As the country votes on AV, a system Winston Churchill loathed, Nicholas Soames reflects on his grandfather's reverence for our institutions - and the toil he put into his speeches.
By Nicholas Soames
THE TELEGRAPH, 4 May 2011 - When Clement Attlee was asked if Churchill had been a great parliamentarian, he replied: "No, he was a great parliamentary figure."
To those outside politics, this might seem a fine distinction, and somewhat ungenerous to the author of some of the greatest speeches ever delivered in the House of Commons. But Mr Attlee, as so often, had made a wise comment. Nor was it in any way to Churchill's discredit.
Unlike his father, Churchill was not a natural speaker. Lord Randolph Churchill, in his very brief prime between 1880 and 1887, was the most brilliant platform speaker and parliamentary debater of the day. Lord Randolph was that relative rarity, a natural spontaneous debater in the Commons, quick to invoke the deadly weapons of mockery and irony, and acutely sensitive to the mood of the House.
But his son Winston had not inherited these gifts. For him, every speech, however brief, had to be carefully prepared - an agonising process for everyone involved. Indeed, there was much truth in the jibe of his greatest friend, F E Smith, that "Winston has spent the best years of his life composing his impromptu speeches".
People are always surprised that this most articulate of men was so dependent on prior preparation, even for minor speeches. Bob Boothby wrote, when he was Churchill's private personal secretary in the Twenties, of the prolonged nightmare of the preparation of a Churchill speech. It was a process that exhausted advisers, officials when in office, friends commanded to assist and very long-suffering and much put upon secretaries.
He never had a speech-writer and however many people might have been involved in the preparation of his major speeches, the result was entirely his own. But the laborious process of days of thought did not always mean that they were successful. Churchill's career was littered with oratorical disasters when he misjudged the audience. On these occasions, his admirers could only suffer as he ploughed on amid mounting tumult and hostility.
David Cameron has said he often looks to Sir Winston Churchill for inspiration on the big issues of the day.
SKY NEWS, 20 April 2011 - Speaking after a rally in Darlington, County Durham, for Conservatives opposing the alternative vote, he said he liked to consider what our "greatest Prime Minister" would have done in certain situations.
"The question of AV came up when he was very active in politics after the First World War and he had some pretty clear things to say.
"He is an inspiring figure, definitely our greatest Prime Minister."
During a speech to activists, Mr Cameron referred to Churchill's opposition to AV, quoting him saying: "It is the stupidest, the least scientific, the most unreasonable of all voting systems."
Mr Cameron asked: "Do you want to argue with Winston?
"I don't think so."
He added: "We have 15 days until the elections.
"I know there are a few distractions, there's the weather and the wedding, but we have to stay focused."
After the rally, Mr Cameron was approached by young Tory Daniel Dennis, 12, who had donned a Conservative rosette and No to AV sticker for the occasion.
Daniel, whose father Philip is standing in Eaglescliffe, Stockton, Teesside, as a Tory in the local elections, was worried the Tees Valley Music Service, which supports young musicians, might be cut.
Mr Cameron asked for details about the service.
Daniel was asked afterwards if he was brave to tackle the Prime Minister, and he replied: "Sort of, yes.
DECANTER, 19 April 2011 - Pol Roger will be the official Champagne at the Royal Wedding next week, Decanter.com can confirm.
Amid feverish speculation - especially in the American press - around which Champagne will be served, Decanter.com has it on the highest authority that Pol Roger NV will be served.
Which wines will be served during the wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace after the ceremony in Westminster Abbey is still a matter of debate: there are unconfirmed reports that an English wine will be on the table.
A spokesman for Pol Roger told Decanter.com a non-vintage had specifically been requested by the Palace.
It will be sipped before the sit-down meal prepared by Anton Mosimann and hosted by Prince Charles.
Pol Roger has a long and honourable association with the British aristocracy. It was the favourite Champagne of Sir Winston Churchill, and in 1984 Pol Roger created the Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill in his honour.
Traditionally, however, Pol Roger has not been drunk at royal weddings. Queen Victoria issued a royal warrant to Bollinger in 1884, and Prince Charles chose it both for his stag party and for his marriage to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
Cannadine Talks Churchill's Secret Artistry at Yale
By Mohammad Salhut, Contributing Reporter
YALE DAILY NEWS, April 22, 2011 - Renowned British politician Winston Churchill had a relaxing pastime that few know about - painting.
David Cannadine, the Whitney J. Oates Research Scholar and Lecturer of History at Princeton University, visited the Yale Center for British Art Thursday to give a talk in front of approximately 90 local art enthusiasts, students and alumni about Churchill's talents. The talk, called "Painting as a Pastime: Winston Churchill: The Statesman as Artist," discussed the history of Churchill's interest in painting, which spanned from midlife to his retirement.
