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Clement Attlee - Wikiquote

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The left never understood Clement Attlee's British patriotism, but the nation did. is that the Labour Party has a tortured relationship with its own past, . in the second he served by Winston Churchill's side in the war cabinet. Clement Attlee was Churchill's loyal opposition when it was expected history, but affection and respect marked his relationship with Churchill. William Blake was one of the names that Attlee most often cited. (It was he, as much as anyone, who made Blake's mystic poem “Jerusalem” the.

Speech Mayquoted in the The Listener Vol. The situation is grave. The Government are convinced that now is the time when we must mobilise to the full the whole resources of this country.

We must throw all our weight into the struggle. Every private interest must give way to the urgent needs of the community. We cannot know what the next few weeks or even days may bring forth, but whatever may come we shall meet it as the British people in the past have met dangers and overcome them. But it is necessary that the Government should be given complete control over persons and property, not just some persons of some particular class of the community, but of all persons, rich and poor, employer and workman, man or woman, and all property.

Real national unity sprang from the things which we had in common; the greater that common interest, the stronger the nation in peace as well as in war.

It is because in this country we all enjoyed freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the right to choose and change our Governments that we were united.

The continent of Europe had fallen before Hitler because of its disunity. By playing on the rivalries and jealousies of the nations he had divided them and devoured them in detail. There was not enough realization of the common interest of all in our civilization to overcome sectional ambitions and fears.

Had Europe been united in spirit the Nazi monster would have been strangled at birth. The aim of the Nazis was to enslave all the peoples, who were to be the mere instruments of the Germans, the Herrenfolkthe master class. To that we opposed the democratic ideal, whereby we saw the world as a community of nations, differing in their qualities but united in a comity of nations, like the citizens of a town, but recognizing each other's rights and uniting for common purposes.

Deeply as many people deplored the policy which at a critical moment in European history gave Hitler a free hand in the East to develop his ambitious schemes of domination, strongly opposed as we were to many features of the Soviet system, we had no hesitation in proclaiming that as enemies of our enemies we should do all we could to help the Russian people in their fight.

It was not unlikely that Hitler hoped to be able to launch from Moscow a great peace offensive. He would like to proclaim himself the saviour of Europe from Bolshevism. He would deceive no one in the Government. The great mass of the people in this country and in the countries of the British Commonwealth and Empire would not be deceived. We would not make peace with the Nazi gang because such a peace would be no peace. It would be a betrayal of everything for which this country stood.

It is one of the great achievements of our rule in India that, even if they do not entirely carry them out, educated Indians do accept British principles of justice and liberty. We are condemned by Indians not by the measures of Indian ethical conceptions but by our own, which we have taught them to accept.

It is precisely this acceptance by politically conscious Indians of the principles of democracy and liberty which puts us in the position of being able to appeal to them to take part with us in the common struggle; but the success of this appeal and India's response does put upon us the obligation of seeing that we, as far as we may, make them sharers in the things for which we and they are fighting.

Pimlico,pp. We had had the help during the past 20 months Our touch with those who guided the destinies of the Commonwealth was very close and constant. That was very right and necessary, because we were all engaged in the same great venture, we were all defending a common heritage—the cause of freedom and democracy. The links which united us with the free peoples of the Commonwealth proved their strength, and as we stood together in war so we should stand together in peace to create a new and better world.

Unity was essential to victory. The Government contained men of varied views and varied backgrounds but united by a common will to victory, a common acceptance of a way of life. That was what we were fighting for. Our civilization had received terrible wounds.

In the British Commonwealth, among the free nations, we cherished the ideals of peace. We believed we could build a new world, purged of evil, and more splendid and good. In that great faith and hope we must bend all our energies in unity together; and You may have the best machinery in the world, you may have adequate supplies of munitions, you may have the men, you may have the generals; but wars are fought out eventually always as contests of will, and there are needed in the responsible positions men who are prepared to give decisions, who are not afraid to take risks, men of inflexible will-power.

