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PostRonald Hilton on Churchill (David Pike, -France, 04/01/15 8:34 am)
A couple of days ago, John E reprinted a Ronald Hilton post on the subject of Churchill. I somehow missed the posting back in 2003, but it's not too late to comment on a few points, with all due respect to the dear professor who changed my life.
Churchill, he wrote, lost the 1945 election because he was seen as "not the man to organize the peace." But RH was not then in the UK. I myself had a clear impression that the vote had nothing to do with foreign policy. The vote against him came from the millions, many of them returning troops, who hungered for radical social change and were dead set against a return to the domestic policies of the conservative governments of the 1920s and '30s.
RH again: "Was there ever a statesman who spent more time in the bath?" I would say, Napoleon.
RH: "He was offered the Order of the Garter." Yes. And in 1945 he refused it, and even more so a title of nobility that would automatically exclude him from the Commons. He would remain as Mr Churchill, "a child of the House," and leader of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition. It was only in 1953, just before the Coronation, that Churchill accepted the offer, receiving from the young Queen the Order and the knighthood that went with it. In doing so he faced the criticism of his greatest supporter, the Canadian Lord Beaverbrook. And here a word on Beaverbrook. His press empire was strongly conservative, but when Churchill returned to power in 1951 Beaverbrook's newspapers criticized the conservative government on all kinds of points... but never Churchill personally. That bond had been forged in the Battle of Britain, when Beaverbrook had been chosen by Churchill to head a new ministry, that of Aircraft Production. Dowding, head of RAF Fighter Command, later said that he "could not have held, far less prevailed, without the help of that mercurial man."
All the same, in 1953, at the time that Churchill accepted the knighthood, Beaverbrook expressed his regret. It was a pity, he said, that the man known to the world as Mr Churchill, in its grand simplicity, would now be known under a different title.
JE comments: Prof. H. is happy to be rejoining our conversations; I'm certain of it.
Here's the original 2003 post. My thanks to Paul Pitlick for bringing it to our attention: