Being barely an octogenarian, my memories of World War 2 itself are obscure. But post war it’s different. So to read about the immediate effects of it are always of interest.
A book review writer is looking at the Attlee/Churchill relationship
“Does politics have to be the unedifying, vicious, name-calling spectacle we are embroiled in now, a bear pit of hostility and hate? For an answer, let us go back to the summer of 1945 and one of the crossroads in our history. The war in Europe is over and Britain has just gone to the polls in a general election, the result of which is delayed for more than a fortnight for the votes of the servicemen still overseas to be collected and counted.
“While the nation waits, Prime Minister Winston Churchill has a summit meeting in Potsdam with Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin and U.S. President Harry Truman. Though Churchill is confident he’s won the election and will remain as Britain’s leader, he invites his deadly rival, Labour leader Clement Attlee, to accompany him. It is the courteous and sensible thing to do, just in case.
“Even more courteously, Churchill makes an astonishing offer to the socialist Attlee: would he like the services of one of his valets ‘to look after [his] luggage and deal with [his] personal requirements’ on the trip to Germany. Even more astonishingly, Attlee suppresses the class warrior in him and gratefully accepts.
“Today, as the Brexit debacle descends ever deeper into a personalised, polarised slanging match, the thought of that happening now, of Boris lending his manservant to Jeremy Corbyn and, even more, of the prickly Jezza agreeing, had me hooting with laughter. Mutual respect has disappeared from the political landscape, replaced by animosity and distrust.
“But it need not be so, as Leo McKinstry’s superb account of one of the great political rivalries, and double acts, of the 20th century shows. It reads like a timely parable about the necessity for cooperation, concession and compromise in politics. Otherwise chaos reigns. Allies in wartime and adversaries in peace, Attlee and Churchill shaped the country we live in, and left legacies that endure to this day.
“Yet it is hard to imagine two characters more different. Boisterous, larger-than-life Churchill was flamboyant and in everyone’s face; Attlee was quiet and undemonstrative to the point of anonymity and awkwardness, ‘a funny little mouse’, as Churchill’s wife, Clemmie, called him. Little things are telling. One had a horde of secretaries on permanent call to write down his every word of wisdom, often from his bed; the other bashed out speeches with three fingers on a battered typewriter.
“One rounded off the day with champagne and brandy, the other shared a cup of bedtime cocoa with his wife, Vi. (She also drove him everywhere, even on election campaigns across the nation, in the family Hillman.) One holidayed in Monte Carlo, the other in Frinton. Churchill was extravagant to the point of near-bankruptcy (he had to be bailed out by less-than-savoury friends) while Attlee was so austere that he was once seen up on the roof of his house in suburban Stanmore cleaning his own gutters.
“Even when he was prime minister and weekending at Chequers, visitors were known to keep their coats on during dinner because he wouldn’t turn up the heating. But there was a bond between the men that was unique among political rivals holding such different views of the world. One was a crusader for free enterprise and laissez-faire, the other a champion of state control.
“It was World War II, of course, that brought them together. Churchill became prime minister in the emergency of 1940, heading a cross-party coalition government. Attlee was part of it as Labour leader, a position he had slipped into almost by accident; he was seen as a stop-gap middle-of-the-roader who would keep the radicals of the far-Left in check.
“Churchill directed his blood, sweat and tears to inspiring and leading the fight against Hitler. Attlee got on with the job of running the country, and proved very good at it. Quietly, Attlee laid the groundwork, for a national health service and a welfare state. His thoughts turned to planning the sort of country Britain should be after the war. And when Hitler was defeated and the coalition government disbanded, it was Attlee’s vision of the future that hit the right note with a war-weary nation.
“At that summit in Potsdam it was a sign of the new times that, during a victory parade of British soldiers, Attlee got a bigger cheer than Churchill. The election result, when it finally came, was a landslide for Labour, and Attlee moved into No. 10 as prime minister (though not before fending off his rampant Left-wingers who, in typical factional Labour style, attempted even at that late stage to replace him with one of their own).
“A tearful Churchill was staggered by being ousted from power but took defeat on the chin, magnanimously congratulating his rival on his victory and wishing him well. He didn’t carp, cry foul or call for a re-run. ‘We have no right to feel hurt,’ he pronounced. ‘This is democracy. This is what we have been fighting for.’ It’s a lesson that some still need to learn in 2019.
