Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Monday, 29 August 2011
War & Peace, Politics and Nationalisation
After all the dancing in the streets, the children’s’ Victory parties, the self congratulation, bonhomie and good will at the end of the World War 2, the real hate began. Basically this took two forms: politics at home and statesmanship abroad. Winston Churchill had delivered victory to the people and on Election Day 1945, the war was still being fought in Japan. So the voters delivered defeat for his Conservatives for getting us into the mess in the first place. It was my first awareness of a general election and I naturally assumed that as we took the Daily Mirror each day that my parents would vote Labour. Not so. We all trooped up to the polling booth as a family. I was only nine at the time and I preferred the colour red of Labour to that of blue for Conservative. I was most disappointed to hear Mum whisper that she had voted Conservative and I guess Dad did too. He always bought the Daily Express and that made him a bit suspect in any case, because the editorial used to be rather patriotic and criticise scathingly any suggested change to the established order, supporting the maintenance of the Empire and the continuation of fox hunting. But the paper did have Rupert Bear as a comic strip and so much of the former was therefore forgivable by a nine year old. I realised later that having two different political views to consider did me no harm at all. I could always listen to the other person’s point of view before arguing with them!
It was wonderful to experience Clement Attlee’s dynamic government in action doing so much for the country. All at once, there was the nationalisation of the transport particularly the Railways, the nationalisation of the Steel Industry, the Coal industry, the Docks, the establishment of a National Health Service, and the reform of the Education System. All this was achieved when the country was just about bankrupt from the war.
Then slowly the former Empire was given more independence, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and then a gaggle of African States were given the right to speak for themselves. It was a marvelous and stirring time to be living in. But clearly something was wrong, we still had food rationing right until the 1950’s, our car industry produced cars for export but few for home consumption and then we had an enormous debt to our allies the Americans who wanted to be paid or at least compensated for their contribution to the war.
So the miserable child became a cynic. Now of course, a child no more, I am just a miserable cynic.
Note: This piece of nonsense was written many years ago and discovering it I thought it deserved an airing.