12. CP Scott and the Manchester Guardian 

The work of the Zionists in Manchester was greatly aided by the support, advice and encouragement of the staff of the well regarded national newspaper, the Manchester Guardian. Harry Sacher, one of the original members of ‘the Manchester School’, worked there as a journalist from 1905. Through Sacher, Weizmann was introduced to Herbert Sidebotham, a non-Jewish Imperialist who came to believe that the interests of the Zionists coincided with those of the British Empire. His articles did much to counter the traditional wisdom of those who saw only negative implications for Britain if a Jewish State came into being in Palestine.

The editor of the Manchester Guardian was the liberal and high-minded CP Scott, who had been a Liberal MP from 1895-1906, and with whom nationalism was a tradition and a passion. Scott first met Weizmann and was won over by him at a party held by the chairman of a medical clinic in which Vera Weizmann was working. Familiar with all the influential personalities in English public life, he was a tremendous asset to the Zionist cause, and through his introductions Weizmann was able to converse with Lloyd George, Lord Balfour, Herbert Samuel, and other leading members of the government. It was Scott who argued for the potential importance of Weizmann’s discovery regarding the manufacture of acetone, and who leaked to Weizmann details of the embryonic Sykes-Picot agreement (secret Anglo-French negotiations on how to divide up the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine, after the War). Scott was also the first member to join the British-Palestine Committee, the Manchester organisation that founded the Zionist publication Palestine

A later editor, WP Crozier, similarly supported Zionism. By this time, Weizmann was in London and it was the historian Lewis Namier who maintained the strong links between the Manchester Zionists and the Guardian. Crozier denounced Hitler’s policy along with Britain’s refusal to give refuge or protection to the German refugees, and MacDonald’s White Paper (1939) which severely limited immigration into Palestine.


Letter from British Palestine Committee to Scott, 16 Oct 1916 
Letter from Weizmann to Scott, 29 Oct 1916, undated 1916, 27 Jan 1918
Letter from Herbert Samuel (governor of Palestine) to Scott, 31 Aug 1920
Letter from Oswald Mosley to Scott, 25 Jan 1927

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IMAGE AND DOCUMENT CREDITS: Harry Sacher (Patricia Cummings), CP Scott (JL Hammond, CP Scott and the Manchester Guardian), WP Crozier (David Ayerst, Guardian; Biography of a Newspaper), Letter from BPC to Scott (John Rylands Library, © The Guardian), Letters from Weizmann to Scott (John Rylands Library, © The Guardian), Letter from Herbert Samuel (John Rylands Library, © The Guardian ), Letter from O Mosley (John Rylands Library, © The Guardian) Full reference: Sources.