“For the next six years, Attlee pushed on with the social restructuring of Britain and the nationalisation of industries that would make him the icon of the Left he has become. (That he also gave the go-ahead for nuclear weapons, supported the foundation of the state of Israel and opposed the idea of a European Union, all deeply contentious issues for Labour supporters today, is often forgotten.)
“From the Opposition benches, Churchill gave his former deputy no quarter, dismissing Attlee with a stinging rebuke as ‘a modest man, with much to be modest about’. They jousted constantly, though Churchill, with his quicksilver tongue, usually had the last word against the leaden Attlee.
“One day, in a House of Commons cloakroom, the men are said to have taken up positions at urinals far apart. ‘Feeling standoffish are we, Winston?’ Attlee commented from his corner. Back roared Churchill ‘That’s right, Clement. Whenever you see something that is big, private and works well, you want to nationalise it!’.
“But, though there was rivalry and even occasional rancour, there was still huge mutual respect. The two men exchanged birthday greetings every year and frequently dined together. ‘I have no feelings of unfriendliness to Attlee,’ Churchill confided to his wife in a letter.
“As for which of them came out on top in the end, what is perhaps most significant is that, as McKinstry points out, when the Tories returned to power in 1951, Churchill did not try to scuttle everything the Attlee government had done. Yes, he continued to rage against socialism and promised to ‘set the people free’ from state intervention, but in reality he accepted that there was no turning back the clock, as did the nation. A welfare system, in some shape or other, was here for good.
“The upshot of this most peculiar political partnership/rivalry was that, though lion-hearted Churchill won the war, it was the ‘mouse’ Attlee who won the peace”.
Well, good luck with that! Sir Paul Marshall
is chairman of Marshall Wace Asset Management and Co-Chairman of Prosperity UK. He writes “The path to a negotiated Brexit deal is now broadly dependent on the statesmanship of one man.
“The Prime Minister’s letter to the EU with a new Brexit offer has landed well in the UK with the support of the DUP, the ERG, Remain-supporting Tories, an important number of Labour MPs, even possibly some Liberal Democrat MPs. So there is a path to a parliamentary majority.
“In the EU, there has been opposition from Guy Verhofstadt, the [repulsive] European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, but as we now know from his own words, he is an EU imperialist for whom Brexit is an opportunity to acquire new territory on the fringe of his Empire. Hopefully he will remain on the fringe of EU thinking. Wiser EU heads, including Jean-Claude Juncker, Michel Barnier and Angela Merkel, seem to be making more constructive noises.
“The key decision-maker now is the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. Does he recognise the concessions the UK has made and push forward to more serious negotiations in the tunnel? Or does he reject the offer and open the path to months or perhaps years more of uncertainty which will plague both the UK and Irish economies?
“Unfortunately, the Remain lobby in the UK has made the latter path more tempting for him with their efforts to take away the threat of No Deal and so throw Prime Minister Johnson naked into the conference chamber. However, even with the ropes tied around Johnson’s wrists, a failure of the negotiations at this stage would carry significant uncertainty for both Ireland and the EU.
“Varadkar [Someones’ useful idiot] has said he is pleased with the concession that Boris Johnson has made in goods alignment, taking Northern Ireland a long way towards a full alignment with the Single Market. Two major issues remain. First, Varadkar is not comfortable with the DUP’s wish to remain part of the UK’s customs arrangements. If and when the UK negotiates differential tariff rates there is a risk of an increase in smuggling rates. Prosperity UK have written on this extensively. Three types of smuggling risks already exist on the Irish border: human smuggling, prohibited goods (like drugs, firearms etc) and restricted goods where there is already regulatory divergence on excise duties (e.g. alcohol tobacco, fuel, oil and gas). Adding the risk of tariff variance to this can surely not be a deal breaker. Is Varadkar really worried about the undetected smuggling of cars across the border should the UK operate on a zero-tariff basis instead of the EU’s 10% wall?
“As Tony Smith, former Head of both UK and Canadian border controls made clear at our recent Alternative Arrangements Commission conference in Dundalk, borders are no longer physical frontiers, they are a series of transactions. It is time to embrace the path of progress and technology.
