 1930s.

The impact of the Great War was huge. Very few had remained unaffected by the loss of nearly one million British men during the four years of fighting.

Several examples helped convince the politicians to avoid public support for policies such as rearmament.

Oxford University Student Debating Society, 1933

The Oxford University Student Debating Society voted by 257 votes to 153 that:

quote
this house will in no circumstances fight for King and Country

This caused shock waves in the country because it was interpreted as a sign that the ruling classes had been converted to pacifism.

East Fulham By Election 1933

A Conservative candidate supporting increases in defence spending was heavily defeated by a Labour candidate who was widely regarded as anti-war.

The Peace Ballot 1934

A house-to-house survey carried out across the whole country by the League of Nations Union had 11.5 million replies. The response was overwhelming support for the principle of collective security through the League of Nations.

After the horrors of WWI, there was a widespread revulsion at the thought of war.

Since then, new advances in weaponry, such as long distance bombers, meant towns and cities could be targeted. The civilian death toll of a future war could be huge.

The peace movement was expanding in Britain and public mood was very much against another European war.