Churchill: Asset or Liability?

One of my favorite tourist things that I have done in London is the Churchill Museum and War Rooms. The whole thing was absolutely fascinating. They have preserved the underground areas from which Churchill and his advisers ran the war in Britain. I never thought much about Churchill except to note that many people named their bulldogs Winston. I enjoyed learning more about him in the museum attached to the War Rooms as well. I have also always been interested in WWII though I think that was a byproduct of growing up in my house- any holiday like Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, or the like was spent watching the WWII movie marathon that some channel was always showing on the couch with my dad.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I was reading the free paper in the tube when an advertisement caught my eye. There was going to be debate on Churchill’s leadership skills on September 3rd in Westminster with some pretty heavyweight historians. I couldn’t decide so I plugged it into the calendar in my phone and told it to remind me the day before. I got the reminder and we didn’t have any plans and so I got on the internet and bought myself a ticket. I was expecting 75ish people to be there. It was in the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. I was quite surprised when there were over 1,000 people filling every seat in the hall! The whole thing was fascinating.

The motion up for debate was this: Churchill was more of a liability than an asset to the free world.

There were three for the motion and three against. They were:

Speakers for the motion:

Pat Buchanan: Senior advisor to three US Presidents and two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Nigel Knight: Political scientist and economist at Churchill College, Cambridge.

Norman Stone: Historian and Professor of International Relations at Bilkent University, Ankara.

Speakers against the motion:

Antony Beevor: Historian and author of the bestselling book “Stalingrad”.

Professor Richard Overy: Historian who has written extensively on the Second World War and the Third Reich.

Andrew Roberts: Historian who has spent 20 years researching, writing and broadcasting extensively about both Churchill and the Second World War.

Chair: Joan Bakewell: Journalist and broadcaster.

Each speaker had a chance to speak alternating from one side to the other and then they took questions from the audience. I learned a very important lesson last night. Never insult Churchill in front of a room full of Brits. They are not afraid to yell. Before the debate even began there was a man who stood up and shouted about what a disgrace it was to even entertain this motion. The debate took place anyway. All of the speakers were excellent and since I don’t have a definite opinion either way, I just listened and tried to soak up all of the information. I still don’t have a definite opinion one way or the other but I know that I want to try and learn more. The debate was put on by IntelligenceSquared and they have a whole season of debates on many different topics. I think that it would be a great thing to go to more often!

What are your thoughts on Churchill?

About fishandchipsandsalsa

This is the story of a newlywed-ish couple in Dallas about to pack up their lives and pups to move to jolly ol' England. They will miss good family, good friends and good fajitas.
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3 Responses to Churchill: Asset or Liability?

  1. Carolyn says:

    Hummmmm. I must admit I don’t have many thoughts on Churchill. However, I do have a positive attitude about him in my head. Not sure why. I think I’ll do a little research! Thanks for inspiring me!

    Can we put a debate on our list of things to do when I come see you? Sounds like fun!

  2. Lollie says:

    In the day of three channel, black and white TV I believe I watched the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. You had no choice but to watch, it was the only thing on. I think it was no more than 3 or 4 years after President Kennedy’s funeral. I remember thinking that I might miss it, if I didn’t get home quick. I was wrong, full coverage lasted for the next several days. Ok, now I am going to go google this before I hit submit. I’m back and it was in 1965 so I can submit without looking a fool. As to asset or liability, I just know he was world known even to a fifth grader. It is a memory stored away with the funerals of JFK, and Princess Diana. A day when the world paused.

    I have a question. How does it feel to not have a car? does dependence on public transportation take some getting used to or is it nice not have to put gas in a car and look for a parking place?

    Oh, and one more thing, it was Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday not Cary Grant.

  3. Belinda says:

    Love looking at your blog! Just an FYI: You were in our conversation yesterday in Dallas. Steven and I met Josh and his girlfriend Ashley to eat dinner and we noticed he had new shoes and they were TOMS. I immediately thought of your blog and had to share that I knew what they were and the story behind them. He said they were so wonderful, I am going to google the site and order a pair for myself! I felt so world travelled telling him they were the rage in London! Thank you for enlightening me on TOMS! Belinda

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