Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 7, 2017

What Would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 29)

Winston Churchill chose to become a Liberal and thus on 31st of May, he crossed the floor and took his seat on the Liberal benches. “The House of Parliament resumed work today after Winston’s holidays” acidly commented the Punch magazine. “Attendance small; benches mostly empty. Winston, entering with all the world before him where to choose, strides down to his father’s old quarters on the front bench below the gangway to the left of the Speaker, and sits among the ghosts of the old Fourth Party. “He’s gone over at last, and good riddance,” say honest hacks munching their corn in well-padded stalls of the Government stables. They don’t like young horses that kick out afore and a hint, and cannot safely be counted upon to run in double harness. “Winston’s gone over at last,” they repeat whinnying with decorous delight.”

Some years later Joseph Chamberlain confided to Margot Asquith: “He was the cleverest of all the young men. The mistake Arthur Balfour made, was letting him go.”

Winston found himself in strange company on the Liberal benches.
There were, of course, the Liberal Imperialists, known as the ‘respectable
Liberals’, made up of well-to-do sober, conservative aristocrats such as
Lord Rosebery and Sir Edward Grey. Then there was the radical group
led by Lloyd George which was composed of radicals, pacifists, teetotallers
and nonconformists, offering a marked contrast to the robust young
soldier-politician who had joined their ranks. These were the people that
Winston had once jeered at as ‘prigs, prudes and faddists’, and they still
treated him with a certain amount of suspicion. They remembered that
only a few years before, at Oxford in 1901, he had declaimed: ‘The
Radical Party is not dead … it is hiding from the public view like a toad
in a hole; but when it stands forth in all its hideousness the Tories will have
to hew the filthy object limb from limb.’ Indeed, shortly after Winston
joined the Liberals an anonymous pamphlet was printed quoting many of
his anti-Radical sayings, with the heading: ‘Mr Winston Churchill on the Radical Party before he donned their livery and accepted their Pay’

Winston Churchill paid little attention to these rearguard attacks and flung himself into the battle. He was welcomed warmly by Lloyd George, John Morley and Herbert Asquith, all of whom were shrewd enough to know the value of their new recruit. He did not make any more radical speeches in Parliament but continued along his well-worn path of Army reform and financial expenditure. But he added one new target for his guns, and that was the Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour.

Balfour was having a difficult time in holding his Party together over
tariffs and the method he chose was to sit firmly on the fence. He skilfully
evaded all attempts to raise the matter in Parliament and was often absent
from the Chamber during fiscal debates when awkward questions might
have been asked him.

This gave Churchill the opportunity for one of the most spirited and
hard-hitting attacks the House has ever known. He jibed and jeered at
Balfour for his ‘miserable and disreputable shifts’, for ‘his gross and
flagrant ignorance’. ‘Queens never abdicate,’ he announced sarcastically,
and he told the House that ‘to keep in office for a few more weeks and
months there is no principle which the Government is not prepared to
abandon, no friend or colleague they are not prepared to betray, and no
quantity of dust and filth they are not prepared to eat.

Once again Punch called attention to the similarity between father and
son, recalling Lord Randolph’s onslaught against Sir Stafford Northcote
in 1880. ‘The same direct hitting out from the shoulder; the same lack of
deference to age and authority; the same pained silence on the side where
the assailed Ministers sit; the same cheers and laughter in enemy’s camp as
cleverly-planned, skilfully-directed blow follows blow . . . Prince Arthur
[Balfour] lolls on the Treasury Bench looking straight before him, with
studious air of indifference betrayed by countenance clouded by rare
anger.’

Mr Balfour seldom deigned to answer Winston’s attacks, but some-
times he was provoked too far. On 24 July Winston said in an insolent
voice: ‘We have been told ad nauseam of the sacrifices which the Prime
Minister makes. I do not deny that there have been sacrifices. The House
ought not to underrate or deny those sacrifices. Some of them must be
very galling to a proud man. There were first sacrifices of leisure and then
sacrifices of dignity . . . Then there was the sacrifice of reputation … For
some years the right hon. Gentleman has led the House by the respect and
affection with which he was regarded in all quarters. In future he will not
lead the House by the respect and affection of the Opposition at least . . .
It has been written that the right honourable Gentleman stands between
pride and duty. Pride says “go” but duty says “stay”. The right honour-
able Gentleman always observes the maxim of a certain writer that whenever an Englishman takes or keeps anything he wants, it is always from a high sense of duty.’

This was too much for Balfour and he replied to Winston in icy tones:
‘As for the junior Member for Oldham his speech was certainly not
remarkable for good taste, and as I have always taken an interest in that
honourable Gentleman’s career, I should certainly, if I thought it in the
least good, offer him some advice on that particular subject. But I take it
that good taste is not a thing that can be acquired by industry, and that even
advice of a most heartfelt and genuine description would entirely fail in
its effect were I to offer it to him. But on another point I think I may give
him some advice which may be useful to him in the course of what I hope
will be a long and distinguished career. It is not, on the whole, desirable to
come down to this House with invective which is both prepared and
violent. The House will tolerate, and very rightly tolerate, almost any-
thing within the rule of order which evidently springs from genuine
indignation aroused by the collision of debate; but to come down with
these prepared phrases is not usually successful, and at all events, I do not
think it was very successful on the present occasion. If there is preparation
there should be more finish, and if there is so much violence there should
certainly be more veracity of feeling.’

