As you’d expect, reading books and writing on blogs are usually quite happy bedfellows. The only problem comes when you read a book so good that (a) whenever presented with a leisurely moment you tend to choose to go to its pages rather than the keys of your computer, and (b) the only things you can think to post are based on what you’ve read therein. You have, in short, become A Lazy Blogger.
So with that health warning firmly in place, this is the second in an occasional series of Lazy Posts resulting from my reading the absolutely excellent Roy Jenkins biography of Winston Churchill.
This time: I couldn’t help but be struck by the resonance with today’s Tory leadership of this description of Churchill’s patrician-like, rather condescending attitude towards poverty, something that was a general characteristic but was particularly apparent when he presented his first budget as Chancellor in Stanley Baldwin’s Government, in 1925. Tax allowances were fiddled to mean the super-rich were by far the biggest beneficiaries, leading Labour politician Arthur Ponsonby to declare that, while:
[Churchill’s] ‘…sympathy for the poor was eloquent, his sympathy with the rich was practical’.
Then, around the time of his second budget in the same Government, fellow minister Samuel Hoare (yes, history buffs, the man jointly responsible for the controversial Hoare-Laval Pact, which gave half of Ethiopia – then Abyssinia – to Italy in 1935) said Churchill was convinced that:
‘…he is to be the prophet to lead us into the Promised Land in which there will be no income tax and everyone will live happily ever afterwards. The trouble is that he has got so many schemes tumbling over each other in his mind, that I am beginning to wonder whether he will be able to pull any one of them out of the heap.’
If any of the above causes an unfortunately smarmy face to swim into view then please accept my apologies (and feel free to berate me on Twitter @philblogs).