Pen & Sword Books

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Winston Churchill as Home Secretary

Churchill as Home Secretary Suffragettes, Strikes and Social Reform 1910-1911

written by Charles Stephenson and published by Pen & Sword Books - £25 -

Hardback - Pages 280

There can be few statesmen whose lives and careers have received as much
investigation and literary attention as Winston Churchill. Relatively little however has appeared which deals specifically or holistically with his first senior ministerial role; that of Secretary of State for the Home Office. This may be due to the fact that, of the three Great Offices of State which he was to occupy over the course of his long political life, his tenure as Home Secretary was the briefest.

The Liberal Government, of which he was a senior figure, had been elected in 1906 to put in place social and political reform. Though Churchill was at the forefront of these matters, his responsibility for domestic affairs led to him facing other, major, challenges departmentally; this was a time of substantial commotion on the social front, with widespread industrial and civil strife. Even given that ‘Home Secretaries never do have an easy time’, his period in office was thus marked by a huge degree of political and social turbulence. The terms ‘Tonypandy’ and ‘Peter the Painter’ perhaps spring most readily to mind. Rather less known is his involvement in one of the burning issues of the time, female suffrage, and his portrayal as ‘the prisoners’ friend’ in terms of penal reform.

Aged 33 on appointment, and the youngest Home Secretary since 1830, he became empowered to wield the considerable executive authority inherent in the role of one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, and he certainly did not shrink from doing so. There were of course commensurate responsibilities, and how he shouldered them is worth examination.

This book looks at the year or so Winston Churchill was Home Secretary and his

involvement in a number of issues such as Feminism, Strikes, Suffragettes, Welsh

Miners and more. This was such a nice book to read purely from the fact that it

wasn’t about Churchill during WW2, which is usually the case. It was nice to read

about him during other points of his political career. Actually, I learned quite a bit

from this book in seeing how much social politics he was having to deal and the

way he went about things. Now he was obviously a young man then so I think he

actually improved with age because I found the way he acted sometimes or his

views were maybe a little of their age shall we say. A really good book I would

definitely recommend to others, especially if you want to read about Churchill in

periods other than WW2. 

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