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Winston Churchill was a flawed figure “revolted by Gandhi in his loincloth and brown skin,” a top historian claimed last night as politicians rolled out sycophantic tributes to the wartime Tory premier.
On the 50th anniversary of his funeral, privileged Prime Minister David Cameron told a memorial service at Westminster Abbey that Churchill “knew Britain was not just a place on the map but a force in the world, with a destiny to shape events and a duty to stand up for freedom.
“Churchill was confident that freedom and democracy would win out over barbarism and tyranny in the end … and it did,” he preached.
“And with every affront to freedom in this century, we must remember that courage and resolve in the last century.”
Ed Miliband joined Mr Cameron and his Lib Dem deputy Nick Clegg in laying wreaths paying tribute to Churchill.
In an accompanying card, the Labour leader praised “the hope you gave and the courage you inspired.”
But Francis Beckett, a biographer of Churchill nemesis and successor Clement Attlee, said the Tory had “never been considered a completely good thing.
“He wasn’t necessarily even a particularly good military strategist,” he told the Star.
“He was undoubtedly the right man at the right time, I don’t think anyone should argue with that.
“But he wasn’t much of a peacetime prime minister, and he misunderstood what was happening in 1945.
“He went up and down the country saying you can’t reject the Conservatives without rejecting me. What nobody understood was that even Churchill was headed for a major defeat.
“His party was discredited after failing to deal with hardship, unemployment and literal starvation in the 1930s.”
Mr Beckett, whose Attlee book will be published in a revised edition this March, said Churchill “carried the attitudes of the Victorian empire years and years after they had been discredited.”
He said his attitude to Indian independence was “so outdated” that Attlee and British viceroy Lord Mountbatten “were able to ignore him” in the discussions.
“Churchill was appalled and revolted to see Gandhi in his loincloth and brown skin negotiating in equal terms with the British government,” he said.
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