Socialist Britain, Alexander Robert Ford Segerdal, 1 Dec 1995

On September 2, 1945, World War II ended. Yet, on the economic front, Britain had little cause for celebration. Six years of war had left the country’s productive capacity in a state of near collapse. In a general election earlier that year, the majority of Britain’s so-called working class shattered the election hopes of Winston Churchill and his Conservative Party and produced a landslide victory for Britain’s Labour Party under its leader, Clement Atlee. When the final results came in, voters gave the Labour Party a majority of 145 seats over all other parties. Churchill, still flourishing his famous cigar, drove to Buckingham Palace and offered the resignation of his government to the King. Why did the British people embrace socialism in such vast numbers? Why, for almost the next 30 years did they continue to vacillate between socialist and conservative administrations, albeit lukewarm conservatives who proved themselves incapable of breaking the power of the trade unions and the bureaucracy of Britain’s cradle-to-grave welfare state? As one who worked in three widely differing occupations during this time period, two of which—coal mining and dentistry—became the targets of socialist doctrine by virtue of being nationalized, I should like to offer some insight into these questions. The new socialist government faced many critical tasks, and central to addressing these tasks was the doctrine of public ownership. Hence, the Labour Government’s program was nationalization on a massive scale: hospitals, medical, and dental professions, the Bank of England, gas and electricity, iron and steel, road haulage, railroads, civil aviation, Cable & Wireless and, at the top of the list, Britain’s coal mining industry. Coal production was the key to economic and industrial recovery. Therefore, as an alternative to conscription in the armed forces, young men had the choice of serving their country for two years by enlisting as coal miners. I decided to do just that. We were known as “Bevin Boys,” named after the Minister of Labor and National Service, Ernest Bevin.

Read the rest of the article at The Freeman.

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