There was no welfare state, and people had to rely mainly on the Poor Law – that was all the state provided. It was very degrading, very humiliating. And there was a means test for receiving poor relief.
In politics, guts is all.
And that had a powerful appeal, particularly to those who had been denied the choice to stay on at school, to go to university, to be something else, other than going down the pit.
And that will increasingly dawn on people. The demand for controlling the commanding heights will grow.
And what always struck me about that war period was how even Churchill had to talk socialism to keep up people’s morale.
Another example of that was that even during the economic problems of the 1945 government, we managed to carry out other aspects of our policy and other ideals. Through the establishment of national parks, for instance.
Britain in the 1970s was undoubtedly an economic mess because of the oil price explosion.
He described how, as a boy of 14, his dad had been down the mining pit, his uncle had been down the pit, his brother had been down the pit, and of course he would go down the pit.
I remember a big meeting with the hosiery trade in Harold’s ministerial room.
I remember people who’d had a lot of hardship during the war. They’d thought we’d won.
If you’ve got unemployment, low pay, that was just too bad. But that was the system. That was the sort of economy and philosophy against which I was fighting in the 1930s.
It is true that they paid much more attention to the trade unions because the trade unions were after all speaking for the rights and conditions of working men and women in their employment.
It might have been offset for us if the revenue from our own oil and natural gas that was just developing had been available to the Labor Government, but the oil revenues were just coming in when Labor fell in ’79.
It was very much a cry for democratic control at that time. Above all, breaking the accomplished power of a few people to rule the lives of everybody else.
That was not what men and women fought for during the war.
Then, with lots of people doing that without ever looking over their shoulders to see how they were affecting anybody else, it couldn’t work, and it didn’t work, and it just came to a standstill.
Those were the ideals that drove us to nationalization of the health service.
What we set out to do was to ensure that this system of fair shares and the planning and controls continued after the war, and when we won, that’s what we did.
Why not pool your resources? And so we broke into the concept of the sacredness of private property.
You see, another reason for nationalization was that private ownership meant fragmentation.