50 Years Ago: Has Bevan Sold the Pass?

A lot of people who have for years worshipped Aneurin Bevan have now turned against their hero because of his support for the H-Bomb at the Labour Party Conference. Bevan says that he is as strongly against the bomb as ever he was and that his speech and vote at Brighton (decided on “after a lot of agonising thinking”), were only designed to find “the most effective way of getting the damned thing destroyed” : but this is a bit too subtle for those who have passionately believed that Bevan was hundred per cent, against the bomb and now find that he isn’t.

But actually the disgruntled Bevanites have little ground for complaint for, as it happens, Bevan has changed his politics hardly at all. If any deception has been carried out it is their own self-deception; an obstinate refusal to take note of what Bevan has for years been saying and doing.

If a few of them are genuine pacifists who resolutely refuse to support armaments or war, they are fully entitled to be opposed to Bevan who supported World War II and the Korean War, and conscription and re-armament, but they cannot pretend that Bevan has deceived them about his record of war-supporting.

With others the revulsion of feeling may appear to be more soundly based, but again it will not stand examination. They take the view (like Bevan) that armaments are necessary and that war is sometimes unavoidable and must be supported no matter what the cost in death and destruction. They reject the Socialist view that war arises from capitalism and can only be got rid of by establishing Socialism. They can stomach it all, the millions of dead and maimed, the trench warfare, machine guns and artillery, the bombing raids, the napalm and even the A-Bomb— but the H-Bomb. No !

(front page article by H, Socialist Standard, November 1957)

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