Biographers, journalists and historians usually leave out his racial views and have created a false picture of him. In “Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill” (2003) Gretchen Rubin looked at everything but this central feature: ”To shield his reputation, this account has downplayed Churchill’s deplorable attitude towards race...For example, he wrote that at a September 1944 conference he” was glad to record” that “the British Empire...was still keeping its position, with a total population, including the Dominions and Colonies, of only seventy million white people.”In fact he was aware that races compete with each other for power and territory and he knew the truth of slavery. In “The River War” he expressed thoughts that would now get him prosecuted by our totalitarian Governments for inciting racial hatred: "The qualities of mongrels are rarely admirable, and the mixture of the Arab and Negro types has produced a debased and cruel breed, more shocking because they are more intelligent than primitive savages. The stronger race soon began to prey upon the simple aboriginals... But all, without exception were hunters of men. To the great slave-market at Jeddah a continual stream of Negro captives has flowed for hundreds of years. The invention of gunpowder and the adoption by the Arabs of firearms facilitated the traffic by placing the ignorant negroes at a further disadvantage. Thus the situation in the Sudan for several centuries may be summed up as follows: The dominant race of Arab invaders was unceasingly spreading its blood, religion, customs, and language among the black aboriginal population, and at the same time it harried and enslaved them” and, "Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.“No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and, were it not that Christianity sheltered it, the civilization of modern Europe might fall as fell the civilization of ancient Rome." (2)
His St. George’s Day address of 1933 warned of the types who were taking over our political and intellectual life: “The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country who, if they add something to the culture, take much from its strength. Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large portion of our politicians. But what have they to offer but a vague internationalism, a squalid materialism, and the promise of impossible utopias?" 3
In October 1930 he advised that, if Hitler were to come to power in Germany, England's response must be – “If a dog makes a dash for my trousers, I shoot him down before he can bite.” His response to Munich, “How could honourable men with wide experience and fine records in the Great War condone a policy so cowardly? It was sordid, squalid, sub-human, and suicidal ...The sequel to the sacrifice of honour.”A tribute to the Royal Marines in 1936 showed his piety to our past: “Those who do not think of the future are unworthy of their ancestors,” which is a strand of Conservatism found in Edmund Burke: “Society ... is to be looked on with other reverence; because it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living and those who are dead, but between those who are living and those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”(Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs)
His admiration for Jewish people - “the most formidable and the most remarkable race in the world” - was part of his belief in superior and inferior races. (4)
He was a great wit. During the war a black official of the Colonial Office had been stopped dining at a London club when American officers took it over. It was brought to Mr. Churchill’s attention. He quipped, “That’s alright. Tell him to take a banjo, they will think he is one of the band” (5)
Before the war he had struggled with appeasers of Hitler now he had to struggle with appeasers of Commonwealth leaders. On 25th November 1952 the Churchill’s Cabinet first discussed immigration when Churchill asked in Cabinet if the Post Office employed large numbers of “coloured workers”. “If so, there was some risk social problems would be created.” The postmaster General was asked to report on it and did so 3 weeks later. He said explained as the largest Government employer it was bound to employ the largest number. He added that “...the Post Offices main unions raised no objections to their employment at basic grades.” He added,” If it is felt that coloured workers should not be allowed to obtain employment in this country, I should have thought the proper course would be to deny them entry to the country.” Despite “the risks involved” they continued with the policy of free entry for immigrants. (6)They kept no records of numbers entering, apparently because the immigrants were as Commonwealth citizens British subjects, nor did they give practical support, leaving it to local councils and voluntary organizations.
Documents held at the Public Records Office clarifies much of modern history. The Prime Ministers Papers for November 1952 record his three attempts to illicit details of the consequences of immigration on English people. He asked his staff to find out about problems in Lambeth, Brixton and Cardiff. This led to B.G.Smallman, PS to the Colonial Secretary producing a paper on “The Coloured Population of the UK. This estimated the numbers to be 40-50,000 which included about 6,000 students. (7)
They could not face it so ignored it. Accurate figures of immigrants were not kept because they were British subjects, though they kept records of emigrants to Canada, New Zealand and Australia. In Eminent Churchillians Andrew Roberts reports that The Commonwealth Relations Office worried that with restrictions “ there might well be a chance of the governments of India and Pakistan introducing retaliatory restrictions against the entry or residence of members of the British business community.” Commonwealth Secretary Earl Home, worried that they should not give the impression that Commonwealth citizens from India, Pakistan and Ceylon would be less favourably treated than those from the Dominions otherwise there could be retaliation.
