The Churchill "Gestapo Speech" reconsidered

David Ellis of Strategic Defence Initiatives UK joins David Scott to discuss a startlingly prescient speech by Winston Churchill recorded on 4th June 1945.

In just over two minutes, Churchill outlines five or six major present-day themes of key importance. The accuracy and density of the insights, all made 75 years (or three generations) ago, prompted this discussion.

We hope you enjoy it.

The full transcript of the speech being discussed is:

"Socialism is, in its essence, an attack not only upon British enterprise but upon the right of an ordinary man or woman to breathe freely; like having a harsh, clumsy, tyrannical hand crash across their mouths and nostrils. A free parliament — look at that. A free parliament is odious to the socialist doctrinaire.

Have we not heard Labour Party election campaign leader Mr Herbert Morrison descant upon enthusiastically describe his plans to curtail parliamentary procedure and pass laws simply by resolutions of broad principle in the House of Commons, afterwards to be left by Parliament to the executive and to the bureaucrats to elaborate and enforce by departmental regulations? As for Labour frontbencher Sir Stafford Cripps on “Parliament in the socialist state”, I have not time to read you what it said, but perhaps it will meet the public eye during the election campaign.

But I will go farther. I declare you from the bottom of my heart that no socialist system can be established without a political police. Many of those who are advocating socialism or voting Socialist today will be horrified at this idea. That is because they are short-sighted; that is because they do not see where their theories are leading them.

No Socialist government conducting the entire life and industry of the country could afford to allow free, sharp, or violently-worded expressions of public discontent. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo—no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance—and this would nip in the bud opinion as it formed.

It would stop criticism as it reared its head, and it would gather all the power to the Supreme Party and the party leaders, rising like stately pinnacles above their vast bureaucracies of civil servants, no longer servants and no longer civil. And where would the ordinary simple folk—the common people, as they like to call them in America—where would they be, once this mighty organism had got them in its grip?"

Where, indeed, are the ordinary men and women today? Do you see, as we do, echoes of Churchill's warning in how we are now treated by our government(s) and officials?