The Winston Churchill cult in America

#1
It's pretty strong here in the States I'd say [a lot to admire in the man I think].

What's his status/reputation overall in contemporary Britain?
 
#2
Well as he won "Greatest Briton" against some strong competition, I'd say that like in the US, here, many only know about his wartime leadership (and then only the 'good' stuff).

Personally, I think that apart from his early wartime leadership, he was nowhere as good as his publicity suggests. On balance, that one period elevates him to the "great" simply because there was no-one else around who could have had the same effect.
 
#3
Of course he was half-American, but despite that we still liked him.

;P

Seriously, for a petulant drunkard he probably saved the British Isles from being invaded. "Cometh the hour, cometh the man".

I personally think he was great.
 
#4
I hear Hitler has a fairly big following over there as well. :wink:

Churchill is well remembered over here, right man for the job at the right time. Luckily he had some good Generals around him to curb, shall we say some of his more imaginative visions of how to fight a war.

Bit of a hit and miss affair prior to that though (Gallipoli).

Hard to imagine anyone else in Parliament stepping up to the plate like he did when the hour came.
 
#5
Cpl_Clot said:
Personally, I think that apart from his early wartime leadership, he was nowhere as good as his publicity suggests. On balance, that one period elevates him to the "great" simply because there was no-one else around who could have had the same effect.
The rest of his political career is, as you indicate, of interestingly mixed success - but still outstandingly successful when you compare him to the current breed of muppet. We do have to consider the both literary and military careers - I don't think he would have gained the Nobel Prize without being the great war-time leader - his books are actually readable for a start, which seems to be an immediate disqualification but the "History of the English-Speaking Peoples" is a very credible work of scholarship.

His early Africa service seems to have been none-too-bad and his post-Gallipoli WW1 service creditable. Even just the fact that he resigned on a point of principle and went to serve in the trenches not the back-benches would be something lost on the modern politician (even if he went from HQ to the RSF just to get a drink!)
 
#6
Brits do admire Churchill - as a wartime leader. Americans seem to find it strange that the British voted their wartime leader out of office in 1945.

What is missed at a distance of time or space is that..

Britain was (and is) a politically divided country with many who recall Churchill as the man who sent the tanks against strikers (in 1921). The wartime government was an remarkable coalition of national unity. It was headed by Churchill, but with Attlee (Labour) as his deputy and a mixture of industrialists such Beaverbrook and socialists such as Bevan supported by able service leaders such as Brooke. It was an extraordinarily effective committee with politicians laying aside the adversarial politics for the greater good. Is this the last time that the Brits pulled together rather than squabbling in yah boo sucks politics?

Churchill was a brilliant but flawed man. Without people like Brooke to keep him on the straight and narrow he could screw up. A good political argument is to accuse the labour party of needing a Gestapo. Not the best use of words to win the middle ground.

At the end of the Second war lot of voters thought that the Labour Party;'s vision of a welfare state was what they wanted rather than Churchill's Imperialism. Many remembered the false promises after the First War of a war to end war and a land fir for heroes. This time round they would vote for the people who offered concrete proposals to make life better for the working man.

Incidentally there is a Winston Churchill Leadership programme which uses Churchill's methods as the basis for management training. He is well worth studying as a model of :-

Leadership
Verbal Communications
Written communications
Committee management
The ethical dimension to management
Team building.

Studying a brilliant historic figure makes a lot more sense than invented mumbo jumbo and if anyone is interested in following it up PM me.
 
#7
I think Churchill actually commanded a Bn of Royal Scots Fusiliers in WW1. His earlier life too was amazing, combat on the NWF, Sudan, War Correspondent during the Boer War. Brilliant.

Fast forward to Obumble, never had a real job, 155 days in the Senate then President! Oh.... and HE'S awarded a Nobel Peace Prize (though nobody knows quite what for).

Don't make them like Churchill anymore.
 
#8
He was generally drunk and depressed and stayed in bed a lot; but had a way with words. And he let Attlee do the grafting. Worst of all, he was a journo!