Roberts other private interviews show the decadence of many around him: “A Minister closely involved in the decision-making process, ‘ In fact…we were just stalling and hoping for the best’… One of Mr. Churchill’s private secretaries, ‘at that time it seemed a very good idea to get bus conductors and stuff’ … a junior minister, ‘it was becoming hard to find somebody to carry your bags at the station’.’’On the 27th of June 1953 Sir Winston suffered a stroke that left him paralysed down the left side. Interviewed by Andrew Roberts his Foreign Affairs Personal Secretary Anthony Montague- Brown recalled that he was “simply too tired to deal with the immigration problem. He could concentrate on a few big issues at a time- like the Russians -and the rest of the time he could only give a steer and not see it through.” (7) His Private Secretary, Sir John Colville, noted in The Fringes of Power, "He is getting tired and visibly ageing. He finds it hard to compose a speech and ideas no longer flow. (8)
Just before he gave up the Premiership in 1955 Mr. Churchill told Spectator owner and editor Ian Gilmour that West Indian immigration "is the most important subject facing this country, but I cannot get any of my ministers to take any notice". (9) Two had noticed: Oliver Lyttleton (later Lord Chandos) wanted a £500 deposit paid by immigrants to prevent them coming here for welfare benefits; the fifth Marquess of Salisbury believed that immigration was “a threat to the fabric of society and the flow attracted by our welfare state would increase even if employment dropped.” On the 20th of March 1954 he wrote to Viscount Swinton: “Though only just beginning to push its ugly head above the surface of politics. It may eventually “fill the whole political horizon” (10)Cabinet set up an Inter Departmental Committee under chairman W.H.Cornish of the Home Office, to look into preventing an increase in the number coming for employment. It reconvened in January 1953 and reported its findings in December of that year. This Inter Departmental Committee comprised Ministry of Labour and National Service, the National Assistance Board, the Colonial Office and Chief Constables from areas where immigrants were settling.
In January 1954 Home Secretary Maxwell Fyfe reported on the findings of the Home Office “Working party on the Social and Economic Problems Arising from the Growing Influx into the United Kingdom of Coloured Workers”, which had deliberated for 13 months. He stated “the unskilled workers who form the majority are difficult to place because on the whole they are physically unsuited to heavy manual work…”(11) Britain was the only Commonwealth country that allowed every Commonwealth citizen automatic entry. Mr. Churchill asked his staff to find out about difficulties in Lambeth, Brixton and Cardiff. (12)
The Cabinet Secretaries Notebooks released to the public in August 2007 are the handwritten notes made by the Cabinet Secretary of Cabinet Meetings as the Senior Secretary. This was Sir Norman Brook. They record that on 3 February 1954, for example, under the item 'Coloured Workers', Sir Winston stated ‘Problems which will arise if many coloured people settle here. Are we to saddle ourselves with colour problems in the UK? Attracted by Welfare State. Public opinion in UK won't tolerate it once it gets beyond certain limits.'
Florence Horsbrugh, Minister of Education and Conservative MP for Manchester Moss Side, added: 'Already becoming serious in Manchester.' David Maxwell-Fyfe, the Home Secretary, gave a figure of 40,000 compared to 7,000 before the Second World War and raised the possibility of immigration control. He said: 'There is a case on merits for exclude. riff-raff. But politically it wd. be represented & discussed on basis of colour limitation. That wd. offend the floating vote viz., the old Liberals. We shd. be reversing age-long tradition that. British Subjects have right of entry to mother-country of Empire. We should. offend Liberals, also sentimentalists.' He added: 'The colonial. populations are resented in Liverpool, Paddington & other areas by those who come into contact with them. But those who don't are apt to take a more Liberal view.'
