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Trust the People Lord Randolph Churchill’s Words Resonate Today

Winston Churchill memorized many of the speeches made by his father Lord Randolph and took their words closely to heart. The following remarks were reproduced by Winston in the biography that he published about his father in 1906:

“Trust the people”—I have long tried to make that my motto; but I know, and will not conceal, that there are still a few in our party who have that lesson yet to learn and who have yet to understand that the Tory party of today is no longer identified with that small and narrow class which is connected with ownership of land; but that its great strength can be found, and must be developed, in our large towns as well as in our country districts.

Yes, trust the people. You, who are ambitious, and rightly ambitious, of being the guardians of the British Constitution, trust the people, and they will trust you—and they will follow you and join you in the defense of that Constitution against any and every foe. (Birmingham, 16 April 1884)

Are we being swept along a turbulent and irresistible torrent which is bearing us towards some political Niagara, in which every mortal thing we know will be twisted and smashed beyond recognition? Or are we, on the other hand, gliding passively along a quiet river of human progress that will lead us to some undiscovered ocean of almost superhuman development? Who can tell?

My state of mind when these great problems come across me—which is very rarely—is one of wonder, or perhaps I should rather say of admiration and of hope, because the alternative state of mind would be one of terror and despair. And I am guarded from that latter state of mind by a firm belief in the essential goodness of life….But above all, my especial safeguard against such an annihilation and mental despair is my firm belief in the ascertained and much-tried common sense which is the peculiarity of the English people. (Cambridge University Carlton, 6 June 1885)

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