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Remembering Sir Winston Churchill fifty years on

Sunday, January 25, 2015

 

Yesterday marked 50 years since the death of Sir Winston Churchill at the age of 90. 

The country ground to a halt a few days later as his funeral procession travelled through London. Churchill had a full state funeral in recognition of his service to the country attended by the Queen.

Churchill was an extraordinary figure with great variety. He was a journalist, a military officer, a writer, a great speaker, a politician who crossed the floor of parliament to change party, a politician who was left in the wilderness for years over his views against an emerging German force. He was a father, a grieving father after the death of his young daughter, a husband to Clementine, an artist and a war-time strategist and Prime Minister. But above all of this, he was a figure that saved the country that I and many others now live in freely from the aims and aspirations of a brutal expansionist dictator. 

Churchill, who regularly tops the polls of 'greatest Britons' is still a moving force in our country today. Indeed one elderly relative of mine was reduced to tears at the sight of a portrait of Sir Winston.

Some say that he won the war but lost the peace with the electorate voting Churchill out of power in 1945 in a shock general election. Although a Member of Parliament for decades, his strength was foreign policy and defence not domestic affairs. The country however did return him to office in 1951.

Although I can not reflect personally on the effect Winston Churchill had at the time, when you look at the political classes of today you can not see many similarities of character.

Churchill was from a privileged background, educated at Harrow, and despite a posh accent connected fully with the public. He was a quick-witted speaker and you will be hard pressed to find a book of quotes on the shelves with more pages of quality entries. There was gravitas, forward-thinking and a lack of fear to speak the unspeakable even if it cost him politically just because he thought it was the right thing to do for the country. 

Politics will always need characters with conviction, and although Winston Churchill was a Prime Minister and statesman at an exceptional time, the world is an unpredictable place. Our current crop of elected representatives walking the same halls should take note. 

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