The Massive Success of Socialism in Britain!!

I am always hearing, particularly from Americans, that socialism has never worked, that it always decays into tyranny. But they are wrong. In 1945, in the wake of the 2nd World War, Britain elected a Socialist government. Not only did we not descend into tyranny but, at a time of huge economic depression, the country devastated by bombing and the demobbing of millions of troops, they managed to be hugely successful and brought in systems that lifted millions out of poverty, squalor and misery, made work safer and more lucrative, families secure, and made the country a far better place. They laid the groundwork for much of the best of what is in Britain today.

Britain did not decay into tyranny or set up Gulags. It did not descend into economic lassitude. Far from it. It flourished and prospered. It became fairer, more compassionate and a far better place to live.

People forget how bad things were. At the turn of the 20th Century Britain was the greatest, wealthiest nation in the world yet its working people lived in squalor and misery. All that wealth had been siphoned off into the aristocrats and businessmen. Not much of it filtered down to ordinary people. The rich lived in their stately homes with servants while most people lived in slums and worked themselves into the ground in dangerous and foul conditions.

Only 1 child in every 270 went to secondary school.

There were 250 child deaths in every thousand.

Unemployment, death of the breadwinner and old age meant hunger, malnutrition, destitution and death was not uncommon.

The workhouse was a dire place reserved for those at their wits end with nowhere to fall back to.

Wages were poor. Men worked long hours often in terrible conditions.

Most people could not afford a doctor, glasses or dentistry. Those who could not afford it merely suffered and died.

Every family knew of death and were used to burying their children.

Clement Atlee’s socialist government turned all that around. They brought in a raft of great social changes that are still operating today and laid the groundwork for a fair society. They brought in the Welfare State. What a radical achievement. It was based on adequate income, adequate healthcare, adequate housing and adequate employment.

The Welfare State attacked the ills of society on many fronts.

The NHS was probably the jewel in the crown. It provided free healthcare, dentistry and glasses for every man woman and child – all for the payment of a small national Insurance payment.

When it came in millions queued to get glasses and have teeth out. It removed the fear of illness and children in postwar generations enjoyed vitamin supplements to make them healthier. What child from that generation can forget the spoon of cod liver oil and spoon of concentrated orange juice or the free bottle of milk at school each day? Rickets and scurvy were suddenly a thing of he past.

They did not stop there though. They brought in sickness benefit so that families did not starve. They brought in widow’s pensions and old age pensions that saved hundreds of thousands from the workhouse, starvation and death.

They introduced national parks for the health of the nation.

They started slum clearances and council housing.

They raised the school leaving age and set about educating the nation so that ordinary children could achieve and prosper.

They nationalised the railways, coal, electricity, gas and communications. No longer would these utilities be run for profit for the wealthy. No longer would conditions be unsafe with regular terrible accidents.

They brought in legal redress so that the poor could be represented in courts and gain a fair hearing.

They were instrumental in setting up NATO so that Europe would no longer be plunged into war.

They were instrumental in setting up the United Nations so that war and human rights could be addressed across the world and conflicts avoided.

They worked with the unions to gain fair wages and better working conditions.

They made Britain a much better place for ordinary working people.

So next time that anybody tells you that socialism has never worked just tell them about Clement Atlee and the great British Socialist government and tell them that if it wasn’t for the lies and propaganda of the establishment owned media we’d still have a socialist government and be a lot better off than we currently are.

I look forward to the next great socialist government under Jeremy Corbyn and another great set of achievements that will result in a fairer, more equitable country which works better for all of us.

6 thoughts on “The Massive Success of Socialism in Britain!!

  1. Whilst I agree with some of your comments I believe you paint a false picture of the post-war reality. The welfare state was a good concept but it was the concept of Beveridge prior to the election of Attlee’s administration, which lasted only 6 years. That doesn’t suggest that the electorate considered the administration to be successful. Times were hard in the late 40s and 50s. Although my father worked as an electrical engineer in David Brown’s tractor plant, he and the other workers were paid a pittance. We lived in a small cottage with no heating other than one coal fire and just a cold water tap. The lavatory was in a rear yard shared by three other cottages. That was the norm so I didn’t understand that we were living in deprived conditions. There were kids in my school who had no shoes and wore wellington boots throughout the year. You are wrong about accidents on the rail network after nationalisation. Deaths were frequent under British Rail. They were reduced after the introduction in recent years of the requirement for every worker to hold a personal safety qualification renewable, every 2 years, before they could enter the rail infrastructure but deaths still occur on the network. At least 8 men died during the time I worked on the network during a relatively short period of time and many more were injured. Certainly the country then was no utopia.

    Correct me if I am wrong but I recall Corbyn touting Venezuela as a successful socialist model to be followed. There is 40,000% inflation there and 90% of the population live in poverty despite the country having had access to one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Let’s move to recent history instead of looking back through a rose-tinted lens to the 6 years post WW2. Give me an example of a modern day country where a form of socialism is successful. That question was asked of Emily Thornberry on Question Time. After a lengthy hesitation, she said Germany. Of course, Germany has been governed by a centre-right administration under Merkel for the past 14 years not by the socialist party, SDU.

    1. Thanks for that Bede. I don’t know what happened. I just gave a detailed reply and it disappeared!!
      The main reason why the Atlee Government did not last longer than 6 years was that he called a snap election that went wrong. Post-war Britain was in ruins. The economy was shot, the empire was falling apart and we owed huge sums to the USA. The effort of getting things going again was enormous and Atlee and his aging cabinet ran out of steam. People’s expectations were too great. The Middle Class simply narrowly voted him out even though the got the highest votes ever.
      In terms of safety the mines certainly became safer and working conditions and wages improved. They worked with the unions. Obviously these things take time. The fruits were not always obvious for a while.
      The level of post-war poverty was enormous. My Mum talked about kids going to school with no shoes and just rags tied round their feet in winter.
      I do not know why Venezuela has imploded. From what I understand it had an economy that wasn’t diverse enough. It was based on oil and when prices dived its economy spiralled down. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if the CIA didn’t have fingers in the mix.
      In terms of successful socialist countries China doesn’t seem to be doing too bad with its largely socialist policies. Russia is also on the rise. Cuba is doing great considering how the USA isolated it and did its damnedest to destroy it. Scandinavia has a great standard of life and fairer society.
      The problem with judging how effective socialism is would be hard. Every time we have a socialist government the capitalists do their utmost to undermine them. We see the CIA time and time again in South America and Africa actively undermining, militarily overthrowing and messing with the economy. They’d rather have a corrupt tyranny that they can control with bribes. The good of the people doesn’t come into it.

  2. Yeah, but aren’t those just facts. In America, we’re not really into facts, logic, and rational thinking. Can you present something with a little less substance?

      1. Google or otherwise search for “post truth world” or “post truth society.” Sadly, it’s a thing. Crazy.

  3. Lion – yeah – it’s emotion and intuition – truth doesn’t come into it. That’s why politicians employ spin doctors so that they can make new truths out of lies.

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