Outrage at Clark's attack on Churchill

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The Independent Online
THE former defence minister Alan Clark came under fierce attack from politicians and historians last night after calling into question the wartime record of Sir Winston Churchill, writes Stephen Castle.

The row follows an article in which Mr Clark argued that 'a rational leader' could have won good terms for peace with Germany in 1941 after the Battle of Britain. Instead, he maintained, Churchill became obsessed with drawing the United States into the war to inflict total defeat on Germany. To that end 'the West Indian bases were handed over; the closed markets for British exports were to be dismantled, the entire portfolio of (largely private) holdings in America was liquidated.'

The former minister, who is at the centre of the Iraqgate scandal, wrote: 'The war went on far too long, and when Britain emerged the country was bust . . . The old social order had gone forever. The empire was terminally damaged. The Commonwealth countries had seen their trust betrayed and their soldiers wasted.'

Mr Clark added that when Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, 'flew uninvited to Britain with terms, Churchill would not talk to him, and repressed the documents.'

Mr Clark's article in the Times, was a review of Churchill: The End Of Glory by John Charmley, a history lecturer at the University of East Anglia. It provoked a speedy attack from Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, Conservative MP for Perth and Kinross, who said: 'He has got a perverted view of everything and I think his views of Churchill are fatuous.'

Piers Brendon, a historian and biographer of Churchill, said Mr Clark was voicing 'an eccentric Tory view of the kind that argues that we should never involve ourselves in other people's problems. The difficulty is that other people's problems come to involve us'.