In all these respects, I say, from very close working with him for the last two years, that we have in the Prime Minister a leader in war such as this country has rarely had in its long history. Speech in the House of Commons 19 May We can take a just pride in the great contribution to the common cause by all those who owe allegiance to the British Crown. In this great contest we are all engaged in a single enterprise. Soldiers, sailors, and airmen from the United Kingdom, from the British Commonwealth and the Empire, from the United States, and from many nations are found fighting side by side in many ocean and theatres of war.

They know that they are engaged in a common service and are inspired by a common faith. In the Atlantic Charter the United Nations have declared the faith that is in them. Against the false gods of cruelty, hatred, and domination they have proclaimed their gospel of freedom, justice, and social security.

Message 2 Septemberquoted in The Times 3 Septemberp. The path which the great Dominions were treading One of the greatest mistakes made by our enemies—and they made it in the last war, too—was to under-estimate the strength of those invisible bonds uniting the free peoples of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The German was never happy unless he was in a mass. He was happiest of all when they were all performing the goose-step at the same time, whereas the British people, conscious of their unity though the seas might separate them, could march to their goal without rigidly keeping step.

I take it to be a fundamental assumption that whatever post-war international organisation is established, it will be our aim to maintain the British Commonwealth as an international entity, recognised as such by foreign countries.

British Dreams, British Realities — Pan,p. Here in this country, although our political divisions were deep, in time of need we were able to transcend them in the interests of the whole community. Throughout the British Commonwealth and Empire there were immense diversities of race, colour, creed, and degrees of civilization, yet the links that united all together, though often intangible, proved strong as steel in the day of trial.

This was because, despite many shortcomings and failures to implement fully the ideals which we held, the British Commonwealth and Empire had stood for freedom and justice, and because we had learnt through long centuries the lesson of how to live together without attempting to exact regimented uniformity.

We were indeed inclined to a certain self-depreciation which was not always understood outside our own family of nations; but this was an occasion when they might take a proper pride in themselves. The world knew that in the critical time after Hitler's victories in it was the British Commonwealth and Empire that stood alone in defence of freedom for a whole year.

It was British steadfastness that held the line while the forces of freedom were gathering. Speech to the conference of representatives of the British and Dominion Labour parties, Westminster, London 12 Septemberquoted in The Times 13 Septemberp. I returned last week I was up with the Eighth Armythat Army which will always seem to me to epitomize the unity of our Commonwealth and Empire. I recalled talking with General Alexander the great deeds of the Australians.

As I saw our lads from all our countries so fine and gallant, I was thrilled with pride. In the ranks of Labour there would be no faltering until victory was won and German and Japanese aggression had been utterly defeated. But they had reached a stage when they could look beyond war to peace.

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In all our parties there was a firm resolve to build up a world system of security that would prevent our fellow men and women again being subjected to the horror of war. The lesson of the war of —18 was The idea of the League of Nations was right, but it was not put into practice. This time we must see to it that an international order is established in the world with the power and the will, and not merely the desire, to prevent war breaking out again. Freedom and democracy must be based not only on security but also on social justice.

Hitlerism flourished on the breakdown of an outworn economic system. The world depression of was the opportunity of the gangsters. We must have planning for expansion and not restriction.

Victory in war could only be achieved by putting the interest of the community before private profit and this was also the key to reconstruction after the war. Socialism had always been something far greater than an economic theory, far greater than the policy of a political party.

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It was a way of life. They sought to attain an organized society in which every human being would have the opportunity of living the good life—a society in which free men and women would cooperate together for the common good. The workers of the countries which had been under the yoke of tyranny would look to the Labour parties of the British Commonwealth for a lead and would not look in vain.

The young generation of Germans had been deliberately perverted and trained in savagery. With German thoroughness the very malleable youth of Germany had been moulded into the shape of their leaders. It would be a long time before they could be civilized. It was madness to expect that suddenly S. The German and Japanese nations had for years been directed to false aims and ideals.

A great moral and mental revolution would be required before they would be fit to be trusted. Both these nations must be disarmed and deprived of the power to start new wars, and there must be an organization to ensure peace and with power to enforce it. The League of Nations fell, not because its principles were wrong, but because they were not practised. A new world organization must be created. Its nucleus was in the United Nations, and its foundation stone the close cooperation of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States, and the U.

