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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 10:25 AM
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Churchill the hero
The Independent
Greatest statesman of the 20th century or the last of an arrogant ruling elite? Forty years after he was laid to rest, the controversy over Winston Churchill's power and personality shows no sign of abating
By Michael Fry, Author, historian and former Conservative party candidate
29 January 2005

The funeral of Sir Winston Churchill 40 years ago was the last great ceremony of state to honour a commoner that any of us can have seen or, most likely, ever will see. All the panoply of pageantry that Britain can deploy was there. Yet it finished with a homely chuffer pulling out of Paddington on its way to the last resting place in a slightly bleak churchyard in Oxfordshire. Churchill could have been buried with fanfares in Westminster Abbey if he had wanted, just as he could have had a dukedom. But he preferred to remain the great commoner, just as he preferred to lie in the earth of a countryside known to him since his childhood. Enough was enough.

At the climaxes of his life he had always understood how to capture a mood, and posthumously he did it again. It was not as if he had been snatched away in the fullness of his powers, but on the contrary had suffered some years of visible decrepitude, if not senility. So there was no need for any public outpouring of shocked grief.

Instead the British set about a business we do well, a ceremonial calculated to play on basic human feelings and produce a demonstration of loyalty to the order of things we live in. All agreed the funeral went off superbly: just right in every detail. And even things which went a tiny bit awry - the burly guardsmen staggering under the weight of the coffin, Lord Attlee breaking down in tears - served to underline the proud discipline of the rest.

Probably we did it so well because we sensed we were doing it for the last time. Since this was the final performance of the run, we might as well make it a good one. The restraint was not only possible but preferable because we had already moved on into a new era.
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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 10:28 AM
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1. Churchill the villain
The Independent
By John Charmley, Professor of history at the University of East Anglia
29 January 2005

In Algiers in 1943, Churchill told Harold Macmillan that he was not sure that history would judge him to have been a great man. When Macmillan expressed surprise at this, Churchill replied that to future generations he might look like Cromwell, who, obsessed with Britain's old enemy, Spain, had missed the rise of the new threat from France. It was a typically Churchillian piece of reasoning, and, of course, he went on to try to prove himself wrong by warning of the danger from the USSR in his famous "Iron Curtain" speech at Fulton, Missouri, in March 1946.

He need not have worried. Whatever a "great man" might be, Churchill qualifies on all counts, and it would be futile to challenge his claims to the status he so desired. But great men can commit great mistakes, and Churchill's are on the same gargantuan scale as his achievements.

One of the curious features of the secular canonisation of Winston Churchill, stemming, perhaps, from the needs of his American admirers, is the way in which the cult has created a Churchill shorn of the characteristics that made him such a controversial figure for most of his career. It has created a Churchill akin to the waxwork Lenin in Red Square.

The causes to which Churchill devoted his career were typical of imperialists of his age and background. The "wilderness years" of the 1930s were not some strange aberration when political pygmies kept a great man from office, they were the inevitable result of Churchill's crusted Toryism. As early as the 1920s he was writing about the "failed 20th century", and by the 1930s he was musing aloud about the failure of the democratic experiment. When Lord Robert Cecil wrote that he thought Churchill took no interest in politics unless it involved the chance of a little bloodshed - preferably communists, but home-grown trades unionists would do - he was expressing a common view.
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