1874 – 1965
Born to an aristocratic family, Churchill served with distinction during the Second Boer War, using his fame earned there to launch into a brilliant political career. Starting in the Conservative Party, Churchill notoriously crossed the bench to the Liberals when he felt his own ideals were under threat from the Tory mainstream thought. Rising quickly in the Liberal Party, Churchill achieved the post of Home Secretary in 1910, a post which would lead him to conflict with the major force behind the Unions, Vladimir Lenin.
Churchill’s distaste for Socialism and Lenin’s loathing for Imperialism made it inevitable that the two would butt heads. Churchill’s sending of troops to the Tonypandy Riots caused an outcry amongst the Unions, Lenin being the leading advocate. The two had crossed swords and wit before but only through letters and the newspapers, the clash at Old Bailey was the boiling point between the two. Lenin was there to testify on behalf of a fellow Socialist who had been arrested for damaging public property. Churchill had arrived to confront Lenin about an inflammatory letter recently published in The Times. It took a group of ten people to pull the two apart after some very heated words and blows.
Though the incident lowered Churchill’s standing in the Government somewhat, he still managed to gain the post of Lord of the Admiralty the following year. Churchill pursued the new technology of battle tanks during his seven year tenure as First Lord, using the War in Mesopotamia as an experimenting ground for the new tanks, meeting with mixed results. After the 1918 election, the shaky Liberal Government was voted out of power though Churchill retained his seat. During the 1920’s with the decrease in Liberal power, the rise of Labour and personal disagreements with the Liberal leadership, Churchill rejoined the Tories in 1923, much too general surprise.
The switch of parties caused much confusion amongst the Conservative ranks. On one hand, Churchill was a cad and a traitor to both the Tory and Liberal causes. On the other, Churchill was seen as the man who helped defeat the Ottoman Empire and hugely popular amongst the electorate. With a hugely uncertain election before them, the Tories put pressure on Stanley Baldwin to step down for now, give Churchill a go and then take control of the leadership once either Churchill lost or stepped down. With the Labour Party seemingly about to win large amounts of seats, Baldwin relented and Churchill assumed control of the Tories. He went on to win a majority of 58 seats in the election while Baldwin was given the job of Home Secretary.
The Premiership of Winston Churchill can be divided into three distinct periods; the first period was from 1924-1929. This period saw Churchill concentrating on mainly reinvigorating British Industry by introducing various measures designed to stimulate technology and employment. His other policies included better administration over the African colonies, a general overhaul of the navy in the face of German aggression and recognising the new Chinese/Turkish government.
Churchill’s second period was mainly defined by the Wall Street Crash and his reaction to it during the years 1929-1933. Realising the damage it could do to Britain, Churchill swallowed his pride and enacted various labour aid laws to prevent too much damage to Britain along with various Government initiatives. With the collapse of the USA and CSA, Churchill also allowed various Imperial Army Regiments to be stationed in Canada as a defensive measure. It was this that first got Churchill into thinking about an Imperial Federation. Meeting with members of Canadian, South African, Australian and New Zealand Governments, Churchill proposed a mutual Federation that would be able to respond to the World much more effectively.
The third period, 1933-1935, was a true test for Churchill’s leadership as he struggled to get the Federation Bill through Parliament. Although finally succeeding in 1934, the voice of those who wanted to see India in the Federation finished off Churchill once and for all. Exhausted after eleven years in power, realising he was going to lose the next election to the Labour Party and happy that his legacy was secure, Churchill stepped down before the 1935 election and returned to the back benches. During the lead up to World War Two, Churchill opposed Indian involvement in the Federation and surprisingly spoke out in support for Vladimir Lenin who he felt had been unjustly persecuted for his beliefs.
During the War, Churchill used his influence to galvanise the nation in support for the War, with great success. His speeches were of a great inspiration to a nation that became determined to defeat its enemy. When negotiations for peace began, Churchill offered his ancestral home of Blenheim Palace as the seat of negotiations, seeing it as a chance for the Great Powers to distance themselves from the carnage and retain clear heads (The fact that Churchill was given the chance to be back in the political loop didn’t hurt neither.
When peace was confirmed, Churchill spent his remaining years corresponding with Lenin about the situation in America, writing his memoirs and offering backstage political support for causes he liked. Though he enjoyed his retirement, Churchill often lamented his lack of direction and drive he previously had as a politician.
Churchill died in 1965, amid international scenes of grief by all most countries in the Commonwealth. Apparently over two million people travelled to London to attend his funeral and a further fifty million watched it on television, grieving the loss of the last great Imperialist.