Winston Churchill’s Phrase “We are all in it together”

Winston Churchill’s Phrase “We are all in it together”

Updat­ed from 2013…. The Mail on Sun­day  report­ed a “dis­cov­ery.” Churchill used the phrase “we are all in it togeth­er” in a Lon­don din­ner on 28 May 1952. Stop press!?

This, The Mail claimed, shows that Chan­cel­lor of the Exche­quer George Osborne was being “Churchillian” when he said years lat­er: “We are all in this togeth­er” when talk­ing about the spend­ing cuts. Per­haps he just had a good speechwriter.

Churchill of course wrote his own speech­es. This line was uncov­ered by the his­to­ri­an Andrew Roberts and the Churchill Archives Cen­tre, in a cache of unpub­lished record­ings of speech­es found at Chartwell. The phrase was cer­tain­ly on Churchill’s mind in 1952. But it was hard­ly his first usage of the famous cliché.

“In it together” in sterner days

Churchill’s The Grand Alliance (1950), records a memo from the Prime Min­is­ter to the Lord Privy Seal and Min­is­ter of Food, 12 Decem­ber 1941:

It would be a mis­take, in my opin­ion, to announce these restric­tions of rations now. It would savour of pan­ic. Our posi­tion has immea­sur­ably improved by the full involve­ment of the Unit­ed States. The reserves are good. We are all in it togeth­er, and they are eat­ing bet­ter meals than we are.

Churchill also used “we are all in it togeth­er” pub­licly in a speech on the House of Com­mons, 4 Novem­ber 1952, as record­ed in Churchill, Stem­ming the Tide (1953) and Mar­tin Gilbert, Win­ston S. Churchill: Road to Vic­to­ry (1986).

“Let us go forward together”

Togetherness—united pur­pose and action among free peoples—was Churchill’s theme all his life. A more com­mon riff, used at least fif­teen times, as “Let us go for­ward togeth­er.” He applied that line in venues grand and minor—from the House of Com­mons to a con­ver­sa­tion with his poo­dle Rufus.

In 2017 the Hills­dale Col­lege Churchill Project answered a ques­tion about the “for­ward togeth­er” line which read­ers may like to con­sult.

The first appear­ance was in a pow­er­ful speech at the Man­ches­ter Free Trade Hall on 19 March 1910. Churchill’s Lib­er­als were deter­mined to pre­vent the House of Lords from amend­ing or reject­ing bills passed by the Com­mons. (They suc­ceed­ed with the Par­lia­ment Act of 1911.)  Churchill brought the Lib­er­al audi­ence to its feet with his peroration:

One step more, one effort more, and all the prizes you have fought for from dawn to dusk may be gained. In peace or in war vic­to­ry con­sists in the last hour and in the last inch. Let us, then, in true com­rade­ship go for­ward togeth­er. Advance with courage, and the cause of the peo­ple shall prevail.

Perennial bon mot

His audi­ences would hear that phrase many times, in peace and war. “For­ward togeth­er” is redo­lent of Churchill’s life­time impulse. He stood for coali­tion not divi­sion, lib­er­ty not tyran­ny, uni­ty among the Eng­lish-speak­ing peo­ples. A favorite ora­tor­i­cal tac­tic was to sug­gest that the goals he enun­ci­at­ed were shared by all. He used this com­bi­na­tion as fre­quent­ly as any over more than a half cen­tu­ry of pub­lic life. It’s a good piece of English—as valid a bench­mark for free peo­ples as it was of old.

Further reading

“How many times did Churchill say, ‘Let us go for­ward togeth­er’?” A detailed account of the lat­ter phrase in his words and speech­es. includ­ing to his rus­set-col­ored French poo­dle: “Come, Papri­ka, let us go for­ward together.”

One thought on “Winston Churchill’s Phrase “We are all in it together”

  1. Wouldn’t it be won­der­ful if we could some­how inspire our two par­ties in Wash­ing­ton DC to take up and func­tion with Churchill’s style of governing.

    Alas it is very late in the day. RML

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