Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Churchill Series - Jan. 9, 2009

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

On most important issues of the 20th century America and Britain stood together to the great benefit of mankind.

But there were some issues on which they didn’t agree. During much of the 1920s, for instance, Britain told it subjects to enjoy their pints and drams while America scowled: “Prohibition.”

In Britain there was no stronger supporter of his government’s position than Churchill. And not just because he enjoyed champagne, whiskey and brandy on a daily basis.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Churchill was uniquely positioned to appreciate the importance of the tax revenues that flowed from the distilleries to His Majesty’s coffers.

Against that background on April 28, 1925, Churchill presented to the Commons his first budget as Chancellor. The presentation lasted more then two hours, in the middle of which he drew from his pocket a small flask and said to the House:

"It is imperative that I should fortify the revenue and I shall now, with the permission of the Commons, proceed to do so."
There were cheers on all sides as he sipped.

But one member, Lady Nancy Astor, rose to object. She wanted Britons to pay more attention to what the Americans were doing about “liquor legislation.”

Churchill assured the House Britain had nothing to learn from the United States on that matter. Again the House cheered; and the budget was soon passed.

And yes, it was Lady Astor who said that if married to our hero, she’d put poison in his tea, which led him to promise that if married to her, he’d drink her tea.

And that, dear readers, leads to an impertinent question: Do you ever at weddings look at the couple and reflect on the tea vows Astor and Churchill made?

If you're in the North I hope the snow and cold don't hit you too hard.

Everyone have a nice weekend.



William Manchester, The Last Lion: Visions of Glory. (pgs. 788-789)