But the British people at the time had a conception of what their 'hero figures' looked like. That was: A blue-blooded aristocrat of noble military lineage, a bally hero who had stared sharpened fruit in the face, and survived. 'He's a gentleman he is; Mr Churchill will know what to he will, sure enough'.

He was able to construct a self-image that he knew gave people 'belief'; when confidence fades some place faith in heroes.

But it was the British people who were the heroes. Churchill embodied somehow, emblemised 'British spirit' in almost a caricature of 'us'. He was John Bull reborn. A final hurrah in the dying days of Empire.

However, he wilted in the face of the Unions in the 50s.

Americans like him as they enjoy romantic heroes now in the way we used to and are beginning to again. Empires need symbols to encapsulate their 'rightness' in figureheads. Bojo, Tory Tony etc. Bush the folksy hero.
 
#9
If only the late, great Alan Clark MP had been Prime Minister (or at least Foreign Secretary or Minister of Defence). There was something of the Churchill spirit in him with regard to the national interest.
 
#10
BoomShackerLacker said:
He was generally drunk and depressed and stayed in bed a lot; but had a way with words. And he let Attlee do the grafting. Worst of all, he was a journo!

But the British people at the time had a conception of what their 'hero figures' looked like. That was: A blue-blooded aristocrat of noble military lineage, a bally hero who had stared sharpened fruit in the face, and survived. 'He's a gentleman he is; Mr Churchill will know what to he will, sure enough'.

He was able to construct a self-image that he knew gave people 'belief'; when confidence fades some place faith in heroes.

But it was the British people who were the heroes. Churchill embodied somehow, emblemised 'British spirit' in almost a caricature of 'us'. He was John Bull reborn. A final hurrah in the dying days of Empire.

However, he wilted in the face of the Unions in the 50s.

Americans like him as they enjoy romantic heroes now in the way we used to and are beginning to again. Empires need symbols to encapsulate their 'rightness' in figureheads. Bojo, Tory Tony etc. Bush the folksy hero.[
I'm certain he would have loved this post!
 
#11
björn said:
BoomShackerLacker said:
He was generally drunk and depressed and stayed in bed a lot; but had a way with words. And he let Attlee do the grafting. Worst of all, he was a journo!

But the British people at the time had a conception of what their 'hero figures' looked like. That was: A blue-blooded aristocrat of noble military lineage, a bally hero who had stared sharpened fruit in the face, and survived. 'He's a gentleman he is; Mr Churchill will know what to he will, sure enough'.

He was able to construct a self-image that he knew gave people 'belief'; when confidence fades some place faith in heroes.

But it was the British people who were the heroes. Churchill embodied somehow, emblemised 'British spirit' in almost a caricature of 'us'. He was John Bull reborn. A final hurrah in the dying days of Empire.

However, he wilted in the face of the Unions in the 50s.

Americans like him as they enjoy romantic heroes now in the way we used to and are beginning to again. Empires need symbols to encapsulate their 'rightness' in figureheads. Bojo, Tory Tony etc. Bush the folksy hero.[
I'm certain he would have loved this post!
"History will be kind to me; as I intend to write it" or similar
 
#12
Winston Churchill - a fascinating figure well worth the study. His output as a journalist was amazing. His books are still in print today and are just as readable today as when they were first written. He had a chestful of gongs too from his early career in the Army including some for World War I; when he was sacked from his post as First Lord of the Admiralty for the cock-up that was Gallipoli he went back to the Army and fought on the Western Front.

He may have overstayed his welcome as prime minister in the 1950s however. He kept his protege Anthony Eden waiting in the wings for a crack at the top job so long that Eden went to seed and brought us Operation Musketeer (Suez). :wink:
 
#13
Busterdog said:
I think Churchill actually commanded a Bn of Royal Scots Fusiliers in WW1.
6th Bn - he was in HQ as a Grenadier's officer but it was dry. So he volunteered to go to the front so he could have the odd snifter and did, by all accounts, a damn good job when he got there.

