Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

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.


This is the type of middle-class demi-libertarianism that I am seeing all the time now. Rationing was a means to ensure that limited food and fuel supplies were distributed amongst the whole population, so that this country survived a series of harsh winters and very tough times. Without rationing, all the meat and milk would have gone to middle and upper class people, and the slums would have been full of rickets like they were in the Victorian times. When I was a child, walking around Birmingham, lots and lots of old ladies had the shrivelled bow legs of rickets. You don't see that nowadays.

Which is worse - rationing or mass deformity - because that was the choice. I saw it with my own eyes. The horror of slum clearance, which peake decries, meant I was born in this house and not the central Birmingham slum that my father was born in. It was centralised planning forcing schools and Universities to open their doors to people like us that allowed my family to participate fully in society at the level of our abilities.

It's easy, if you are a person who can afford milk, to decry rationing which means you have to share that milk with a bunch of snotty-nosed ungrateful brats. It's easy to complain about a house building programme if you have a nice middle class house in a nice suburb. It's easy to say that schools should be free of control, if you aren't the type of person who would be excluded.

And that's what I want to make people see - Churchill may have been a charming charismatic guy, but if we hadn't had horrid controlling Attlee, then we would still have rickets and squalor, and I would never have had more than a basic education.
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