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When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.19: Not All Heroes Wear Capes

1956 Episode 2.19 examines Eden efforts to completely redefine what the Suez Crisis had meant, and what Britain’s role in the crisis had been.


From the afternoon of 6th November, with a ceasefire in the air, a UN Emergency Force still had to be negotiated. Eden could claim that British and French forces were sticking around in Egypt only for the purpose of maintaining peace and protecting the Suez Canal. Yet, his critics could argue that Britain and France broke the peace in the first place, and that the Canal was now only blocked because of British and French belligerence.


For his sins, Eden’s Party would be attacked in the Commons on the 6th November by the Labour Leader, until, shortly after 6PM, he decided to spill the beans to his peers in the Commons. No, he wasn’t about to tell the truth, instead he was about to put forward the polished turd of an explanation for why Britain had acted as it did. We quote from Eden in full in this episode, as we are reliant on the good folks at Hansard for making the all-important speeches in the Commons over these heady days freely accessible to all.


Primary sources help build a story like no other, and here we can hear the British PM say the exact words he said at ten past six on 6th November. Words which, it would transpire, were based in the main on lies which Eden knew to be lies from the beginning. The British PM, as we learned last time, was now engaging in a new strategy – damage control. He was determined to make Britain look as good, as noble and as heroic as possible while doing it. By the end of his diatribe, one could be forgiven for thinking that the world owed Britain some heartfelt thanks. Only Eden and a closed circle of allies knew the truth, but it couldn’t stay this way for long…


Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!

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