Finest Hour 139

Ampersand – Henry George and Churchill’s Lost Opportunity

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 58

Ampersand – Henry George and Churchill’s Lost Opportunity

By Richard M. Langworth


In “The People’s Rights: Opportunity Lost?” (FH 112, Autumn 2001, 42) Andrew MacLaren wrote about the tax on land, proposed by the American economist Henry George and strongly championed by the young Churchill in his radical-liberal period in the early 1900s. George propounded that while people have the right to possess what they produce, or receive in exchange for work, there is no right to private ownership of elements: air, water, sunshine and (the most contentious element) land. It became “a major point of Liberal policy,” MacLaren wrote, “to shift taxation from production and to raise taxation upon the value of land…The justice and practicality of this proposition can rarely if ever have enjoyed a more brilliant advocate than Winston Churchill.”

Purely by accident, while looking up quotations, we fell over Churchill’s explanation of why the tax on land didn’t work, and remained a lost opportunity for him and the Liberals.

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“Cats Look Down on You…” Churchill’s Feline Menagerie

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 50

“Cats Look Down on You…” Churchill’s Feline Menagerie

By Fred Glueckstein

Mr. Glueckstein thanks Lady Soames for kindly reviewing this article. His previous pieces were “Winston Churchill and Colonist II” (FH 125) and “The Statesman John Kennedy Admired Most” (FH 129).


Sir Winston Spencer Churchill left such a large record, so much of it crafted by himself, that even the best scholars fail to get their arms around him. And there are so many fascinating side issues to distract us! Take for example his passion for and genuine love of animals.1

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Churchill Proceedings – Singapore Reprise / 2.“God Fought for Us”

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 49

Churchill Proceedings – Singapore Reprise / 2.“God Fought for Us”

By Greg Hughes, Emerald, Queensland


“Tom, don’t get out from under your air cover. If you do, you’ve had it.” —Air Marshal Harris to Admiral Tom Phillips, in A.J.P. Taylor, The Second World War: An Illustrated History (1974), 102.


Amongst my countrymen, Churchill often gets a bad rap, which boils down to two irritants: Gallipoli and Singapore. The first really should have been debunked by now. Singapore is a bit more complex, not least because the survival of Australia was perceived to be in question. Again the local commanders were, to put it gently, not of the first rank. Like Gallipoli, the battle was lost at almost precisely the moment that the enemy (in this case Yamashita) ran out of ammunition. As for Churchill’s culpability, only a barking madman would have put his best generals in a zone at peace when there was real fighting to be done elsewhere. Churchill was reprising exactly what Australian Command had done: in 1941, all our best officers were in the Middle East.

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Churchill Proceedings – Singapore Reprise / 1. The Imperial Imperative

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 48

Churchill Proceedings – Singapore Reprise / 1. The Imperial Imperative

By Warren F. Kimball, Rutgers University


The excellent papers published in FH 138 about the fall of Singapore frame the debate nicely. I would add just one all-important perspective.

By the 1920s, probably earlier, Great Britain had become the victim of Imperial over-reach. The Empire was too big, too complex, too full of energy and challenges, to be controlled without being able to discipline the wayward. Yet the tool Britain had used before—the aura of power and strength that was only sparingly, even “surgically” applied—had become hollow. The aura remained, but the power and strength had to be rationed—and what the British called the “Far East” got short rations. Because of those short rations, what I call the Imperial Imperative asserted itself. The concep t was simple: Never address the stark reality that Britain could no longer afford to provide physical protection for its entire Empire. Choices had to be made, but those choices—the Ten-Year Rule, for example—were always disguised as postponements or sensible efficiencies. Rare was the admission that Britain could not perform its dominant role—only play it.

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Churchill Proceedings – Prince of Wales and Repulse : Churchill’s “Veiled Threat” Reconsidered

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 40

By Barry Gough

The author is Professor Emeritus of History at Wilfrid Laurier University, where he taught from 1972 to 2004. His next book is Titans at the Admiralty: Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Fisher.


I was opening my boxes,” Churchill wrote in his war memoirs, “when the telephone at my bedside rang. It was the First Sea Lord [Admiral Sir Dudley Pound]. His voice sounded odd. He gave a sort of cough and gulp, and at first I could not hear quite clearly. ‘Prime Minister, I have to report to you that the Prince of Wales and the Repulse have both been sunk by the Japanese—we think by aircraft. [Vice Admiral] Tom Phillips is drowned.’ ‘Are you sure it’s true?’ ‘There is no doubt at all.’ So I put the telephone down. I was thankful to be alone. In all the war I never received a more direct shock. The reader of these pages will realise how many efforts, hopes, and plans foundered with these two ships. As I turned over and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me. There were no British or American capital ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbour, who were hastening back to California. Over all this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme, and we everywhere were weak and naked.”

