Birth of Winston Churchill

November 26, 2018

On 30 November 1874, Sir Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill – one of the greatest statesmen, orators, writers and free-world leaders of the 20th century, and a hero to many – was born in Oxfordshire, England to aristocracy and a long line of conservative political pedigree.

Before becoming the eminent Tory politician and leader of Britain, the Allies and the free world, Churchill was a soldier, orator and journalist. In his travels and postings to numerous parts of the (then massive) British Empire – including a subsequent speaking tour involving both sides of the Atlantic – he acquired real knowledge, insights and wisdom about human beings, creeds, tribes, cultures and civilisation – invaluable lessons he would use to be the sage, decisive inspirational leader and statesman he became, especially in his later years (eg after WWI and especially during WWII – see further details below).

Whilst fundamentally a conservative – especially in his later years – Churchill also had strong classical-liberal instincts in that he:

  • was always a firm (constitutional) monarchist and supporter of British Empire
  • hated extremism and tyranny/authoritarianism in all its forms
  • was an idealist as well as a pragmatist
  • favoured orderly gradualism over revolutionary change
  • extolled loyalty and patriotism, self-governance and personal responsibility, honour and character (as opposed to physical traits defining and/or entrapping one’s identity)
  • saw long-reformed Christianity by the 20th century as uniquely civilising, in contrast to certain other creeds
  • was anti-socialist and anti-protectionist, strongly distinguishing them from social and economic liberalism
  • was pro-business and hostile to labour unions
  • yet sought social reform not to challenge or tear down the existing social structure and mores but more in an attempt to preserve them and their best parts (from more sweeping changes he foresaw)
  • left the Tories in 1904 – having started with them in late 1900 – and joined the (more centrist) Liberals, where he had various ministerial positions, including during the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, and
  • returned to the conservatives for four decades from 1924 and became Britain’s conservative (and all-party) war-time leader eight months into WWII.

Churchill’s career of 60-plus years in political and public life certainly remains one of the longest, most illustrious and influential in the history of politics and western civilisation. Named the Greatest Briton of all time in a 2002 poll, one of his most powerful, prescient and enduring quotes is:

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

Celebrate the birth of grand statesman and conservative Winston Churchill by:

  • apprising yourself of Churchill’s famous speeches, quotes and book excerpts
  • hiring films such as "The Darkest Hour", "Churchill" or "Dunkirk" to get a sense of the dramatic circumstances in which British hopes rested on Churchill's leadership,
  • recalling his famous speech, “We will fight [them] on the beaches
  • reading more about the Churchill Fellowship program and the gratitude Australians had for his service to the British Commonwealth that drove its foundation
  • having a Churchillian cigar and/or whiskey (with soda) in the great man’s honour
  • watching these documentaries on Churchill
  • taking note of his (pre-political correctness) 1920s views on Islam
  • exploring further Churchill’s life and career in politics
  • reflecting on what the world and the West would be like without Churchill’s life and influence in 20th century politics and literature, and/or
  • sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends, conservatives, classical liberals, patriots and those still willing to resist PC socialism and stand up for freedom, liberty and democracy.

Further details on Churchill’s life, values, framework and achievements

Whilst having many roles in his long and illustrious parliamentary career, Churchill is most recognised for his conviction and leadership of an embattled Britain during WWII. He took the reins of power from Conservative Party PM, Neville “peace in our time” Chamberlain, on 10 May 1940. Chamberlain had resigned due to the public’s loss of confidence in his leadership, including his Munich appeasement, his perceived failure to prepare Britain for war and his prosecution of the (then eight-month long) war effort (after Britain and France had declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 – two days after Germany had invaded Poland).

Churchill became the head of an all-party coalition government in Britain – Conservative, Liberal and Labour – with Chamberlain, interestingly, remaining as Tory party leader until a month before his death to bowel cancer late that year (after which Churchill took over that role as well).

