Posts Tagged ‘Clement Attlee’

If Labour is to win the next election, we must answer the big questions that Tony Blair posed over a decade ago

14/06/2017, 06:35:27 PM

by Tom Clement

As good as our result was last week, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we did not win. Earning the trust of 41% of the population is a magnificent achievement but it still leaves us sixty seats short of being even the largest party. Our choice now is to either complain about the unfairness of the voting system; or we can equip ourselves to win an election.

And to do this, we must claim the future.

It is the only way we win. In 1945, Atlee realised the need to win the peace following the Second World War and led our most transformative government so far. Wilson won in 1964 after embracing the ‘white heat’ of the technological revolution and liberalise our country as a result. And through facing the Millennium, Blair was able to win in 1997 and deliver the longest period of Labour government to date.

So how do we do it today?

We must face the future and embrace the difficult questions that we have avoided for so long. In fact, if you go back to Tony Blair’s final conference speech as leader, he poses some clear questions that we have still yet to answer.

The question today is … how we reconcile openness to the rich possibilities of globalisation, with security in the face of its threats.”

We live in uncertain times. The recent election result only serves to highlight that. With Brexit, Trump and the chaos in Downing Street, it is impossible to predict what will happen over the next five years.

But that doesn’t mean that we have no control over it. Quite the opposite. The future is very much in our hands but only if we reach out and embrace it.

Our test, put simply, is Brexit. It is no good to just wait for the Tories to make a bad deal and then complain about it afterwards.

We have to lead. We have to be bold about our decisions now and fill the vacuum that Theresa May’s insipid leadership has left.

Corbyn should announce the formation of a cross-Party convention to decide our negotiating strategy for Brexit and invite all parties to it. We should force the debate to be about priorities, not process. We should make clear how a Labour Brexit would be different to a Tory Brexit and we should shame them into sharing their priorities.

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A moderate proposal to respond to working class concerns in Labour heartlands

29/09/2016, 05:28:18 PM

by Dean Quick

Few things signal what has gone wrong with the Labour party than its MPs voting time and again for policies that they know their working class supporters detest but which are celebrated by professional liberals who would never dream of renting a council house but are the first to condemn those who want to exercise their right to buy.

It is time that Labour’s moderates broke with this metropolitan elitism and actually started listening to their voters. No more of the politics of endless repetition of facts and figures which comes across to so many working class voters as just more patronising prattle from the folks who live at the ends of houses with drive-ways.

One does not have to agree with Michael Gove on everything to acknowledge that he hit the nail on the head when he said the people of this country have had enough of experts: for ordinary voters their everyday experience trumps any facts, research or evidence.

So it is time Labour brought back capital punishment.

After all, the Attlee government executed people – even innocent people like Timothy Evans. If such judicial killing was good enough for Clem then it is about time we returned to the Spirit of 45 and got the gallows going.

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Labour has a leadership vacancy but no takers

15/07/2016, 06:53:13 PM

by Robin Thorpe

The Labour party is always at its best when it is seen as a modernising force; a movement that has the capability to tangibly improve the lives of people across the UK. This was true for Prime Ministers Atlee, Wilson and Blair. This is perhaps why the current crop of Labour MPs sees Corbyn, a representative of a historical aspect of Labour, as the problem rather than the solution. But the complete lack of any ideas from the challengers, let alone principles, means that any coup was doomed to fail before it had begun.

The launch of Angela Eagle’s leadership challenge typified the earnest but empty hand-wringing that is all the vast majority of the PLP seemingly have to offer the country. The speech was full of platitudes and expressions of dismay over Corbyn’s lack of leadership, but utterly devoid of any vision for a brighter future or strategy of how to achieve this. Her argument is that she is better than Jeremy because Jeremy failed.

Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. Corbyn has accomplished this to some extent with the Labour membership and the leaders of the trade unions. He clearly hasn’t with the PLP and opinion polls suggest that he has failed to influence the wider electorate. Angela Eagle has set out her challenge for the leadership by offering a more cohesive party. But leadership is not about better management; it is about providing direction. Defining what an organisation is about and where it will take its stakeholders.

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Gough Whitlam: Australia’s Attlee

23/10/2014, 09:51:32 AM

by David Ward

Australia mourns the passing of one of its Prime Ministers this week, with the death of Gough Whitlam. Chiefly remembered in Britain for the 1975 constitutional crisis, he was an iconic figure not just for the Australian Labor Party but for the nation itself. A radical proponent of change, passionate about culture, and with a ready wit in parliament. One old right winger chided him “I am a Country member”, “I remember” Whitlam shot back.

