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Question about Winston Churchill (1 Viewer)

Pamela

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I just finished watching "The Gathering Storm," which dealt with Winston Churchill leading up to WWII. I had a couple of questions, and figured some of you history buffs could help me.

1.) The movie ended with Churchill being named Vice Admiral of the Navy. What were the circumstances that led to Churchill replacing Chamberlain as PM?

2.) What is Churchill's legacy? How is he thought of in England today?

Thanks!
 

Max Leung

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I don't know anything about the first question, but regarding the second, he is quoted often by curmudgeon quotation books.

His witticisms are great!

(woohoo! My 2^10th post!)
 
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Pamela:

Churchill kept reporting the aggressive plans of Germany, yet his reports were ignored. Chamberlain, then-PM, was among those ignoring the warnings. However, when Hitler began his invasion of The Low Countries on May 10, 1940 and Chamberlain resigned. Three days later, Churchill, who had demonstrated his deep commitment to defeating Hitler, stood before the House of Commons as PM.
 

Graham Perks

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His reputation is safe and secure. Can you imagine that he got voted out after the war? I wonder what the other candidates were saying about him. "Yes, sure he did an OK job managing the defence of the realm and defeating Nazi Germany, but, look at his track record on the economy!"

I guess the people just wanted to get away from anything WW2-related. He did get back as PM a few years later.

He also wrote some wonderful books such as History of the English Speaking Peoples.
 

Pamela

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Thanks for the info. The movie has really piqued my interest. I think I'll get a couple of books on him
 

Holadem

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Can you imagine that he got voted out after the war?
This seems to be a common occurence in History. I have heard of many leaders who bitterly retired after being voted off in similar circumstances, and never recovered from the "ungratefulness" of their people. Charles de Gaule from France, and to a certain extent Gorbatchev (sp?) come to mind.

--

Holadem
 

Bhagi Katbamna

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Bush got voted out after the Gulf War so it does happen to very popular leaders.

Favorite Churchill quotes:

George Bernard Shaw sent him 2 tickets to his play with a note that said "bring a friend, if you have one."

Churchill sent the tickets back with a note that said: "will come for the second show, if there is one."

A woman told him: "Sir, you are drunk."

He said "And madam, you are ugly but I shall be sober tomorrow."

"I fear no man except that half-naked fakir from India" said about Gandhi.
 

Steve Christou

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Who?
Oh Winston, old Winnie, the old Windbag! Only kidding his name is only uttered in hushed tones over here in Britland, regarded as our greatest Prime Minister, probably.
Just as long as you don't mention that that Margaret Thatcher in the same breath, oh sheet I just did, damn damn, I hated Maggie, really, imagine Anne Robinson governing your country for 10 years, oh the humanity!;)
 

CharlesD

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One nit-pick Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty, which would be equivalent to Secretary of the Navy in the US.
I don't think that Bush was ever "very" popular, his high ratings during the Gulf War were a side-effect of national unity in a time of crisis, much like the current "president" Bush's ratings.
Churchill got voted out after the war in part because of the Labour party promises of an easier life after the hardships of WWII and no doubt general war-weariness. Maybe people thought he would somehow stay on no matter what? after all the war Government was a "national unity" type Gov, rather than a partisan one.
"I fear no man except that half-naked fakir from India"
The Gandhi quote is interesting, to me the greatest two figures of the 20th Century were Gandhi and Churchill, both great men in their own ways, both made a huge positive difference for the world, but their backgrounds and methods were completely different, yet completely right for their circumstances. I am not surprised that Churchill had great respect for Gandhi.
Another good Churchill quote:
Woman: "if you were my husband, I would poison you"
Churchill: "If I were your husband, I would take it"
And a Gandhi quote, when asked what he thought of Western Civilization: "I think it would be a very good idea"
:)
 

Bhagi Katbamna

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The Soviet Union fell in part thanks to the Iron Lady so she always will get a lot of respect from me.

I think the current President Bush became popular due to national crisis but has remained popular because he is viewed by most people as a genuine person rather than someone who takes polls to see position to take.
 

BrianB

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The Soviet Union fell in part thanks to the Iron Lady so she always will get a lot of respect from me.

[seethe]

And she did a good job on making her own country fall apart too.

[/seethe]

And that's all I'm going to say on /that/ subject, as I know I'm crossing the 'no politics' line.

Churchill is definitely still regarded as a 'great statesman' who helped the UK immensely through the war.
 

CharlesD

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Pamela,

I don't know about good books about Churchill, but books by Churchill are a must read IMO, specifically his memoir/history of WWII and his History of the English Speaking Peoples
 

Ashley Seymour

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Funny you should ask. Yave you also just read The Atlantic Monthly magazine from a couple of months ago? It laid out a revisionist history of Churchill. I'm bummed because I can't find it, but it will give a different perspective.
 

