Winston Churchill, France and Europe


Centre Director Richard Toye recently discussed how Churchill has been utilized within the Brexit debate, and Churchill’s relationship with Europe – you can listen through the links below.

Cross-posted from France in the UK

A special Franco-British conversation about leading figures of our shared history.

Historians Richard Toye and Christian Destremau examine Winston Churchill’s relationship to France and Europe, and the different narratives that have been built since.

As part of The Fabric of Citizenship seminar series.

Podcasts

You can now listen to this special evening thanks to Culturethèque.

Tristan Mendès France on his grandfather Pierre Mendès France

Richard Toye explores Winston Churchill’s relationship to France and Europe

Christian Destremau explores Winston Churchill’s relationship to France and Europe

Imagining Britain’s economic future, c.1800-1975

David Thackeray, Richard Toye, and Andrew Thompson
University of Exeter

This book considers how Britain has imagined its economic role in the wider world and how British ideas have influenced global debates about market relationships between the start of the nineteenth century and the UK’s first European referendum. In doing so, the authors explore the interplay between the high political thought of theorists, the activities of officials and businesspeople, and the everyday experience of the wider public. Across the contributions to this book there is a consideration of the competing factors which affected market decisions and the processes of ‘economic imagination’.

The economist Joseph Schumpeter put the concept of imagination at the heart of the entrepreneurial process. It was this quality which, above all, businesspeople required if they were to succeed: ‘the capacity of seeing things in a way which proves afterwards to be true, even though it cannot be established [as such] at the time’.[1] He saw that economies are, in a sense, imaginative constructs – making calculations about and placing faith in the future and its possibilities are key qualities of investors and entrepreneurs.

Schumpeter’s work on the entrepreneurial imagination was an important influence in the development of Ronald Robinson and John Gallagher’s concept of the ‘official mind’, which they saw as the key driving force behind British imperial expansion in the nineteenth century. As they noted in Africa and the Victorians, London policy-makers ‘were usually dealing with countries they had never seen, with questions apprehended intellectually from reports and recommendations on paper….it was the idea and analysis of African situations in Whitehall, and not the realities in Africa as such which moved Victorian statesmen to act or not to act’.[2]

The question of how changing levels of information available to economic actors has affected the role of imagination in decision making in the modern world is an important one. As international business scholars have acknowledged, economic imagination is ultimately shaped by the interpretation of past experience, access to information about markets (which can sometimes be faulty), and hopes placed in the future. Perceptions of distance between markets are ultimately culturally constructed. The ‘physic distance’ between markets perceived by businesspeople, policy makers, and consumers may not correspond to actual measurable differences in institutions, preferences, and values as economic actors may exaggerate or underestimate the cultural distance between two countries involved in a transaction.[3]

The 2016 EU referendum provides a good example of how public debates about an imagined economic future can radically reshape public policy. Continue reading “Imagining Britain’s economic future, c.1800-1975”

Old Man in A Hurry

Richard Toye
Director, Centre for Imperial & Global History

Felix Klos, Churchill’s Last Stand: The Struggle to Unite Europe (I.B.Tauris, 2017)

Marco Duranti, The Conservative Human Rights Revolution: European Identity, Transnational Politics, and the Origins of the European Convention (Oxford University Press, 2017)

In the run-up to 2016 Brexit referendum, advocates of staying in the EU made significant efforts to invoke the memory of Winston Churchill. Remainers pointed to the fact that, in Zurich in 1946, he had urged the creation of ‘a kind of United States of Europe’. They seemed to regard him as something of a trump card – if Britain’s iconic wartime leader had been one of the fathers of the EU, who would dare to be against? However, as a persuasive tool, it never quite seemed to work. On the one hand, Leavers could legitimately point out that Churchill had said that Great Britain should be one of the ‘the friends and sponsors of the new Europe’, not one of its actual members. On the other hand, the message was just not quite simple enough; against the ingrained, popular bulldog image, it was tough to sell Churchill as a complex figure who was prepared to make concessions on British sovereignty in the interests of future peace.

It also didn’t help that Churchill’s pro-European campaign took place during a period of his life – the 1945-51 Opposition years – that few members of the public know much about. Popular memory of Churchill focuses to some extent on the 1930s but above all on the war years, and the summer of 1940 in particular. In fact, then, the referendum campaign’s most rhetorically effective invocation of Churchill was made by David Cameron during his appearance on Question Time. He did not attempt to argue that Churchill would have favoured membership of the EU as such, but rather – in response to an audience member who described him (Cameron) as a Twenty First Century Neville Chamberlain – he deployed a more emotionally powerful response:

At my office I sit two yards away from cabinet room where Winston Churchill decided in May to fight on against Hitler. The best and greatest decision perhaps anyone has made in our country. He didn’t want to be alone. He wanted to be fighting with the French, the Poles and the others. But he didn’t quit. He didn’t quit on democracy, he didn’t quit on freedom.

We want to fight for those things today. You can’t win if you’re not in the room.

