Does the fact that Winston Churchill is routinely cited as Britainâ€™s greatest hero say more about us than it does about him? Yes, he warned us of the need to face down Hitler when others were urging appeasement and yes, he gave a good speech. But what of his tendency to initiate disastrous military campaigns â€“ think of Gallipoli in World War I or Norway in World War II. What of the fact that his generals constantly had to restrain him from embarking on even more madcap ventures? Could it be that the British had - and still have â€“ a deep need to lionise their war leader in order to disguise from themselves the relative insignificance of Britainâ€™s contribution to defeating the Nazis in comparison with that of the Soviet Union or America? Is our refusal to diminish Churchillâ€™s stature born of the fear that we may have to diminish our own?
We were joined by a panel of experts at Methodist Central Hall Westminster in September 2009 to debate the motion "Churchill was more a liability than an asset to the free world". Arguing for the motion were former US presidential adviser Pat Buchanan; political scientist Nigel Knight; and historian Norman Stone.
Arguing against the motion were historian and bestselling author Antony Beevor; historian and Second World War specialist Richard Overy; and historian and author of 'Eminent Churchillians' Andrew Roberts.
The debate was chaired by journalist and broadcaster Joan Bakewell.
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