In 1994 I published ‘Eminent Churchillians’, the title a nod to Lytton Strachey’s revisionist masterpiece ‘Eminent Victorians’. I wanted to draw some uncomfortable truths about the 1940-55 era to public attention, and as a result the book created quite a stir. My first bestseller, it received no lukewarm reviews – people seemed either to love or to hate it.
Each chapter has a very different point to make:
‘The House of Windsor and the Politics of Appeasement’ centres on the anti-Churchill stance adopted by the Royal Family between 1935 and 1940, which in certain different circumstances could easily have denied him the premiership.
‘Lord Mountbatten and the Perils of Adrenalin’ makes the case for the impeachment of the last Viceroy of India, on the grounds that his cheating over the India-Pakistan frontier and his headlong rush towards partition led to around one million deaths in Punjab and the North-West Frontier in 1947-48.
‘The Tories Versus Churchill During the ‘Finest Hour” examines the depth of hostility to Winston Churchill amongst his Conservative and National Government colleagues, even while he was delivering his great wartime speeches as prime minister.
‘Churchill, Raced and the ‘Magpie Society’ explores the way in which successive Conservative Governments between 1951 and 1960 privately deplored the way in which mass New Commonwealth immigration was changing the nature of British society, but did nothing to control immigration until that change was well underway.
‘Walter Monckton and the ‘Retreat from Reality” castigates the appeasement of the trade unions by the Conservatives in the 1950s, which led to many of the industrial relations problems which so nearly wrecked Britain economically in the 1970s.
‘Patriotism: The Last Refuge of Sir Arthur Bryant’ exposed the Nazi sympathies of one of Britain’s best-loved and most admired popular historians.
These were harsh, aggressive and uncompromising essays, written by an Angry Young Historian, in terms so unmeasured that I would probably hesitate to adopt them today. Yet I believe each of my arguments still stands, and indeed some of them – such as that Lord Mountbatten readjusted the India-Pakistan border in India’s favour after the Radcliffe Commission had drawn it – constitute the accepted historical version of events.