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Churchill Proceedings – The Strange Case of the Prime Minister and the Fighting Prophet

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 36

By Raymond E. Callahan

Raymond Callahan is Professor of History Emeritus, University of Delaware. In 1988 he was among the first group of academics invited to present papers at the International Churchill Conference at Bretton Woods. His latest book is Churchill and His Generals.


Churchill’s relations with the British Army’s generals are often reduced to colorful anecdotes. The PM, on a fraught evening at Chequers in the spring of 1941, threatening to put some of them in front of firing squads if they failed to hold Egypt against Rommel, is a celebrated one. While such episodes make good theater, they do no justice to how complex the relationship between political and military leaders really is, especially under the pressures of war.

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Action This Day – Spring 1883, 1908, 1933

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 26

By Michael McMenamin


125 YEARS AGO:
Spring 1883 • Age 8
“Only 18 more days…”

Winston was counting the days until the school term ended and he regained his freedom. On 2 July he wrote his mother: “It was so kind of you to let Everest come down here. I think she enjoyed herself very much. Only 18 more days. Now I will say goodbye. With love & Kisses I remain, Your affect. Winston”

When school was out, Jennie took both her sons for a visit to Blenheim Palace. Lord Randolph’s father had died in July 1883 and Randolph and his brother Blandford, the new Duke of Marlborough, were touring Europe at the time. Jennie left Winston and Jack there alone with their twelve-year-old cousin Sunny. Randolph wrote to express concern: “I think it is rather rash of you letting him be at Blenheim without you. I don’t know who will look after him & Sunny & keep them in order.”

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Wit & Wisdom – Indigineous Peoples

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 25

“…the Boers would regard it as a breach of that treaty if the franchise were in the first instance extended to any persons who are not white men ….Meanwhile we make certain reservations.”


In view of recent statements after erection of the Mandela monument in Parliament Square, to the effect that Churchill cared nothing for native populations and worked with Smuts to create in the Transvaal constitution the basis for Apartheid in South Africa (FH 136, 52-55), we thought this excerpt interesting. It is from Churchill’s speech, “The Transvaal Constitution” (House of Commons, 31 July 1906; Liberalism and the Social Problem, Collected Works edition, 1974, 137):

Under the Treaty of Vereeniging we undertook that no franchise should be extended to natives before the grant of self-government. I am not going to plunge into the argument as to what the word ‘native’ means, in its legal or technical character, because in regard to such a treaty, upon which we are relying for such grave issues, we must be bound very largely by the interpretation which the other party places upon it; and it is undoubted that the Boers would regard it as a breach of that treaty if the franchise were in the first instance extended to any persons who are not white men. We may regret that decision. We may regret that there is no willingness in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony to make arrangements which have been found not altogether harmful in Cape Colony. But we are bound by this treaty. Meanwhile we make certain reservations. Any legislation which imposes disabilities on natives which are not imposed on Europeans will be reserved to the Secretary of State, and the Governor will not give his assent before receiving the Secretary of State’s decision. Legislation that will effect the alienation of native lands will also be reserved. It is customary to make some provision in money for native interests, such as education, by reserving a certain sum for administration by the High Commissioner or some other political or Imperial official. We propose to reserve Swaziland to the direct administration of the High Commissioner, with the limiting provision that no settlement he may make is to be less advantageous to the natives than the existing arrangement.

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Old Titles Revisited: The Paladin

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 24

The Paladin, by Brian Garfield. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979; London, Macmillan 1980; Book Club Associates 1981, 350 pages. 

By Richard M. Langworth


A Gripping Novel?
A Fictional Biography?
Finest Hour 48
Summer 1985

The story is impossible—fantastic. An eleven-year-old boy named Christopher Creighton leaps a garden wall in Kent one day and finds himself face to face with Winston Churchill, whom he will later know by the code-name “Tigger.” It is 1935.

Christopher, who continues to invade Chartwell, impresses WSC with his audacity and pluck, and in 1939, aged fifteen, he is recruited into the British Secret Service by a pair of spy-masters known as “Owl” and “Winnie-the-Pooh.”

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The Horror Wasn’t Over

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 23

Endgame 1945: The Missing Final Chapter of World War II, by David Stafford. Little Brown, 582 pages.

By Marcus Frost

Mr. Frost is a member of the Churchill Centre’s board of trustees and active in both the San Antonio and North Texas chapters.


