Churchill General Notes on his Character


General notes on Churchill’s character

(Use when stuck on part (b) as part of “your own knowledge”)

1. Not a party politician:

He followed his instincts: joining the Conservatives, joining the Liberals, re-joining the Conservatives (“rat and re-rat” quote)

       Also campaigned against his own party repeatedly (India and re-armament are both examples)

       Didn’t seem to mind if he offended people (e.g. Baldwin) who he might need as allies in the future

       One reason for this: his earnings from writing were huge compared to his MP’s salary (in 1930, when he was working particularly hard, he earned £30,000, of which £500 came from his MP’s salary)

Not well-suited to the leadership of a Party - e.g. “The Gestapo” speech would never have been made by Baldwin, or Anthony Eden, because they would have had an instinct for staying in the middle ground, of not letting personal views get in the way of a broad-based appeal. Consequence that he was always mistrusted by some.

Despite his later victories as Conservative leader in 1951 and 1955 - it’s not chance that he became PM during wartime, without being elected to office as the leader of the winning party, at the head of a wartime coalition.

2. Emotionally driven

       On the Abdication Crisis, he wrote to Baruch:

“I always prefer to accept the guidance of my heart to calculations of public feeling”. [KEY QUOTE]

       On the Indian campaign, he wrote to Randolph Churchill:

“It is a great comfort when one minds the questions one cares about far more than office, or party, or even friendships.”

Obviously both a strength and a weakness…

3. His steady nerve and robust temperament:

Jenkins: “He never allowed politics to make him miss deadlines. He had very good nerve, under the fire of guns and…


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