Wednesday, 3 March 2010

At the road’s end: Winston Churchill (1940-2010), former British MP

Winston Churchill, former Conservative Member of the British Parliament, died yesterday at the age of 69, after having battled cancer for two years. Churchill tried hard, perhaps too hard, to emulate his eponymous grandfather, but his political career held few successes.
He was born at the British Prime Minister’s official country house, Chequers, on 10 October 1940, the son of Randolph Churchill and Pamela Digby, who later became the US ambassador to France under the name Pamela Harriman.
Like his father and grandfather, Winston Churchill tried his luck as a journalist before being elected to Parliament in 1970. He belonged to the Conservative party’s right wing and took a hawkish stance on many foreign policy issues, something which apparently appealed to Margaret Thatcher.
Yet this carrier of a great name never made it to anything more than assistant spokesman on defence in 1976. He was sacked two years later when he went against the party line concerning sanctions against South Rhodesia. Churchill was a firm supporter of Ian Smith’s regime as well as the apartheid regime in South Africa. In this he was not alone in his party, but he continued to do so when most of his fellow Tories had realised their mistakes. He later became a warm supporter of the war against Iraq.
After his sacking in 1978 he remained a backbencher until he left Parliament when his constituency was abolished in 1997. In such a way ended the political career of the second Winston Churchill.
While Sir Winston Churchill wrote a biography of his father, Randolph Churchill wrote the first parts of the official biography of the great wartime leader. After Randolph’s death in 1968, the younger Winston wanted to continue the work, but the historian Martin Gilbert was chosen instead. However, Winston Churchill picked up the family tradition by writing a biography of his own father in 1996.

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