They wanted an organization embracing small as well as great nations, but on the three, on account of their strength, the greatest responsibility for preserving the peace of the world must fall. A world organization to preserve peace must have power at its disposal. So long as there was a danger of wolves the sheep-dog must have strong teeth.

It was time that the nations of Europe should settle down as good citizens in a world of States. In the British Commonwealth of Nations it was shown how freedom was compatible with unity. If peace was to be preserved there must be some cession of sovereignty, but membership of a large organization did not conflict with the reasonable claims of nations to live their own lives.

When I listened to the Prime Minister's speech last night, in which he gave such a travesty of the policy of the Labour Party, I realized at once what was his object. He wanted the electors to understand how great was the difference between Winston Churchill, the great leader in war of a united nation, and Mr. Churchill, the party leader of the Conservatives.

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He feared lest those who had accepted his leadership in war might be tempted out of gratitude to follow him further. I thank him for having disillusioned them so thoroughly. The voice we heard last night was that of Mr. Churchill, but the mind was that of Lord Beaverbrook. Broadcast 5 June for the general electionquoted in The Times 6 Junep.

The Prime Minister spent a lot of time painting to you a lurid picture of what would happen under a Labour Government in pursuit of what he called a Continental conception. He has forgotten that Australia, New Zealand, whose peoples have played so great a part in the war, and the Scandinavian countries have had Socialist Governments for years, to the great benefit of their peoples, with none of those dreadful consequences When he talks of the danger of a secret police He has forgotten many things, including, when he talks of the danger of Labour mismanaging finance, his own disastrous record at the Exchequer over the gold standard.

Broadcast 5 Junequoted in The Times 6 Junep. Churchill had claimed in broadcast that a Labour government would have to rely on a Gestapo to carry out socialist policies I shall not waste time on this theoretical stuff, which seems to me to be a secondhand version of the academic views of an Austrian professor— Friedrich August von Hayek —who is very popular just now with the Conservative Party.

Any system can be reduced to absurdity by this kind of theoretical reasoning, just as German professors showed theoretically that British democracy must be beaten by German dictatorship. The Conservatives had used some of their paper ration for the election on Hayek's book The Road to Serfdom.

You will be judged by what you succeed at gentlemen, not by what you attempt. On formation of Government after landslide victory in The simple fact is that nothing would be more harmful to the post-war economic and social welfare of our country than that the Tory Party should again have charge of the nation's affairs.

The Tory record of lamentable failure and muddle between the two world wars is a sharp warning which the people will do well to heed unless they prefer to delude themselves with false hopes now and indulge in vain regrets later. We did not fight and win the war for private profit or for any selfish national end, but to preserve the right of the people to live in freedom and to increase their opportunities to achieve by their own industry and service the conditions and standards of a secure and happy life.

The Tory Party want to hand us back into the keeping of private profit-seeking enterprise which was responsible for the mass unemployment, the derelict areas, and the waste and misery of the years between the two wars.

In the light of bitter experience that would be folly. Message to Labour candidates, quoted in The Times 29 Junep. We want to lay the foundations of a new and better Britain worthy of our great people.

That is why we propose in the interests of the whole nation that the community should become the master of its economic progress and prosperity, instead of leaving control in private hands to be used primarily for the private advantage of a few. In short, we are standing for the common weal. But we need political power to enable us to give practical effect in Parliament to our great forward-looking policies. The nation has now the chance to give Labour the necessary power to do the job, and I appeal to the electors in the constituency which you are contesting to make certain of electing you to the new House of Commons.

All know that she will never use her power for selfish aims or territorial aggrandisement in the future any more than she has done in the past. We look upon her forces and our own forces and those of other nations as instruments that must never be employed save in the interests of world security and for the repression of the aggressor.

They are wrong; the Labour Party is in the tradition of freedom-loving movements which have always existed in our country, but freedom has to be striven for in every generation, and those who threaten it are not always the same. Sometimes the battle of freedom has had to be fought against kings, sometimes against religious tyranny, sometimes against the power of the owners of the land, sometimes against the overwhelming strength of the moneyed interests.

