Winston Churchilll's Historical Reputation

Does Winston Churchill merit his great historical reputation?

  • Yes

    Votes: 75 61.5%
  • No

    Votes: 40 32.8%
  • I disagree with the question's premise

    Votes: 7 5.7%

  • Total voters
    122
Aug 2012
717
Does Winston Churchill merit the great historical reputation he enjoys?

Please feel free to address any issue arising from this question, such as:
Will his reputation decline with time?
Have contemporary culture and events affected his reputation? If so
how?
Is he viewed differently outside the English speaking world, or in
various parts of it?
How is his reputation tied to factors not instinsic to him as an
individual; such as views of World War II and it's place in current
thought, immigration issues, etc.
 

Apachewarlord

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,689
Hippy town U.S.A.!
Turning once again, and this time more generally, to the question of invasion, I would observe that there has never been a period in all these long centuries of which we boast when an absolute guarantee against invasion, still less against serious raids, could have been given to our people. In the days of Napoleon, of which I was speaking just now, the same wind which would have carried his transports across the Channel might have driven away the blockading fleet. There was always the chance, and it is that chance which has excited and befooled the imaginations of many Continental tyrants. Many are the tales that are told. We are assured that novel methods will be adopted, and when we see the originality of malice, the ingenuity of aggression, which our enemy displays, we may certainly prepare ourselves for every kind of novel stratagem and every kind of brutal and treacherous manœuvre. I think that no idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered and viewed with a searching, but at the same time, I hope, with a steady eye. We must never forget the solid assurances of sea power and those which belong to air power if it can be locally exercised.

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty's Government — every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Yeah, I'd say so.

Say that he became PM in peace time, he probably wouldn't have been as good, but he was the perfect guy for WWII.
 

Underlankers

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
6,724
I think that by virtue of leading the UK to victory in WWII, he'd be of note regardless. However that's the only moment in his career where the whole is a debatable positive (WWII bankrupted the UK and reduced it to a third-rate wannabe power). His pre-war political career was marred by opportunism and bloodthirstiness toward his fellow citizens and his first disastrous brainchild, Gallipoli. His postwar political career as PM was a disaster as well. Most of his actual ideas in WWII were catastrophic, beginning with Norway and going all the way up to Operation Unthinkable.
 
Jan 2013
5,835
Canberra, Australia
Without the Second World War, Churchill's reputation would have been entirely negative.

His first appointment as prime minister was not due to his winning an election, but rather a result of behind-the-scenes manoeuvring to oust Chamberlain. As soon as the British people got the opportunity at the 1945 election, they threw him out, despite his role as war-leader. He was simply regarded (in private if not publicly) as an untrustworthy, ego-driven adventurer, quite possibly psychopathic.

He did win the Prime Ministership at the 1951 election, but even then the Conservatives did not win a majority of votes. As prime minister he was a 'dead man walking", and something of an embarrassment, being already in an advanced state of mental decline due to strokes. The Conservatives were only to glad to ease him out in favour of Eden, who turned out to be an even worse disaster.

Churchill's reputation in the popular mind is largely due to his famous wartime speeches in Parliament. However, at the time he made them he was visibly and audibly drunk, and his words were slurred, creating a negative impression on those who actually heard them live; the recorded versions that we are so familiar with were actually made by an actor who was an expert at imitating Churchill's voice.
 
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Apachewarlord

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,689
Hippy town U.S.A.!
Without the Second World War, Churchill's reputation would have been entirely negative.

His first appointment as prime minister was not due to his winning an election, but rather a result of behind-the-scenes manoeuvring to oust Chamberlain. As soon as the British people got the opportunity at the 1945 election, they threw him out, despite his role as war-leader. He was simply regarded (in private if not publicly) as an untrustworthy, ego-driven adventurer, quite possibly psychopathic.

He did win the Prime Ministership at the 1951 election, but even then the Conservatives did not win a majority of votes. As prime minister he was a 'dead man walking", and something of an embarrassment, being already in an advanced state of mental decline due to strokes. The Conservatives were only to glad to ease him out in favour of Eden, who turned out to be an even worse disaster.
But, would you say that he was key to WWII?
 
Feb 2013
1,283
Second City
The Churchill Myth is something that severely needs deflating. He was important to be sure, but he's got a lot of warts that people refuse to acknowledge, preferring to focus on his oratory, which could sound really empty and bombastic when he was barking up the wrong tree. (Or does anybody else think that Edward VIII would "shine in history as the bravest and best-loved of all sovereigns who have worn the island crown," as a drunken Churchill spluttered to the Commons amidst the Abdication Crisis?) He usually did the good thing last, after having thought and written and spoken all of the bad. That being said, he was a lover of war and whiskey who was genial in victory and unbowed in defeat.

I think he ought to be remembered as he wanted to be remembered: the lone voice warning the British people against the twin menaces of Hitler and Gandhi.
 
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constantine

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
8,545
He was a war leader, unabashed imperialist, and heavy drinker, what's not to like?

Yes, he was lucky insofar as he was in the right place at the right time, but he was also the right person for the job. Ironically, I think this British imperialist is more beloved in the US than he is in the UK today...though I may just be reading too many left wing British newspapers. In the US you'll likely get into less trouble, politically speaking, attacking Jefferson or Washington than you will attacking Churchill.
 

jackydee

Ad Honorem
Jan 2013
4,569
Brigadoon
The article is complete nonsense of course.

Taken from another[pro Churchill] site.

Allen Packwood of the Archives Centre replied that "there is simply nothing in our collections to prove it [but if Shelley recorded the speech on 7 September 1942, as the record label says, why did he do it? Churchill originally delivered the speech over two years earlier, and did not broadcast it (portions were read by a BBC announcer). Churchill did record the speech himself -- at Chartwell after the war -- and it was ultimately released by Decca Records.... the time lag makes it clear that Shelley did not record the speech to be broadcast when German invasion was imminent....It is a huge leap to say that, just because there is evidence he recorded this Churchill speech in 1942, that he delivered BBC broadcasts in the summer of 1940."

Even this turned out to be the reddest of red herrings, as Mr. Packwood later related: "It now emerges that the [Shelley] recording is not the "fight on the beaches" speech, but is concerned with events in North Africa in 1942. I have tried, using Rhodes James's Complete Speeches, to match the text to an actual speech by Churchill, but have been unable to do so."