1995: Winston Churchill
Two letters sent to the Enfield Gazette; Ian Twinn was at the time the Tory MP for Edmonton.
5 May 1995
To the Editor,
Ian Twinn tells us (Gazette 4 May) that he is proud that the junior Twinns know who Churchill was.
Doubtless they know that this great ‘anti-fascist’ was a friend and admirer of Mussolini and in 1940 wrote to the fascist dictator ‘I have never been…the foe of the Italian lawgiver’. (Churchill, Second World War, II 121-2)
Doubtless they know also that in October 1944 the great ‘democrat’ sat down with the murderous Stalin as they divided Eastern Europe between them without any suggestion of consulting the peoples concerned. (ibid, VI 227)
And finally I’m sure they can explain why such an allegedly heroic figure was so convincingly crushed in the 1945 election.
1 June 1995
To the Editor,
Mr James (Letters 1 June) accuses me of not putting Churchill’s 1940 comments on Mussolini in context. But it is Mr James who forgets the context. Since the 1920s Churchill had been an admirer of Mussolini; in a speech in Rome on 20 January 1927 he stated that he ‘could not help being charmed… by Signor Mussolini’s gentle and simple bearing’ and continued: ‘If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetite and passions of Leninism… Externally your movement has rendered a service to the whole world.’ There were no tactical considerations to justify this enthusiasm.
Likewise it may well be that Roosevelt was informed of Churchill’s dealings with Stalin. What I said was that the millions of peoples concerned were not consulted – a rather different matter. Much of the unhappy history of Eastern Europe since 1945 can be attributed to the manner of the post-war carve-up. Clearly Churchill himself recognised that there was something underhand about the proceedings as he recalls in his Memoirs : ‘The pencilled paper [on which the Balkans had been divided up] lay in the centre of the table. At length I said, “Might it not be thought rather cynical if it seemed we had disposed of these issues, so fateful to millions of people, in such an offhand manner? Let us burn the paper.” “No, you keep it,” said Stalin.’