We in the Labour Party declare that we are in line with those who fought for Magna Carta and habeas corpus, with the Pilgrim Fathers, and with the signatories of the Declaration of Independence. Aneurin Bevan said to Attlee afterwards: The Old School Tie can still be seen on the Government benches. Foreign affairs are in the capable hands of Ernest Bevin. His task is quite sufficiently difficult without the irresponsible statements of the kind you are making. I can assure you there is widespread resentment in the Party at your activities and a period of silence on your part would be welcome.

What is this principle? It is not embodied in some narrow doctrinaire formula, as some of our opponents would suggest. Still less is it a particular economic or political formula laid down once for all. It is essentially a moral principle on which we believe the life of nations and of individuals should be ordered.

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That principle is the brotherhood of man. We are seeking to join with others in extending that freedom from want all over the world, but we also seek to give to all peoples freedom from fear. The freedom from fear of war is not yet lifted from the men and women of the world. We are doing our utmost to make the United Nations Organization the instrument for banishing the fear of war from the world.

But there are many countries to-day where there are other fears that oppress. Personal freedom is still far from complete in many countries. Freedom of conscience is still denied to many. Freedom of speech and freedom of the Press are still unknown in most areas of the world.

A system of society that denies all of these other freedoms is not socialism, but only a form of collectivism. There have, of course, been mistakes, there have been failures, but we can assert that our rule in India will stand comparison with that of any other nation which has been charged with the ruling of a people so different from themselves.

Speech in the House of Commons 10 July May I recall here a thing that is not always remembered, that just as India owes her unity and freedom from external aggression to the British, so the Indian National Congress itself was founded and inspired by men of our own race, and further, that any judgment passed on our rule in India by Indians is passed on the basis, not of what obtained in the past in India, but on the principles which we have ourselves instilled into them.

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In the circumstances it is much to be regretted that the men have not as yet responded generally to the call to return to work. The handling of the country's overseas trade normally stretches to the limit the capacity of our available shipping. A hold up of any length delays the turn-round of ships and cannot be made up subsequently. The stoppage cuts millions of dollars and other needed foreign currency off our earnings—and cuts them off finally. Already the prospect of attaining this month's export target is affected, the gap in the balance of our payments is widened and the pace of national recovery slowed down.

I cannot believe that the general body of strikers have hitherto realised the true consequences of their action. They should return to work and allow any grievances they may feel to be dealt with by the proper machinery. It is purely defensive.

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Those who attack it as offensive do so from a bad conscience. They take just the same line as the Nazis did when every attempt by the nations to get together was denounced as the encirclement of Germany. We seek by the pact to gain for the nations a sense of security which they so ardently desire. We seek by the organization of security to make the world safe against aggression and by pooling of strength to reduce the burden of armaments.

I am forced to the conclusion that it was because economic recovery in western Europe did not suit the foreign policy of the Soviet Government. Communism flourishes where the standard of life is low.

The Communists did not care a jot for the sufferings of the people. If they had had their way—and their campaign against the Marshall plan has been an utter failure—the remarkable progress towards recovery which has taken place in western Europe would not have taken place. Aid from across the Atlantic would have been rejected. Your standard of life would have been reduced in order that there might be fertile ground for Communist propaganda. We do not give up hope of reuniting the world, but it can only be done if the Communists give up their ideological imperialism, their attempt to bring the whole world into line, to confine every single person within the straitjacket of Marx-Leninism.

We in the Labour movement do not believe in this dead dull uniformity. On the contrary, we believe that variety is of the essence of a free society. The Socialist movement was a movement for freedom in its widest sense. From the point of view of freedom, Communists are on the extreme right—more reactionary than some of the old tyrannies which we knew in the past. What is the thing for which we fight, for which the men with whom we feel the stir of sympathy throughout the ages have fought?

But that fight changes from age to age and the freedom that some men fought for may turn out to be tyranny. Communists, concentrating solely on the economic aspects of freedom He did not believe in lowering wages as a means of reducing costs, but equally it was necessary to realize that increases of wages that were not matched by increases of production would gravely impair their chances of getting rapidly over their difficulties.

