The oratory of Winston Churchill
in Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron
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Churchill has to be ranked as one of the great political orators, his wartime oratory regularly featuring in collections of the ‘great speeches of history’. During the Second World War, it was said, he mobilised the English language and sent it into battle. These great speeches have been extensively analysed elsewhere, so this chapter focuses instead on Churchill as Conservative Party leader in opposition and then back in government as Prime Minister in the 1945-55 period, and deals mainly with his oratory on domestic and party issues rather than the grand themes of world affairs and foreign policy. As leader of the opposition his preferred approach was to mount thunderous, slashing and strongly worded attacks on the mistakes and failings of the Labour government, while his tone as Prime Minister was more restrained and consensual. But throughout this whole period analysis of his speeches and of how his oratory worked casts light on how he and his party accommodated to the changed political landscape after 1945, managed the changes in policy and image necessary to win back power again in 1951, and approached the problems of governing in the 1950s.

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