Month: April 2015

Churchill’s Average Voter

Churchill’s Average Voter

(Or: “Churchillian Drift,” Part 1,398….)

On the eve of the British Gen­er­al Elec­tion, Metro UK declares: “Win­ston Churchill said the best argu­ment against democ­ra­cy is a five-minute con­ver­sa­tion with the aver­age vot­er.”

This is alas a reap­pear­ance of an ever-pop­u­lar red-her­ring quote that Churchill nev­er said.

Churchill had thought­ful cri­tiques of democ­ra­cy. See in par­tic­u­lar his essay on “Mass Effects in Mod­ern Life” in his book, Thoughts and Adven­tures. But he also had more respect for the aver­age vot­er than this non-quote sug­gests. In the House of Com­mons on 31 Octo­ber 1944 he said:

At the bot­tom of all the trib­utes paid to democ­ra­cy is the lit­tle man, walk­ing into the lit­tle booth, with a lit­tle pen­cil, mak­ing a lit­tle cross on a lit­tle bit of paper [we still vote that way in New Hampshire]—no amount of rhetoric or volu­mi­nous dis­cus­sion can pos­si­bly dimin­ish the over­whelm­ing impor­tance of that point.…

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Dardanelles-Gallipoli Centenary

Dardanelles-Gallipoli Centenary

Anzac Day, April 25th, marks the Cen­te­nary of the land­ings on the Gal­lipoli Penin­su­la, in the end a trag­ic fail­ure, with heavy loss­es of British, Aus­tralian and New Zealand life. Churchill usu­al­ly comes in for (and deserves) some of the blame, but rarely does every­body “get it right.” Such is a piece in Forbes: “Win­ston Churchill’s Ter­ri­ble Lead­er­ship Fail­ure.”

This piece gets sev­er­al facts wrong and over­sim­pli­fies to the point of con­fu­sion. Churchill’s fail­ure was over the Dar­d­anelles naval attack of 18 March 1915; the land­ings on Gal­lipoli came in late April, after the naval attack had failed, and were not direct­ed by him.…

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Churchill-Mussolini Non-Letters

Churchill-Mussolini Non-Letters

(Or: “You Haven’t Looked Hard Enough”)

“The Untold Sto­ry of Mussolini’s Fake Diaries” (Dai­ly Beast, 12 April 2015) eval­u­ates Mussolini’s sup­posed diaries, let­ters or doc­u­ments ped­dled over the years, while rais­ing some incrim­i­nat­ing charges, or sup­po­si­tions, about Win­ston Churchill:

Before the war, Churchill offered Il Duce a deal. After the war, British intel­li­gence tried to destroy their cor­re­spon­dence…. When Churchill became prime min­is­ter in May 1940 he tried, in a series of let­ters, to dis­suade Mus­soli­ni from join­ing the Axis pow­ers. He was ignored. Three weeks lat­er Italy joined Nazi Ger­many and declared war on Great Britain.…

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