Winston Churchill

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An alternative view

In 2002 the conservative newspaper commentator A. A. Gill nominated Winston Churchill, along with Oliver Cromwell, as his 'worst Briton' for an article in the New Statesman:

Churchill was a man who met a moment, and the moment was much shorter than he's given credit for - about six months. He made four speeches, all of which were derivative of Shakespeare and Macaulay. Everything else about his wearyingly long public life was self-serving and disastrous: he was a terrible self-publicising hack; he was a loathed soldier; he was the worst First Sea Lord we ever had. A staggeringly inept Home Secretary, he was wrong about absolutely everything he set his sights on. He was responsible for the Dardanelles, the worst disaster of the First World War. He sent soldiers to shoot Welsh miners. He put field guns on to the streets of the East End of London. During the General Strike, he was so rabid that he had to be kept out of government, because he wanted to machine-gun bus drivers. Later, he was the worst sort of empire loyalist, desperate to hold on to India, and racist about Gandhi, that naked little fakir (frankly, if you had to choose the greater man between Gandhi and Churchill, there's no contest). He sent the Black and Tans into Ireland. He'd have bankrupted the country by returning us to the gold standard; he gave away large areas of eastern Europe to Stalin. And he was responsible for the disgraceful but forgotten war of intervention to support the White Russians at the end of the First World War. Altogether, he represents everything I find most dispiriting, snobbish, philistine, proudly anti-intellectual and stubbornly backward-looking about Britain. [1]


  1. 'Worst Britons', New Statesman, 16 December 2002