Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Zenith of Labour Party rule. (End of series)

In 1945, just three weeks after V.E. (Victory in Europe) Day, the Labour Party left the war time coalition government, this necessitating a General Election.

The swing to Labour was unprecedented, and the party then held a majority of 146 seats in the House of Commons.

Winston Churchill was rejected by the electorate. He was seen as a great War time leader, but as a man who was ill-fitted to lead a post war nation.

(Working people had not forgotten that before the War, Churchill had always opposed their best interests. They saw also through his foolish statement that if Labour were elected it would need a “Gestapo” to enforce democratic socialism.)

Clement Atlee (deputy Prime Minister in the coalition government) became Prime Minister.

(Many historians suggest that he was shocked and surprised to find himself in this role).

The Labour Government enacted a great programme of reform which became the norm in British political and national life until the election of 1979 when Margaret Thatcher became Premier.

LABOUR 1945-50 succeeded in the following areas:

1. Public ownership of fuel and power generation and delivery (gas and electricity); and of transportation within the United Kingdom (railways, buses, freight).

2. A massive program of public housing projects.

3. An expansion of free public education.

4. The creation of a National Health system.

5. The creation of “cradle to grave” public welfare/social security.

“Maggie” Thatcher “undid” most of this.

Now I write more personally.

Public ownership of the means of production (coal, gas, electricity) was the norm as I grew up. We received electricity from the South Western Electricity Board; gas from the South Western Gas Board; and we knew that coal was mined under the National Coal Board.

The railways were run by “British Railways”, the buses by a publicly owned Corporation, and road freight was transported via “British Road Services”.

These enterprises may not have been the most efficient, and they were most certainly overlaid with bureaucracy, but I am not too certain that their “privatised” (the Maggie Thatcher way) successors have provided better services.

Since my parents were buying their own home I was not affected by the construction of public housing.

I was and am a direct beneficiary of Labour’s expansion of free public education; of a national health service, and of public welfare/social security.


Mum and Dad weaned me with their heroes of 1945-1950.

They were all males (that’s how it was “back then”).

The heroes are mine too. Men such as Clement Atlee, Herbert Morrison, Sir Stafford Cripps, Ernie Bevin ( a Bristol boy), Manny Shinwell, Hugh Gaitskell, and the very great Aneurin (“Nye”) Bevan.

(Do feel free to do your own Google searches on these fine men.)

And read, if you will, the Labour Party manifesto - set forth when I was but one year old.


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