Churchill, the Liberal Reformer: The Struggle for a Modern Home Office by Duncan Marlor


9 April 2024
Pen & Sword

Winston Churchill is handed down the generations, reinvented in the process to suit current controversies. He has been many things: presently a talisman of the political right, a war-hero of conservative outlook who saved his country; on the left, he is a reactionary imperialist, a warmongering oppressor of the workers. Both sides would be surprised by a time trip to the sensation-filled years of 1910 and 1911\. They would find a modernist progressive, cordially loathed by the Tories, carrying through programmes of social reform and making the prison system more humane: declaring to Parliament that even convicted offenders have rights and that how a state treats them determines the level of its civilisation. A long-serving Permanent Under-Secretary at the Home Office reckoned that Churchill’s policies (which his successors continued) halved the prison population. During the last third of the twentieth century and into the next, rehabilitation has gone into reverse. Prison numbers have soared, as the punitive approach has reasserted itself, now laced with political populism. This book looks at that story in the context of the paradoxical career of Churchill the Liberal Reformer.

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