“If Varadkar is not happy either with a time-limited backstop or with the facilitation provided by alternative arrangements, then the question that he has to answer is: is there any date or scenario for which you accept customs sovereignty for Northern Ireland?
“The other issue is the one of consent. Boris Johnson has engaged much more intensively with the DUP than Theresa May even began to, and the result is a proposal which grants Stormont consent on the way into the four-year alignment period and also every four years to its continuation.
“This leaves the question of EU or Irish consent. A time-limited backstop would not appear to be sufficient for the EU as it theoretically allows the 2021-2025 arrangement to terminate without any EU sign-off on the alternative arrangements that have been put in place. This is why Prosperity UK developed a draft protocol for agreement by both sides on the conditions that need to be met. We understand that a protocol of this kind has been included in the UK proposal. This is the path to legal operability which the EU has requested. It should grant Varadkar the protections he needs – and if it does not I am sure the UK would be open for negotiations in the tunnel.
“As Boris Johnson said when he visited the Taoiseach in Dublin, this is a time for Statecraft. Let us hope he rises to the occasion”. Some hopes!
In The Times News, Politics, Analysis
today its reported that “Michael Gove has said that Boris Johnson is on the path to a “pretty solid” majority in the Commons…The Times believes he may get 329 “ayes” and a majority of 19 if he can win over the various factions. Included, is Rosie Cooper MP, in “Five Labour MPs-Kevin Barron, Rosie Cooper, Jim Fitzpatrick, Caroline Flint, and John Mann, who backed a deal last time. More have said they would back a deal.
Julia Hartley-Brewer writes “It’s so close, you can almost taste it. Stand firm, Brexiteers. We’ve come this far. Don’t let 17.4 million of us down. No wavering”.
Shanker Singham Director of the international trade and competition unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs writes “For this next negotiation with the EU to have any chance of success, we will need to maximise compression and pressure on the EU at the end of the negotiations. They must know that if we do not have a deal, there are consequences. We will have to open up our agricultural import quotas to all-comers and they will lose market share.
The Republic of Ireland must be in no doubt that their market access into the UK of beef will decline dramatically, not because we want it to, but because this is the logical consequence of what we would have to do to control food price inflation in the event of no deal.
60% to 70% of our beef now comes from the Republic of Ireland
That loss of market share would decimate the Irish beef industry. The same is true for Bavarian dairy farmers and French farmers who are now beginning to vocalise their concern about no deal.
European member states will start to question why they should lose market share into the UK in this sector all because of the Republic of Ireland, and splits will develop between member states and the Republic of Ireland. There are some early signs of this even now, from the Poles before any new text has been tabled with the EU.
Another Champion letter , from new Labour Cllr Ron Cooper of Tanhouse, expresses surprise at seeing an OWL political party story in the Champion. Really, a politician claiming it to be well known that ex-Tory, Cllr Adrian Owens’ main objective is to undermine the good work that the Labour party is doing for the borough! OWL is an opposition party, which might not agree with what Labour is doing for the borough, in case you missed the obvious?
He adds “The Tories and OWL (Tory splinter group) [Howls of derision from OWLs] are putting out scare stories and false views about the new Local Plan…dismayed to hear the disdain in which the Tories hold the people of Skelmersdale…they made it clear they don’t want an invasion of “undesirables” from Liverpool”.
“Many residents of Aughton have come from working class background from Liverpool. We need affordable housing in the borough and planned developments, not a free-for-all and massive “executive homes” that only benefit the developers’ bank balances.
“The new Local Plan shows that our Labour-controlled council can be ambitious for our borough and is safeguarding the green belt”. Well, pardon me, but an admission of Labour reducing the Green belt by a “mere” 1.7% is an admission Labour didn’t safeguard that green belt! And, those fields are shovel-ready, even more profits for the big developers!
“This new plan takes advantage of economic growth in neighbouring regions and allows West Lancashire to be part of those new business opportunities” which doesn’t explain why so called Duty to Co-Operate is only with metropolitan, massively central government funded councils, and is a one way street!
Cllr Cooper wants us to read the plan documents and don’t be fooled by the scare stories. Shouldn’t the tenant farmers and farm workers of Bickerstaffe be scared then?
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place, and in the sky, the larks, still bravely singing, fly scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe. To you from failing hands we throw the torch, be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields .