Behind closed doors… with Lord Owen

THERE is a rare opportunity to learn what happened at one of the crucial moments in the Second World War, when Lord David Owen, the former Foreign Secretary, comes to Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre at Chippenham on Friday 13th September at 7.30pm.

The talk is called Cabinet’s Finest Hour, and the subtitle is The Hidden Cabinet Agenda of May 1940. Lord Owen will talk about the pivotal British war cabinet meetings of May 1940. The minutes and documents 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 post-war denial of both the existence and legitimacy of the war cabinet debates had far-reaching consequences for Britain’s foreign and defence policy for the rest of the century, starting over the Suez Crisis but reaching its nadir over the Second Iraq War. The way Labour transformed itself from 1931 to 1938 and the cross-party alliance in Parliament from 1938 to 1940 bear lessons for today.

Lord Owen was MP for Plymouth for 26 years from 1966-92. Under the Labour Governments, he served as Navy Minister, Health Minister and Foreign Secretary. He was co-founder of the Social Democratic Party, established in 1981 and its leader from 1983-87 and 1988-90. He sits in the House of Lords as an independent Social Democrat. From 1992-95 he was an EU peace negotiator in the former Yugoslavia.

Proceeds of the event will go towards helping to preserve and make accessible the county’s unique written records. To book call 01249 705500 or email localstudies@nullwiltshire.gov.uk