Harold Trace, (Our Press Officer)
on meeting Attlee — keeping
a vow from 1946
The 2020 Durham miners’ association marched behind a banner of Clem Attlee as a symbolic action of how to restore Labour’s fortunes.
As well they might — he is our greatest Prime Minister. In 1931 Labour was reduced to 46 MPs
When Clem Attlee became leader. “To make its funeral oration said the pundits.” But by 1935 he improved the total to 154 and at the next General Election, in 1945 he led a Labour landslide. Our present total is 204.
Together with Churchill — they both had the same Surrey governess — they laid down Britains’ entry to a European Union to succeed our Empire. Two recent European conflicts were enough!
In 1946, by then an ex service Attlee undergraduate, I chaired a meeting at Liverpool University which he addressed. I had invited him on behalf of the university’s Socialist and Cosmopolitan Society. His reply, on the phone, ‘course I will, couple of hours? Thanks for the invitation’
Never has a statesman with such mountainous achievements dismissed them so modestly. I still glow at the memory.
He had come to set up The National Dock Labour Scheme. The men had been locked in ‘pens’ to fight each other for such work as was going. He had these cages destroyed and an ‘attendance’ basic pay introduced. Dignity replaced slavery and semi-starvation.
The Welfare State, including a National Health Service was his gift, lasting until the coming of Thatcher in 1979.
For we students, nothing was too good. Mostly ex forces, we were financially looked after for all courses. All that he asked of us, of all the learning disciplines, was that as ‘Attlee graduates’ we would in return, give some of our skills back, free to the community, when qualified. This was our vow, doctors, teachers, artists, — above all politicians. It is a way of life, long since.
He had millions of good quality pre-fabricated affordable homes built to replace the bombed chaos, slummy, unhealthy.
If like me, you were a language student, you followed 3 years study at home then an ‘exchange’ for a final year, no payment paid, just special knowledge to reach international friendliness.
In the First World War he was invalided out of diseased Gallipoli, then wounded on Flanders trenches.
An East End London MP, he made the wartime acquaintance of the northern working class as a major in the South Lancashire (Liverpool and Manchester) regiment.
Had he been heeded, his urgings might have avoided World War Two. We would with Russian alliance stopped the Axis powers in the Spanish Civil War.
Labour will study his practical principles and thrive again. His party ’inclination? ’right, not wrong, achievable.
I am fortunate to have spent a couple of hours with such a leader. Your ‘vow’ — to give back freely of your time and effort — becomes a civilised way of life in a dangerous world.
Clem lives on.
Spelthorne borough Council wants to release 53 hectares of green belt land in Spelthorne for development, which opens opens the floodgates for further green belt development in the future.
Spelthorne borough Council has rejected 29 urban brown field sites for development. Green belt land is cheaper; developers prefer it as it maximises profits without improving the affordability of housing.
WELL DONE LABOUR!
Council estate built
by Labour run Norwich council, wins Riba
Stirling prize for
Norwich's £17m scheme of 105 homes - a mix of 45 one-bedroom flats, 40 two-bedroom houses, three two-bedroom flats and five four-bedroom flats, is the first development of its sort ever to claim the prize.
The innovative £17m project was awarded the highest honour of the Royal Institute of British of Architects, becoming the first development of its sort ever to claim the prize. The homes, owned and managed by Norwich City Council, are rented out to people with a housing need.
Ever since the Tory government of the 1980s prevented councils from reinvesting funds from the sale of their council flats into building new housing, it had lacked the resources to do so. But, like a number of local authorities, Norwich found a way, using a mix of borrowing, funds from its housing revenue account.
They are not homes that fit into the murky class of “affordable”, or the multitude of “intermediate” tenures. This is proper social housing, rented from the council with secure tenancies at fixed rents. Not only that, it is some of the most energy-efficient housing ever built in the UK, meeting the exacting German passivhaus standards – which translates into a 70% reduction in fuel bills for tenants.
By contrast, compare Spelthorne’s Tory run councils feeble attempt to fulfil its “statutory obligations” to house the homeless, by planning to build a 27 bed hostel at the cost of around £6 million, and then handing it over to the Salvation Army to run!
Socialism is part of the 21st century's zeitgeist!
Only Labour can bring in a new Utopia?
Communism failed, neoliberalism, with the crash of the financial sector in 2008 failed. Capitalism in its present form will also fail, due to the fast rate of technical advancement.
In 1926 Henry Ford (Founder of Ford Motor Company) became the first to implement a five-day work week. He discovered that a shorter working week increased productivity, and workers with more leisure time were more likely to buy cars.
In the 1960 s Henry Ford’s grandson gave union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the companies automated factory, he jokingly asked, “Walter how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues.?” He quickly replies “Henry how are you going to get them to buy your cars?”
How things have moved on since then, we now have driverless cars and chess legend Garry Kasparov was beaten by a computer in 1997, it was the size of a tennis court. Sixteen years later a new computer came on the market, play station 4, a fraction of the price and twice as powerful. The new generation of robots are proxies not only for our muscle power but for our mental capacity, too.
It’s already happening in our high streets, with shops closing because more people are buying on line. Banks are closing on our high streets, due to on line banking and those remaining have fewer staff. In supermarkets more people are checking their own goods out, thus less staff will be needed.
Capitalism, in its effort to reduce labour costs by the use of technology, in order to increase profits, is killing its own markets. Henry Ford discovered that for capitalism to survive it requires people with money in their pockets and enough leisure time to spend it.
It is estimated that 54% of all jobs in Europe will be replaced by machines in the next 20 years.
Although employees have been worrying for the past 200 years, new jobs materialised to take their place. But now in the new century robots have suddenly picked up pace.
Today the new jobs are at supermarkets, fast-food chains, and nursing homes, but for how long will they be safe? As a French economist put it; "that if we continue down our current path we will soon find ourselves back in the rentier society of the Gilded Age. A minority of people who owned capital (stocks, houses, machines) enjoyed a much higher standard of living." More people will be forced into today's version of the Victorian slums, HMOs ( homes of multiple occupancy), with many living in small ensuite rooms, with shared kitchens.
Unless there is a resurgence of strong inclusive growth, high taxation on capital, or World War III, if nothing is done, inequality could reach frightening proportions.
An idea that is gaining traction is for a universal basic income for everyone, a shorter working week, and the eradication of poverty. Finland and Canada have announced large experiments, In the Netherlands twenty municipalities are putting basic income into action. The organization Give Directly is launching a major basic income study in Kenya. It is also catching on in a big way in Silicon Valley, and even the American Democrats are slowly voicing socialist policies.
Only the Labour Party, has the right credentials to make it happen here, and the proposed four day week by Labour is a move in the right direction. It wont happen overnight, but a Utopia where all benefit from technological advancement, and not suffer from it, is urgently needed.
The above article does not necessarily express the view of the Labour Party.
Informed and Inspired by, Utopia For Realists by: Rutiger Bregman.
Under the Tories, close to 1000 Sure Start centres have been closed nationwide.
Nationally, Labour will ensure guaranteed adequate funding for schools, teachers and rescources, to create a world class service. Labour supports ‘Life Long Learning’
“Labour will lobby the council to reopen the Sure Start Centres closed since 2010,ensuring that children are given the best start in life thereby reducing inequalities when they start school” Between 2010 and 2018, overall school funding per pupil has been cut by 8%.
Locally, Spelthorne Labour Party will push for access to
more 6th form provision within the borough.