It is perhaps only in England that friendship could survive these heated
duels. Although the relationship of Balfour and Churchill went through
its chilly periods, each time it moved again into the sunshine. And when
Balfour died many years later, Winston wrote a warm and generous
estimate of his work and character. In this essay he remarked: ‘He was
never excited and in the House of Commons very hard to provoke. I tried
often and often, and only on a very few occasions, which I prefer to
forget, succeeded in seriously annoying him in public.’

The General Election took place in January 1906. Everyone expected the
Liberals to win, but no one imagined such a sweeping victory. It was the
greatest electoral landslide since 1833. The Liberals won 401 seats and the
Conservatives were reduced to 157. The new era of social democracy had
begun.

It is an odd twist of Fate that Winston Churchill’s Victorian views on
finance should have led him into a Party which, under the leadership of
Lloyd George as Chancellor of the Exchequer, was destined to revolutionize British financial thought.

The years from 1906 to 1914 are a milestone in English history. They
were the stormy, bitter, spectacular years which swept Britain along the
path of social democracy, a course which she once again began to pursue
in 1945. A flood of legislation was added to the statute books: old age
pensions, national health insurance, workmen’s compensation, minimum
wages, trade boards, labour exchanges, and many other social measures.
But it was not only a period of reform, it was a period of fundamental
change. For the first time in history the Budget was used as a political
instrument to redress the vastly uneven balance of wealth. For the last
time in history the landed aristocracy exerted its rule; the Parliament Bill
stripped the House of Lords of the power to block the legislation of the
Commons, and transformed it at a stroke of the pen into a useful but
innocuous revising Chamber.

Needless to say, the rich and powerful fought for their money and their
privileges with all their might. ‘Party animosity,’ wrote Lord Campion
in 1952, ‘reached a degree of virulence which is hardly conceivable in the
present generation.’ And the animosity was concentrated on the two
brilliant, glittering platform speakers who emerged as the Radical leaders
of the day: Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.

They were an oddly contrasting pair. One was the grandson of a Duke,
a Tory aristocrat, who had made the most of the advantages that position
and privilege could offer. The other was a poor Welsh boy, brought up
by a widowed mother and a shoe-maker uncle, articled to a solicitor at
the age of sixteen, who began his career by defending poachers in the
County Courts.

And yet these two had much in common. In their natures ran an
unusual mixture of emotionalism, impulsiveness and hard-headed am-
bition. Each possessed the spark of genius that lifted him above his more
erudite contemporaries. Each was an adventurer who loved the thrill and
uncertainty of the political battle. And each had enough generosity to
fight his way through the years as friends first and rivals second.

By 1908 they shared a common platform which stood apart from the
rostrum of the more conservative Liberals in the Cabinet. ‘Both were
opposed,’ wrote Halevy, ‘to a policy of heavy expenditure on the Army
and the Navy, both advocates of a policy of social reform which, they
maintained, the Liberal Party must pursue with an unprecedented daring,
if the Labour Party were not to grow strong on its left. They came for-
ward as the two leaders of the radical group of pacifists and advanced social reformers as opposed to the three Imperialists Asquith, Grey and Haldane.’

It is easy enough to understand the rise of Lloyd George as a great
Radical and pacifist leader. Lloyd George entered Parliament as a Welsh
nationalist. He was not interested in foreign affairs and regarded the army
and navy almost as the stage props of Tory Imperialism to which he was
bitterly opposed. At the root of his thinking was strong nonconformism
mixed with a deep hatred of the landowning class which had been bred
in his bones by a hard childhood where he saw many examples of the
victimization of the poor by the squirearchy.

It is not so easy to picture Winston Churchill, the aristocrat and the
soldier, fitting himself to the Radical-Pacifist mould. If Winston seemed a
slightly incongruous figure on the Liberal benches in 1904 sitting among
the ‘prigs, prudes and the faddists,’ he seemed even more out of place after
the election of 1906. Of the 401 Liberal candidates who were returned,
over 200 belonged to the League of Liberals Against Aggression and
Militarism, who were commonly known as the LLAAMs. Nearly all of these ‘lambs’ were nonconformists. The aristocratic, landowning Liberal was almost a thing of the past The new blood was drawn largely from the professional classes; lawyers, journalists, university professors, and ‘champions of all those eccentric causes which arouse the enthusiasm of British philanthropy.

Winston was born with the nature of an Innovator, and the heart of a Social Progressive, if not an outright Reformer — but with the trim of an Aristocrat and a perfect Gentleman…

Indeed, his sense of justice was not overly outraged by the great inequality of wealth, nor by the hangover of feudal privileges, but he did bum with that righteous and romantic indignation at the lot of one section of the community which must always be the mainspring of the true Radical.

If one observed him in passing, it would appear that his interest was less concerned with the individuals who made up the nation, than with the nation itself. Yet from the earliest moment his life was strictly in favor of the common man and on bettering the lot of humanity by spreading around the civilizing influence of Western Civilization, Liberty, Democracy and Human Rights.

Yet when he was of a reflective mood, his thoughtful outlook was that of the historian. He saw the World and the place of Britain inside of it, in her most attractive perspective, as a strong, rich, law-abiding, Christian power.
He saw his place as a leader of Men, and destined to be the Guardian of a Constitutional Republic with a Sovereign as the guarantor for Free Citizens, and as the purveyor of their just lots, of Liberty and Democracy. He saw the country as always best when spreading her wings, and her sails at the five continents, along with the enrichment of enlightened ideas shared across the world — as she moved steadily forward through a wonderful chain of continuous and progressive action.

