nominees for Worst Britons ...

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DaveW
nominees for Worst Britons ...

 

don't want to post the New Statesman  link here, as I will not be able to edit it ( it seems to have a technical flaw);

Statesman article a followup to Greatest Briton polls before 2012 Olympics, and surprisingly the first polls had Shakespeare and Newton frequently along with Churchill and King Alfred;

this one starts with a nomination for Chiurchill as Worst Briton along with Cromwell...

DaveW

 

starting with Cromwell and Churchill;

http://www.newstatesman.com/node/144481?quicktabs_most_read=1

 My other nomination is Churchill. Churchill was a man who met a moment, and the moment was much shorter than he's given credit for - about six months. He made four speeches, all of which were derivative of Shakespeare and Macaulay. Everything else about his wearyingly long public life was self-serving and disastrous: he was a terrible self-publicising hack; he was a loathed soldier; he was the worst First Sea Lord we ever had. A staggeringly inept Home Secretary, he was wrong about absolutely everything he set his sights on. He was responsible for the Dardanelles, the worst disaster of the First World War. He sent soldiers to shoot Welsh miners. He put field guns on to the streets of the East End of London. During the General Strike, he was so rabid that he had to be kept out of government, because he wanted to machine-gun bus drivers. Later, he was the worst sort of empire loyalist, desperate to hold on to India, and racist about Gandhi, that naked little fakir (frankly, if you had to choose the greater man between Gandhi and Churchill, there's no contest). He sent the Black and Tans into Ireland. He'd have bankrupted the country by returning us to the gold standard; he gave away large areas of eastern Europe to Stalin. And he was responsible for the disgraceful but forgotten war of intervention to support the White Russians at the end of the First World War. Altogether, he represents everything I find most dispiriting, snobbish, philistine, proudly anti-intellectual and stubbornly backward-looking about Britain.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Ha! Love Gill's bit about Cromwell too (although "Which Cromwell?" was my first question!

 I would have to vote for Cromwell as my worst - a man who closed down theatres, banned dancing and cancelled Christmas. It was the only time since Shakespeare's plays were written that they weren't performed. Cromwell was the English Pol Pot, with a touch of Bernard Matthews. He was truly dreadful. That he's held up as a hero of the left is a fantastic misreading of history. In a remarkably Stalinist fashion, he closed down or censored the Putney Debates, the first real socialist meetings in England. He put back the chances of creating a fairer, more equitable society for 300 years. That Britain immediately returned to a monarchy after his disastrous rule is all you need to know about his legacy. It is often claimed he was responsible for modern America. In fact, the Pilgrim Fathers went to America to get away from his persecution.

Let's also not forget that he tried to eradicate the Irish people worse than pretty much any English monarch. The easy answer is Margaret throw-her-up-and-catch-her, obviously, but I love the entry on Wordsworth too! "[T]he dreary milksop and lamb-brained blatherer who should be held responsible for so much that was awful in English poetry for the next hundred years." Ha ha ha.

Related: Gordon Brown is probably the worst UK Prime Minister ever

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

And that he let eastern europe slide into Stalin's hands? Come on.

Ha. Yeah, I winced a bit at that one too, Winston. But I kind of admire the exercise, even if it's a pop one, to challenge the idea that Ingerland's heroes are untainted.

And Churchill, for my money, is a great place to start.

6079_Smith_W

Funny, I'd say they are both two of the greatest Britons, although I admit they are easy targets because like any politician who actually winds up doing anything they both committed evil as well as good acts.

What a piece of cherry picking. To take one point, Gill seems to have forgotten that Churchill was a proponent of Home Rule. And really, he just tells bits and pieces and ignores whole swaths of the man's career. As for him being self-publicizing, guilty, but a restaurant and TV critic pointing that out  on a reality show is rather the pot calling the kettle black.

And that he let eastern europe slide into Stalin's hands? Come on. Is Gill anti colonialist or not?

And Cromwell?

Well try holding anyone from that time period up to modern standards - never mind that it was the most bloody century in English history - and I don't think too many would come up smelling like roses.

 

6079_Smith_W

Catchfire wrote:

And Churchill, for my money, is a great place to start.

I agree there is plenty to criticize him for, but I think those who see him as the English jingoist and traditionalist incarnate know nothing about him. They'd certainly be surprised at his attempts to shut down the House of Lords, as well as his work on prison, electoral, and social reform, to name just several issues. 

I'll have to dig up the quote, but at one point in a discussion regarding Hong Kong he asked how Britain might feel if China set up a military base on the Isle of Man.

Basically the turning point for him was in the early 20s, when he became truly more of a social conservative, and in particular, an anti-communist.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

at one point in a discussion regarding Hong Kong he asked how Britain might feel if China set up a military base on the Isle of Man.

This is a great idea.

6079_Smith_W

But you see what I mean - he was neither blind nor stupid. And although he was preoccupied with war, at least he was not shy to put himself in the line of fire. When he was demoted from cabinet during WWI he went straight to the front.

I'm surprised Edward I or Henry VIII aren't mentioned. When it comes to butchery and mismanagement , those two are head and shoulders above the rest.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Quote:

It is often claimed he was responsible for modern America. In fact, the Pilgrim Fathers went to America to get away from his persecution.

Quote:

Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658) was an English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Born into the middle gentry, Cromwell was relatively obscure for the first 40 years of his life. After undergoing a religious conversion in the 1630s, he became an independent puritan, taking a generally (but not completely) tolerant view towards the many Protestant sects of his period. An intensely religious man—a self-styled Puritan Moses—he fervently believed that God was guiding his victories. He was elected Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1628 and for Cambridge in the Short (1640) and Long (1640–49) Parliaments. He entered the English Civil War on the side of the "Roundheads"

Gill's history seems to be just a tad off.

The Pilgrims arrived in America in 1620 but they had fled England in 1609 when Cromwell was 10 years old. Hell even in 1620 he was only 21.  He was first elected to Parliament in 1628. Cromwell may be blamed for many things but he certainly did not cause the Puritans to flee. In fact he rose to power after he became a Puritan himself.