"When Winston Churchill took up painting, he had never been in a national gallery," Cannadine said. "[But] Churchill possessed a visual appreciation for art."
Churchill was fascinated by political cartoons from a very young age, Cannadine said, adding that as well as drawing and painting, Churchill was a very accomplished writer. In his spare time, he took a number of drawing classes, which Cannadine said made a lasting impression on him.
While Cannadine said many dismissed Churchill early on as being uninformed about art, the politician had some truly innovative artistic perspective and taste, Cannadine said.
A busy politician, Churchill usually painted his landscapes and pictures of planes in complete silence, he said. During World War I, he would take breaks from writing his war memoirs to paint. He soon became recognized as an accomplished amateur painter, Cannadine said, but Churchill never pushed for public recognition as a painter.
"Churchill had resisted any attempt to put on a one-man show in London," Cannadine said.
Near the end of his life, Churchill painted as a way to relax, and as he became older, the vigor visible in his earlier work disappeared, Cannadine said. He painted his last canvasses in the fall of 1960, and died in January 1965.
Audience members interviewed said they appreciated the chance to learn more about one of the world's great politicians.
"The connection between this talk and the national funding of the arts is a fascinating one," Conor Crawford '12 said. "Churchill painting and trying to push creation of something out of nothing is something that American youth are beginning to learn."
Lisa Totman, a teacher at the Foote School in New Haven, said the talk was phenomenal, adding that while she had no experience in art, her cousin, who is an art editor, encouraged her to attend the event.
"He was easy to listen to and pulled many aspects of Churchill's life together," she said.
Winston Churchill amassed approximately 500 canvasses during his life.
Winston Churchill's First Painting After WW2 Up For Sale
Sir Winston Churchill's first painting after the end of the Second World War, Villa on the Nivelle, is to be sold at auction for the first time.
By Laura Roberts
THE TELEGRAPH, 18 April 2011 - He created Villa on the Nivelle, during a brief pause in British politics; after the general election on July 5, 1945, and before the result was announced on July 26 when he was unexpectedly defeated by Labour.
The wartime Prime Minister had taken a short holiday with his wife Clementine to the Basque region of France at the Chateau de Bordaberry, as the guest of Brigadier-General Brutinel.
Despite being a keen artist he painted only once in almost five years from Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 until the end of the war.
He was persuaded to take up his paintbrush again by fellow chateau guest Margaret Nairn, the wife of the British Consul in Bordeaux Bryce Nairn, who had previously been a professional painter.
A rare photograph documents him in the middle of painting the work. It will be sold at Christie's in London on May 26 and is expected to fetch up to £300,000.
Churchill painted only once during the Second World War following a ten-day conference in Casablanca, Morocco in January 1943. He persuaded President Roosevelt to join him on a short visit to Marrakech, his only holiday during the conflict. He later gave A view of Marrakech, with the tower of Katoubia mosque to Roosevelt as a memento.
Historian Andrew Roberts said: "Painting was something that he discovered at the time of the Dardanelles disaster [also known as the Battle of Gallipoli] when he was at his lowest ebb. It gave him solace.
"We are used to the adventurous side of Churchill. This contemplative side of Churchill shows his multifarious personality."
"It came as a surprise to him that he lost the election. But he was determined to honour the will of the electorate."
The Labour victory of July 1945 was announced while Churchill was at the Potsdam conference with Henry Truman and Josef Stalin. Churchill was re-elected Prime Minister in 1951.
Churchill took up painting at the relatively late age of 40. It played an increasingly important role in his life, driving away periods of depression that he referred to as "Black Dog".
In the January 1946 issue of Life magazine he said: "There is no subject on which I feel more humble or yet at the same time more natural."
He added: "When I get to heaven I intend to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting and so get to the bottom of the subject."
In 2007 a painting of Churchill's home, Chartwell Landscape with Sheep, was sold for a record £1million.
Modest about his artistic talent, in 1947 he submitted two pictures under the name of "David Winter" to be considered for the Royal Academy summer exhibition. Both were accepted and soon after, Mr Winter, now revealed to be Churchill, was elected an "Honorary Academician Extraordinary".
The King's Speech: A film directed by Tom Hooper, written by David Seidler, with Colin Firth as George VI, Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth, and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill, released 2010.
Professor Freeman teaches history at the University of California Fullerton.
In 1925, HRH Prince Albert, Duke of York, the twenty-nine-year-old second son of King George V, made his first broadcast speech at the closing of the Empire Exhibition at Wembley. Addressing an audience of 100,000, his words came haltingly, and he was acutely embarrassed. One man listening that day, a speech therapist recently arrived from Australia, remarked, "He's too old for me to manage a complete cure, but I could very nearly do it."