Increased demands for money payments, when there was no increase of goods to meet them led straight away to inflation. There was a danger that when a justifiable advance in wages for an under-paid section of the workers had been granted it resulted in demands from those who had enjoyed higher wages to maintain the same differential. This was bad economics and bad social morality. He had been disturbed at the evidence that some people were abusing the social services in such matters as sickness benefit.

They could not have them sabotaged by misuse. I am proud of our achievements. There is an enormous amount more to do. Remember that we are a great crusading body, armed with a fervent spirit for the reign of righteousness on earth. He understood that in the countries beyond the iron curtain the artist must watch his step very carefully. It was not enough to be a good painter, any more than it was enough to be a good scientist or writer.

The practitioner in the arts and sciences must first and foremost be a good Marxist-Leninist. Were we in the same position when we viewed this year's Summer Exhibition we should look primarily at the pictures to see whether or not they were in harmony with the tenets of dialectical materialism.

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It was rather a terrible prospect. We might rejoice that in this country such views were held by only an insignificant fraction. In his own party the influence of William Morris far exceeded that of Karl Marx. The attack by the armed forces of North Korea on South Korea has been denounced as an act of aggression by the United Nations. No excuses, no propaganda by Communists, no introduction of other factors can get over this fact.

Here is a case of aggression. If the aggressor gets away with it, aggressors all over the world will be encouraged. The same results that led to the Second World War will follow; and another world war may result. The evil forces which are now attacking South Korea are part of a world-wide conspiracy against the way of life of the free democracies. They seek to sweep democracy and liberty from the world. They are ready to destroy our lives if we don't agree with them. They talk of freedom while they murder it.

They talk of peace while they support aggression. They are ruthless and unscrupulous hypocrites who pretend to virtues which their philosophy rejects. Everybody involved should get some credit for this.

The only part of home affairs he was interested in were those which bore upon the war effort. He took no interest in the famous White Paper on postwar Britain. Indeed, we had some difficulty in persuading him to read it. Now and again he would pick up some document on home affairs in the Cabinet, take up one of the memoranda on top, or pounce on one of the minutes written half-way through it, and ask some question in the tone of a man who had read the whole thing through several times, and discovered the critical weakness in it, and was now going to hold a grand inquest.

Sometimes we would have to point out to him that the passage he quoted was followed by its refutation and was not a recommendation. If he was in the mood, quite unabashed, he would try another. Or again, he might ignore our observation, and hold forth for ten or fifteen minutes about something that no longer existed.

We used to let him get it off his chest, and not interrupt—indeed, it was extremely difficult to interrupt him because not only had he no intention of stopping, but frequently he had no intention of listening.

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His monologues sometimes went on for very long periods indeed. Much has been written about the way he would send out memoranda on small points of detail, which gave generals out in the field the impression, until they came to know better, that he had grasped every detail of what they were doing—and not doing.

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It frequently created a lot of confusion, because once Winston had decided to find out what was happening about those tents the whole war effort was held up until somebody had told him. Very often the only thing that Winston knew about an operation was the point of detail he had covered in his memorandum.

Now and again somebody would tumble to it that this was a trick, and, realising that Winston could not possibly know about every operation in detail, take advantage of the fact. For this operation would sometimes turn out to be one of the many that Winston knew from A to Z. There would be hell to pay. Oversight and understanding What Winston really did, in my view, was to keep us all on our toes.

He did very little work in the Cabinet. He kept us on our toes partly by just being Winston, and partly because he was always throwing out ideas. Some of them were not very good, and some of them were downright dangerous. But they kept coming, and they kept one going, and a lot of them were excellent. In my view, the best were those that came out of his gift of immediate compassion for people who were suffering.

I remember him coming back from a quick visit to a south country town just after it had been fearfully bombed. Winston had been much struck by the sight of a little home and shop, all exposed by the walls being blown down. He described it, with tears in his eyes. Within twenty-four hours officials were working on a scheme that speedily developed into the War Damage Commission.

My relations with him in Cabinet always seemed to me to be very good. He talked to me extremely frankly—more frankly, I suspect, than he talked to some of his Conservative colleagues. He did not have much use for those who had supported Neville Chamberlain. He never took it out on them, he was too good-natured and, anyway, he had too high a regard for political loyalty. What he did do, however, was to get most of these Chamberlainites at as great a distance from himself as he could, and he did it very nicely.

