Thursday, 29 September 2016
Where are you Clem?
I've been reading Tristram Hunt's review of a book 'Citizen Clem' about Clement Attlee the great post war prime Minister, . What a difference between his understanding of life and that of the man we have suffered these past few years. Clem Attlee came from a prosperous background, discovered the poverty and generosity among London's East End and became a 'socialist,' though not of a Marxist kind. His socialism was my kind of socialism, not ideological but based on need and sharing the wealth where need existed. An idea rarely found in politics today.
“Instead of the exploitation of the mass of the people in the interests of a small rich class,” he was declaring by 1922, “I demand the organisation of the country in the interests of all as a co-operative commonwealth in which land and capital will be owned by the nation and used for the benefit of the country.”
Clem was to continue this opinion for the rest of his life.
The failure in the Labour Party enabled him to rise to the party leadership in 1935, continual infighting and the second world war meant he remained leader for over twenty years! The war changed everything and the Labour Party and the nation as a whole intended to ensure rapid social change missed in 1918 would not be missed in 1945.
Attlee's intention was clear:-
“by directing the energies of the nation into the production of necessities for life, and not merely into the production of luxuries or necessities for profit. As the nation was organised for war and death, so it can be organised for peace and life.”
“Fundamental things—central banking, transport, fuel and power—must be taken over by the nation as a basis on which the rest of the re-organisation of the country would depend.”
Such ideas are excellent ideas and would be the way the nation was structured today had I been King. Nothing wrong with private profit, nothing wrong with enterprise and hard work, all these things the 1945 government encouraged, what is wrong is the privatisation of such things for personal profit at the nations expense.
Gas, electric, water, bus and rail, hospitals and post deliveries all should be run under central organisation. The service element should come before profit. This way economy can thrive while people can feel secure. Provision may be paid for but only with profits returning to the people not individuals and large monolithic companies, usually overseas. People first then profit. Such policies worked during the 50's and only incompetence and greed got in the way. Human failings always disturb peaceful co-existence.
There is no chance in our right wing greed led governments today for anything caring or service element to thrive today. Money speaks at all levels and caring for others has gone for ever. We need Clem Attlee more than we realise today.