One year later, with the Duke and Duchess about to visit Australia, Lionel Logue, his reputation outweighing his lack of medical credentials, was brought in. Therapy had been sought before, never with success, but the Duke and Logue hit it off from the start. HRH left their first meeting brimming with confidence. After two months of treatment, his delivery was significantly improved, and the Australian tour was a fine success.
King George V was delighted. Although he had verbally abused his children when they were young, he admired the adult "Bertie," his favored son and preferred successor. But primogeniture was not to be questioned in those days, and so arose the 1936 Abdication Crisis.
Once Edward VIII had abdicated and the Duke of York had become George VI, the latter asked Logue's help preparing for his Coronation broadcast. Logue continued to prepare the King for big speeches until the end of the Second World War, but by Christmas 1945, the King felt confident enough to manage on his own. Far from feeling discarded, Logue enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing his work was complete. "You know, Ma'am," he said to Queen Elizabeth, "I feel like a father who is sending his boy to his first public school." The Queen patted his arm and replied, "I know just how you feel."
This compelling story is nicely dramatized in The King's Speech by screenwriter David Seidler, a Londoner whose own childhood stammer led him to see George VI as a hero. In fine Shakespearean fashion, Seidler telescopes events and takes some liberties with the facts in order to tell a dramatic story in a reasonable amount of time.
In 1935, King George V is shown hectoring the adult Bertie about being tongue-tied, causing the Duke to turn to Logue ten years later than he actually did. (In reality, Bertie's stammer was never debilitating, as Andrew Roberts wrote: "In fact it was relatively mild, and when he was concentrating hard on what he was saying it disappeared altogether.")
Roberts also noted that his brother never taunted Bertie for his stutter, or accused him of wanting to usurp his throne, adding: "the ludicrous old lies about Joachim von Ribbentrop sending Wallis Windsor seventeen red roses every day, and her working as a geisha in Shanghai, are trotted out to blacken her character and make the Yorks look better." Improbably, the film suggests that Logue used the Duke's family nickname and worked in a ramshackle office; in fact Logue had a smart set of rooms in Harley Street.
From James Cameron to Winston Churchill: Martin Bell on the Ten Greatest War Correspondents
By Martin Bell
DAILY MAIL, 12th March 2011 -From Cameron's committed - but not biased - reporting during the fifties and Churchill's reports from the Boer War, to American journalist Ernie Pyle's mould-breaking interviews during World War II, MARTIN BELL looks at those brave men from the front line.
Winston Churchill makes the list at #6.
6. WINSTON CHURCHILL (1874-1965)
Winston Churchill made his name in the Boer War, obtaining a commission to act as war correspondent for the Morning Post on a salary of £250 per month just weeks after the conflict broke out in 1899.
Churchill (above) was the first celebrity war reporter. He made his name in the Boer War, obtaining a commission to act as war correspondent for the Morning Post on a salary of £250 per month just weeks after the conflict broke out in 1899. Shortly after arriving, he joined a scouting expedition in an armoured train, leading to his capture and imprisonment in a PoW camp in Pretoria, but he escaped across the border to Portuguese Mozambique and wrote about his exploits for the paper.
Shortly after arriving, Churchill joined a scouting expedition in an armoured train, leading to his capture and imprisonment in a PoW camp in Pretoria, but he escaped and wrote about his exploits for the Morning Post
The daring and bravery he showed turned him into a celebrity and on his return to England he published two volumes of memoirs, recounting his Boer War experiences as both a correspondent and military officer. A few years earlier, in 1895, he wrote about the war in Cuba for the Daily Graphic, and while there acquired a taste for Havana cigars. He also wrote about the war in Sudan, taking in the British Army's last cavalry charge at the Battle of Omdurman.
Historian Sir David Cannadine Explores Winston Churchill's Life Outside Politics
Historian Sir David Cannadine, host of BBC Radio 4 series on the great statesmen, looks at his interests outide Number 10. Winston Churchill was a committed bricklayer, he even joined the bricklayers' union. But this didn't mean he had anything in common with the working man.
He was surrounded by a retinue of servants, he never even set foot in a shop and he famously got stuck on the Circle line the only time he used the tube. In the first of ten programmes in the series, David Cannadine explores Churchill's devotion to bricklaying and what it tells us about his relationship with ordinary people.
THE NEW YORK POST, 5 March, 2011 - On Tuesday, March 5, 1946 -- 65 years ago today -- Winston Churchill delivered a speech in Fulton, Mo., that was fundamentally to alter the way that the world viewed itself.
Less than a year after Adolf Hitler had committed suicide in the rubble of Berlin, the West was forced -- solely through the oratory and amazing foresight of one man -- to consider the terrible possibility that a new clash against totalitarianism was inevitable.
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic," Churchill told his audience in the Westminster College gymnasium in the small American town of Fulton, "an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere."
