Winston Churchill’s speeches are “timeless, inspiring and send shivers down the spine”.
That is according to Churchill War Rooms director Phil Reed. Hitting back at claims the former prime minister’s speeches are overrated, put forward by historian Professor Richard Toye, Mr Reed told historyextra.com: “Richard is a rightly recognised as a good academic, but with the greatest respect the point he is making is not revolutionary.
“The fact of the matter is Churchill’s speeches were well received and listened to fervently by a lot of people.
“I have met people who lived through the Second World War and I have never heard anyone say they were not inspired by Churchill’s speeches. I think the general view is that this was the man to do the job.
“This was the attitude people needed, someone who would say it like it was. He conveyed conviction – people want a politician who they can believe in.
“I think people had that in Churchill.
“Of course you’ll find people who disagreed, but you cannot extrapolate those comments into a general argument.”
The museum director added: “Churchill’s speeches are timeless. That really is the making of a great speech – people are still reading them today.
“People know the language and the phrases – he is the most-quoted man after Shakespeare, and with good reason. You don’t even need to understand the words.
“There’s no question Churchill inspired people – you cannot take that away from him.”
Turning to the manner in which Churchill delivered his wartime speeches, Mr Reed said: “The bits that we remember are the golden nuggets of phraseology, but they aren’t like that the whole way through.
“Many of the speeches were long but then he would deliver beautiful oratory, and you could not help but he moved by them.
“He would often make a long, slow entry and then suddenly it becomes an impassioned sermon, one where you just think ‘wow’.”
Mr Reed also disputed the suggestion that Churchill’s speeches may not have bolstered the British people’s will to fight on.
“The facts contradict this,” he said. “People did fight on.
“The spirit of resistance was aided by Churchill – he had at the very least a part in it. He understood the British mentality and knew how to appeal to that.
“He delivered his speeches in such dire times. He did not take away the fear, but he reassured people it would be worth it.”