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As an Aristocrat and one who was manor born if not manor bred – the feeling of continuity and selective breeding was in his bones. His feeling of place was a feeling as strong as Lloyd George’s dislike of the squirearchy. Yet even in his most rebellious moments, this upbringing satisfied Winston’s romantic nature. Just as young Winston liked to think of himself as the product of good breeding in a line of great men geared for Destiny’s fulfillment — the adult Churchill also liked to think of the nation as the product in a series of great historical moments, and great episodes, perpetuated by courageous leading figures with strong personalities that had lived before him and thus influenced the course of events from beginning of time, to today and eternity…

Because to Winston Churchill, human history was driven by the Men smoothed over by natural selection, and further whetted sharper through the Darwinian survival of the fittest, and Free Will, but not by any inevitability of circumstances or by the ebb and tide of time’s pendulum. And yet himself was always in a hurry to fulfill this unknown destiny even at the cost of placing himself in the path of bullets, swords, lances, shrapnel, bombs, cannon projectiles, and even the hate and the attacks of all the enraged females who went after him with a vengeance.

And he took them all in stride saying that he didn’t hate his haters, because when he examined them — he found out that deep down — they were all uninformed and misguided friends. Further as he said in his private joking references towards his haters, when he was in a jolly humorous and critical aspect: “Surely, these crows and ravens, must have fought for the SS in the war” because that is how he called the Sobriety and Sufrazete brigades of black clad austere and largely unsexed women. To him that was the funny side of the female SS corps of Great Britain. He knew that even in his time, this comment was politically unacceptable. But he could not refrain from talking without humour. And he especially decried those who took themselves too seriously. His own sense and use of self deprecating humour allowed him to poke fun at himself and then at every pompous ass he could think of.

This of course earned him many enemies, and not many friends could stomach his sharp wit, either.

But that was Winston’s gift. He poked fun at Hitler in a really big way, using such sharp tongue and poison laced witticism that the small Austrian Corporal was enraged at a distance of a more than a thousand miles.

Indeed Adolf Hitler was so mad at Churchill poking fun at him and his silly walk, that he designed numerous assassination attacks against the British Prime Minister at the heat of passion and then his Wehrmacht, the Gestapo, the SS, and all his spy and foreign assassination service people, were lost totally “out-at-sea” when trying to execute his orders against the most popular wartime Prime Minister England has ever known.

Yet in today’s society his jokes, his witticisms, and his repartees — of course — would be totally unacceptable as a form of humour or even as a form of inimical oratory…

But since then — women have matured and the times have changed in amazing ways. Now they have the vote and they drink and get stoned even more than men. Yet their inimical composition against cynical jokers and free wheeling wits, has not changed an iota since that time. If anything the female and especially the feminist rage have both increased exponentially, because it has somehow become acceptable for the females of the species to “Lose their Shit” often and frequently under the guise of PMS, pre-PMS, post-PMS, and hysteria nervosa that pretty much takes up the whole of the month for the liberated western women.

Please take heed because this thing above, is a joke. So, please do not take it seriously, because I sincerely do not want to have the black ravens of the female SS and their ‘quasi-male’ colleagues coming after me with hate in their hearts. I like women, but do not want them to attack me in all of my events and an all of my public speeches.

I don’t need any more haters, and certainly do not expect that anyone will seriously fail to see the intergenerational humour in this writing, but since I have already had a series of nasty experiences with the SS Brigades of Political Correctness — certainly do not want anymore.

Take this as a joke and please stop your crazy urge to attack me as it happened with the hapless crazy fellow who attacked me in one of my famous Lectures at the Microsoft Headquarters campus.

Yet for old grandpa Winnie his strong and conservative traditionalism was never recognized as the wellspring of his wit and humour, But most of his closest friends were able to see the other side of his sharp witticisms. In his gallows humor and his cynical homilies that always led people to a mixture of mirth and remorse — he used his peculiar form of deprecating humour as a sort of shield that helped him protect himself from the black dogs of hopelessness and depression that came about every time that he was attacked unjustly. This was his way of dealing with his toughest challenges and it was a “preservative” just as much as a fundamental tool that came to define him as a very part of him.

On his serious politics, he often said this: ‘Whereas I am a Conservative by conviction,’ a Tory colleague once remarked, ‘Winston is one by prejudice.’

But he had a fantastic ability to be able to view and examine every issue from any and all perspectives.

Sir Ian Hamilton who saw much of Winston during his soldiering days remarked along the same line: ‘I have always felt that Winston’s coat of many colours was originally dipped in a vat of blue; a good fast natural Tory background, none of your synthetic dyes.’

And Lord Birkenhead, who was Winston Churchill’s closest friend for twenty years, testified in 1924: “Fundamentally he has always been of our generation, the most sincere and fervid believer in the stately continuity of English life.”
He certainly was not a full liberal when he joined the Liberal Party in 1904. It is worth noting that he did not deliver a single Radical speech until his relations with his own Party were at breaking point. And in the last speech he made from the Conservative benches he pointed out, almost sadly: “Since my quarrel with the Government has become serious, I would like to say that it has been solely and entirely on the question of finance. It was on finance that I was drawn to attack the Army scheme of 1900; it has been mainly on finance that I have been drawn to oppose the fiscal proposals of the right honourable Gentleman . . .”

