CHURCHILL AND PARLIAMENT
Winston Churchill loved the House of Commons and its tradition-bound rule of Parlimanetary law. With his grandson Nicholas Soames newly-forced into retirement as an MP, and very much on our minds, we can’t help but ask: What would Churchill think?
Once upon a time, Boris Johnson was our guest here at Chartwell Booksellers. We celebrated his then-new book, THE CHURCHILL FACTOR: How One Man Made History, with a hugely well-attended conversation that we hosted at the Yale Club because the store couldn’t handle the crowd.
You can watch that event on our YouTube Channel.
Watching Mr. Johnson’s shenanigans with Parliament this month has sent our thoughts careening back to Winston Churchill’s love and reverence for the House of Commons and the beauty of Parliamentary rule. The best book on the subject is: CHURCHILL IN PARLIAMENT, by Dennis Bardens, published in 1967 and, unfortunately, long out-of-print.
Churchill delivered a speech titled: “THIS COUNTRY NEEDS A NEW PARLIAMENT” at the Royal Albert Hall on April 21, 1948. His focus was indeed on European union:
“There can be no hope for the world unless the peoples of Europe unite together to preserve their freedom, their culture and their civilisation.
“I have always tried to keep this Movement outside and above Party politics, and I shall continue to strive do so.”
On his 80th Birthday, November 30, 1954, Winston Churchill thanked members of Parliament in Westminster Hall after they had gifted him with the most notorious portrait painting in Parliamentary history; Graham Sutherland’s famously unflattering likeness of him (as depicted in a terrific episode of The Crown). Churchill detested this painting, and Lady Churchill quickly made it disappear. Even so, Churchill treated Parliament on this occasion with infinitely more respect than Prime Minister Johnson currently has.
We recently acquired an original invitation card for this storied event. We have framed it with a vintage press photograph of Churchill delivering his pained thanks for the painting, which is visible looming behind him.
Surely, Lady Churchill would have a thought on how to make Britain’s present painful visage disappear. Would that she were here.