May 26th, 2009

breaking bad

Attlee

There is some post I need to make, and it is important, and yet my ability is not up to the job. I know the Conservatives are going to win the next election, and furthermore there was always 'going to be' an election that the Tories would win. In 1997, I knew that that would happen, I can remember knowing it even as we felt the worst was over: that it would come back again. And every vote for a mainstream party is always a compromise, because my beliefs are different from the majority of British people, so parties which emerge to meet those beliefs will always be an uncomfortable fit for me.

A post today (by peake, linked by nwhyte) has helped me to frame some part of what I want to say. I think the best approach is to keep trying, and what I mean might come through in several posts, over the next few months, if that's how long it is to an election.

By the Second World War the call for planning was practically a cacophony: planning in education (the Butler Act), planning in social services (the Beveridge report), planning in housing. Attlee latched on to this, the 1945 Labour manifesto was virtually a rehash of every one of these demands for central planning in every aspect of life...
Well planning produced a lot of good: the Health Service is the great legacy of that age ... But it was still exactly the same centralising, controlling urge that characterised the Blair government. It was the control and planning of every aspect of daily life that led the post-war government not only to retain but actually to extend rationing, for instance. And if housing plans led (rather too slowly) to the eradication of slums that slum clearance programmes of the 30s had long since started, they were replaced with buildings (high rises, for example) that fit the clean and simple plans of the planners but had absolutely nothing to do with how people actually wanted to live.

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