Winston’s Radicalism was fashioned by Conservative animosity. He was not only provoked by Tory wrath but, unexpectedly, surprised and wounded by it as well. He suddenly came to the conclusion that he had been badly treated. First of all, the Tory leaders had refused to give him office although they admitted his ability and did not hesitate to make use of it at election time; Second, although ultimately fifty Conservatives withdrew their support from the Government over Protection, he was the only one singled out for attack; third, it was not he, but they, who had changed their views on Free Trade. ‘Change with a Party, however consistent, is at least defended by the power of numbers,’ he wrote many years later. ‘To remain constant when a Party changes is to excite invidious comparison.’

However, Winston’s picture of himself as an outspoken young man martyred for the consistency of his political opinions was not shared by the Conservatives. First and foremost, they did not believe in his sincerity.
To them he was ambitious and unscrupulous, making wildly disloyal
speeches in a bold bid for power. And of course the fact that he was
brilliant and effective as well did nothing to soften their anger. These
were the two sides of the story and the truth probably lay somewhere in
the middle.

Once Winston became a Liberal, his powerful and imaginative mind
explored the possibilities of the Party creed. He grasped the strongest
threads of Liberalism and at once wove them into an exciting theme. He
made the Liberal idea sparkle and shine as he linked with it, exclusively,
the future glory of Britain.

However, the most interesting aspect of his change of Party lay in the
effect it had on the biography of his father. He did not finish it for a year
after he joined the Liberals. Lord Randolph was still his great inspiration
and Lord Randolph had said: ‘No power on earth would make me join
the other side.’

It was then obviously essential to Winston’s peace of mind that he should feel that his father would have approved of his action. First he convinced himself that his father had been treated very badly by the Conservatives.

When people heckled him at the General Election of 1906 and called him a turncoat he replied solemnly and almost endearingly in this simple, unguarded, fully honest, and not at all apologetic way, all the while defending his late father’s cause, and his own honor as well by saying this:
‘I admit that I have changed my Party. I don’t deny it. I am proud of it.
When I think of all the labours which Lord Randolph Churchill gave to
the fortunes of the Conservative Party and the ungrateful way in which
he was treated by them when they obtained the power they would never
have had but for him — I am delighted that circumstances have enabled me
to break with them while I am still young, and still have the first energies
of my life, to give to the popular cause.’

Thus Winston built up the figure of Lord Randolph as the hero of the
piece, and the Tory Party as the villain. If it had not been for Lord Ran-
dolph the Tory Party might have disappeared for ever. ‘But for a narrow
chance they might have slipped down the gulf of departed systems. The
forces of wealth and rank, of land and Church, must always have exerted
vast influence in whatever confederacy they had been locked. Alliances or
fusions with Whigs and moderate Liberals must from time to time have
secured them spells of office. But the Tory Party might easily have failed
to gain any support among the masses. They might have lost their hold
upon the new foundations of power; and the cleavage in British politics
must have become a social, not a political division upon a line horizontal, not oblique.’

Lord Randolph had saved the Tory Party which had repaid him by
casting him aside. His son asked: ‘Would he have become a ‘Tory-Socialist’ in the new century?’ Or, ‘Would he, under the many riddles the future
had reserved for such as he, have snapped the tie of sentiment that bound
him to his party, and resolved at last to “shake the yoke” of inauspicious
stars.’

Winston decided that his father would have done what he himself had done: “Become a Progressive.”

The fact that Winston painted the picture highlighting the differences
between Lord Randolph and the Conservative Party, which he could
scarcely have done so vividly, had he remained a Tory, made the book a
fascinating drama. It was beautifully written and carefully assembled. The
issues of the day became alive and the House of Commons stands forth as
‘the best club in the world.’

The reviewers praised the book as a ‘literary masterpiece’, but politically
maintained their reservations. The Review of Reviews, one of the leading
periodicals of the day, devoted thirteen pages to its analysis, under the
heading Book of the Month. It called the biography ‘shrewd, ‘acute’ and
‘brilliant’ but when it dealt with the author’s interpretation of Lord
Randolph’s character and contribution the tone grew ironical. ‘Mr
Winston’s book “Lord Randolph” dawns upon us as a kind of demigod transcending all his contemporaries by his piercing insight and demonic
energy. In the midst of the dash of parties, and even while he was apparently engaged in the fiercest strife, he stands aloof, alone and apart. More Liberal than the Liberals, he was nevertheless the idolized gladiator of the militant Tories; but for him the Tory Party, that great instrument which had governed Britain for the last twenty years, would have perished
miserably. To his genius, to his prescience, to his statesmanlike grasp of the
great verities of the situation, is due the realization of the great ideal of a
Tory democracy, primrose-leagued around an Imperial crown. Such a
concept of Lord Randolph Churchill may be true: it is certainly new, but
it is put forward with such sincerity of conviction, and such plausible and
persistent arguments, that it is certain to win much more acceptance than
anyone could have believed to be possible before Mr Winston Churchill
took in hand the apotheosis of his father … I will only say that it is
difficult to account for Lord Randolph’s resignation on any other theory
than that of a swelled head, manifesting itself in an impatient determina-
tion to force the hand of Lord Salisbury and constitute himself master of the Cabinet. Mr Winston disguises, excuses and extenuates the supreme
miscalculation of his father’s lifetime. But beneath all the excuses due to
filial respect, the fact stands out clearly that Lord Randolph believed the
time had come when he could ‘dictate’ to Lord Salisbury. It was a fatal
miscalculation.’

