thought I'd heard all Winston Churchill's quotes until I recently chanced across arguably his most brilliant, visionary remark ever. Yet I'd never heard it before and neither had anyone I repeated it to.
A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/winston_churchill_2.html#MvAAucR1cUKLgxL0.99
So, allow me to sketch the scene: using a quote of his: " A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next year. And to have the ability to explain afterwards why it didn't happen."
And: "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."
And finally: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last."
It was 1938. The British PM Neville Chamberlain had returned to Britain from a meeting with Hitler during which he believed he had secured: "PEACE IN OUR TIME."
Of course, this news was well received by almost everyone in Britain save for Winston Churchill. Bear in mind that the horrors of World War One, especially trench warfare and poison gas, were still fresh in the minds of most of the British and accordingly it was to be expected that they had no appetite for another conflict with the Germans.
The mood in the British Parliament was equally upbeat when Chamberlain provided a report back of his "triumph" to the House of Commons. The inconvenient truth that various concessions were made to Hitler in exchange for that peace, was not dwelt upon.
One lone voice, that of Winston Churchill, then regarded as an out of touch warmonger, piped up as he dared to challenge the mood. For its brevity, its insight and its vision and its completeness, I regard this as Winston's finest speech:
"The British Government had to choose, between dishonour and war. They chose dishonour. And they shall have war!"
The following year, in September 1939, Hitler's Germany invaded Poland, and that forced Britain and France to declare war on Germany.
Little wonder then, that Churchill ended up as Prime Minister shortly afterwards.
In Chamberlain's defence, it seems that language difficulties precluded him from comprehending what Hitler understood by Peace in our time..... a peace of Czechoslovakia, a peace of Poland, a peace of Austria, and then another...
Yes I can hear you all groaning, but I did say there was one Winston Churchill. The rest of us have to make do.....