Churchill Fellowship rejects criticism from Boris Johnson after website rebrand

Churchill’s grandson oversaw change that had almost no complaints until Daily Mail and Sun coverage

The Churchill Fellowship has rejected allegations by Boris Johnson that it has airbrushed out images of Britain’s wartime prime minister from its website in an attempt to rewrite history, saying its was proud of its association with Sir Winston.

Several newspapers have carried reports suggesting that the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, a charitable foundation that funds UK citizens to study abroad, had changed its name and removed pictures of Churchill in an attempt to “woke-wash” his memory.

The prime minister’s spokesman weighed in, calling it “completely absurd, misguided and wrong to airbrush his giant achievements and service to this country, and the trust should think again”.

The spokesman said: “The prime minister has always been clear that, whilst it’s legitimate to examine Britain’s history, we should aim to educate people about all aspects of our complex past, both good and bad, and not erase them.

“We need to focus on addressing the present and not attempt to rewrite the past and get sucked into the never-ending debate about which well-known historical figures are sufficiently pure or politically correct to remain in public view.”

The Fellowship firmly rejected the allegations that it wanted to airbrush Churchill’s achievements from history. It said the changes had the full support of Churchill’s family and defended its decision to change its name and redesign its website, saying it wanted to “set the record straight”.

In a statement it said: “The Churchill Fellowship was created on the death of Sir Winston, as a national memorial to his wartime leadership. We are proud of his contribution to saving the world from Nazism and of our connection to him.”

The former Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames, one of Churchill’s grandchildren, said in a statement: “I and the rest of my family, fully and unreservedly, support the remarkable work of the Churchill Fellowship, which is the truly wonderful living memorial to Sir Winston Churchill.”

Since 1965 the charity has awarded more than 5,800 fellowships enabling recipients to study innovative solutions for practical issues, and bring back global insights to enhance and transform their communities in the UK, including in areas such as care, disability and homelessness.

The fellowship said: “Last month we simplified our name to the Churchill Fellowship. We did so not because we are disowning Sir Winston, but because over many years we have found that, in a simple practical sense, the name was confusing to people and did not explain what we do.

“That is to fund UK citizens to learn from the world and transform lives across the UK – as Sir Winston wished. The new name captures a sense of the fellows’ remarkable dedication and public service.

“It was a change that had been decided in 2019, in consultation with hundreds of fellows. The key element we kept was the name ‘Churchill’. You cannot look at our new logo and avoid the importance we attach to that name.”

The changes were overseen by the charity’s trustees headed by Jeremy Soames, another grandson of Churchill, after wide consultation with donors and fellows. It had received virtually no complaints about the rebrand until the reports in the Sun and Daily Mail this week.

It said it was untrue that it taken down several images of Sir Winston from the site. A spokesperson for the fellowship said it had only ever had the rights to use one image, and this was now back on the site. It also questioned reports that some of its “loyal volunteers” were fuming at the move, pointing out that it did not have any volunteers.

Contributor

Patrick Butler Social policy editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Nicola Sturgeon insults: the worst attacks directed at the SNP leader
The demonisation of Nicola Sturgeon has intensified as the popularity - and threat - of the SNP leader has grown

Jessica Elgot

21, Apr, 2015 @12:29 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson's Brexit decision dominates the national newspapers
All front pages carry pictures of London’s mayor, and would-be prime minister, as he comes off the fence to announce his opposition to David Cameron’s deal

Roy Greenslade

22, Feb, 2016 @8:40 AM

Article image
Downing Street launches Covid lockdown leak inquiry
Government criticised for failing to tell businesses and emergency services of plans

Molly Blackall

31, Oct, 2020 @12:24 PM

Article image
Johnson's latest Covid foe: newspapers that normally support him
The Mail, Telegraph and Sun are devoting increasing space to questioning PM’s approach

Peter Walker Political correspondent

08, Oct, 2020 @5:23 PM

Article image
'Captain of a rudderless ship': Tory media turn on Boris Johnson
Daily Mail, Telegraph and Times are among those criticising the PM’s handling of the Covid crisis

Nick Hopkins

21, Dec, 2020 @11:09 AM

Article image
Newspapers draw on Shakespeare to report Gove's knifing of Johnson
The play’s the thing for editors trying to describe the act of betrayal that killed off Boris’s hopes of becoming Conservative party leader and prime minister

Roy Greenslade

01, Jul, 2016 @7:41 AM

Article image
‘Cobalt Corbyn’: Tory press gives Boris Johnson rough ride over tax rise
PM’s social care policy has ‘sounded death knell for Conservatism’ and is his biggest gamble, papers say

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

08, Sep, 2021 @9:29 AM

Article image
Which parties are the UK press backing in the general election?
National newspapers and magazines make their endorsements clear, with a focus on Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

Ruth McKee

03, Jun, 2017 @1:36 PM

Article image
Spying row: how Corbyn seized chance to take on the Sun
Labour used to woo the rightwing press; the age of social media has changed all that

Dan Sabbagh

21, Feb, 2018 @7:26 PM

Article image
Press gang up on Jeremy Corbyn in election day coverage
The Sun indulges its penchant for groan-inducing puns, the Mail pours scorn on Labour, and the Economist is a lone Lib Dem voice among the nationals

Graham Ruddick

07, Jun, 2017 @11:55 PM