The political battle did not reach its full force for over two years. When
the Liberals formed their new Government in 1906, Campbell Bannerman, a good-natured Scot of upright character but no startling ability,
became Prime Minister for the simple reason that he had fewer enemies
than other likely contenders. Mr Asquith became Chancellor of the
Exchequer, Sir Edward Grey went to the Foreign Office, and Winston
Churchill, aged thirty-one, became Under-Secretary of State for the
Colonies.

Churchill was first offered the job of Financial Secretary to the Treasury
but he preferred the Colonies, first because the Colonial Office would
handle the settlement with the South African Republics, and second, and
probably more important, because his chief, Lord Elgin, sat in the Lords,
which gave his Under-Secretary more scope in the Commons.

Winston found plenty of opportunity for his talents. The Liberal
Government soon made the daring and enlightened decision to give im-
mediate and complete self-government to the Transvaal and the Orange
Free State, and the Conservatives opposed it. Although the Treaty of
Peace had stated that ‘as soon as circumstances permit, representative
institutions leading up to self-government will be introduced’, the Tories
insisted that the right conditions did not yet prevail. Mr Balfour viewed
with ‘alarm and distrust what he referred to as ‘this most reckless develop-
ment of a great colonial policy;’ and in the Upper House Lord Milner and
Lord Lansdowne, the Tory leaders, painted dark forecasts of the poor
harvest such precipitous action would reap.

Winston was wholeheartedly in favour of the Bill which became his
responsibility to pilot through the Commons. In his maiden speech five
years before, he had pleaded for a vigorous finish to the war with a
humane and just settlement to follow. Now his emotions were involved
as well. Back in South Africa, during the Boer War, Winston Churchill was taken prisoner after the rail ambush and explosion derailed the train he was riding on, and once his unit was wrecked — he was arrested by a Boer horseman who came galloping up and placed him under arrest aiming at him through his rifle sights… and that prisoner of war experience led to his daring raid for freedom when he escaped to the Portuguese sector. Yet in 1902, shortly after the war had drawn to a close, several Boer generals visited London to ask for economic assistance for their devastated country. It was at this time that Winston Churchill was introduced at a luncheon
to their leader, General Botha. The two famous men now took each other’s measure and talked about the war over drinks, and Churchill told him the story of his capture. This is how wrote as he remembered this episode: ‘General Botha listened in silence; then he said: ‘Don’t you recognize me? I was that man. It was I who took you prisoner. I, myself.’ and his bright eyes twinkled with pleasure.

In 1906, shortly after Winston was appointed Under Secretary — General Louis Botha became the first Prime Minister of the Transvaal in South Africa. It was then that Botha came to London to attend the Imperial Conference and was present at a great banquet given to the Dominion Prime Ministers in Westminster Hall. As General Louis Botha strode through the hall to his place of honor at the banquet table — he passed by Winston Churchill who was accompanied by his mother. General Botha then paused, and said to Lady Jennie Randolph Churchill with a twinkle in his eyes: ‘He and I have been out in all weathers.’

That’s how Winston Churchill’s friendship with Louis Botha, whom he later described as ‘one of the most interesting men I have ever met,’ strengthened his already firm faith in the Boers. He answered the Conservatives in uncompromising language. ‘We do not ask honourable Gentlemen opposite to share our responsibility.’ he said in his closing speech. ‘If by chance our counsels of conciliation should come to nothing, if our policy should end in mocking disaster, then the resulting evil would not be confined to South Africa. Our unfortunate experience would be trumpeted forth all over the world wherever despotism wanted a good argument for bayonets, wherever an arbitrary government wished to deny or curtail the liberties of imprisoned nationalities.

‘But if, on the other hand, as we hope and profoundly believe, better
days are in store for South Africa, if the long lane it has been travelling has
reached its turning at last, if the near future should unfold to our eyes a
tranquil, prosperous, consolidated Afrikaner nation under the protecting
aegis of the British Crown, then I say, the cause of the poor and the weak
all over the world will have been sustained, and everywhere small peoples
will get more room to breathe, and everywhere great empires will be
encouraged by our example to step forward; if only means a step into
the sunshine of a more gentle and a more generous age.’

The result of this bold experiment was entirely successful. Louis Botha
remained Prime Minister of the Transvaal until 1910. During that year the
four colonies were federated and Botha became the first Prime Minister
of the Union of South Africa. When he died in 1918 his second-in-
command, Jan Smuts, succeeded him. Both men were lifelong friends
of Churchill; and it is perhaps worth reminding the reader that when
Britain went to war in 1914 Louis Botha and Smuts also declared war
on Germany and attacked German Southwest Africa. It is also worth
recording that at home, as soon as the Conservatives saw that the Constitution Bill transformed the Boer Republics into staunch supporters of
the British Commonwealth, they changed their tune. Three years later
Mr Balfour swallowed his words of criticism and described it in the
House of Commons as ‘one of the most important events in the history of
the Empire, one of the great landmarks of Imperial policy … the most
wonderful issue out of all those divisions, controversies, battles and out-
breaks, the devastations and horrors of war, the difficulties of peace. I do
not believe the world shows anything like it in its whole history!’

