Summer 1901 (Age 26)

“The Hughligans”

The war in South Africa droned on, and the expense of paying for it was the major issue. Speaking in the House on 17 July, Churchill said: “What is of great importance is that this House as a whole is thoroughly agreed upon the principal features of the policy that has led to all this expenditure which everyone deplores. But hon. members opposite have indeed advocated a somewhat curious policy. The Rt. Hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition I believe hopes to check the expenditure and to bring the war to an end at an early date by combining the policy of swords with that of olive branches. That is an extraordinary policy, and I quite agree with the Rt. Hon. Gentleman that the party opposite is the only party in the State who could carry it out, for it is the only party which has in itself all the elements which make for peace and for war.”

It was during this period that Churchill joined forces with a few other dissident young Tory MPs, Ian Malcolm, Lord Percy, Arthur Stanley, and Lord Hugh Cecil. As Churchill’s son wrote in the Official Biography, “Later they were on occasion to be outrageous in their Parliamentary manners and the critics dubbed them the Hughligans, or Hooligans.” Together, they made things hot for the Tory establishment.

Churchill spent the last week of August and most of September in Scotland, including visits with the Duke of Sutherland, Lord Londonderry and Churchill’s uncle, Lord Tweedmouth.

During his stay in Scotland, he wrote several letters to The Times defending the sanitary conditions in the Scottish tweed industry against an anonymous correspondent, who had suggested that “scrupulously cleanly persons will hesitate to wear such garments.” Churchill replied: “Of course it may be possible that your correspondent is only one of those pseudo-scientific persons who have a mania for discovering bacilli in everything; and who, when they are neither anonymous nor insignificant, from time to time, and particularly in the holiday time, endeavour to alarm the British public through the columns of the newspapers.”

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