Remembering Churchill: fifty years on his opinions still matter

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death and funeral of Winston Churchill, Cambridge history fellow and Churchill author Dr Warren Dockter, analyses the complex legacy of the wartime leader who is believed by many to be the ‘lion who roared when the British Empire needed him most’. Winston Churchill is one of the most important and iconic leaders of the 20th Century. His legacy looms large in the British national psyche and commands reverence from all quarters of the globe. The 30th of January marks the 50th anniversary of his state funeral and offers the world a chance to commemorate his memory and celebrate his life. This has already begun at ChurchillCentral.com  which acts as a hub that brings together numerous Churchill-related organisations for the year-long celebration which has been entitled, Churchill 2015. Certainly, 2015 will also feature much debate on Churchill’s memory. Though Churchill undoubtedly resonates more with the Right than the Left, political ideologies will compete to claim his achievements. The Right will celebrate Churchill’s devotion to Britain, free trade, and tradition, while the Left will venerate his championing of social reform during the early 1900s and his inclusive approach to the formation of his wartime government. Regardless of where one sits on the political spectrum, Churchill’s failures (such as the disastrous Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaign) and his more archaic views (such as his support for eugenics and his ill-fated crusade to keep India firmly in the grasp of the British Empire) will also bear some reflection. Major historical figures often have positive and negative effects which reverberate in history. In Churchill’s case, these effects can at...