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50 Years ago: Party Politics

In the B.B.C.'s "Party Political Broadcast" series the listener has been honoured recently with contributions from Mr. Churchill and Mr. Attlee. Both speeches were printed in The Listener (22/3/51 and 5/4/51) which is the source of the quotations used in this article.

Mr. Churchill commenced in the best tradition by praising Mr. Bevin who had just resigned the Foreign Secretaryship, modestly interposing: "Although I differed from him in his handling of many questions." He then got under way in the best Churchillian manner: "My friends, our country is in a position of danger and perplexity." It appears that at home we are divided, the re-armament programme is being muddled, to nationalize steel at this time "is playing party politics with a vengeance," and Britain is not playing her full part in leading the world on the road to peace, and so on. In fact all those things one would expect from a Leader of the Opposition who takes from "Tin Pan Alley" his theme tune "Things aint what they used to be." Mr. Attlee, of course, has the same theme; it is only a question of different emphasis. He denies the criticisms of Churchill and says: "the Opposition continue their usual tactics of exaggerating all the difficulties of the age we live in and attributing most of them to the Government." Of Churchill he says, "He is out to get back to power by hook or by crook. During the last few months he has been resorting to various political tricks in order to try to defeat or harass the Government."

There may be an election in the near future. The political pollsters whom Mr. Attlee dislikes, forecast that the Conservatives would romp home if an election took place now.

That the problems of today tend to make one forget the problems of yesteryear cannot be denied. But anybody who remembers, or has read, the records of Conservative governments in the past, can only come to the conclusion that such an action must be a negative one based on the maxim "they can't be any worse than the present lot."

(From an article by Guy, Socialist Standard, June 1951)