Winston Churchill (1940–2010)
Churchill in 1997
|Member of Parliament|
9 June 1983 – 1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Succeeded by||Constituency dissolved|
|Member of Parliament|
18 June 1970 – 9 June 1983
|Preceded by||Ernest Arthur Davies|
|Succeeded by||Tony Lloyd|
10 October 1940
Chequers, Buckinghamshire, England
|Died||2 March 2010 (aged 69)|
Belgravia, London, England
Minnie Caroline d'Erlanger
|Relatives||Winston Churchill |
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
Winston Spencer-Churchill (10 October 1940 – 2 March 2010), generally known as Winston Churchill,[nb 1] was a British Conservative politician and a grandson of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. During the period of his prominence as a public figure, he was normally referred to as Winston Churchill MP, in order to distinguish him from his grandfather. His father Randolph Churchill was also an MP.
Churchill was born at Chequers just after his grandfather became Prime Minister, a year into World War II, and was educated at Eton College and at Christ Church, Oxford. His famous grandfather died in 1965, and his father died three years afterward.
Career as a journalist
Before becoming a Member of Parliament, he was a journalist, notably in the Middle East during the Six-Day War, during which time he met numerous Israeli politicians, including Moshe Dayan, and published a book recounting the war. In the 1960s he covered conflict in Yemen and Borneo as well as the Vietnam War. In 1968, he visited Czechoslovakia to record the Prague Spring. In the early 1970s at Biafra, Nigeria, he witnessed both war and famine. The indiscriminate bombing of civilians was an outrage to him, in trouble spots including Communist China, and the collapse of Antonio Salazar's authoritarian regime. When the Democratic Convention was held in the wake of public assassinations at Chicago in 1968 he was attacked by the police. Like other members of his family, he began a lecture tour of the United States.
Churchill was not able to take up his grandfather's seat at Woodford in Essex when he stepped down at the 1964 general election, just three months before his death at the age of 90. However, he was at the centre of the Conservative campaign: despite being quite inexperienced in politics, he had been appointed as Edward Heath's personal assistant. Heath was already a senior cabinet minister, and the following year was elected leader of the party following the resignation of Alec Douglas-Home, who lost the general election to Labour and Harold Wilson.
Churchill's first attempt to enter Parliament was at the Manchester Gorton by-election in 1967. In spite of the unpopularity of the incumbent Labour Government, he lost, but only by 577 votes. When visiting an engineering firm he was met by a Rommel gag,[nb 2] highlighting, as his father had told him, of the comparative disadvantage in his name. Winston was still a journalist with the Daily Telegraph when his father died in 1968; the paper's proprietor, Lord Hartwell took the decision to employ Martin Gilbert to continue the work on the former Prime Minister's biography Randolph had started.
Churchill became Member of Parliament for the constituency of Stretford, near Manchester, at the 1970 general election. As an MP he was a member of the parliamentary ski team and chairman of the Commons Flying Club. Churchill became a friend of Julian Amery MP, who appointed him his PPS at the Ministry of Housing. He wasn't much interested in the mundane questions of housing, however, and doing as little as possible, took questions to the House from civil servants. Transferred to the Foreign Office with Amery, he became very outspoken on issues in the Middle East and on the Communist Bloc. After he attempted to question Douglas-Home's abilities as Foreign Secretary, he was forced to resign in November 1973, just over three months before the Conservatives lost power to Harold Wilson's Labour for the second time in a decade.
Churchill resumed the family tradition of protecting Ulster Unionism, defending the Diplock Courts, internment and arguing for the death penalty for terrorists. He was part of a corpus of Conservative MPs of the era (including Mrs Thatcher) who were heavily critical of BBC coverage of the conflict in Northern Ireland as expressing communist sympathies, for which some journalists were sacked.
As a front bench spokesman on Defence policy, he took a hardline on Rhodesia, voting against any sanctions. His presentation at the despatch box was strident for the times, censured by the Speaker for calling Foreign Secretary David Owen "treacherous" over the abandonment of Rhodesia. Margaret Thatcher, who succeeded Heath as Conservative leader in 1975, could not tolerate the disloyalty of the imperialist, and he was removed from the front bench of politics in November 1978. However, when the Conservatives came to power in May 1979 he was elected to the executive of the 1922 Committee.