South Africa was not the only subject that occupied Winston Churchill during the first two years of the Liberal Government. Although he was serving in the comparatively humble capacity of an Under Secretary, he was regarded as one of the leading figures in the Government. In 1907 he was made a Privy Councillor, an honour rarely accorded to a politician below the rank of a full Minister. This was a certain indication that as soon as he had served his apprenticeship he would step into the Cabinet. He already had the approach of a Cabinet Minister. His ideas were not confined to his departmental duties but were on a national, policy-making scale. Although 1906 and 1907 are regarded by present-day historians as ‘the lull before the storm’, Winston Churchill made several strong Radical speeches during this period which fanned Conservative emotions into bright, angry flames.

One of these speeches, given at Glasgow in October 1906, might have
been delivered by Clement Attlee in 1951. It attacked Marxist Socialism
but praised the solid ranks of Labour. It defended private enterprise but
spoke in favour of further collectivization. It was in fact the doctrine of
the middle course; of a mixture of competition and cooperation, of
public ownership and private initiative, which has been accepted as the
Labour Party’s ‘democratic Socialism of today.

‘No view of society can possibly be complete,’ he declared, ‘which does
not comprise within its scope both collective organization and individual
incentive. The whole tendency of civilization is, however, toward the
multiplication of the collective functions of society. The ever growing
complications of civilization create for us new services which have to be
undertaken by the State, and create for us an expansion of the existing
services. There is a growing feeling, which I entirely share, against allow-
ing those services which are in the nature of monopolies to pass into
private hands. The .e is a pretty steady determination, which I am con-
vinced will become effective in the present Parliament, to intercept all
future unearned increment which may arise from the increase in the
speculative value of the land. There will be an ever-widening area of
municipal enterprise. I go farther: I should like to see the State embark
on various novel and adventuresome experiments. I am delighted to see
that Mr Bums is now interesting himself in afforestation. I am of the
opinion that the State should increasingly assume the position of the
reserve employer of labour. I am very sorry we have not got the railways
of this country in our hands. We may do something better with the canals,
and we are all agreed, everyone in this hall who belongs to the Progressive
Party, that the State must increasingly and earnestly concern itself with
the care of the sick and the aged and, above all, of the children.

‘I look forward to the universal establishment of minimum standards of
life and labour, and their progressive elevation as the increasing energies of
production may permit I do not think that Liberalism in any circum-
stances can cut itself off from this fertile field of social effort, and I would
recommend you not to be scared in discussing any of these proposals, just
because some old woman comes along and tells you they are Socialistic.
If you take my advice, you will judge each case on its merits. Where you
find that State enterprise is likely to be ineffective, then utilize private
enterprise, and do not grudge them their profits.’

Despite the Government’s huge Liberal majority in the Commons, it soon
became clear that trouble was brewing. The House of Lords, which was
overwhelmingly Conservative, coolly began to reject the Government’s
legislation. First they butchered the Education Bill by amending so many
clauses that it was almost unrecognizable and finally had to be dropped.
When Augustine Birrell, the Minister, received it back in its massacred
condition he told the Commons that he felt like Macduff after the
slaughter of his children: ‘All gone? All my pretty ones?

Liberal anger began to rise. No one had forgotten Arthur Balfour’s arrogant declaration after the Election that ‘whether in power or opposition the Unionist [Tory-Conservative] Party will continue to control the destinies of the Empire.’ Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman, the Prime Minister, put down a motion in the House ‘that in order to give effect to the will of the people as expressed by their elected representatives’ it was necessary that the power of the Lords to alter or reject Bills passed by the Commons ‘should be so restricted by law as to secure that within the limits of a single Parliament the final decision of the Commons shall prevail. And Winston at once plunged into the attack: ‘Has the House of Lords ever been right?’ he asked the Commons. ‘Has it ever been right in any of the great settled controversies which are now beyond the reach of
Party argument? Was it right in delaying Catholic emancipation and the
removal of Jewish disabilities? Was it right in driving this country to the
verge of revolution in its effort to defeat the passage of reform? Was it
right in passing the Ballot Bill? Was it right in the almost innumerable
efforts it made to prevent this House dealing with the purity of its own
electoral machinery? Was it right in endeavouring to prevent the abolition
of purchase in the Army? Was it right in 1880 when it rejected the Com-
pensation for Disturbance Bill? I defy the Party opposite to produce a
single instance of a settled controversy in which the House of Lords was
Right.’

However, the Liberal Government decided that the time was not ripe
to ‘fight it out’ with the Lords, and Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman’s
motion died a quiet little death. Winston Churchill seized the opportunity
to tour East Africa in his official capacity, and came back full of praise for
the beauties of Uganda butterflies. He published a book about his trip
entitled My East African Journey. Shortly after his return to London,
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman died. The year was 1908. Mr Asquith
succeeded him as Prime Minister; Lloyd George succeeded Asquith as
Chancellor of the Exchequer; and Churchill succeeded Lloyd George
as President of the Board of Trade. At the age of thirty-four Winston
had reached the Cabinet.

In those days entry into the Cabinet necessitated fighting a by-election.
This gave the Conservatives a chance to demonstrate that they still con-
sidered Winston Churchill as Enemy No. I. They talked of him not only
as an ‘opportunist’ and a ‘bounder’, but what was even worse in their eyes,
as ‘a traitor to his class. The very fact that these unpraiseworthy qualities
had led him to the dizzy heights of the Cabinet was more than they could
bear. They flung themselves into the campaign against him with eager
hostility, enlisting the support of every formidable Conservative speaker
they could find. From the beginning it was obvious it was going to be a
stiff fight. Northwest Manchester was traditionally a Tory seat which
had been won by the Liberals for the first time two years before. However,
Winston was now a national figure and a brilliant platform speaker and
many people believed he would hold his own.

