Would Churchill's depression disqualify him as PM today?

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1. Churchill's Chartwell haven

For many people Winston Churchill was the greatest prime minister of all time, yet he was often deeply troubled. He lived with bouts of depression throughout his life.

Churchill's beloved home, Chartwell in Kent, was a haven. He considered a day away from Chartwell as a day wasted. Here he learned to keep his demons at bay. He was perpetually on the go, writing books, entertaining friends and bricklaying.

Churchill was brilliant in so many ways, and his depression did not prevent him summoning up the energy and courage he needed to lead the country against Nazism. He was the perfect man for the moment, but would he fit the modern world?

2. Churchill on the couch

Churchill once said of himself: 'We are all worms, but I do believe that I am a glow-worm.' To this day his complex character has fascinated historians and academics - some of whom have tried to analyse and label him.

'Churchill received remarkably little affection or support from either parent. If a child has little inner conviction of his own value, he will be drawn to seek the recognition and acclaim which accrue from external achievement.' Dr Anthony Storr.

'Bullets are not worth considering. Besides, I am so conceited I do not believe the gods would create so potent a being as myself for so prosaic an ending.' Churchill, writing as a lieutenant in the cavalry, 1897.

'We have a picture of a man forcing himself to go against his inner nature: A man who was neither naturally strong, nor naturally particularly courageous, but who made himself both – the product of deliberate decision and will.' Dr Anthony Storr.

'I can look very fierce when I want to.' Winston Churchill (image shows Churchill in a group of Boer War correspondents in South Africa, 1900).

'He suffered from periods of decompression. He loved nothing more than to be in the thick of things, and struggled with the removal of power and activity. Yet he showed an amazing ability to bounce back.' Allen Packwood, Churchill Archives Centre.

'Churchill was never happy unless fully occupied, asleep or holding the floor. It is impossible to imagine him to be cosily relaxed. He had to be perpetually active or else he relapsed into dark moments.' Dr Anthony Storr.

'Churchill frequently stayed up all night. He could not always wait until breakfast to read the papers, but would send for them during the night, as soon as they came off the press. For most manics time is not to be wasted.' Dr Ronald Fieve.

'It is the difficulty of disposing of hostility which drives some depressives to seek out opponents in the external world. Fighting enemies held a strong emotional appeal, it was a release which gave him enormous vitality.' Dr Anthony Storr.

'I would guess a retrospective diagnosis of Churchill as bipolar II – for Lincoln, Roosevelt and Churchill I am proposing the term bipolar IIB due to the extraordinary and beneficial contributions to society they’ve made.' Dr Ronald Fieve.

'Churchill had a secret syllogism in his head: Britain = greatest empire on earth, Churchill = greatest man in British Empire, therefore Churchill = greatest man on earth.' Boris Johnson MP.

3. Living with the black dog

Churchill called his depression 'the black dog'.

It was a familiar visitor to friends and family. His daughter Sarah wrote: 'Despite his eulogies, accolades and honours, Winston still had a void in his heart, in the heart of his being, which no achievement or honour could completely fulfill.'

His good friend Lord Beaverbrook said Churchill was always either 'at the top of the wheel of confidence or at the bottom of an intense depression.'

4. Bricks, beautiful women and a budgie

Churchill found joy, and an escape from dark thoughts, in many outlets.

Painting was a great solace. He wrote: ‘I must say I like bright colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.' His creativity also had a practical outlet – he loved bricklaying and built many walls at Chartwell.

Churchill enjoyed watching films in his private home cinema. Vivien Leigh was a great favourite, and when she visited Chartwell he was mesmerised by her beauty.

Animals were also a source of joy. Rufus the dog, Toby the budgerigar and Jock the ginger cat were beloved companions.

There was livestock at Chartwell too, but it wasn't a working farm – Churchill believed that an animal could never be slaughtered after you had wished it good morning.

He once said: 'I am very fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, but pigs treat us as equals.'

5. A leader for today?

Winston Churchill led Britain to victory over the Nazis against all the odds.

He courageously conquered Hitler and his own personal demons.

But how would we view Churchill today? Would his bouts of depression be a stumbling block in the public mind? Not to mention his flamboyant behaviour, his gambling, his love of fine food and alcohol at a time of austerity.

A man like Churchill would send the spin doctors into a spin, but perhaps we would like our politicians to have more character and to be more open about their failings.

In her darkest hour Britain needed a prophet, a heroic visionary, a man who could dream of victory when all seemed lost. Winston Churchill was that man, but would we want him back?

6. Cast your vote

Would you want Churchill back in power today?