Monday 21 October 2019

Boris is Churchillian - and a Cavalier - but not a racist

Thank God Jeremy Hunt is not Prime Minister. Or Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsome, Rory Stewart or any of the others, most of all George Osborne. 

Tim Stanley was right when he gushed that Boris was wonderful on Saturday and might be right when he compared him to Churchill. All depends though on how things turn out.

Had Churchill died in 1939 he would be remembered as a fascinating failure who was responsible for the débâcle of the Dardanelles campaign (which is not true) and for encouraging Jinnah to argue for carving Pakistan out of India, as a way of defeating the movement for Indian independence.

Had Hitler not attacked any more countries after he annexed Czechia, Churchill would have been remembered as a warmonger. 

But if Boris resembles Churchill, he does so more in his Liberal than his Tory phase. 

But then Churchill was always an Edwardian Liberal Imperialist really, if he was ever anything.

Boris is so liberal he is almost an interesting, intelligent, eloquent and likeable version of Hillary, if such a thing is imaginable. 

But it isn't.

Boris, like Churchill, likes wars – he wanted to intervene in Syria to achieve regime change - public spending and social reform.

And Boris is a Tory in the sense that Churchill was: in the sense of having a cavalier sensibility.

Bagehot describes this perfectly.

...The essence of Toryism is enjoyment. Talk of the ways of spreading a wholesome conservatism throughout this country! Give painful lectures, distribute weary tracts (and perhaps this is as well,—you may be able to give an argumentative answer to a few objections, you may diffuse a distinct notion of the dignified dullness of politics); but as far as communicating and establishing your creed are concerned, try a little pleasure. The way to keep up old customs is to enjoy old customs; the way to be satisfied with the present state of things is to enjoy that state of things. Over the “Cavalier” mind this world passes with a thrill of delight; there is an exaltation in a daily event, zest in the “regular thing,” joy at an old feast.

Boris does not really believe in God and nor did Churchill. Churchill was thought until recently always to have been faithful to his wife but now we learn that he once went to bed with Ivor Novello. Boris has strayed much more often.

Rab Butler in 1940 when he became Prime Minister was appalled, for very good reasons, and called Churchill a half American adventurer. This is something else Boris has in common with Churchill.

As for truthfulness, 
Churchill (who lay in bed) read out to Reginald Maudling, when he was his assistant, a passage for the draft of a speech and said

'What do you think of that Maudling?' 

Maudling said timidly that he did not like it and, when asked, very timidly explained that he did not like it because it was not true.

'In a long and distinguished career in public life I have never been dissuaded from saying anything by the consideration that it was not true.

'But I think, sir, that this will be seen not to be true.'

'Ah. That is VERY different matter'

and the great man drew a red pencil line across the offending paragraph.

One can imagine Boris giving trade union leaders everything they asked for, as Churchill did, and directing operations at the Siege of Sydney St. 

However, Boris does not in the tiniest bit resemble Churchill when it comes to the latter's attitude to race and immigration.

Boris is a convinced multiculturalist and immigration liberal. He is a quarter Turk and his wife half-Indian.

It is not accurate to call Churchill a nationalist, though he was ardently patriotic and passionately believed in the English-speaking peoples. He was an imperialist, which is the opposite of a nationalist, and anything but liberal about immigration from outside the developed world.
Tory historian Andrew Roberts, in the very enlightening chapter ‘Churchill’s Immigration Policy’ in his book ‘Eminent Churchillians’, said that Churchill was, like most of his Edwardian generation, a racist and more so than most. 

He was no friend to what was in his day called ‘coloured immigration’ (which started slowly in 1948, three years before he returned to No 10 in 1951, and was very unpopular). He tried hard to persuade his colleagues that it had to be stopped and, as recorded in Harold Macmillan’s diary, he suggested in January 1955, 

'Keep England White, that would be a good election slogan.'

1 comment:

  1. Boris, like the family he comes from, is a 'schizophrenic' mix between conservativism and cosmopolitanism.