‘If he had his detractors, he also had his admirers.’ That is how Henry Massingham, the Liberal journalist who had predicted in 1901 that Winston Churchill would one day be Prime Minister, described Winston, when he wrote an article for the Daily Mail which appeared under the heading: ‘A Character Sketch of the Man of the Hour.’

In this article Henry Massingham wrote about Churchill that: ‘He is without the baser faults of politicians.’

‘He went on to state: “In WInston Churchill, there is not an atom of malice in his composition. Mature as is his intellect in many of its aspects he is still a boy, high spirited, friendly, delighting to get his blow in, but abstaining from poisoned weapons, from speech barbed with the cruelty that the hard, fierce warfare of politics so often engenders.’
‘Depth he still wants; only experience brings that.’ ‘And in taste he sometimes fails, as do most young men who are not prigs.’

Winston Churchill flung himself into the campaign with characteristic zeal. He worked nearly eighteen hours a day organizing canvassers, receiving deputations, mustering speakers, and writing letters. The motor car in which he toured his constituency was fitted with a small ladder by which he climbed to the roof and addressed open-air meetings. His opponent, Mr
Joynson-Hidb, was a man of personality and ability and Churchill did not
make the mistake of underrating him.

Besides, a new element soon entered the contest which added to Winston’s difficulties: Enter ‘the Suffragettes’ …. And their animosity towards Winston Churchill…

The Suffragettes’ Campaign was entering a violent phase and Churchill
was singled out as a target: the reason being that Manchester happened to
be the home of the celebrated feminist leader, Mrs Pankhurst, and her two
daughters Chrijtabd and Sylvia. Winston’s assurances that he, personally,
was converted to the Suffragette Cause were not sufficient; they demanded
the official support of the Prime Minister which, of course, he was unable
to give. As a result they tried to break up his meetings. ‘Painful scenes were
witnessed in the Free Trade Hall,’ wrote Winston Churchill , ‘when Miss
Christabel Pankhurst, tragical and dishevelled, was finally ejected after
having thrown the meeting into pandemonium. This was the beginning
of a systematic interruption of public speeches and the breaking up and
throwing into confusion of all Liberal meetings. Indeed, it was most provoking to anyone who cared about the style and form of his speech to be assailed by the continued, calculated, shrill interruptions. Just as you were reaching the most moving part of your peroration or the most intricate
point in your, argument, when things were going well and the audience
was gripped, a high pitched voice would ring out, “What about the
women?” “When are you going to give women the vote?” and so on.
No sooner was one interrupter removed than another in a different part
of the hall took up the task. It became extremely difficult to pursue con-
nected arguments.’

The result was that Churchill was beaten by his Conservative opponent.
Mr Joynson-Hicks polled 5,517 votes and Winston Churchill 4,988. As he left the
Town Hall after a count a Suffragette seized his arm and cried: It’s the
women who have done this, Winston Churchill . Now you will understand
that we must have our vote.’

The joy of the Conservatives at Winston’s defeat was reflected by the
Morning Post which went gleefully overboard and tone-deaf in it’s hateful commentary when they printed this earth shattering failure at humour bombastic homily of sorts: ‘At this moment Mr Joynson-Hicks is the member for Northwest Manchester, and Mr Winston Churchill, though a Cabinet Minister, is a political Ishmaelite wandering around the desert, as an object of compassion and commiseration.
Manchester has washed its hands of him. The juveniles have for days past been singing to a popular air “Good-bye, Winnie, you must leave us”, and
“Winnie” has gone. On the whole Manchester appears to be taking the
sorrowful parting with composure.’

Winston Churchill did not escape criticism from his own leaders. Some believed that the odds had been stacked against him too heavily for he not only had the Suffragettes to contend with but a strong anti Liberal tide due to bad trade. Others were inclined to think that if he had conducted his campaign differently he might have won. They felt that the boyish enthusiasm which Massingham praised gave the electorate the impression of a young man willing to employ any stunt and make any promise in order to win his seat.

Mr John Morley, Winston’s colleague and close friend, wrote in his diary: ‘The belief among competent observers in the place is that the resounding defeat of Winston Churchill at Manchester, was due to wrath at rather
too naked tactics of making deals with this, that, and the other group,
without too severe a scrutiny in his own political conscience of the
terms that they were exacting from him. It is believed that he lost three
hundred to four hundred of these honourably fastidious electors.’

However, the joy of the Conservatives was short-lived. Exactly seven
minutes after Winston Churchill’s defeat he received a telegram asking him to contest Dundee, one of the great Liberal strongholds in the country. This
time victory was certain.

At the Kinnaird Hall in Dundee Winston Churchill delivered a speech which many years later he described as the most successful election speech of his career.!

First he attacked Marxist Socialists and appealed to the sound, sober minded Radicals.
Second, he attacked the reactionary Conservatives and appealed to the tolerant, sensible Progressives:

‘An inconclusive verdict from Dundee, the home of Scottish Radicalism an inconclusive, or still more, a disastrous verdict would carry a message of despair to everyone in all parts of our island and in our sister island who is working for the essential influences and truths of Liberalism and progress.’

‘Down, down, down would fall the high hopes of the social reformer. The constructive plans now forming in so many brains would melt into air. The old regime would be reinstated, reinstalled. Like the Bourbons, they have learned nothing and will have forgotten nothing. We shall step out of the period of adventurous hope in which we have lived for a brief spell; we shall step back to the period of obstinate and prejudiced negotiations. For Ireland ten years of resolute government; for England dear food and cheaper gin; and for Scotland the superior wisdom of the House of Lords!’

