Churchill the Activist: His Dedication to Human Rights

Another presentation by the International Churchill Society, featuring Ankit Malhotra and Zareer Masani.

I asked the final question: “Both sides of the EU referendum were keen to claim Churchill’s legacy. What is known of his views on the optimal level of European political integration?

Justin Reash, the host, joked that “keen” was an understatement.

Masani said that his references to a United States of Europe would not go down well with today’s Brexiteers who constantly go on about how the EU is trying to create just that against everyone’s national interest. He thought that Churchill would not be a typical Brexiteer – he was in favour of European unity, but would have liked to see it include the east of Europe and not just the west as actually transpired.

Malhotra added that the idea of a United States of Europe was provocative at its time and not unique to Churchill – even Gaddafi imagined a United States of Africa – but that the British have always been wary of a larger system of uniform governance which perhaps explains their attitude towards the EU. If they championed an idea they obviously believed in it wholeheartedly, which is why the Council of Europe lives on, perhaps more strongly than the European Union.

Reash said that one of the many reasons for Churchill’s initial interest in the United States of Europe was the sense of collective security, which was shown not to have been achieved at Versailles. Being able to prevent another world war is something we all really want, that legacy now of course bearing fruit in Ukraine.

That Harrison & Graham Sound

Exactly when I first saw Peep Show has slipped from memory. I recall watching New Year’s Eve when it was reasonably new, and also remember parts of Mugging from slightly earlier. I binged the whole of the first seven series on 4oD at some point before the end of 2012, and then watched the final two series as they came out.

My experience with Podcast Secrets of the Pharaohs is even more retroactive – it ended two months ago, and I only came across it last week. Blasting through the lot was made more difficult by the podcast episodes being three or four times the length of their televised counterparts, but also easier by being audio-only, so they could be played as the background to something else.

In some ways it is remarkable that a program which ended over six years ago continues to amass a dedicated following, and that so many lines from it have permeated popular discourse.

Tom & Rob’s commentary is at least as good as that by McNeil and Wang for Voyager, the main differences being that they come from one generation lower and they were not insiders when the series they are reviewing was on air. The lower-concept setting also allows that hosts to compare the events of Peep Show to their own lives. As an aside, it always strikes me as a little strange when the hosts of these kinds of review-tainment programs, whose demeanour is otherwise hintless as to age, start going on about their partners or even children. Of course, neither of them ever had to eat a partly-cremated dog, nor wrestle a burglar to the ground while hosting a dinner party, so there are limits to their personal experience. What struck me most was when they wanted to give advice to the characters, comparing the events of the episodes against merely what their own lives had been, but a surprisingly certain and definite idea of how everyone’s life at various stages is and should be.

In addition to episodic analysis, the podcast also features interviews of nearly all the significant cast members, going into great detail about their experiences with the series and their views on the characters they played.

EXTERNAL LINKS

  • Andrxxw – a YouTuber who also reviewed Peep Show in its entirety, albeit in much briefer form.
  • The Peep Show Reviews Blog – a similar review series in textual format, though it was abandoned after just four series.

Churchill’s Reputation Today

Today I attended a virtual presentation by Dominic Sandbrook to the International Churchill Society, the whole of which has been posted on their YouTube channel.

My question was “Other than Thatcher, is any later prime minister likely to receive a state or ceremonial funeral?”, and Dr. Sandbrook’s reply was “No, Tony Blair might be an obvious contender but I don’t think he would want one. It’s really interesting, the contrast between Blair and Thatcher: Thatcher was tremendously controversial in her lifetime and afterwards. People who voted for Thatcher continue to adore her whereas those who didn’t absolutely despised her. In Blair’s case it’s actually a lot of the people who voted for him who now regard him as the devil incarnate, so I don’t know who the constituency would be to support a Blair funeral – the small constituency of “centrist dads” as I believe they’re called on social media? Most prime ministers end up kind of regressing into obscurity. Harold Wilson won lots of elections and bestrode British politics in the 1960s-70s but basically was a forgotten man by the time he died.” which somehow segued into a discussion of The Crown.