Boundary changes which took effect at the 1983 general election made his seat more marginal (it was subsequently taken by the Labour Party), and he transferred to the nearby Davyhulme constituency, which he represented until the seat was abolished for the 1997 general election. Although well known by virtue of his family history, he never achieved high office and remained a backbencher. His cousin Nicholas Soames was (and is still serving as) a Conservative MP.
During his time as a Member of Parliament, Churchill visited Beijing with a delegation of other MPs, including Clement Freud, a grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Freud asked why Churchill was given the best room in the hotel and was told it was because Churchill was a grandson of Britain's most illustrious Prime Minister. Freud responded by saying it was the first time in his life that he had been "out-grandfathered".
He also was the subject of controversy in 1995 when he and his family sold a large archive of his grandfather's papers for £12.5m to Churchill College, Cambridge. The purchase was funded by a grant from the newly established National Lottery.
After leaving Parliament, Churchill was a sought-after speaker on the lecture circuit and wrote many articles in support of the Iraq War and the fight against Islamic terrorism. He also edited a compilation of his grandfather's famous speeches entitled Never Give In. In 2007, he acted as a spokesman for the pressure group UK National Defence Association. He was also involved with the National Benevolent Fund for the Aged, as trustee from 1974 and chair from 1995 to 2010.
Churchill was the son of Randolph Churchill (1911–1968), the only son of Sir Winston Churchill, and of Randolph's wife Pamela Digby (1920–1997), later to become famous as Pamela Harriman. His parents divorced in 1945. His father married June Osborne: their daughter was Arabella Churchill (1949–2007).
Churchill's first marriage, in July 1964, was to Mary "Minnie" Caroline d'Erlanger, the daughter of the banker Sir Gerard John Regis d'Erlanger and granddaughter of Baron Emile Beaumont d'Erlanger. The couple had four children:
- Randolph Leonard Spencer-Churchill (born 1965)
- Jennie Spencer-Churchill (born 1966)
- Marina Spencer-Churchill (born 1967)
- John Gerard Averell "Jack" Spencer-Churchill (born 1975)
Churchill's second marriage, to Luce Engelen, a Belgian-born jewellery maker, lasted from 1999 until his death.
|Ancestors of Winston Churchill (1940–2010)|
- First Journey (1964)
- Six Day War (1967), co-written with his father, Randolph Churchill.
- Defending the West (1981)
- Memories and Adventures (1989)
- His Father's Son (1996), a biography of his father, Randolph Churchill.
- The Great Republic (1999), editor
- Never Give In!: The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches (2003), editor
- Churchill's legal surname was Spencer-Churchill: his ancestor George Spencer changed his name to Spencer-Churchill when he became the 5th Duke of Marlborough, but starting with his great-grandfather, Lord Randolph Churchill, his branch of the Spencer-Churchill family has used the name Churchill only in its public life.
- After the 1990-91 Gulf War, Churchill visited British troops in the desert. When he introduced himself to a soldier, the soldier replied "Yes, and I’m Rommel."
"Obituaries: Winston Churchill", The Telegraph, 2 March 2010, retrieved 3 September 2018
- "Winston Churchill: Tory MP who never emerged from his grandfather's shadow". The Independent. London. 3 March 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
- "Former Tory MP Winston Churchill dies". The Daily Telegraph. London. 2 March 2010.
- Membership applications to the Sons of the American Revolution on Ancestry.com.
- Clement Freud (14 April 2007). "Some questions of interpretation". The Times. London. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- "MP Winston Churchill, grandson of former PM, dies". BBC News. 2 March 2010. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- "Winston Churchill" (PDF). Newsletter. National Benevolent Fund for the Aged. Summer 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- Winston Churchill III
- "Minnie d'Erlanger Married in London". The New York Times, 16 July 1964.
- Press Assc. (23 January 2008). "Ex-MP Winston Churchill dies". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Winston Churchill
- "Grandson gathers 'the best' of Winston Churchill's speeches in new book"[permanent dead link]
- Winston Churchill on IMDb
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Stretford