‘Is that the work you want to do, men of Dundee?’

Then he moved to the other flank:

‘I turn to the rich and the powerful, the Unionist and Conservative elements, who, nevertheless, upon Free Trade, upon Temperance, and upon other questions of moral enlightenment, feel a considerable sympathy with the Liberal Party … I turn to those among them who complain that we are too Radical in this and that, and that we are moving too quickly, and I say to them: Look at this political situation, not as Party men, but as Britons; look at it in the light of history; look at it in the light of philosophy; and look at it in the light of broad-minded, Christian charity.’

‘Why is it that life and property are more secure in Britain than in any
other country in the world? . . .

‘The security arises from the continuation of that very class struggle which they lament and of which they complain, which goes on ceaselessly in our country, which goes on tirelessly, with perpetual friction, a struggle between class and class which never sinks into lethargy, and never breaks into violence, but which from year to year makes possible a steady and constant advance. It is on the nature of that class struggle in Britain that the security of life and property is fundamentally reposed. We are always changing; like nature, we change a great deal, although we change very slowly. We are always reaching a higher level after each change, but yet with” the harmony of our life unbroken and unimpaired.’

“And I say also to those persons here, to whom I now make my appeal: Wealthy men, men of light and leading, have never been all on one side in our country. There have always been men of power and position who have sacrificed and exerted themselves in the popular cause.”
And that is why there is so little class hatred here, in spite of all the squalor and misery which we sec around us. There, gentlemen, lies the true
evolution of democracy. That is how we have preserved the golden
thread of historical continuity, when so many other nations have lost it
forever.’

The Dundee campaign did not escape the attention of the Suffragettes.
They followed him from Manchester and one of them, a Miss Maloney,
assiduously attended Winston Churchill’s meetings and tried to drown his words with a huge dinner bell. Once he gave up the struggle, sat down, lit a cigar and announced: ‘I won’t attempt to compete with a young and pretty
lady in a high state of excitement.’ However, this time the feminists were
unable to score a triumph.

Churchill was elected by a margin of three thousand votes which, in those days, was considered a huge majority. The Times described him as ‘the greatest platform asset possessed by the Liberal Party’.

Despite Winston’s oratorial successes the political battle was never
easy for a man constantly attacked as a ‘political renegade’. The Con-
servatives continued to hate him and Liberals continued to regard him
with reservation. Was he really a Radical or, as the Tories insisted, merely
an adventurer ready to use any means to take him to the top? They were
not certain. A. G. Gardiner, the Editor of the Liberal Daily News, expressed
this wondering attitude in a character sketch published in his paper in 1908.

‘What of his future? At thirty-four he stands before the country as the
most interesting figure in politics, his life a crowded drama of action, his
courage high, his vision unclouded, his boats burned. “I love Churchill,
and trust him,” said one of his colleagues to me. “He has the passion of
democracy more than any man I know. But don’t forget that the aristocrat
is still there latent and submerged, but there nevertheless. The occasion
may come when the two Churchills will come into sharp conflict, and I
should not like to prophesy the result.”

‘Has he staying power? Can one who has devoured life with such
feverish haste retain his zest to the end of the feast? How will forty find
him? that fatal forty when the youth of roselight and romance has faded
into the light of common day and the horizon of life has shrunk incalculably, and when the flagging spirit no longer answers to the spur of external things, but must find its motive and energy from within, or find them not at all.

‘That is the question that gives us pause. For with all his rare qualities,
Winston Churchill is the type of “the gentlemen of fortune”. He is out for
adventure. He follows politics as he would follow the hounds. He has no
animus against the fox but he wants to be in “at the kill”. It is recorded
that, when a fiery headed boy at Harrow, he was asked what profession he
thought of taking up, he replied, “The Army, of course, so long as there’s
fighting to be had. When that’s over I shall have a ‘shot at polities’ “not
so much concerned about who the enemy may be or about the merits of
the quarrel as about being in the thick of the fight and having a good time.

With the facility of the Churchill mind he feels the pulse of Liberalism
with astonishing sureness and interprets it with extraordinary ability. But
the sense of high purpose is not yet apparent through the fierce joy of battle
that possesses him. The passion for humanity, the resolve to see justice
done though the heavens fall and he be buried in the ruins, the surrender
of himself to the cause these things have yet to come. His eye is less on
the fixed stars than on the wayward meteors of the night. And when the
exhilaration of youth is gone, and the gallop of high spirits has run its
course, it may be that this deficiency of abiding and high-compelling pur-
pose will be a heavy handicap. Then it will be seen how far courage and
intellectual address, a mind acutely responsive to noble impulses, and a
quick and apprehensive political instinct will carry him in the leadership
of men.’

One can only smile at this writer asking so earnestly in 1908 whether
Winston Churchill had ‘staying power.’

How surprised he would have been to know that forty-five years later Churchill would still be in the race, and what is more, leading the field as the Prime Minister for a second time?

And what would he have made of the news that Winston Churchill was considered by many people to be the most important Man alive at the end of World War?

Or that his legacy would survive into the New Millennium and would find favor with none other than the United States President Donald Trump in 2017 onwards?

I believe that the fates are always cooking the books in their own interesting ways…

And that is what Winston Churchill understood quite well, so he courted them with plenty of ardour…

To be continued:


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