Sunday, March 11, 2007

A great reputation smeared by sloppy scolarship

'Bunny rabbits ears to you Mr Toye...'

With all the fallout over over the fall-out over the 'resignation' of Patrick Mercer there has been remarkably little debate over the alleged racism of a another rather more eminent Tory, Winston Churchill.


Extraordinarily the University of Cambridge's Richard Toye announced he had 'found' a 'suppressed' 1937 article entitled 'How the Jews can Combat Persecution'. Churchill says, 'the Jew...looks different. He thinks differently' and then goes on to describe resentment against the 'Hebrew bloodsucker money-lenders'. He goes on to say that ,"Every Jewish money lender recalls Shylock and the idea of the Jews as usurers...And you cannot reasonably expect a struggling clerk or shopkeeper, paying forty or fifty percent interest on money to a Hebrew bloodsucker to reflect that throughout long centuries, almost every other way of life was closed to Jewish people".


All pretty explosive stuff you would think...and so it is.


However, Sir Martin Gilbert, (in my view probably Britain's greatest living historian) has stepped into the breech by explaining that the article had in fact been written by a member of Mosley's blackshirts and actually Churchill had in fact refused to have the article published as it didn't reflect his views. Churchill it emerges, didn't write the article then or even agree with it.


A friend of mine (as Iain Dale would say!), the Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts is quoted in The Sunday Times, as saying the article may have been 'of its time' but 'should not detract from a life-time of pro-Jewish sentiment'.


I am surprised at both Cambridge University for its lapse of scholarship and Mr Toye. If you are going to make such serious allegations about figures from history, you need to be sure of your ground.


Its ironic Mr Toye's last published work was as editor of a set articles entitled "Making Reputations: Power, Persuasion and the Individual in Modern British Politics"...

2 Comments:

Blogger Richard said...

See my letter in The Times, 14 March 2007, for a response to my critics.

Richard Toye

10:32 am  
Blogger Matt Dean said...

Richard's letter reads,

"Sir, Stephen Pollard accuses me of peddling a “silly story . . . of little intrinsic interest” about Winston Churchill’s attitude to the Jews (comment, March 12 ). The story relates to an article called How the Jews Can Combat Persecution, which was commissioned from Churchill in 1937.

The facts are these. Churchill, who frequently used ghostwriters, asked a man called Adam Marshall Diston to write the piece, and provided him with some suggestions as to what to include. Diston then wrote it. Pollard asserts that at this point “Churchill took one look at it and refused to have it published because he disagreed with it”. That is not true. As I explain in my book Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness, Churchill actively sought to have it published in the US magazine Liberty.

He was prevented from doing so because of contractual problems. He then submitted it to the British magazine Strand, but it rejected the piece because it had already accepted an article by David Lloyd George on the same theme.

Churchill was entirely happy to put the article out in his own name and thus take responsibility for the views it expressed. It was not published in 1937 because of a series of accidents, not because Churchill disagreed with the contents. In 1940, when the question of publication arose again, he decided not to go ahead. We do not know if he had changed his views, only that, according to his secretary, “Mr Churchill thinks it would be inadvisable to publish the article. . . at the present time”.


RICHARD TOYE

Homerton College Cambridge "

3:04 pm  

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