The Greatest Briton

David Welch welch at
Wed Nov 27 15:52:04 MST 2002

Taking Churchill at his words
by James Heartfield
Winston Churchill, winner of the BBC's 'Great Britons' poll, is best
remembered for the recordings of his wartime speeches - especially the
'We shall fight them on the beaches' speech of 4 June 1940 and the
'Their finest hour' speech of 18 June 1940.
But Churchill never made those recordings. Norman Shelley did - a
radio actor who played Colonel Danby in BBC Radio 4's The Archers and
who died in 1980 (1). At the time the speeches were recorded,
Churchill, a stammerer who spoke off the cuff and full of Dutch
courage, could not reproduce his Commons performances in front of a
In our inoffensive times, where politicians can lose their jobs by
saying the 'wrong thing', what is it about Churchill that is
considered so great? Maybe we should let Churchill speak for himself,
without Colonel Danby's help....
On Bolshevism:
For Churchill, the Soviet Union was a 'tyrannic government of these
Jew Commisars', a 'worldwide communistic state under Jewish
domination', 'the international Soviet of the Russian and Polish Jew',
or just 'these Semitic conspirators'. (2)
On race:
Churchill said 'the Indians in East Africa are mainly of a very low
class of coolies, and the idea that they should be put on an equality
with the Europeans is revolting to every white man throughout British
Africa' (3).
In February 1954, he told the cabinet 'the continuing increase in the
number of coloured people coming to this country and their presence
here would sooner or later come to be resented by large sections of
the British people' (4).
On force-feeding hunger-striking suffragettes:
It was 'not a medical question', said Churchill. 'It is a question of
policy.' (5)
On Irish independence:
According to Churchill, the struggle for Irish independence from
Britain was part of 'a worldwide conspiracy against our country' by
'the rascals and rapscallions of the world who are on the move against
us' (6). Organising Orangemen in June 1922, Churchill said: 'When we
begin to act we must act like a sledgehammer, so as to cause
bewilderment and consternation among the people of southern Ireland.'
On Hitler's coming to power:
'The story of that struggle, cannot be read without admiration for the
courage, the perseverance, and the vital force which enabled him to
challenge, defy conciliate or overcome, all the authority of
resistances which barred his path', said Churchill (8).
Asked about Germany's anti-Jewish laws in 1938, Churchill thought 'it
was a hindrance and an irritation, but probably not an obstacle to a
working agreement'. (9) In 1937, Brigadier Packenham Walsh reported
that 'Winston says at heart he is for Franco' (10).
James Heartfield is author of The Death of the Subject Explained,
available from Amazon. He voted for Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the
Great Britons poll.
(1) Observer, 29 October 2000
(2) Churchill, Clive Ponting, Sinclair Stevenson, 1994, p230
(3) Ibid., p260
(4) Ibid., p760
(5) Ibid., p106
(6) Ibid., p245
(7) Ibid., p264
(8) Ibid., p393
(9) Ibid., p394
(10) Ibid., p390

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