Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Great Man - but Not Perfect

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Great Man - but Not Perfect

Article excerpt

Byline: Denise Robertson

JOHN Pilger and Harold Pinter are put out because a statue to David Lloyd George's time as British Prime Minister has been placed alongside Churchill's statue, looking down on Parliament Square.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Tory leader David Cameron and Sir Menzies Campbell were among the guests when Prince Charles, who unveiled the sculpture, described Lloyd George as "one of the great social reformers and war leaders of the last century".

Playwright Pinter and journalist Pilger disagree. They think he was a racist warmonger who is best forgotten and seem to blame him for the war in Iraq, though how they manage to link a man long dead with the conduct of today's war escapes me.

I feel the same about anti-Iraq war protesters who shouted slogans in Parliament Square as the statue was unveiled.

Another of their complaints is apparently based on a racist remark Lloyd George was supposed to have made, but as this was not overheard but taken from the diary of his mistress it's hardly solid evidence.

I was told as a child that Lloyd George, though not perfect, was a great man and a study of history has not changed my mind.

As Chancellor, he had to overcome opposition to introduce national insurance and old age pensions, thus laying the foundations of the welfare state. He led the country in World War One and was sympathetic to the emancipation of women. Prince Charles said: "Though he never forgot his Welsh roots it is as a national and international statesman that he will best be remembered."

I agree and I think it is impossible to judge the words and deeds of almost a century ago by the mores of today. How will Pinter and Pilger look to people of the year 2100?

When Lloyd George died Churchill wrote: "Much of his work abides, some of it will grow greatly in the future..."

My parents were right to tell me he was not perfect, but his misdeeds pale into insignificance alongside his achievements and they could see that. …

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