1990s >> 1999 >> no-1144-december-1999

50 Years Ago: Bigger Armaments Under Labour Government

In the course of an explanation why taxation is much larger than before the war, Mr Douglas Jay, MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, recently repudiated the view that it is solely due to expenditure on social services. He was speaking to the Westminster Savings Committee, and went on to tell them of another reason:-

“Equally important is the growth in defence expenditure (£750 million to-day, compared with £200 million before the war), and also in debt interest due to the war” (Daily Express, 4.10.49).

Mr Jay was seemingly content with his explanation but he should now answer the question “What has happened to the Labour Party’s promises that when they came to power they would know how to settle international problems peacefully and drastically cut down the Armed Forces?”

Instead they have to accept responsibility for peacetime conscription—opposition to which is now left to Tories and Liberals—and for maintaining the Armed Forces at far greater strength than in 1939. The number now is 765,000, just over twice as many as before the war.

One consequence of the Labour Party being responsible for running capitalism and keeping its Armed Forces up to standard is that that Party moved far away from the vague pacifist sentiment of the nineteen twenties. When recently the Assistant General Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union published in the Union journal an article appealing to young members to consider joining the Auxiliary Forces he made the comment below:-

“When I first became an officer of this union, an article on the Armed Forces of the Crown (unless it had been the purpose of the writer to condemn them as the tools of outworn imperialism, deplore their existence and dissuade young men from having anything to do with them) would have been unthinkable in the Record” (Record, September, 1949).

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