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Churchill as War Leader FIFTY years ago the Second World War was approaching its crescendo A million British and Commonwealth and a million American troops were preparing to hurl themselves across the English Channel to storm Hitlers Atlantic Wall and embark upon the noble task of liberating Europe from the scourge of the swastika I am therefore especially delighted to be asked to address you on the role of my grandfather as a War Leader Everyone has his or her favourite Churchill story some true others apocryphal One of my favourites goes back to the days before we had free telephones in the House of Commons when a rather desperate Lloyd George sticks his head out of a phone-booth and seeing the portly figure of my grandfather approaching calls to him Be a good fellow Winston and lend me sixpence so that I can call a friend My grandfather making a great demonstration of digging deep into his pocket to produce a coin and with a mischievous grin on his face replies Here is a shilling now you can call all your friends It is something of a paradox but true nonetheless that had it not been for Hitler and the Labour Party Churchill would never have become Prime Minister of Great Britain Despite a political career that had already spanned forty years and his evident availability the Conservative Party had shown no inclination to invite him to be their leader Only in the hour of maximum peril indeed on the very day 10 May 1940 that Hitler launched his Blitzkrieg against France Belgium and the Low Countries did the British nation turn almost too late to Churchill This was a decision that owed much to the refusal of the leadership of the Labour Party to serve in a Coalition Government under Chamberlain and the unwillingness of Halifax who was the preferred successor by both the Conservative Party and King George VI to serve as
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