In the early stages of the war the Ministry of Information had shown itself to be helplessly out of touch with the British people. Its earliest propaganda posters were widely considered to be crude and counter-productive. In an effort to get a better appreciation of the public mood at large and the general state of morale the Ministry formed the Home Intelligence department to conduct surveys of public attitudes.
During the dramatic events of the spring and summer 1940 the Home Intelligence department was reporting on a daily basis, drawing on material that was reported from around the country by regional officers. Additional material came from the Mass Observation studies, whose observers some-times eavesdropped on conversations in Public houses and other meeting places, to judge the national outlook. As time went more formal face to face surveys were also introduced, in order to bring more rigour to the process.
WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE 1940
On the whole there is slightly less depression today but people are reluctant to discuss the situation and are awaiting the publication of Hitler’s terms to France.
Churchill’s speech was awaited anxiously and when heard was the subject of varied reactions. What he said was considered courageous and hopeful and the speech was welcomed for its frankness. ‘He gives bad news frankly’, ‘Cool and businesslike”, ‘The sort of facts and figures we want’.
On the other hand there was widespread comment on his delivery and his references to France have brought a recrudescence of anti-French feeling. The latency of anti-French feeling must never be forgotten. A few days ago sympathy swamped it but it found indirect expression in a common phrase ‘At last we have no Allies, now we fight alone’.
There has never been much sympathy with the French point of view but there are some indications that the present wave of anti-French feeling is bringing to the surface antagonism against ‘French politicians’.
See TNA INF 1/264