Representing leaders in Britain. The portraits of Winston Churchill, Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair
chapterposted on 2020-02-07, 14:38 authored by Simon DownsSimon Downs
As Brexit demonstrates, the British people self-image has mutated wildly across the last century. The portraits created to lionise their leaders have undergone an equally chaotic transformation; from images of elitist patriarchy, to those of high-street populists; this change has been reflected in the portraits of their leaders. There simply isn’t enough room in one chapter to cover the portrayal of the full cast of characters that have driven British politics, there have been 22 prime ministers in the last century alone. Some, like Attlee, have done great work. Some, like Johnson, have been disasters. Four premiers were selected for their contribution to the national story: Churchill – as the imperialist, Wilson – the media manipulator, Thatcher – a truly modern communicator, Blair – a creation of the media. The story of their portraits is the story of Britain.