50 Years Ago: Mr. Bevan and the Bombs
The Daily Sketch (3/12/55) reported a BBC Television interview with Mr. Aneurin Bevan the previous evening in which he was asked what he would do about the H and A bombs if he became Prime Minister. According to the report he replied that he would abolish the H bomb but keep the A bomb. As he
was a member of the Labour Government that made the A bomb any other reply about that weapon would have needed some explanation, but the reason he gave for regarding the H and A bombs as different propositions was singularly unconvincing.
“Pressed to express the difference, he said the differences of quantity became differences of quality. ‘It’s like comparing drowning in a bath with drowning in an ocean,’ he said.” – (Daily Sketch, 3/12/55.) We would have supposed that both ways of drowning led to the victims being equally dead. Mr. Bevan went on to say that he did not think that the H bomb “either postpones war or brings it nearer”. In this he differs from his associate, Mr. Richard Crossman, Labour MP for East Coventry (who, it is rumoured, has now moved away from the Bevanite group). Writing in the Daily Mirror (25/11/55) Mr. Crossman claimed that with both sides having the bomb the Powers dare not go to war.
“We are at peace today because no Great Power can make war without automatically blowing itself to pieces.” Mr. Crossman is, therefore, in favour of keeping the H bomb as well as the A bomb. In the meantime the Manchester Guardian reports (7/11/55) that the American Government has given urgent instructions to the American military authorities “to widen research into germ and gas warfare, and warfare by the use of radio-active particles.” It would appear from this that the American Government does not accept Mr. Crossman’s view that large-scale war between the big Powers must either be with the use of the H bomb or not at all. They evidently envisage other possibilities.
(from “Notes by the Way” by H., Socialist Standard, January 1956)