Pamela

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Have you also just read The Atlantic Monthly magazine from a couple of months ago? It laid out a revisionist history of Churchill. I'm bummed because I can't find it, but it will give a different perspective.
Thanks for the tip. I found the article on the web:
Link Removed
I'm gonna read it tomorrow.
 

TheoGB

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Coming into this a bit late but I guess the answer to
1) is that he was never precisely PM - he was the head of the coalition Govt which I believe occurs as a standard in times of national crisis.
2) Churchill is universally well thought of in England (and presumably the rest of the UK. While it is easy to make revisionist statements about him, that is true of the whole of our part in WWII. I guess that no-one feels the need to trample over the patriotic feelings of our verterans. It would serve little purpose, so he is still seen as a great leader.
He was voted out after the War probably because he didn't bother to campaign effectively, I would guess. Clement Atlee's Labour Party IIRC brought in the NHS and generally had good policies. I wouldn't be surprised to find Churchill expected to win purely based on the good feeling left over from the war.
Maybe one of the site's many historians would like to provide a factual answer now! ;)
 

andrew markworthy

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The official biography of Churchill is by Martin Gilbert which is in several volumes and is very very long. There is an 'abbreviated' version of it (which I've got) which is a 1000+ pages. There is an excellent brief (circa 100 pages) life of Churchill called 'Winston Churchill' by Robert Blake.

To appreciate Churchill's virtues, you have to place him in the context of the times.

(a) Prior to World War II he was seen as a maverick politician. He'd swapped political parties and was seen as reckless. He was not inexperienced in high office, however, since he'd had a number of senior political appointments. But, by the 1930s he was largely regarded as one of yesterday's men and a minority voice.

(b) Churchill wasn't the only person warning about the dangers of Hitler, but he was the most vociferous and as the most senior in terms of political experience, he became leader of the anti-German faction. However, for much of the thirties, his was a minority view. The world was in the grips of a deep economic depression, and the thought of war depressed people so much that they were prepared to appease Hitler to avoid another conflict.

(c) Churchill took over as Prime Minister because he was the only feasible alternative to the existing PM, Chamberlain. All the other senior politicians were too tainted with the appeasement tag. Chamberlain wasn't as bad as posterity has presented him, but he was considered too weak, and at the time maintaining morale in the country was crucial.

(d) Churchill was not universally popular at any time. We tend to see him now as leading a totally united Britain, but in fact there was opposition to him throughout the war, and he had to face a couple of Parlimentary votes of no confidence. The main reason for opposition was that he was seen as reckless with some of his strategies (which of course got a lot of people killed). However, against this must be weighed the facts that in any wide-scale conflict, mistakes are made, and it is doubtful if any other politican would have done a better job.

(e) It wasn't Churchill who was voted out of office as much as the party he represented (the Conservatives). When the war ended, the opposition party (Labour) promised sweeping social reforms, and in particular a welfare state of free medical treatment, free schools and universities, etc. Churchill's fall from power left a lot of Brits feeling guilty, but it must be said that in peacetime, Churchill was not a particularly brilliant politician. He returned to power as Prime Minister one more time, when frankly he was too old and enfeebled, and his administration was not a success.

(f) Churchill tends to be practically worshipped by a lot of older Brits, largely because of the psychological impact of his speeches, which have the same iconic status in Britain as e.g. the Gettysberg Address [and yes, it was known fairly soon after the war that a lot of the broadcasts were made by a Churchill soundalike so that Churchill could get on with other important work]. Younger Brits barely know who he was. The view of anyone who reads or watches history programmes on the TV is that he was a great but flawed man. His various errors tend to get pored over by revisionist historians, who IMO fail to see the big picture. Yes, he had major faults, but arguably without him British resolve would have crumbled before the USA could have been persuaded to enter the war or Hitler changed his mind and attacked Russia for its oil fields.
 

TheoGB

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Younger Brits barely know who he was.
:laugh:
Now you mention it, the name Churchill would possibly set them thinking of nodding dogs saying 'Awww yersh!'
I think you probably do the youth a disservice there but then in London there are a lot of adverts for things like the Imperial War Museum that would continue to mark the man out...
 

BrianB

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It wasn't Churchill who was voted out of office as much as the party he represented (the Conservatives).
I think that's a good point to stress - it's something that doesn't always translate well to some Americans in my experience. It's only in the past ten years or so that UK politics has degenerated to where the general election is voting in the 'figurehead' rather than the political party. I blame New Labour for that - certainly, when Maggie was in power, it was most definitely still party politics in play (combined with "anyone but her" of course).
 

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