CABINET’S FINEST HOUR
The Hidden Agenda of May 1940
by David Owen
‘… a powerful case for seeing the vital British decision to fight on against the Nazis in May 1940… An exciting, thought-provoking read, with profound contemporary as well as historical relevance.’ – Andrew Roberts
‘David Owen has thought deeply about these issues – and is always worth reading.’ – Dominic Lawson
‘… a fascinating read.” – Bernard Donoughue
Former Foreign Secretary David Owen has written a new history of the pivotal British War Cabinet meetings of May 1940. The minutes of these meetings reveal just how close Britain came to seeking a negotiated peace with Nazi Germany. Cabinet’s Finest Hour is both the story of Churchill’s determination to fight on and a paean to the Cabinet system of government. The Cabinet system, all too often disparaged as messy and cumbersome, worked in Britain’s interests and ensured a democracy on the brink of defeat had the courage to assess the alternatives to fighting on. The post-war denial of both the existence and legitimacy of the war cabinet debates had far-reaching consequences for Britain’s foreign policy for the rest of the century, notably over the Suez Crisis but arguably as far as the Second Iraq War.
DAVID OWEN trained as a medical doctor and practised as a neurologist before being elected a Labour MP in his home city of Plymouth. He served as Foreign Secretary under James Callaghan from 1977 until 1979, and later co-founded and went on to lead the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Between 1992-95 Lord Owen served as EU peace negotiator in the former Yugoslavia, and he now sits as an Independent Social Democrat in the House of Lords. Visit David’s blog, here.