Page last updated at 06:21 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 07:21 UK

Dundee marks Churchill centenary

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill was a Dundee MP between 1908 and 1922

Dundee is marking the 100th anniversary of Winston Churchill being elected a city MP.

The war-time prime minister served as a politician in Dundee between 1908 and 1922, when prohibitionist Edwin Scrymgeour swept to victory.

Some historians claim Churchill never forgave Dundonians for the snub - as shown by his refusal to accept the freedom of the city in 1943.

Exhibitions and talks are being held and a plaque will be unveiled.

Having lost an election in Manchester, Churchill was handed a safe Liberal seat in Dundee, which he won comfortably in a by-election.

His assertion that it would be a seat for life can be seen in a letter in the exhibition at Dundee University.

Other letters, documents, speeches, photographs and cartoons are also on display

Archives assistant Kenneth Baxter told BBC Scotland that Churchill lost his seat in the city after a series of controversies - his feelings on women being allowed to vote, his reported role in sending troops to break up miners' riots, his stance on Irish home rule and the way he dealt with various social issues.

He said: "What he might have learned from Dundee was that he needed to moderate his language slightly.

"But there were Churchill controversies well into the 20s and 30s, so whether he learned anything is questionable."

However university archivist Pat Whatley hopes the exhibition will show a different side to Churchill.

"A lot of people in Dundee nowadays probably don't even know Churchill was their MP, or they've heard the stories that everybody hated him," she said.

"But we must remember that even when he was put out he got 20,000 votes, therefore it's not as clean cut as that."

He is an ever present factor in our views of history, of politics, of Britain and the past
Andrew Roberts
Historian

Jim Lancaster from the Churchill Centre also believes the politician did not have such a rocky relationship with Dundee.

He will be showing more than 40 Americans and Canadians around various sites connected with Churchill, including the Queen's Hotel, which was his election base in the run up to the 1908 poll, and where he famously found a maggot in his kipper.

Mr Lancaster said: "There were many expressions of affection for the city of Dundee subsequently.

"For example in 1942, when Winston Churchill was prime minister, he said in Edinburgh how he had very fond memories of the city by the Tay."

The historian and author Andrew Roberts will be giving a lecture on "Churchill and his Detractors", but he feels there is no denying the politician's impact on Britain.

He said: "Not just every prime minister, but every senior politician looks back to Churchill to see the things they should be doing and of course the things they shouldn't.

"He is an ever present factor in our views of history, of politics, of Britain and the past."

As a permanent memorial to Churchill's time in Dundee, a plaque will also be unveiled by the politician's daughter, Lady Soames.


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