ㅏs someone who believes strongly that Britain and the world owe a huge debt of gratitude to Winston Churchill, I find little to disagree with in Priyamvada Gopal’s take on the current re-examination of the reputation of one of our greatest prime ministers (Why can’t Britain handle the truth about Winston Churchill?, 17 행진).
There is no doubt that Churchill entertained racist views, rightly viewed now as reprehensible, albeit ones that would have been – pace Professor Gopal – unexceptional in his own day.
The reputation of any historical figure is not enhanced if his supporters simply go into denial over how he truly viewed the world.
하나, Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square was not erected to celebrate the enlightened views of a social liberal but to recognise a war leader who achieved what few people believed was possible when he took office in 1940: the unconditional defeat of Nazi Germany. There isn’t space on this page to elaborate how remarkable an outcome this was, but I suggest that people extend their reading beyond the opinion pages of the Guardian to include the third volume of William Manchester’s Churchill biography, The Last Lion.
They should also know that a brief Google search quickly reveals that Churchill’s responsibility for the 1943 Bengal famine and “his willingness to mobilise military force during industrial disputes” is not exactly uncontested territory.
And no – I wouldn’t have voted for Churchill’s party in 1945 어느 하나.
Priyamvada Gopal suggests Churchill lost the 1945 election because “the uncritical Churchill-worship that is so dominant today was not shared by many British people”. In fact his personal popularity was at 80%, something current leaders can only dream of; much of the reason for the defeat was the general mistrust of the Conservative party and its prewar appeasement policy – in addition to the thought that Clement Attlee’s new deal would be much more beneficial to returning soldiers, factory workers and their families.
Priyamvada Gopal points out that many working-class communities felt a strong animosity towards Churchill. While serving with the Royal Air Force Regiment in the 1960s I asked my driver, the son of a Durham miner, what his father’s response had been when he told him he had been a member of the squadron that lined Churchill’s funeral route. His father’s reply was: “You should have pointed your rifle and shot the coffin.”
Dr John Morrison
Scarborough, North Yorkshire