Winston Spencer-Churchill (10 October 1940 – 2 March 2010), generally known as Winston Churchill, was a British Conservative Party politician and a grandson of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. During the period of his prominence as a public figure, he was normally referred to as Winston Churchill MP, in order to distinguish him from his grandfather.
Churchill was born at Chequers while his grandfather was Prime Minister and was educated at Eton College and at Christ Church, Oxford.
Career as a journalist
Before becoming a Member of Parliament, he was a journalist, notably in the Middle East during the Six Day War, during which time he met numerous Israeli politicians, including Moshe Dayan, and published a book recounting the war. In the 1960s he covered conflict in Yemen and Borneo as well as the Vietnam War. In 1968 he visited Czechoslovakia to record the Prague Spring. In the early 1970s at Biafra he witnessed both war and famine. The indiscriminate bombing of civilians was an outrage to him, in trouble spots including Communist China, and the collapse of Antonio Salazar's authoritarian regime. When the Democratic Convention was held in the wake of public assassinations at Chicago in 1968 he was attacked by the police. Like other members of his family he began a lecture tour of the United States.
In 1965 he became a member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was assigned state society number 6860 and national society number 91657.
Winston was not able to take up his grandfather's old seat at Woodford in Essex at the 1964 general election. But he was at the centre of the Conservative campaign being recruited, although still quite inexperienced in politics, as Edward Heath's personal assistant. Heath was already a senior cabinet minister, and the following year was selected leader of the party. Churchill's first attempt to enter Parliament was at the Manchester Gorton by-election in 1967. In spite of the unpopularity of the incumbent Labour Government, he lost, but only by 577 votes. When visiting an engineering firm he was again met by the Rommel gag, highlighting as his father had told him of the comparative disadvantage in his name. Winston was still a journalist with the Daily Telegraph when his father died; the paper's proprietor, Lord Hartwell took the decision to employ Martin Gilbert to continue the work on the former Prime Minister's biography Randolph had started.
Churchill became Member of Parliament for the constituency of Stretford, near Manchester, from 1970 until the 1983 general election. As an MP he was a member of the parliamentary ski team and chairman of the Commons Flying Club. Churchill became a friend of Julian Amery MP, who appointed him his PPS at the Ministry of Housing. He wasn't much interested in the mundane questions of housing; and doing as little as possible took questions to the House from civil servants. Transferred to the Foreign Office with Amery he became very outspoken on issues in the Middle East and on the Communist Bloc. After he attempted to question Douglas-Home's abilities as Foreign Secretary he was forced to resign in November 1973. Winston Churchill resumed the family tradition of protecting Ulster Unionism, defending the Diplock Courts, internment and arguing for the death penalty for terrorists. He was part of a corpus of Conservative MPs of the era (including Mrs Thatcher) who were heavily critical of BBC coverage of the conflict in Northern Ireland as expressing communist sympathies, for which some journalists were sacked.
As a front bench spokesman on Defence policy he took a hardline on Rhodesia, voting against any sanctions. His presentation at the despatch box was strident for the times, censured by The Speaker for calling Foreign Secretary David Owen "treacherous" over the abandonment of Rhodesia. Mrs Thatcher could not tolerate the disloyalty of the imperialist, and he was removed from the front bench of politics in November 1978. But when the Conservatives came to power in May 1979 he was elected to the executive of the 1922 Committee.
Boundary changes which took effect at that election made his seat more marginal (it was subsequently taken by the Labour Party), and he transferred to the nearby Davyhulme constituency, which he represented until the seat was abolished for the 1997 general election. Although well known by virtue of his family history, he never achieved high office and remained a backbencher. His cousin Nicholas Soames was (and is still serving as) a Conservative MP.
During his time as a Member of Parliament, Churchill visited Beijing with a delegation of other MPs, including Clement Freud, a grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Freud asked why Churchill was given the best room in the hotel and was told it was because Churchill was a grandson of Britain's most illustrious Prime Minister. Freud responded by saying it was the first time in his life that he had been "out-grandfathered".
He also was the subject of controversy in 1995 when he and his family sold a large archive of his grandfather's papers for £12.5m to Churchill College, Cambridge. The purchase was funded by a grant from the newly established National Lottery.
After leaving Parliament, Churchill was a sought-after speaker on the lecture circuit and wrote many articles in support of the Iraq War and the fight against Islamic terrorism. He also edited a compilation of his grandfather's famous speeches entitled Never Give In. In 2007 he acted as a spokesman for the pressure group UK National Defence Association. He was also involved with the National Benevolent Fund for the Aged, as trustee from 1974 and chair from 1995 to 2010.
He attempted to be selected as an MEP but was unsuccessful.
Churchill lived in Belgravia, London, where he died on 2 March 2010 from prostate cancer, from which he had suffered for the last two years of his life.
Churchill was the son of Randolph Churchill (1911–1968), the only son of Sir Winston Churchill, and of Randolph's wife Pamela Digby (1920–1997), later to become famous as Pamela Harriman. His parents divorced in 1945. His father married June Osborne: their daughter was Arabella Churchill (1949–2007).
Churchill's first marriage, in July 1964, was to Minnie Caroline d'Erlanger, the daughter of the banker Sir Gerard John Regis d'Erlanger and granddaughter of Baron Emile Beaumont d'Erlanger. The couple had four children:
- Randolph Leonard Spencer-Churchill (22 January 1965) he married Catherine Lancaster on 21 March 1992. They have four children:
- Serena Barbara Churchill (12 May 1996)
- Zoë Churchill (29 October 1998)
- Alice Churchill (28 April 2003)
- John Winston Spencer Churchill (30 March 2007)
- Jennie Spencer-Churchill (25 September 1966) she married James P. Repard on 16 October 1993. They have two children:
- George Repard (2 August 1994)
- Arabella Repard (14 August 1996)
- Marina Spencer-Churchill (11 September 1967) she married David W. J. Brounger on 9 December 1999. They have three children:
- Henry Brounger (1998)
- William Brounger (2003)
- Olivia Brounger (9 February 2003)
- John Gerard Averell "Jack" Spencer-Churchill (27 August 1975) he married Charlotte M. Baber. They have three children:
- Edward Ian Spencer-Churchill (6 March 2008)
- Emilia Rose Spencer-Churchill (12 January 2010)
- Alexander Robert Spencer-Churchill (30 July 2014)
Churchill's second marriage, to Luce Engelen, a Belgian-born jewellery maker, lasted from 1999 until his death. His mother's will shared his inheritance with his first wife.
|Ancestors of Winston Churchill (1940–2010)|
- First Journey, (1964)
- Six Day War, (1967), co-written with father, Randolph Churchill.
- Defending the West, (1981)
- Memories and Adventures, (1989)
- His Father's Son, (1996)
- The Great Republic, editor, (1999)
- Never Give In!: The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches, editor, (2003)