Ruckerwocman said:
He had a chestful of gongs too from his early career in the Army including some for World War I; when he was sacked from his post as First Lord of the Admiralty for the c***-up that was Gallipoli he went back to the Army and fought on the Western Front.
I think you'll find he resigned. I'll forgive the mistake - the concept of a politician resigning because they made a grievous error is so alien to our modern minds ...
 
#14
He has some really classic quotes:

My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them. 8)
 
#15
I think you'll find he resigned. I'll forgive the mistake - the concept of a politician resigning because they made a grievous error is so alien to our modern minds ...
Yes you are right. Politicians doing the right thing is so alien these days that I couldn't imagine it. :wink: It wouldn't happen today. :roll:
 
#16
Churchill was loathed in Wales for putting troops into the Rhondda in 1910
 
#18
Fallschirmjager said:
No doubt you were there to witness the event.
Fally, even I am not that old
 
#19
Idrach said:
The rest of his political career is, as you indicate, of interestingly mixed success - but still outstandingly successful when you compare him to the current breed of muppet.
Idrach, I have pieces of furniture and indeed sanitary ware with political careers that are outstandingly successful compared to the current breed of muppet.

All the best,

John.
 
#20
tropper66 said:
Churchill was loathed in Wales for putting troops into the Rhondda in 1910
The myth persists!

As Liberal Home Secretary, 1910, Churchill BLOCKED deployment of troops V striking miners in the Rhonnda - it never happened! Fact, rather than Trade Union mythology.

Others readied the troops - WSC was outraged, & they never moved beyond holding positions in the rail depots at Swindon & Cardiff.

Churchill was widely criticised for this - maybe this, plus the fact his return to the Gold Standard (as Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1924; he later admitted it was a ghastly error) was a cause of the General Strike, 1926 [when he also made some unfortunate 'off-the-cuff' remarks about "machine gunning the miners" - shades of Ronald Reagan's "bombing Moscow" quip?! ] has resulted in many being convinced he actually did send in troops! BUT HE NEVER DID!

Also worth noting that as Liberal President of the board of Trade, Churchill supported the Liberal Reforms; introduced the first putative minimum wage (Trade Boards Bill); established Labour Exchanges to help the unemployed; was a key player in drafting the National Insurance Act (1911); was instrumental in passing "The People's Budget" ("Supertax" on rich to finance social welfare programmes), & played a central role in ending the unelected House of Lords' power of veto over bills from the elected House of Commons (The Parliament Act, 1911). Hardly the record of a man who lacked sympathy for the plight of the poor & unemployed.

Churchill was a complex man: full of contradictions, a political maverick whose approach to party politics was, to say the least, pragmatic, and - at times - self-serving & opportunistic. This was why many did not trust him, and explains those "Wilderness Years" of the 1930s.

Subsequent events proved him right about Hitler (and later Stalin); yes, he was often a man of great insight/ sound judgement. But he could also be way off base - eg he was fulsome in his praise for Mussolini ("the Great Roman") during the 1920s, and his strategic judgements (macroeconomic - eg Gold Standard fiasco; military - Gallipoli debacle; conviction that Singapore was sound; "Soft Underbelly" etc etc) were often hopeless.

As a wartime leader at a time of national crisis he was matchless; the fact is, he enjoyed war, & there are indications he took pleasure in killing. As a peacetime PM he was adequate, but others (notably Eden - poor sod!) did all the hard graft whilst Churchill took the credit.

Like many "Great Men", Churchill was flawed, & on a personal level could be a complete sh*t...

In some ways, Churchill was a genius: all the plaudits ("Saviour of the nation"; "Greatest Briton of the C20th" etc) are true, but many Americans appear only to know about the Churchill of 1940-45, & , therefore, fail to appreciate why some Britons have a more ambivalent attitude toward "The Great Man".

He never did send the troops against the miners, though!
 

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