The dasrk views of Winston Churchill
Immigration to Britain:
Churchill suggested the motto “Keep England White” when debating the adoption of new laws limiting immigration from the Caribbean.
Churchill extolled Mussolini – “If I were Italian, I am sure I would have been with you entirely from the beginning” and “what a man [Mussolini] ! I have lost my heart!… Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world”.
On his own people:
Churchill suggested “100,000 degenerate Britons should be forcibly sterilised/others put in labour camps to halt decline of British race”. He also went on to suggest that “for tramps and wastrels there ought to be proper labour colonies where they could be sent”.
“I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against the uncivilized tribes… it would spread a lively terror.” – Churchill on the use of gas in the Middle East and India
Read thesw historical facts on winston Churchill for yourse;f. and decide for yoursef. Each quote can be sourced and each event reserched. As Ash surkar said 2Most of the middle aged men frothing at the mouth about the criticism of winston Churchill have been no nearer the Western Front than a bar in Dordogne. Chief amongst the arch ignoramus of history one Piers Morgan. read theses for yourself and decide. by the way the ten headings were done by the BBC
1. Views on race
In April last year, Labour candidate Benjamin Whittingham tweeted that Churchill was “a racist and white supremacist”.
Sir Nicholas Soames, Churchill’s grandson, was outraged. And Whittingham’s Conservative opponent Ben Wallace labelled the comments “ignorant” and “incredibly insulting”. The tweet was deleted and the Labour Party said: “[It] does not represent the view of the Labour Party. He apologises unreservedly if it has caused any offence.”
But there have previously been suggestions that Churchill held racist beliefs.
In 1937, he told the Palestine Royal Commission: “I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
Churchill certainly believed in racial hierarchies and eugenics, says John Charmley, author of Churchill: The End of Glory. In Churchill’s view, white protestant Christians were at the top, above white Catholics, while Indians were higher than Africans, he adds. “Churchill saw himself and Britain as being the winners in a social Darwinian hierarchy.”
“The mitigation would be that he wasn’t particularly unique in having these views,” says Richard Toye, author of Churchill’s Empire, “even though there were many others who didn’t hold them.”
Soames thinks it is ludicrous to attack Churchill. “You’re talking about one of the greatest men the world has ever seen, who was a child of the Edwardian age and spoke the language of [it].”
And Churchill’s views on race were incomparable to Hitler’s murderous interpretation of racial hierarchy, Toye says. “Although Churchill did think that white people were superior, that didn’t mean he necessarily thought it was OK to treat non-white people in an inhumane way.”
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Image caption British RAF armoured cars and bomber planes on duty in Iraq during the Mesopotamia conflict, 1922
2. Poison gas
Churchill has been criticised for advocating the use of chemical weapons – primarily against Kurds and Afghans.
“I cannot understand this squeamishness about the use of gas,” he wrote in a memo during his role as minister for war and air in 1919.
“I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes,” he continued.
These quotes have been used by critics such as Noam Chomsky to attack Churchill.
But the controversy is misplaced, says Warren Dockter, a research fellow at the University of Cambridge and the author of Winston Churchill and the Islamic World. “What he was proposing to use in Mesopotamia was lachrymatory gas, which is essentially tear gas, not mustard gas.”
Churchill’s 1919 memo continued: “The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effect on most of those affected.”
In another memo about using gas against Afghans, Dockter says, Churchill questioned why a British soldier could be killed lying wounded on the ground while it was supposedly unfair “to fire a shell which makes the said native sneeze – it really is too silly”.
But some still criticise the British air attacks used to quell rebellious tribes in the region.
And it’s important to note that he was in favour of using mustard gas against Ottoman troops in WW1, says Dockter, although this was at a time when other nations were using it.
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Image caption Famine-stricken children in India, 1943
3. Bengal famine
In 1943, India, then still a British possession, experienced a disastrous famine in the north-eastern region of Bengal – sparked by the Japanese occupation of Burma the year before.
At least three million people are believed to have died – and Churchill’s actions, or lack thereof, have been the subject of criticism.
Madhusree Mukerjee, author of Churchill’s Secret War, has said that despite refusing to meet India’s need for wheat, he continued to insist that it exported rice to fuel the war effort.
“[The War Cabinet] ordered the build-up of a stockpile of wheat for feeding European civilians after they had been liberated. So 170,000 tons of Australian wheat bypassed starving India – destined not for consumption but for storage,” she said upon release of the book in 2010.
Churchill even appeared to blame the Indians for the famine, claiming they “breed like rabbits”.
“It’s one of the worst blots on his record,” says Toye. “It clearly is the case that it was difficult for people to get him to take the issue seriously.”
“Churchill viewed it as a distraction,” he explains. Preoccupied with battling Germany in Europe, Churchill didn’t want to be bothered by it when people raised the issue.
