The British press and the origins of the Cold War
Foster, Alan Joseph
During the prelude to the Cold War a substantial section of the British press gave a noticeably cool response to the new line towards Soviet Russia proposed first by Churchill at Fulton from Opposition and pursued subsequently at the policy-making level by Ernest Bevin and the Foreign Office. These newspapers looked in particular with sympathy upon the security aspirations of the Soviet Union in eastern Europe and were not therefore predisposed to see in unilateral Soviet moves in that region conclusive evidence of a sinister overall design on the part of the Soviet Union for continental mastery. What is most remarkable about this understanding attitude towards Soviet moves in eastern Europe is that it extended beyond the progressive press (defined for our purposes as the Labour and Liberal press) to include leading elements in the Conservative press. For important sections of that press signally failed to respond with appropriate enthusiasm in a partisan manner to the foreign policy lead offered by the Conservative leader at Fulton. These same newspapers had disagreed with Churchill's foreign policy views in the thirties, supporting the appeasement of Germany when he had opposed it. In the nineteen forties their natural inclination again would be to support policies of conciliation and accommodation in international affairs, this time in regard to Soviet Russia, at a time when the Conservative leader was himself urging a policy of firmness in confronting the soviet danger and had given at Fulton a deliberate warning against those who advocated a policy of `appeasement' with regard to Russia. This thesis attempts to trace the background to the development of such sympathetic press attitudes towards the Soviet Union during the prelude to the Cold War. It attempts to analyse the content and the range of press coverage of Anglo-Soviet relations in the period before the Cold War had crystallized, with an eye in particular to identifying those lessons drawn by the press and offered to the policy-makers as to how in future British policy towards Russia might most wisely be conducted.
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