By his re-election in 1951, Churchill was, in the words of Roy Jenkins, “gloriously unfit for office”. Ageing and increasingly unwell, he often conducted business from his bedside, and while his powerful personality and oratory ability endured, the Prime Minister’s leadership was less decisive than during the war. His second term was most notable for the Conservative Party’s acceptance of Labour’s newly created Welfare State, and Churchill’s effect on domestic policy was limited. His later attempts at decreasing the developing Cold War through personal diplomacy failed to produce significant results, and poor health forced him to resign in 1955, making way for his Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Eden .
The Right Honourable Sir Winston Leonard
Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), the son of Lord Randolph
Churchill and his American wife Jennie Jerome, was educated at Harrow and
Sandhurst. After a brief but eventful career in the
army, he became a Conservative Member of Parliament in 1900. He
held many high posts in Liberal and Conservative governments
during the first three decades of the century. At the outbreak of
the Second World War, he was appointed First Lord of the
Admiralty - a post which he had earlier held from 1911 to 1915.
In May, 1940, he became Prime Minister and Minister of Defence
and remained in office until 1945. He took over the premiership
again in the Conservative victory of 1951 and resigned in 1955.
However, he remained a Member of Parliament until the general
election of 1964, when he did not seek re-election. Queen
Elizabeth II conferred on Churchill the dignity of Knighthood and
invested him with the insignia of the Order of the Garter in
1953. Among the other countless honours and decorations he
received, special mention should be made of the honorary
citizenship of the United States which President Kennedy
conferred on him in 1963.
Churchill's literary career began with campaign reports: The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898) and The River War (1899), an account of the campaign in the Sudan and the Battle of Omdurman. In 1900, he published his only novel, Savrola , and, six years later, his first major work, the biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill . His other famous biography, the life of his great ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough, was published in four volumes between 1933 and 1938. Churchill's history of the First World War appeared in four volumes under the title of The World Crisis (1923-29); his memoirs of the Second World War ran to six volumes (1948-1953/54). After his retirement from office, Churchill wrote a History of the English-speaking Peoples (4 vols., 1956-58). His magnificent oratory survives in a dozen volumes of speeches, among them The Unrelenting Struggle (1942), The Dawn of Liberation (1945), and Victory (1946).
Churchill, a gifted amateur painter, wrote Painting as a Pastime (1948). An autobiographical account of his youth, My Early Life , appeared in 1930.
Even so, Churchill’s appointment as minister of munitions in July 1917 was made in the face of a storm of Tory protest. Excluded from the cabinet, Churchill’s role was almost entirely administrative, but his dynamic energies thrown behind the development and production of the tank (which he had initiated at the Admiralty) greatly speeded up the use of the weapon that broke through the deadlock on the Western Front. Paradoxically, it was not until the war was over that Churchill returned to a service department. In January 1919 he became secretary of war. As such he presided with surprising zeal over the cutting of military expenditure. The major preoccupation of his tenure in the War Office was, however, the Allied intervention in Russia . Churchill, passionately anti-Bolshevik, secured from a divided and loosely organized cabinet an intensification and prolongation of the British involvement beyond the wishes of any major group in Parliament or the nation—and in the face of the bitter hostility of labour. And in 1920, after the last British forces had been withdrawn, Churchill was instrumental in having arms sent to the Poles when they invaded the Ukraine.