“We have this image of Churchill being far-sighted and prophetic,” says Charmley. “But what he does tragically in the case of the Bengal famine is show absolutely zero advance [since] the Irish famine 100 years earlier.”
It was a horrendous event but it needs to be seen within the context of global war, says Packwood.
“Churchill is running a global war at this point and there are always going to be conflicting priorities and demands,” he says. “It’s an incredibly complex and evolving situation – and he’s not always going to get everything right.”
Arthur Herman, author of Gandhi & Churchill, has argued that without Churchill the famine would have been worse. Once he was fully aware of the famine’s extent, “Churchill and his cabinet sought every way to alleviate the suffering without undermining the war effort”, Herman wrote.
It was a failure of prioritisation, says Toye. It’s true that Britain’s resources were stretched, he says, but that’s no excuse given the relatively small effort it would have taken to alleviate the problem.
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Image caption Churchill on Gandhi: “A seditious lawyer, posing as a fakir”
4. Statements about Gandhi
Churchill had strong views on the man now widely respected for his work in advocating self-determination for India.
“It is alarming and nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir… striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal Palace,” Churchill said of his anti-colonialist adversary in 1931.
“Gandhi should not be released on the account of a mere threat of fasting,” Churchill told the cabinet on another occasion. “We should be rid of a bad man and an enemy of the Empire if he died.”
It’s unfashionable today to question Gandhi’s non-violent political tactics. He is venerated in much the same way as Churchill is in the UK. But for years he was a threat to Churchill’s vision for the British Empire.
“He put himself at the head of a movement of irreconcilable imperialist romantics,” wrote Boris Johnson in his recent biography of Churchill. “Die-hard defenders of the Raj and of the God-given right of every pink-jowled Englishman to sit on his veranda and… glory in the possession of India.”
“Churchill was very much on the far right of British politics over India,” says Charmley. “Even to most Conservatives, let alone Liberals and Labour, Churchill’s views on India between 1929 and 1939 were quite abhorrent.”
He was vociferous in his opposition to Gandhi, says Toye, and didn’t want India to make any moves towards self-government to the extent of opposing his own party’s leaders and being generally quite hostile to Hinduism.
Churchill’s stance was very much that of a late Victorian imperialist, Charmley adds. “[Churchill] was terribly alarmed that giving the Indians home rule was going to lead to the downfall of the British Empire and the end of civilisation.”
Younger Tories like Anthony Eden regarded Churchill with great mistrust during the 1930s because of his association with hard-line right-wingers in the party, he says.
“People sometimes question why on Earth did people not listen to Churchill’s warnings about Hitler in the late 1930s,” says Charmley, “to which the short answer is that he’d used exactly the same language about Gandhi in the early 1930s.”
5. Attitudes towards Jews
In 2012 there were objections to a proposed Churchill Centre in Jerusalem on the basis that he was “no stranger to the latent anti-Semitism of his generation and class”.
Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer, countered that “he was familiar with the Zionist ideal and supported the idea of a Jewish state”.
But being anti-Semitic and a Zionist are not incompatible, says Charmley.
“Churchill with no doubt at all was a fervent Zionist,” he says, “a fervent believer in the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own and that state should be in what we then called Palestine.”
But he also “shared the low-level casual anti-Semitism of his class and kind”, he says. If we judged everyone of that era by the standards of 21st Century political correctness, they’d all be guilty, he notes. “It shouldn’t blind us to the bigger picture.”
A 1937 unpublished article – supposedly by Churchill – entitled “How the Jews Can Combat Persecution” was discovered in 2007. “It may be that, unwittingly, they are inviting persecution – that they have been partly responsible for the antagonism from which they suffer,” it said. “There is the feeling that the Jew is an incorrigible alien, that his first loyalty will always be towards his own race.”
But there was immediately a row over the article, with Churchill historians pointing out it was written by journalist Adam Marshall Diston and that it might not have represented Churchill’s views at all accurately.
“Casual anti-Semitism was rampant,” agrees Dockter, “[but] it’s inconceivable to pitch him as anti-Semitic.”
In a 1920 article, he wrote: “Some people like Jews and some do not; but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that they are beyond all question the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.”
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, 1874-1965
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Born 30 November 1874 at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Attended Harrow and Sandhurst before embarking on army career, seeing action in India, and Sudan
Became Conservative MP in 1900, but in 1904 joined the Liberal Party. Cabinet member from 1908, he was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 until the disastrous Dardanelles expedition in early part of WW1. Served on Western Front for a time, before rejoining government from 1917-1929
Opposition to Indian self-rule, warnings about the rise of the Nazis and support for Edward VIII left Churchill politically isolated during 1930s. After WW2 broke out, he replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister, where his reputation as inspirational wartime leader was cemented
Lost power in 1945 election but was returned to power in 1951, and continued as prime minister until 1955. Died 24 January 1965 and was given a state funeral