Moreover, when one actually looks at the details of Churchill’s position on Europe, it’s not clear that he fits neatly into either the Leave or the Remain narrative. The two books under review, both excellent in their different ways, illustrate the point. Continue reading “Old Man in A Hurry”

Global Neoliberalisms: Lost and Found in Translation

This conference aims to provide a truly global account of the rise and entrenchment of the modern neoliberal order. Contributors will consider how neoliberal ideas travelled (or did not travel) across regions and polities; and analyse how these ideas were translated between groups and regions as embodied behaviours and business practices as well as through the global media and international organisations. As the fate of neoliberalism appears in question across many regions, it is an opportune moment to make sense of its ascendancy on a global scale.

Convenors:
Professor James Mark, University of Exeter
Professor Richard Toye, University of Exeter
Dr Ljubica Spaskovska, University of Exeter
Dr Tobias Rupprecht, University of Exeter

Speakers include:
Professor Jennifer Bair, University of Virginia
Professor Susan Bayly, University of Cambridge
Professor Johanna Bockman, George Mason University
Professor Stephanie Decker, Aston Business School
Mr Julian Gewirtz, University of Oxford
Professor Vanessa Ogle, UC Berkeley
Professor Daisuke Ikemoto, Meijigakuin University
Professor Artemy Kalinovsky, University of Amsterdam
Dr Alexander Kentikelenis, University of Oxford
Professor Pun Ngai, Hong Kong University
Professor Pal Nyiri, University of Amsterdam
Professor David Priestland, University of Oxford
Professor Bernhard Rieger, University of Leiden
Professor Quinn Slobodian, Wellesley College and Harvard University
Dr Jorg Wiegratz, University of Leeds

Registration:
A registration fee is payable at the time of booking. For further information and details of how to book please click on ‘Book event’.

Standard Admission: £95 for both days; £50 for one day
Early Bird booking (before 31 January 2018): £75 for both days; £40 for one day
Concessions: £36 for both days; £20 for one day

BOOK EVENT

Some people got depressed by Churchill’s speeches

Churchill’s visiting Geneva, 1946. Foto: Photopress-Archiv (Keystone)

Richard Toye, the English historian and rhetoric expert, talks about the influence Winston Churchill’s speeches had at the time – and what kind of reaction they got.

Cross-posted from Tages-Anzeiger

How does the Brexit situation harp back to longings about the British Empire?
Certainly things seemed to have changed very abruptly, and I would put down a lot of what has happened to the pursuit of austerity policies since 2010, and the fact that people’s living standards have sort of frozen or gotten worse. That creates an opportunity for people to play out various sentiments. It’s probably worth saying that when people have these discourses about Britain becoming great again they may be talking in almost total ignorance of what happened at the time.

About the time during the war?
No, I’m trying to explain why opinion has changed in the last few years to become more sympathetic to Brexit and towards imperial nostalgia. It has to do with the policies of cutting public spending and public services that have taken place. Then the situation becomes ripe for people to exploit discontent by blaming immigrants. So you have the playing up of the glorious past. Continue reading “Some people got depressed by Churchill’s speeches”

Dockter on Thomas and Toye, ‘Arguing about Empire: Imperial Rhetoric in Britain and France, 1882-1956’

Authors: Martin Thomas, Richard Toye

Reviewer: Warren Dockter

Martin Thomas, Richard Toye. Arguing about Empire: Imperial Rhetoric in Britain and France, 1882-1956. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. 320 pp. $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-874919-6.Reviewed by Warren Dockter (Aberystwyth University)
Published on H-Diplo (November, 2017)
Commissioned by Seth OffenbachPrintable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=49706“A Silent, Rankling Grudge”

In the autumn issue of Nineteenth Century Review in 1877, W. E. Gladstone wrote an article on legacy of the British Empire and the Eastern Question entitled, “Aggression on Egypt and Freedom in the East.” In addition to supporting notions of self-rule in Egypt, Gladstone warned of the perils of imperial interventions, arguing, “My belief is that the day which witnesses our occupation of Egypt will bid a long farewell to all cordiality of political relations between France and England. There might be no immediate quarrel, no exterior manifestation, but a silent, rankling grudge” (p. 19). These words proved so prophetic that political radical Wilfred Scawen Blunt employed Gladstone’s rhetoric against him in his work The Secret History of the English Occupation of Egypt (1907), writing that “this article is so remarkable and so wonderfully prescient of evils he was himself destined to inflict upon Egypt that it deserves quoting” (p. 57). This exchange serves to illustrate the fluid nature of imperial rhetoric and the discursive relationship which formed between the British and French Empires.

Martin Thomas and Richard Toye have written a remarkably ambitious and excellent study which examines the intersections of imperial rhetoric between the French and British Empires during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book is based on seven case studies that focus on moments of imperial  intervention in which both the French and Britain played an equal part, ranging from Tunisia and Egypt in the early 1880s through to Suez in 1956. This breadth allows the reader to see the evolution of imperial rhetoric in Britain and France while illustrating how policymakers in their respective metropoles became intrinsically linked, forcing them toward “co-imperialism.” This is particularly true regarding the Middle East and North Africa, where the British and French Empires remained in concert from nineteenth century until the realities of full-scale decolonization became apparent in latter half of the twentieth century. Continue reading “Dockter on Thomas and Toye, ‘Arguing about Empire: Imperial Rhetoric in Britain and France, 1882-1956’”

Crafting your PhD proposal: Routes to originality in historical research