The House

Cheers, Mr Churchill!

Winston in Scotland

- By Andrew Liddle Publisher Birlinn

In a carefully researched and lively account, Andrew Liddle nally sets the record straight on Winston Churchill’s a itude to Scotland

In death, as in life, Winston Churchill has his detractors, as well as his admirers. North of the border there are many who believe that he felt contempt for Scotland and its people.

Sco ish nationalis­ts love to depict him as a ruthless English foe, who sent in tanks to supress disorder in Glasgow in 1919. is myth has now found its way into school syllabuses. It is not e ectively challenged because so li le serious work has been done on Churchill’s real a itude to Scotland.

Even a er a thousand biographie­s, there are still fresh discoverie­s to be made.

Andrew Liddle, a political consultant and writer in Edinburgh, seeks out the truth in this carefully researched study. Excellent use is made of the Churchill papers, other unpublishe­d records and the detailed political reports which lled the newspapers of the time.

In 1908 Churchill was sent packing a er two years by the electors in his Manchester seat. At 34 he was the youngest cabinet minister since Pi , and one of the great successes of Herbert Asquith’s Liberal government, having defected from the Tories four years earlier.

He found refuge in Dundee, where in 10 years he built up a seemingly impregnabl­e majority of 15,000. He described it as “a life seat and cheap and easy beyond all experience”. at turned out to be a very rash comment.

Dundee was famous for jute and drunkennes­s. Low wages were paid to most of the city’s workforce as they turned jute from Bengal into sacks and rope. Much was spent from inadequate incomes on drink. Dundee had more pubs than bakers. Drunkennes­s accounted for more law-breaking than all other crimes in the city put together.

Liddle argues that Dundee’s poverty had a deep e ect on Churchill. It contribute­d greatly, he writes, to the “commitment to progressiv­e social change” which made Churchill, along with David Lloyd George, a founder of the welfare state before the First World War. No trace of hostility to Scotland can be found in his years as Dundee’s MP.

He was thrown out of his “life seat” in a sensationa­l election exactly 100 years ago. His nemesis was an extraordin­ary gure, Edwin (known as Neddy), Scrymgeour, whose “soul was on re for God” and for the extinction of alcohol. In November 1922 he became the rst, and last, prohibitio­nist to be elected to the House of Commons. Dundee, a city of many drunks, turned to him for salvation.

ough stunned by defeat, Churchill praised Scrymgeour as a man who stood for “the orderly conception­s of democratic reform action”. He le Dundee without bi erness, expressing sadness at the “awful contrast between one class and another” to be found there.

Liddle’s greatest discovery is Churchill’s support for fundamenta­l constituti­onal change in the United Kingdom. Speaking in Dundee in October 1913 he said: “I prophesy that the day will most certainly come when a federal system will be establishe­d in these islands which will give Wales and Scotland control, within proper limits, of their own a airs.”

is speech needs to be given a prominent position in the history curriculum in Sco ish schools. No one hostile to Scotland could possibly have made such a statement.

Andrew Liddle has done a great service in correcting gross errors about

Churchill and Scotland in this lively, a ractive book.

“Liddle argues that Dundee’s poverty had a deep e ect on Churchill”

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 ?? ?? 1908 Dundee Winston Churchill is heckled by su ragettes
1908 Dundee Winston Churchill is heckled by su ragettes

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