Most books on World War II in Europe end on V-E Day, 8 May 1945, following Germany’s unconditional surrender. Professor David Stafford chose to look at the aftermath, through a unique cross section of nine people caught up in the final phases of the war and whose lives were deeply affected. His powerful account—he himself admits he was quite drained at the end of it—reveals the horrors that occurred in the wake of V-E Day, which the jacket describes as “merely a brief pause in the action.”

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Leading Myths: Coventry is Back

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 22

By Michael Richards


Amazing what a life these legends have. Last March, Alan Pollock trotted out the old canard that Churchill, warned of the German attack on Coventry on the night of 14-15 November 1940 by the code-breakers at Bletchley Park, deliberately did not warn Coventry and let the city be razed rather than reveal his sources of secret intelligence.

The BBC discussion tried to duck criticism by saying Pollock’s tale was “controversial,” referring to our own definitive article by Peter McIver (“Leading Churchill Myths,” Finest Hour 41, http://xrl.us/dfx99). It’s not controversial at all. It is verifiable bunk, and only cranks or the ignorant still believe it. The BBC did admit that “most historians disagree” with Pollock, but they could not resist adding that, as far as The Churchill Centre is concerned, “they would say that.”

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One Man and an Island

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 21

Churchill and Malta: A Special Relationship, by Douglas Austin. Stroud, UK, Spellmount, 180 pages, hard-bound.

By Christopher H. Sterling


Winston Churchill visited Malta six times, and around those visits an interesting history has been constructed. Part of a growing trend of “Churchill and…” books, this one focuses on the tiny but vital real estate in the middle of the Mediterranean. An archipelago of seven islands, three inhabited, Malta had been a British colony since the early 1800s and for a time it was the largest Royal Navy base outside Britain. The Maltese author was a long-time banker before becoming a military historian; this is his second study of Malta’s role in British military history.

Churchill first saw (but didn’t visit) Malta en route to India in 1896, when he scanned the island’s shoreline with a new telescope presented to him by his mother. A decade later he arrived at the fortified city of Valletta and its Grand Harbour, on the way to East Africa as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. In that office, Churchill was drawn into Malta’s quest for local government and a constitution. He stayed nearly a week, enjoying the palatial former palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta.

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A Mantra, Not a Book

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 20

By Warren F. Kimball

Professor Kimball, Treat Professor of History at Rutgers University, has written extensively on Roosevelt and Churchill and is editor of three volumes of their correspondence.


OK. I have forced myself to sit down and write a review of the non-book entitled Human Smoke. What is it? Why is it so difficult to review? I finally realized that it is not possible critically to review a mantra: an unthinking chant, like prayer wheels, rosaries and worry beads. Monotonous repetition may be an effective appeal, but it is an appeal to emotion, not reason. It is not history.

History has some simple demands: a marshaling of evidence; an honest analysis of cause and effect; a story based on that evidence. Baker’s non-book offers, at best, disjointed fragments of the truth. (Please, no existentialist arguments about “what is truth?” I am happy to go on about historical truth as an artistic conclusion based upon the best evidence, but this is not the place.) In the words of my 18-year-old grandson, the fragments “read like beat poet Allen Ginsberg writing history for USA Today, only without the goofy graphics.”

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Wikipedia Dot Wrong

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 18


By Andrew Roberts

Mr. Roberts is an historian whose most recent book is A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 (FH 134). This article is derived by the author from reviews in The New Criterion and the Evening Standard.


Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization, by Nicholson Baker. Simon & Schuster, 576 pages, $25.00 Churchill Centre member price $20.


Was Sir Winston Churchill an oafish, bloodthirsty, sadistic, hypocritical, anti-Semitic alcoholic? The American novelist Nicholson Baker—whose previous works have been about phone-sex and masturbation—certainly seems to think so, but he uses the technique of juxta-posing bald quotations, ripped out of context, to try to place Churchill on the same moral plane as Adolf Hitler.

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Books, Arts and Curiosities – Rumbles Left and Right (Or:There They Go Again) / A Polemic, Not a History

Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008

Page 13


“Everyone threw the blame on me. Ihave noticed that they nearly always do.” —WSC, MY EARLY LIFE, 1930, 240.

By David Freeman

Professor Freeman teaches history at California State University Fullerton.


Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, by Patrick J. Buchanan. Crown, 518 pages, $29.95, member price $23.95


Although there is no indication in this book that Pat Buchanan is familiar with the work of the late Harry Elmer Barnes,1 he has nevertheless arrived at many of the same arguments that Barnes first pressed more than fifty years ago. His book is, then, the latest entry in the revisionist canon, recycling old arguments so familiar that The Churchill Centre long ago added a website section to refute them: “Leading Churchill Myths” (http://xrl.us/fk6by).

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