The wartime Labor administration of John Curtice had perhaps proved the ALP capable of governing, but with 23 unbroken years of rule by the centre right Liberal-Country coalition Gough’s election was a defining moment in Australian left wing politics. He was in many ways Australia’s Attlee: elected with a nationwide sense of optimism and of the possible. In three years he changed the face of a nation and his achievements stand on their own merit.

In foreign affairs the end of conscription for Vietnam and release of prisoners who had refused to fight was a huge contemporary issue, which formed part of his 1969 campaign. He also opened relations with China, a step towards an independent foreign policy and away from one of Empire and Commonwealth. Made, of course, against the backdrop of UK entry to the EEC in 1973.

But it was in domestic politics he effected most change. Free higher education opened a new future for many. Medicare took the first steps towards comprehensive free healthcare in Australia. Motorways were built between state capitals for the first time and rail links vastly improved.

Whitlam understood the power of culture to forge a nation and its identity. An Australian version of Britain’s Arts Council, the Australia Council, was made a statutory body with great reserves of funding to end the migration of talented creatives to the UK or US. It allowed an artistic renaissance for Australia, complemented by his commissioning of the country’s national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. The playing of which he attached as a condition to being the first PM to attend an Australian ‘soccer’ match.

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Labour history uncut: “And a mouse shall lead them”

11/03/2014, 10:21:26 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

In 1935 Labour hit on a new idea: a try-before-you-buy scheme for the leadership.

Just days before the November general election, Clement Attlee had been elected interim boss. Because nothing says “we’re ready to lead the country,” than having a temp at the helm.

The electorate agreed. With a disappointing 154 seats secured, it looked like Clement Attlee had no hope of going temp to perm and was about to become another victim of Britain’s insecure labour market.

Especially as now there was rather more choice on offer. The election, though uninspiring overall, had seen the return of several leading Labour politicians to the Commons, including Herbert Morrison, Hugh Dalton and John Clynes.

These new options, combined with over 100 more MPs to do the choosing, meant a change at the top seemed imminent when, barely a week after the national poll, the leadership election beckoned.

After some early jockeying for position and switches of allegiance in the manner of the children’s gameshow Runaround, the field of applicants was winnowed down to three.

Herbert Morrison, Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood remained, the last two of whom had also contested the leadership one month earlier.

Of the three, Morrison was the early favourite. He was the only one on the national executive in his own right, he had a track record of electoral success, and his dad was a policeman, so he could wheel his bike wherever in Westminster he wanted.

Morrison was on the right of the party, making him a right Herbert

Morrison was on the right of the party, making him a right Herbert

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Labour history uncut: The Red Indian’s bomb fails to explode

25/02/2014, 07:39:47 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

On the 23rd of October, Stanley Baldwin fired the starting pistol for the 1935 general election.

It was just two weeks since Clement Attlee had become temporary leader. Temporary because, although George Lansbury had resigned, the split over who should lead the party remained unresolved.

Not ideal preparation for battle. But as the party readied itself for a poll on the 14th November, there was still hope for things to improve for Labour in parliament. After all, given the disaster of the 1931 election, it would have taken a Katie Hopkinsesque effort to become any less popular.

But Labour dreamed big. Hugh Dalton noted in his diary an expectation of a rise from 52 seats to 240. Others dreamed bigger –an actual Labour majority.

But in real life, not all dreams come true. If they did, we’d be too busy financing the transformation of Crystal Palace into south London’s Barcelona to write this.

A National government poster comes out unexpectedly in favour of skin cancer for children

A National government poster comes out unexpectedly in favour of skin cancer for children

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Labour history uncut: Bye bye ILP

13/10/2013, 05:23:31 PM

by Peter Goddard and Atul Hatwal

After the October 1931 election, the Labour party survivors surveyed the smoking battlefield and counted the casualties.

Labour in Parliament had been almost entirely wiped out. Every member of the cabinet was gone, apart from the old stager George Lansbury and a young chap called Clement Attlee.

The men who had founded the Labour party had been removed wholesale from the leadership of the movement. And just for good measure, most of their most immediate successors had been culled too.

So, thanks to his unique qualification of ‘still being there’, 72 year old George Lansbury, seemed the natural, choice to take up the reins of leadership.

George Lansbury looks forward to having loads of space in the PLP common room

So imagine his surprise when, in a mark of the deep suspicion the party harboured for the emotional Lansbury, Arthur Henderson was elected unopposed as Labour leader despite not even being an MP.

Lansbury, for his part, became PLP chairman.

In practice however, the parliamentary platform meant the elderly Lansbury increasingly assumed the role of de facto leader over the even more elderly Henderson. This was partly because Henderson himself was often abroad, becoming more and more pre-occupied with international disarmament and the idea that Socialism wouldn’t be much use if Europe had been bombed to a charred ruin first.

More significantly for the party’s future was the appointment of Clement Attlee as Lansbury’s deputy chair in parliament.

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