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Garnett Genuis

Churchill had a good left-wing idea

Largely remembered for his remarkable leadership and oratory as a Conservative Prime Minister during the Second World War, Winston Churchill is often considered to be a traditional right-wing politician because he was at least nominally a Conservative during his premiership. However, Churchill had a nearly 40-year Parliamentary career before 1940; and during that time he carried both the Conservative and Liberal banner at different times, and served in Conservative, Liberal, and coalition cabinets.Churchill worked through, and had allies in different parties. He ended his career in the British Conservative Party primarily because the Tories were the only political force in England at that time with the fortitude and the capacity to oppose socialism. But he was willing to borrow good ideas from both sides of the aisle, and over time the combination of conservative and liberal ideas he championed laid the foundation of modern Anglo-North American conservatism.Churchill believed in a combination of ideas that are now seen as natural and obvious parts of the conservative package, but which were not thought to logically compliment each other in his day. Churchill believed in the value of tradition, and of a decisive, principled, and interventionist foreign policy; the world was a dangerous place and it needed to be confronted with strength, and with British values. Notwithstanding Chamberlain’s appeasement policies and other noteworthy Conservative blunders, Churchill’s principled and militaristic foreign policy outlook was – and is – generally associated with conservatism.Churchill also believed that the government should concern itself with the position of the poor, and seek to give everyone a “fair shake.” He was instrumental in the initial introduction of the British welfare state before the First World War, which was at the time associated not only with the Liberal Party, but with its left wing. Churchill did not embrace the typical… Read More