Sunday, 13 May 2012

The only Labour Government which did no harm


The sole achievements of the first Labour Government were the Lido in the Serpentine and the statue of Edith Cavell, near Trafalgar Square, with its inscription 'Patriotism is Not Enough'. It was the only Labour Government to do no harm.

Very few governments do no harm and very few Labour governments did much good. Did Labour have any major achievement which significantly improved England in the years they governed? Very little to set against the  long list of mistakes but the NHS is an important achievement.  Even though I now wonder if the NHS is not an anachronism when most working people pay income tax - the working classes did not pay income tax when the NHS was founded - and when most people no longer identify themselves as working class but middle class. Compulsory insurance seems to work well in Europe though not in the USA where the pharmaceutical companies make their huge profits from patients in very expensive insurance schemes.  The NHS has kept doctors' salaries down which is a great thing for they would otherwise be very high indeed and the public would be the loser.

The other acceptable faces of socialism are  cheap public transport in London thanks to Red Ken and the town and country planning laws. Most important of all the great lift to the self-confidence of working class people when Labour won its first majority in 1945. 

The Liberal Party was much more radical than Labour in 1914 (they wanted to fight the 1915 election, had war not broken out, on land nationalisation) and in the 1930s when Lloyd George wanted Keynesian pump priming. They would have served the progressive cause much better and been more intelligent. But the Liberals were  - and the Liberal Democrats are - a middle class party and election wins by them would not have raised the standing of the workers.

What is for sure is that the Labour Party turned out to be the worst enemy the working class ever had, especially working class men. They took away the grammar schools that offered a way for clever working class children like me to get a decent education and in the end they even stopped the working man and woman enjoying a cigarette in the pub. Now we no longer have a working class, as far at least as the press is concerned, but a 'white working class' of whom the Left is secretly frightened in case they display racist, sexist, homophobic or other unacceptable tendencies. Though I suspect most of the white working class has been re-educated or neutered like people of all classes. 

The Left need not worry. They have won.

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