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Shashi Tharoor

The Rest of Us Always Knew Churchill Was a Villain

His record in Britain’s former colonies more closely resembles that of a war criminal than a defender of democracy and freedom. 

In love with his own words. 

In love with his own words. 

Photographer: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The recent flap over Winston Churchill — with Labour politician John McDonnell calling Britain’s most revered prime minister a “villain” and prompting a rebuke from the latter’s grandson — will astonish many Indians. That’s not because the label itself is a misnomer, but because McDonnell was exercised by the death of one Welsh miner in 1910. In fact, Churchill has the blood of millions on his hands whom the British prefer to forget.

“History,” Churchill himself said, “will judge me kindly, because I intend to write it myself.” He did, penning a multi-volume history of World War II, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his self-serving fictions. As the Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies remarked of the man many Britons credit with winning the war, "His real tyrant is the glittering phrase, so attractive to his mind that awkward facts have to give way.”