Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thirty years on

Timothy Garton Ash writes about Harold Wilson's resignation today in the Guardian. I recommend it especially to anyone nostalgic for 'old Labour' or for Britain in the 1970s. "Britain was in much worse shape than it is today. "The past 12 years," wrote the Times on the occasion of Wilson's departure, "have been a period of palpable decline for the United Kingdom: absolute decline in respect of external relations and relative decline in respect of living standards." Later that year, the sterling crisis became so acute that the British government had to go begging to the IMF for a stand-by facility. The previous year, inflation had exceeded 24% and the Wall Street Journal ran the headline "Goodbye Great Britain" .... Britain was "the sick man of Europe"."

"So when the media have finally claimed Blair's scalp .... perhaps we can see ourselves for what we are: a not too badly governed, reasonably prosperous, moderately secure, not too bitterly divided society, facing all the problems of a dangerous world .... but facing them with a degree of confidence unimaginable 30 years ago."

Nicely put - sorry about this lazy cut-and-paste blog but the sun's shinning, there's a test match on the wireless (too mean to get Sky TV) and nothing much in the news....


At 00:06, Blogger skipper said...

I quite enjoyed the article though as I understand it, harold resigned because he realised he had early stage Alzheimers.
Know what you mean about the sun- I've been out listening to the cricket but then rushing inside when something happened. I have invested in Sky which I think is an extravagance but seeing cricket in the winter is survival strategy woirht paying a biut extra for.

At 16:20, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Hello again Skipper - Garton Ash rather dismissed the ill health theories but we’ll never know. Perhaps it was intimations of the trouble ahead with industrial relations or that he was fed up with the ‘rogue elements’ in the secret services who, it turns out, really were out to get him; it wasn’t just his paranoia.

Anyway, going early did wonders for his reputation. He wasn’t a particularly good PM and the Open University is probably his greatest legacy (and not a bad one) but, like Attlee, he seems to be thought of very well be some present malcontent romantics in the Labour Party.

I sometimes wonder what people would now think of President Kennedy had he not been shot. Would his ‘golden era’ be remembered or would he be carrying the can for Vietnam perhaps? We need an infinite number of parallel universes in which to test out such theories!


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