Wednesday, May 6

UKIP seek posthumous endorsement from legendary British federalist

UKIP have, predictably, co-opted Winston Churchill to appear on their billboards for the Euro elections, causing Tory MP and Churchill's grandson Nicholas Soames to splutter that his grandfather is being cynically exploited.

As observers of the party of 'racists, cranks and gadflys' will be aware, most U-kippers are fairly stupid and possess what could reasonably be described as a limited understanding of history.

If they had any knowledge of history they would be well aware that during the Second World War, Churchill sought a union of France and Britain for the duration of the war. And after the war he agreed with Jean Monnet that structures should be put in place to bring Europe closer together to avoid further conflict. The same Churchill who UKIP are so cynically exploiting, told Conservative party conference in 1947 that:

"I strive for three great systems-the British Commonwealth of Nations, the European Union and the fraternal association with the United States. I believe that…this island will be the vital link between them all."

This would be the same Winston Churchill who said in 1946 in Zurich that:

"We must build a kind of United States of Europe" and:

"If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance there would be no limit to the happiness, prosperity and glory which its 300 million or 400 million people would enjoy"

All of which begs the question: how can UKIP possibly associate themselves with a man holding such views. If any Tory politician said the same things now, Farage and co would immediately denounce them as a traitor to Britain!

In any case, is there anyone of even remotely Churchillian stature in UKIP? They've only got one decent politician in the whole party. Aside from Farage, most of the rest of them are still desperately searching for the family brain cell.


Tansy said...

Churchill and Europe

John W. Young
"Churchill’s ‘No’ to Europe:
The ‘Rejection’ of European Union By Churchill’s
Post-War Government 1951-1952"
Historical Journal (Great Britain) 28(4), 1985: 923-937.
Published in Finest Hour 58

One of the points at which Britain lost an opportunity to enter the European community followed Winston Churchill’s return to Downing Street in October 1951.

‘Pro-Europeans’ like Harold Macmillan had high expectations from the new Prime Minister. They remembered that Churchill had not only supported proposals for a Franco-British political union in 1940, but he had also talked about a "Council of Europe" to help govern the continent in the future. At Fulton, Missouri, in March 1946, he called for "a new unity in Europe" to meet the threat of the "Iron Curtain" that divided Europe. Shortly after, he argued that Europe must create "a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe." In 1950 he condemned Labour’s refusal to enter talks on the Schuman Plan, and even proposed the creation of a European army.

But Churchill’s commitment to European unity was limited. His 1940 Franco-British union proposal was at a desperate moment. He often spoke of Britain as one of the "friends and sponsors of the new Europe." During 1946-1951 his pro-European stance served to win publicity and to embarrass Labour, but it remained vague. His vision was of a more united continent, but with Britain preserving her world role via the Empire and Commonwealth, and tied to Europe rather loosely.

In response to the activities of pro-Europeans like Macmillan and Robert Boothby, Churchill circulated a paper in November, 1951 which declared that Britain had three areas of interest: foremost, the Commonwealth; next the "English-Speaking World" (presumably Churchillese for America); and, only then, a "United Europe" (with not much detail of what this precisely meant).

Anthony Eden actively opposed the actions of the "pro-Europeans." When Macmillan sought a cabinet confrontation with Eden in 1952, he discovered that Churchill no longer seemed concerned with European unity. Even Churchill’s son-in-law, Duncan Sandys, had little hope of influencing the Prime Minister.

Discouraged by his defeat in cabinet, Macmillan withheld his resignation only out of affection for and loyalty to Churchill. While Anthony Eden and the Foreign Office had been the main obstacles to pro-European schemes, the proponents of those plans had certainly misjudged the meaning of Winston Churchill’s statements calling for closer contacts with the nations on the European continent.

Tansy said...

"We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not combined. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed" Winston Churchill

Gregg said...

Alhough I find UKIP's use of Churchill a cheap shot that has backfired, Tansy is absolutely correct.

Anonymous said...

Churchill is not around to see how this ghastly bunch of dimwits have taken over our abilty to make our own laws.

Nor were his comments based on most MEPs persistance in ignoring the will of the people while being overpaid to do it.

I personally think that Churchill would have been against the present form of the EU, as he was the proudest of Brits and would be ashamed of how the EU takes so much from us and gives so little back. Churchill would be in favour of a European Union but not this sort of Union.

If only the EU MEPs would stop being so upperty and stop thinking they know better than the rest of us. If only they would reform the EU so it only involved a simple common market, a mutual defence pact and scientific co-operation, then all the corruption and waste of resources would cease and we would all be better for it.

caseagainstbnp said...

Tansy - it seems to me that you misrepresent Churchill's views. Much of what you have actually quoted from Churchill suggests that he sought much more from Europe than being "tied to [it] rather loosely."

Moreover, in the latter part of your comment, you make the point that Churchill wrote a paper declaring Britain's interests to lie with: the Commonwealth, the English-speaking world "and only then a 'United Europe.'" Again your interpretation and narrative appears to entirely misconstrue the sentiment of Churchill's paper as he was clearly highlighting the three international relations of greatest significance to Britain. The implication in your post that Churchill would have advised pursuing a relationship with Europe to a much lesser degree misinterprets much of the evidence you present and makes no sense in terms of the 1951 paper you referenced. As, surely, by highlighting these three relationships, Churchill wished to point out where Britain must devote most of her diplomatic efforts.

Anthony Miller said...

I have to say UKIP using Winston "We must build a kind of United States of Europe" Churchill is one of the most unintentionally funny things I have seen in ages. Sadly though one feels that plenty of the uninformed wont get the joke