Winston and I sometimes, but not often, had a blazing row. I remember one on India, but he was quite all right next morning and indeed accepted my view. He was always smoking a cigar in the Cabinet room, and now and again he would give me one. Whether it was because at that moment I had said something he particularly approved of, or because he could no longer stand the smell of my pipe, I have never discovered.

I never thought of asking him. The only thing that Winston had against me was that I was a socialist. He used to complain about this quite bitterly at times, but I told him there was nothing he could do about it.

Whenever we got on to the subject of planning for postwar Britain, Winston was ill at ease. He always groused about my being a socialist. Whenever a Cabinet committee put up a paper to him on anything not military or naval, he was inclined to suspect a socialist plot.

Even wartime schemes for controls and rationing used to irritate him. We could never get him to understand that these were as essential to a Conservative country at war as to a socialist one. Wikimedia He became increasingly suspicious about the possibility of the socialists putting something over on him.

He thought the socialists were cleverer than the Tories, anyway, and this naturally only increased his apprehensions. Half the time, poor old Cherwell would not know half the facts that the Cabinet sub-committee had been working on.

Those Conservatives who knew the facts of the matter were usually united with us in thinking that the thing ought to be done. This only made Winston the more recalcitrant. I got a little tired of this. One day I said to Winston: This will save a lot of time.

So Cherwell came on to the committee. To do him justice, as soon as he was given full access to the facts, Cherwell saw things very much as we did, and he was honest enough to report back in this sense to Winston. Winston was obviously annoyed. He gave up Cherwell as hopeless for his purpose and looked around for another hatchet-man.

This time it was Beaverbrook, who, though keen enough, was not very effective. And by the time he had learned enough to be a saboteur, the war was over and we had won the election.

He never understood that a certain time was always bound to elapse between when you ask for something to be done and when it can be effected. He worked people terribly hard, and was inconsiderate. On the whole, he did not vent his impatience on people in bursts of temper or in bullying. But, as Alanbrooke has reported in his Diaries, he kept people working impossible hours in order that he should not have to contain himself, or defer anything that he had become enthusiastic about.

Another thing about him that I did not care for was that he was not generous in praising his subordinates. John Anderson and Ernest Bevinfor instance, should have been given the honour for a great many things that have been credited to Churchill.

And Winston was to blame for this. So far as the running of the country was concerned, he always thought of himself as the only person who really mattered. Everything must be done by, and through, the big national leader.

The hero of the finest hour. Seeing and hearing from anybody else did not matter in the least, he thought, and this led to confusion. So far as government was concerned, Winston was not a natural democrat. He was an autocrat. He was also a poor judge of men, and he made some curious appointments. He was always liable to take a good man from a job he was doing well and give him something to do for which he was quite unsuitable. I was appalled at the prospect, so was Field-Marshal Smuts.

John Anderson would have made a magnificent Viceroy, but at that time he knew more about the war as it affected the civilian population of Britain than any man alive. It would have been a mistake to send him to India. We stopped that one.

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Winston made some good appointments, too. Many a statesman would make better appointments sometimes if he was braver about them. Winston never had a tremor in selecting a man for a job—though he hated sacking people—and considerations of party would not stop him. I remember the appointment of William Temple in as Archbishop of Canterbury. Somebody asked Winston why he had made a socialist Archbishop of Canterbury.

His speeches were magnificent rhetorical performances, but they were too stately, too pompous, too elaborate to be ideal House of Commons stuff. It was the occasions that gave the speeches their historic quality. I heard so many of these speeches in preparation that perhaps I am not the best judge of them.

He would walk up and down the room, throwing out remarks. In my view his best speeches were those which described historical moments—a victory, such as Alameinor a defeat, such as Dunkirk. Those speeches are unique. So far as Churchill the historian is concerned, I have always admired his prose much more than his content. It seems to me that somebody would get a curious idea of what has been going on in this country for the last 2, years if they had to get it all from Winston.

He leaves too much of the important stuff out. Humanity and compassion Churchill was great not only as a leader but also as a human being. For the range of his qualities as a man one would have to go back to the Renaissance. That is the period which is his spiritual niche.