MARY ELLEN SYNON: Churchill called Irish like me savages – but who cares when he beat Hitler? 

The Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has decided to remove the great man’s Christian name from the trust’s title because they say his views on race are now ‘unacceptable’.

What an attitude towards race has to do with Churchill’s Christian name beats me, but the trust also wanted to pull his picture off its website. Now it has backed down on that one. The picture stays.


If the trust really wants to hold its noses in distaste, it should hand back the millions of pounds that people in Britain and abroad donated after Churchill’s death.

The trust was set up in 1965 with the support of Churchill’s family to be the main memorial to the wartime leader. Those thousands of generous people from around the world thought Churchill was a hero. Their money has allowed the trust to make investments that leave it rich enough to fund generations of Churchill Fellows.

But, no, the trust will not give back the money which the alleged racist attracted. Instead, it wants to keep the money but insult Churchill’s memory.

I know about the trust and its money. Early in my career, I was a Churchill Fellow. I also know about Churchill and what the race-obsessed Left-wing now calls his racism.

But then, I would. I am Irish. 

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in November 1941

If you think Churchill was heavy on Indians, Muslims and Africans, brace yourself for what he said about the Irish and their desire to be independent of the Empire. Any list in Ireland of the ten most hated people always includes Oliver Cromwell and Winston Churchill.

As Ireland struggled for its independence 100 years ago, Churchill told the Commons that allowing a nation across the Irish Sea to become a republic was akin to offering a country up to a miserable gang of human leopards in West Africa. He said Ireland was nothing but ‘a small poor, sparsely populated island, lapped about by British sea power’.

In 1920, as the Irish fought for freedom, Churchill, Secretary of State for War, turned loose on the Irish the paramilitary police known as Black and Tans. Ireland recognised them as ‘the scum of the British Army’. They butchered at will, committing atrocities.

Churchill did not stop them. His policy was that the Irish, when they resisted Empire, should be considered ‘savages, rascals, and rapscallions’. I am an Irish patriot. Yet if you want to know what I think about all that, I think: ‘So what?’

Churchill was a man of his times. I don’t confect outrage for a man born in 1874. Nothing he believed was unusual for his generation.

The woke-warriors need to park their adolescent outrage and understand that. Otherwise, in 100 years’ time, they themselves will be considered nothing better than a 21st Century version of the witch-hunters of Salem.

In the matter of Churchill and Asians, Africans, Muslims, the Irish and the rest, the permanently outraged need to grow up and roll with it. I did.

When I was a young reporter on the Daily Telegraph, I was encouraged to apply to the Churchill Memorial Trust for a fellowship to allow me to study the European Economic Community at a journalists’ course in Paris for eight months. I applied and was invited to the trust headquarters for an interview.

One of the panel was Lady Soames, Churchill’s daughter.

The problem was, just before the interview I’d read some detailed stuff on fellowships and realised they were just for British citizens.

When I arrived before the panel, I began by explaining that, sorry, I wasn’t British, I was Irish. Lady Soames smiled sweetly. ‘We count them as British,’ she said.

I paused. I felt my County Cork rebel heart skip a beat.

I could have stood up and walked out, saying I was insulted by such a neo-colonialist outlook. I could have told Lady Soames that Ireland had spilled blood for centuries to obtain its independence from the British Empire. We did not remain some branch of Britain.

That is what today’s race-hunters, the woke-warriors searching across history for reasons to be ‘offended’, would have done. But I didn’t.

I just smiled back at Lady Soames. I won my fellowship. Because I am an adult who has read history.

I know what Churchill did besides being insulting about Muslims and the rest of us. If I put him in the scales of virtue against the German and Japanese war machines, Churchill wins, always, and in such an overwhelming way that I must forgive his earlier sins.

I say that because the Irish still have a lot of sins that need forgiveness, so I am in no position to say Churchill must be cancelled.

Churchill fought for his country. I respect that, even though it was not my country.

Only an intellectual teenager with an outrage problem would not.

Great men make judgments of their own times. The point of studying history is to learn how they thought and why they thought that way. It is not to hunt down a list of white men – it is always white men – to condemn. That is something the woke-warriors need to learn. That is, if they want to learn anything. Most of them appear determined only to destroy.

As for Churchill and what the trust now calls his ‘unacceptable’ views, Julia Weston, its £100,000-a-year chief executive, needs to tell us which historical figure could pass her purity test, since Winston Churchill does not. In other words, who, in the opinion of Ms Weston, is historically pure enough to have a trust named for him?

Clearly not Cromwell. Not any of the Tudor monarchs. Not Nelson. Not Francis Drake. Not Sir Thomas More. Not Henry V, if any of the woke-warriors know who he was.

Maybe Wellington. But then, he was Irish.

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