Winston Churchill was a 'villain' says John McDonnell

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has branded Winston Churchill a “villain”.

The Labour heavyweight made the comment in reference to the the way Britain’s wartime leader dealt with striking Welsh miners while home secretary in 1910.

Mr Churchill’s decision to send troops to support police quelling riots in Tonypandy has long been a subject of historical debate.

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In a question and answer session with the Politico website, Mr McDonnell was asked: “Winston Churchill, hero or villain?”

The shadow chancellor said: “Tonypandy – villain”.

In November 1910, Mr Churchill ordered 200 Metropolitan Police officers into Tonypandy, with a detachment of Lancashire Fusiliers held in reserve in Cardiff after a series of riots that were the culmination of an industrial dispute between workers and the mine owners. 

Soldiers were eventually called into the Rhondda Valley village to help deal with the situation.

One miner was killed and about 580 people, including 80 policemen,

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The wartime leader, who was later knighted, was voted the greatest Briton in a BBC poll in 2002.

Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of the former Conservative prime minister, told the Daily Telegraph: “Frankly it’s a very foolish and stupid thing to say, surely said to gain publicity. I think my grandfather’s reputation can withstand a publicity-seeking assault from a third-rate, Poundland Lenin. I don’t think it will shake the world.”

Labour MP Ian Austin made it clear he disagreed with Mr McDonnell’s comments by posting a picture on social media of a figurine of the wartime leader he keeps at home.Mr Austin Tweeted: “Look who takes pride of place on my mantelpiece in Dudley: a real British hero, the greatest ever Briton, the man who motivated Britain to defeat the Nazis and fight not just for our liberty but the world’s freedom too.”Press AssociationWe’ll tell you what’s true.
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