My friend Steve Hayward had the wit to paraphrase, in reaction to the arrival of Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street, some comments about another incoming PM, eighty years ago next May. “Cambridge Cute,” a friend remarked of Steve’s good piece.
Speaking of Cambridge Cuties, I immediately thought of what Andrew Roberts described as “The Respectable Tendency,” the British establishment, in his great book, Eminent Churchilllians. So I dug into a dozen books to find more of what they said back then. (Lightly paraphrased.)
Churchill reflected in his memoirs on why Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin refused to admit his country had a defense problem—Nazi Germany—because he thought the admission might cost him an election. (Reference to Baldwin’s “miscalculation” refers to his admission, in Parliament, that his previous low estimates of German air strength had been catastrophically low)….
Mr. Baldwin was of course not moved by any ignoble wish to remain in office.…
…by the British Prime Minister, on debossed House of Commons Notepaper, thanking a well-wisher for a kind message on his birthday, 1947. Folded once, slightly yellowed from age, otherwise a fine copy. $1200.” (This was an actual offer on the Internet, but the honest seller, alerted by an observer, conscientiously withdrew the item.)
More than one collector has been taken in by these remarkable facsimile holograph notes, produced by Churchill’s Private Office from 1945 through at least 1959—some of them so convincing that casual observers swear they are originals.
From 1945, at least nine variations of replica holograph notes were reproduced by the thousands by to thank well-wishers, whose congratulations poured in on his birthday and other occasions.…