To return to power in 1951, Winston Churchill needed support in Scotland as much as he did anywhere else. During the general election campaign, therefore, he dutifully traveled to Glasgow, where he spoke at St. Andrew’s Hall on 17 October. If the Conservatives were to win, Churchill told his audience, “We shall advise the creation of a new Minister of State for Scottish Affairs of Cabinet rank, to work in Scotland as Deputy to the Secretary of State.”1
The strategy worked. The Tories eked out a seventeen-seat majority in the election by securing thirty-five of the seventy-one Scottish seats. Churchill became prime minister for the second time and appointed his former Chief Whip, James Stuart, as Secretary of State for Scotland. Stuart in turn recommended that Alec Douglas-Home, who had recently succeeded his father to become the 14th Earl of Home, be appointed as the promised Minister of State.
The selection of the middle-aged earl did not appeal to Churchill. As a member of the House of Commons, then styled Lord Dunglass, Douglas-Home had been Parliamentary Private Secretary to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and had accompanied his leader to the infamous Munich Conference, which Churchill had vociferously denounced. Stuart stood firm, however, and Churchill relented. “All right— have your Home sweet Home,” he huffed. “The Prime Minister’s personal directive to me was characteristic and terse,” Douglas-Home later recalled, “‘Go and quell those turbulent Scots, and don’t come back until you’ve done it.’”2 There was indeed to be turbulence. Read More >
This is the first in what will be a series of four issues to be published over four years examining Churchill’s connections with the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom. The rich but scarcely explored field of Scotland comes first, and we are honored to have a foreword from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Churchill’s affiliations with Scotland began with his birth on 30 November 1874—the feast day of St. Andrew, Scotland’s patron saint. Despite the many connections that followed, Scots today have all but forgotten Churchill. Alastair Stewart looks at the reasons for this and explains why it would profit the country to embrace the Churchill legacy.
More egregious than collective amnesia has been a campaign of deliberate misrepresentation of Churchill’s record in Scotland. Gordon J. Barclay untangles the malicious myths that have been fabricated and explains the reasons for the militant assertion of fake history.
Churchill Barrier 1 built at Scapa Flow in response to sinking of HMS Royal Oak
Finest Hour 189, Third Quarter 2020
By Robin Brodhurst
Robin Brodhurst is author of Churchill’s Anchor: Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound (Pen and Sword, 2000)
It was in Scotland that Winston Churchill was first offered the position of First Lord of the Admiralty. Churchill, as Home Secretary, was staying with Prime Minister H. H. Asquith at Archerfield late in September 1911 and had been playing golf when the Asquith asked him “quite abruptly” whether he would like to go to the Admiralty. Churchill immediately responded that he would. The driving force behind this appointment was the need to impose on the Admiralty a Naval Staff, and the first choice had been Richard Haldane, a Scot, who had created an Army Staff at the War Office. Haldane, however, was by then in the House of Lords, and both Asquith and Churchill deemed it essential that the leader of such a high-spending department should be in the Commons, so Haldane gave way, although holding the view that it would have been better if he had gone to the Admiralty for a year, so as to impose the new Naval Staff, while Churchill held the War Office for that year and then went to the Admiralty.1Read More >
BGNGB6 Scottish national flag flying above a rocky outcrop, Scotland, UK.
Finest Hour 189, Third Quarter 2020
By Winston S. Churchill
In the first volume of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Winston Churchill surveys the final two centuries of medieval Scottish history, when internal strife and periodic battles with England afflicted the lives of many generations, and identifies the true foundation of Scotland’s emergent power.
The disunity of the [Scottish] kingdom, fostered by English policy and perpetuated by the tragedies that befell Scottish sovereigns, was not the only source of Scotland’s weakness. The land was divided, in race, in speech, and in culture. The rift between Highlands and Lowlands was more than a geographical distinction. The Lowlands formed part of the feudal world, and, except in the SouthWest, in Galloway, English was spoken. The Highlands preserved a social order much older than feudalism. In the Lowlands the King of Scots was a feudal magnate; in the Highlands he was the chief of a loose federation of clans. He had, it is true, the notable advantage of blood kinship both with the new Anglo-Norman nobility and with the ancient Celtic kings. The Bruces were undoubted descendants of the first King of Scots in the ninth century, Kenneth MacAlpin, as well as of Alfred the Great; the Stuarts, claimed with some plausibility, to be the descendants of MacBeth’s contemporary, Banquo. The lustre of a divine antiquity illumined princes whose pedigree ran back into the Celtic twilight of Irish heroic legend. For all Scots, Lowland and Highland alike, the royal house had a sanctity which commanded reverence through periods when obedience and even loyalty were lacking, and much was excused those in whom royal blood ran. Read More >
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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.
At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.