Churchill went on uncompromisingly to point out a fact that many in the West knew to be true but that few were brave enough publicly to admit: that Stalin's Soviet Union was a brutal dictatorship, utterly determined to tyrannize its satellite states, and that it would brook no challenge from the democratic oppositions in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary or Romania.
The ruling communist parties were, Churchill said, "all embracing police governments," ruled "either by dictators or by compact oligarchies operating through a privileged party and a political police." This was certainly not, he said, "the liberated Europe we fought to build up."
For all that it was true, no one at the time wanted to hear it. The USSR had lost 20 million men fighting the Nazis in World War II, heroically resisting the Wehrmacht in such cities as Leningrad -- which had been subjected to a grueling 872-day siege -- Moscow and Stalingrad.
Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert said the glasses, which are in ''pristine condition'' with no scuffs or marks to the lenses or circular frames, were left with opticians Dixey of Wigmore Street, London, after they had been sent there for some work.
''They were made for Churchill,'' Mr Humbert said, ''and he had them and wore them for some time.
''They went back to have some adjustment or tightening made and they were either then never collected or were replaced.''
Mr Humbert said a compliments slip from Dixey which said ''These tortoiseshell spectacles were made in 1954 for the Right Honourable Sir Winston Leonard Churchill'', was also included in the glasses case.
Westminster Hosts British Ambassador During Churchill Weekend
By Katherine Cummins
THE FULTON SUN, 16 February 2011 -Sixty-five years ago, Winston Churchill brought the world's attention to Fulton with his famous "Sinews of Peace" speech.
On the anniversary of that auspicious occasion, the National Churchill Museum on the Westminster College campus is hosting The Churchill Weekend on March 5 and 6. Event organizers are hoping a lineup featuring British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, famous historian Sir Max Hastings and the installation of the new Iron Curtain sculpture by Don Wiegand will once again draw the world's attention to a small stage.
"I'm looking forward to the whole thing. Once the sculpture is in place and dedicated it will be a magnificent addition to the museum, we have the British ambassador coming to Fulton, Max Hastings - having him in Fulton is fantastic, and it really puts Fulton, Missouri and Westminster College on the map again," said Rob Havers, executive director of the National Churchill Museum. "It's a good reason for the world to come to Fulton, Missouri."
Havers said he has been trying to convince Sheinwald to visit the museum for several years now, and finally was able to convince him that the second Churchill Weekend - a defunct tradition that was revived last year - was the perfect opportunity to do so. Sheinwald will be the featured guest speaker during a special dinner at 7 p.m. on March 5 at the museum, a ticketed event.
"From the communications I've had with the ambassador's office, his speech will be a major policy commentary about the nature of Anglo-American relations in 2011, and its history," Havers said.
Winston Churchill's Poetic Speeches of World War II
By Paul Millward
LITERARY TRAVELER, February 2011 - In 1940, from deep beneath the buildings of Whitehall in London, in an underground complex known as the Cabinet War Rooms, Winston Churchill saved Britain. This secret cavern became the nerve centre of the war. Churchill would even sleep here on occasions. In Room 60 of this political bunker, he made his historic radio speeches to the nation, speeches which gave the people the strength and resolve to win the war.
I sometimes imagine my mother as a teenage girl at home, huddled around the radio with her brothers and sisters in 1940, anxiously listening to Churchill's addresses. These were desperate times for Britain following the withdrawal at Dunkirk, when Hitler had consumed much of Western Europe and we stood alone against the might of Nazi power. It must have been with great fear and trepidation that they waited for his words. Every syllable he uttered would be devoured with intense concentration.
And what they heard were some of the greatest words spoken in history, words which even today as I read them, I am filled with resolve and determination to never give in to any of life's difficulties. Churchill was in effect a poet in the guise of a politician. He used his ability to manipulate words into unforgettable speeches, thus instilling the listener with incredible fortitude. This particular speech transcends its political context and becomes a literary tour de force, which actually reads as if it were written in verse form:
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, We shall fight on the seas and oceans, We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island whatever the cost may be, We shall fight on the beaches, We shall fight on the landing grounds, We shall fight in the fields and in the streets, We shall fight in the hills; We shall never surrender.
Conservative MP Sir Peter Tapsell analysed the legacy of former MP F E Smith in the events of 1911, as part of a series of lectures on key historical politicians to mark the centenary of the 1911 Parliament Act.
F E Smith was a Conservative statesman and MP in the first part of the 20th century and a close friend of Winston Churchill.
He was a staunch Unionist and an opponent of Irish Home Rule.
Comparing the era of Smith with modern politics, Sir Peter Tapsell described how F E Smith was staunchly against "any move to a unicameral Parliament" and had been a supporter of a coalition between the Conservative and Liberal parties.