Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 30, 2009

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

In November, 1922 Clementine was in Dundee, Scotland with her seven week old baby, Mary, campaigning to help Churchill retain his parliamentary seat in the general election scheduled for November 15.

Churchill was unable to be in Dundee; he was in London recovering from a recent appendectomy. His doctors would not allow him to go to Dundee until the 11th and even at that he was still so weak he delivered most of his speeches in the closing days while sitting down.

Just before Churchill left for Dundee on the 11th he received a letter from Clementine. You’ll see her inform him of the situation he’ll face and tactfully suggest how he should respond :

The situation here is an anxious one …

Of course I feel the minute you arrive the atmosphere will change & the people will be roused – If you bring Thompson [a Scotland Yard detective who often served as Churchill’s bodyguard. – JinC] etc tell him to conceal himself tactfully, as it would not do if the populace thought you were afraid of them. The papers are so vile, they would misrepresent it & say you had brought detectives because you were afraid of the rowdy element – They are capable of anything.

If you feel strong enough, I think besides the Drill Hall Meeting which is pretty sure to be broken up, you should address one to two small open meetings. Every rowdy meeting rouses sympathy & brings votes & will especially as you have been so ill. Even in the rowdiest foulest places of all the people tho’ abusive were really good-natured. …

I am longing to see you & so is Dundee. … I shall be heartbroken if you get in. … I find what the people like best is the settlement of the Irish Question. So I trot that out & also your share in giving the Boers self government. The idea against you seems to be tht you are a War Monger. But I am exhibiting you as a Cherub Peace Maker with little fluffy wings round your chubby face.

I think the line is not so much “Smash the Socialists” as to try with your great abilities to help in finding solution of the Capital & Labour problem & I tell them that now that you are free from the cares & labours of office you will have time to think that out & work fro it in the next Parliament.
Doesn’t Clementine do a wonderful job of lettering Churchill know what a tough fight he’s in; the issues on which he’s vulnerable; and how best to respond.

Clementine's letter reveals her to be a smart, politically experienced person wise in the ways of human beings.

Tomorrow Churchill finally arrives in Dundee, is soundly beaten and leaves Dundee with grace.
Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill. Edited by their daughter Mary Soames. (p. 264-265)