Churchill: Andrew Roberts for the Defense (Daily Telegraph)

Churchill: Andrew Roberts for the Defense (Daily Telegraph)

Thanks, Andrew Roberts

The Lon­don Dai­ly Tele­graph is spon­sor­ing a series of pod­casts fea­tur­ing con­ver­sa­tions with his­to­ri­ans about attacks on nation­al heroes. On Sep­tem­ber 1st, Steve Edg­in­ton engaged with Churchill biog­ra­ph­er Andrew Roberts on the Woke Movement’s num­ber one bogey­man: Win­ston Spencer Churchill….

Woke attacks on Win­ston Churchill are libel & lies | Churchill defended

“To many,” writes the Tele­graph,

Win­ston Churchill is the man who saved not only Britain but the world from Nazi tyran­ny. But to some, Churchill rep­re­sents the evils of the British Empire: racism, col­o­niza­tion and vio­lence. The wartime prime minister’s stat­ue in Par­lia­ment Square was tarred with the words “racist” after the Black Lives Mat­ter protests of 2020. So, hero or villain?

I appre­ci­ate Andrew Roberts’ very kind men­tion (minute 22) of my book, Churchill by Him­self, a cor­nu­copia of 4000 notable Churchill quo­ta­tions. It also includes close to 200 “Red Her­rings,” which WSC nev­er said: list­ed here and fre­quent­ly updat­ed. So, full dis­clo­sure: I am high­ly biased. I con­sid­er Andrew Roberts one of the good guys.

Honesty as best policy

Mr. Edg­in­ton has done his home­work, and con­fronts Roberts with a cor­nu­copia of charges. As in his Churchill biog­ra­phy, Walk­ing with Des­tinyAndrew hon­est­ly acknowl­edges where Churchill went wrong. (Yes, of course, in a polit­i­cal life from the cav­al­ry charge at Omdur­man to space trav­el, he went wrong—sometimes embar­rass­ing­ly wrong.)

So what about the Black and Tans in Ire­land? Edg­in­ton asks our his­to­ri­an. Are the charges true? Andrew Roberts answers in one word: “yes.” Churchill did not cre­ate the para­mil­i­tary con­stab­u­lary which wrecked vio­lence in Ire­land in 1920-21. But he defend­ed them long after their activ­i­ties were inde­fen­si­ble. For more on the sub­ject scroll to “Ire­land and the Jews” in “Def­con 1: The Bat­tle for Churchill’s Mem­o­ry.”

A shade of difference

I dif­fer with Andrew Roberts over Churchill’s view of the women’s vote. We agree that in the 19th cen­tu­ry, young Win­ston was adamant­ly, if pri­vate­ly, against it. (So too, was his moth­er, Lady Ran­dolph Churchill. Many women in those days fan­cied pol­i­tics a vul­gar game for row­dy men and drunks. Not until gov­ern­ment began to grow and affect their own dai­ly lives did they decide they need­ed to take a hand.)

At any rate, we slight­ly dif­fer on Churchill’s 20th cen­tu­ry views. A.R. says he fol­lowed the Lib­er­al Party’s gen­er­al line against suf­frage. Prime Min­is­ter H.H. Asquith was def­i­nite­ly against it. I’ve nev­er found a Churchill a state­ment oppos­ing votes for women in the 20th cen­tu­ry. True, he equiv­o­cat­ed, and on occa­sion seemed to hold back in the face of clam­or. But his wife Clemen­tine was a major influ­ence on his atti­tude. His daugh­ter Mary always said, “Papa grew in favour of votes for women when he real­ized how many women would vote for him.” (In the 1945 elec­tion that turned him out, it was the male vote that went against him; women vot­ers were even­ly divided.)

Don’t miss this video

As a cap­sule defense of Churchill from libel and slan­der, this 30 min­utes is well worth view­ing. Mr. Edg­in­ton is sharp and pre­cise, and ably rep­re­sents that cas­es made against the man. Dr. Roberts is at his best, in a stal­wart defense, giv­ing way only when the facts show that Churchill had some­thing wrong.

One thought on “Churchill: Andrew Roberts for the Defense (Daily Telegraph)

  1. One slight dis­agree­ment I had with Andrew Roberts was his state­ment (in regard to the Black and Tans) that the British couldn’t “fight ter­ror with ter­ror”. IIRC Michael Collins, at the time the truce was offered, esti­mat­ed that the IRA had only weeks to go before it would have had to throw in the tow­el. I believe the British Army were furi­ous that the politi­cians stabbed them on the back because they agreed with Collins’s assessment.

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