Churchill intervened: 'Question . is whether it is politically wise to allow public feeling to develop a little more before taking action.' Adding that it would be 'fatal' to let the situation develop too far, the Prime Minister is recorded as concluding: 'Would like also to study possibility of "quota" - no. not to be exceeded.'Another cabinet member referred to an "increasing evil" and said that principles "laid down 200 yrs. ago are not applicable to-day. See dangers of colour discriminn. But other [Dominions] control entry of B. subjects. Cd. we present action as coming into line...& securing uniformity?" Churchill said the question was whether it might be wise "to allow public feeling to develop a little more - before takg. action...May be wise to wait...But it wd. be fatal to let it develop too far." (13)
The Cabinet was divided. There were M.P.s who were under pressure from their constituencies with immigrant populations but others who believed in the Commonwealth and those who feared the consequences. This division was very much between the more practical ones on the back benches and the utopian idealists in power. Salisbury and Lyttleton wanted restrictions though Swinton and Maxwell Fyfe wanted powers to deportation convicted criminals and those on National Assistance. The Cabinet Minutes show, that in March 1954 Maxwell Fyfe told Cabinet, “that large numbers of coloured people are living on National Assistance” and that “coloured landlords by their conduct are making life difficult for white people living in the same building or area…the result is that white people leave and the accommodation is then converted to furnished lettings for coloured people, with serious overcrowding and exploitation”.
In a Cabinet memorandum of 8 March Maxwell Fyfe feared “serious difficulties involved in contemplating action which would undoubtedly land the Government in some political controversy.” (14)In cabinet in October 1954 Mr. Churchill warned Maxwell Fyfe, “that the problems arising from the immigration of coloured people required urgent and serious consideration.” Maxwell-Fyfe emphasised that there is no power to prevent these people entering no matter how much the number may increase. (15)
On immigration Mr. Churchill remarked to Sir Hugh Foot, Governor of Jamaica, in 1954, “It would be a Magpie society: that would never do.” (16)The Prime Minister’s Papers for November show three further attempts to get information on the situation. By the end of 1954 Churchill had overseen thirteen Cabinet discussions on controlling immigration. Further, he was having a Bill to deport criminals and those who were a charge on the state drafted but it was not prepared until June 1955, two months after he had retired. His succesor Anthony Eden was an internationalist who told Conservative Cyril Osborne in the House of Commons, “There is no question of any action being taken to control immigration and in any case most were from Eire.” Then in November Eden’s Cabinet buried discussion of immigration. If Sir Winston had been well we would not know be suffering the gun killings and knivings or Muslim bombings of our people. Harold Macmillan entered in his diary for January 20th 1955, "More discussion about the West Indian immigrants. A Bill is being drafted - but it's not an easy problem. P.M. thinks 'Keep England White' a good slogan! (17)
1Peter Hennessy, 'Having It So Good - Britain in the Fifties' (Allen Lane, 2006) p 224Hennessy's reference is: Peter Catterall (ed.), 'The Macmillan Diaries: The Cabinet Years, 1950-1957' (Macmillan, 2003) p 382. This is an example of how people have tried to keep this aspect of Churchill’s beliefs quiet. We have heard nothing of this since 2003!
2 Longmans.1899. pp. 248-50
3 Reprinted in This England.
4 Robert Harris. 16/4/1994. Spectator5 Zig Layton-Henry. 1992 The politics of immigration. p31
5 The Diaries of Alexander Cadogan. 1938-45, for 13/10/1942).
6 CC100(52)8(cabinet Conclusions on 25/11/1952, CAB 128/25; The Post Master General’s report and the Chancellor being asked to restrict entry to the Civil Service is in CC106(52), 8/12/1952, CAB 128
7 PREM11/824. The papers of British Prime Ministers are classified under PREM
8 Sir John Colville.1985.The Fringes of Power. P654
9 Inside Right. Sir Ian Gilmour (Quartet.1977)
10 For The views of Lord Salisbury and Oliver Lyttleton (later Lord Chandos) see British Immigration Policy since 1939:The Making of Multi-Racial Britain, Ian R.G.Sencer.1997.Routledge.
11 P.R.O. CC100(52)8 Cabinet Conclusions) on 25th November, CAB128/25. His papers for this month show three other attempts to discuss immigration.
12 Report of the Working Party on Coloured People Seeking Employment in the United Kingdom. 17th December 1953. CAB124/1191
13 PRO, PREM11/824CC (54) 7 Conclusions, minute 4, 3 Feb.1954.
14 Cabinet Secretaries Notebooks. The eleventh Notebook (CAB 195/11) (released August 2007) covers the period 3.12.52 - 26.2.54.
15 Nicholas Deakin.s PHD thesis. The Immigration Issue.p32
16 ibid Peter Hennessey and Peter Catterall