'Phrases Make History Here': Churchill, Ireland and the Rhetoric of Empire
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
This article examines the imperial dimension of Winston Churchill's rhetoric on Ireland over the course of his entire career. Whereas previous discussions of Churchill and the Irish question have tended to focus on whether he was sincere or opportunistic, his views are treated here in the context of the rhetorical environment in which he was operating. It is shown that, in his Edwardian Liberal phase, his argument that Home Rule would strengthen the Empire was part of a pre-existing Liberal and Nationalist discourse. He refashioned these arguments in order to sell the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921-22, but they were later turned against him by Conservative colleagues when he opposed the Statute of Westminster, and the imperial dimension of his Irish rhetoric weakened thereafter. However, certain themes, such as his praise of Irish military heroism, remained constant. It is argued that rhetorical analysis is a valuable but neglected tool for Irish and imperial historians.
This is a postprint of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History© 2010 Copyright Taylor & Francis; The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History is available online at http://www.informaworld.com
38:4, December 2010, pp. 549 - 570