The Left’s assault on history comes up with an old favourite—you have to crank up your gramophone by hand to get its flavour, as the record strives to speed at 72 revolutions, wheezing and crackling—with their latest discovery that Churchill was a “villain.” That’s the word chosen by John McDonnell, deputy to Jeremy Corbyn. His proofs? Among many infamies, Tonypandy looms large. “If they have writ their annals true,” Churchill, Home Secretary, ordered troops to fire on striking miners in Tonypandy, South Wales. There is not a word of truth in the Left’s legend. 

For a brilliant resume of the truth, turn to Josephine Tey’s superb crime novel The Daughter of Time. She depicts a police inspector, laid up in hospital, who determines to investigate the murder of the young Princes in the Tower by Richard III. He finds that what history has generally accepted is a myth, a  totally false version of what really happened. And to this kind of historical myth he attaches a generic term, “Tonypandy.” In 1910, striking miners were getting seriously out of hand, with shops being looted and property destroyed. The Chief Constable of Glamorgan sent a request to the Home Office for troops to protect the area. “But Churchill,” says Tey, “was so horrified at the possibility of troops coming face to face with a crowd of rioters and having to fire on them, that he stopped the movement of the troops and sent instead a body of plain, solid Metropolitan Police, armed with nothing but their rolled-up mackintoshes.” (p.110) No shots were ever fired and there were only some physical injuries suffered by the crowd. “That is the shooting-down by troops that Wales will never forget.” Indeed they will never forget. I have often heard it myself. It is a prized part of the Left’s belief-system.  

No serious historian accepts the Tonypandy myth. Roy Jenkins in his excellent biography of Churchill goes into the matter in convincing detail (and as a Monmouthshire man he was well placed to assess the Welsh constabulary). At the time of Tonypandy, Churchill was praised by the Manchester Guardian for the restraint with which he had handled the crisis. But his reputation is still and always sullied by the inventions of the Left.

As for the outcome of Tey’s Tudor enquiry, she makes her Inspector write a brief letter to his sister: “Would you be unbearably surprised to learn that the Princes in the Tower survived Richard III?” They did, most likely.