October 17, 2022

What would Clem do?

Looking back to the future? Hope from despair?

What would Clem do?
Photo by Nick Fewings / Unsplash
Portrait of CLEMENT ATTLEE by GEORGE HARCOURT 1946 public domain picture

Part One

I havent wrote much. Don't know why. Things have got in the way I suppose. Life the universe and everything?

A friend of mine Bob shared an excellent piece of writing with me. It gave me some inspiration, thank you Bob.

So we move from an Elizabethan age to what? Uncertainty and fear is gripping, not just the people of the United Kingdom, but the entire world. Our world of confidence, security at the end of the Cold War, has been shattered, by a man who is unpredictable and utterly dangerous. We fought a war on terror, in dusty faraway lands, and for what? Blair's wars. Perhaps we took our eye off the ball. Instead of asymmetrical warfare we are now fighting nation state terrorism, and are having to rapidly adjust our means of protecting our nation state. Even twenty years ago it was considered totally unlikely for an all out war to erupt in Europe. Sadly the balance of power theorists have been proved utterly wrong in their thinking. On the home front the UK seems to be hell bent on disuniting, and it seems probable that the lights will go out this winter. We have crashed back to the 1970s and life for many will be nasty brutish and short.

I studied political theory, and was interested in the post war period. The United Kingdom was destroyed. The country was pretty much bankrupt. It had to face economic and social change and it had to divest itself of an Empire. But amongst all of the chaos and tragedy of peacetime Europe there was talk of a new Britian, there was talk of a new Elizabethan age, the torch of freedom and hope had been lit, and slowly but surely things would improve for the many and not the few. In the UK we, for the first time had a national health service, and a large program of council housing was instigated to house people that either lived in slum conditions, or bomb damaged cities. Britain naively decided under the leadership of Clement Attlee to develop it's own atomic bomb. The argument was that by having the bomb Britain would not send a future Foreign Secretary naked into the negotiating chamber. The people were told that its nuclear power industry was there to provide electricity that would be too cheap to meter, wheras in reality the Magnox power stations were built to provide plutonium to build nuclear weapons. To those in 'the know' it was an open 'dirty secret'. Maybe the price of out nuclear security was a dangerous one? However Clement Attlee did some good things too. It is important to realise that and look back at the visionary Labour government after the Second World war with renewed study.

The death of Queen Elizabeth the Second was an inevitable shock to the people of the United Kingdom, in many ways she was a head of state that provided certainty and consistency. She was a woman the likes of which we will probably never see again. Her son, King Charles the Third, is an unknown quantity. Not enought is known about our new King. Queen Elizabeth was a stabilising influence in a relatively unpredictable and fractious country. Now it could be a real possibility that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland might dissolve, as it seems more likely that the Scots will want more than devolution in its current form. True independence may become a necessity.

It is a sad fact that our country has thrown away the good things that were created after the Second World War and we need to ask again what would Clem do?