Churchill wasted no time improving Britain’s war plans, convictions and strategies. But it was his inspirational and rallying speeches, mainly in the House of Commons, that really made the man, his legacy and lifted the nation, including:

Churchill remained Britain’s PM and Minister of Defence until the first general election in nearly a decade where war-weary (and perhaps ungrateful) Britons voted he and his government out of office – in favour of Clement Attlee’s Labour – less than three months after Germany had surrendered to the Allies on 7 May 1945, ending WWII in Europe and ensuring liberty for Britain (and western Europe). Rightly or wrongly, the man who had led Britain in war was not seen as the man to lead the nation in peace.

Churchill stayed on as opposition leader until the Conservative Party was voted back into office six years later (October 1951) where he became Britain’s PM for another 3½ years.

In 1953, Churchill was awarded two of his biggest honours (out of many):

  • the Nobel Prize for Literature “… for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values” over a long lifetime, and
  • the Order of the Garter (Knight Companion) – most prestigious British award for chivalry.

It was also the year he suffered his first significant stroke (and second of 11), which slowed the (then) near-eighty year old down and brought forward his resignation to the government back-bench where he stayed for another decade.

Churchill retired from Parliament at the October 1964 election (which Labour narrowly won) and died on 24 January 1965. This was nine days after a severe stroke (his eleventh) and only three months into his retirement from distinguished public life and the (then) longest ministerial career in modern British politics. His state funeral was the largest in world history up to that time.

Earlier public life

In his early political career, Churchill was arguably more of a classical liberal, centrist and Tory democrat than a conservative. After winning a seat in the House of Commons before his 26th birthday as a Tory government MP in late-1900, he increasingly argued against his party’s positions, promoting free trade, less government spending et cetera until “crossing the floor” and defecting to the more centrist Liberal Party in mid-1904.

By late 1905, Churchill was back in government, this time as a Liberal and junior minister. In 1908, he became a cabinet minister and championed certain worker-friendly industrial reforms (eg the eight hour day and arbitration of disputes, some argue, to diffuse more radical change).

In 1910 and 1911, he was Home Secretary (police and prisons) before his promotion to First Lord of the Admiralty (Minister of the Royal Navy) – his first of two stints as Navy Minister, one in each World War.

In his first stint, Churchill was held responsible (as many historians still do today) for the Allies’ disastrous Gallipoli campaign (at great cost to the ANZACs) against the Ottoman Turks in WWI. Had the campaign’s details and execution been better planned, it may well have:

  • prevented the fall of (then enemy-surrounded) Russia to revolution and Marxist communism two years later, and
  • created the space for Russia’s further, gradual progress from absolute to constitutional monarchy.

The resulting Soviet Union became the headquarters and inspiration for all other Marxist insurgencies and revolutions of the 20th century. By 1980, Marxism had succeeded in enslaving a third of the world in misery. 

Towards the end of WWI, Churchill was Minister of Munitions, then Secretary of State for War, then Air and then for the Colonies, still as a Liberal.

Upon his return to the Conservative Party in 1924 (after 20 years as a Liberal), Churchill was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. There he controversially returned Britain’s currency to the gold standard (at its pre-war parity). Austria did similarly under the direction of Austrian-school economist, Ludwig von Mises. This anchor helped contain the debt-fuelled asset price bubble of the roaring-twenties (and subsequent aftermath) in Britain and Austria, relative to other nations (eg US, Germany, Canada and Australia).

The Tories lost power in the late-May 1929 general election (five months prior to the late-October stock market crash), which began Churchill’s decade of “wilderness years” where he became an author again and courted controversy as a Conservative Party back-bencher. He took party-contrary positions:

  • against Gandhi's revolt and the Indian Independence movement into the 1930s
  • in support of Edward VIII during the 1936 abdication crisis, and
  • warning increasingly of the rising German threat and need to rearm.

When Britain declared war on Germany in early-September 1939, Churchill was appointed Navy Minister (his second stint) and brought into the small war-time cabinet of then PM Neville Chamberlain. [“Winston is back!” as the Royal Navy and other increasingly hawkish minds in much of British politics and society enthused.]

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