Working Together: Written on 30 March 2019
So, we didn't leave the EU yesterday as scheduled! As I’ve frequently mentioned in my websites, I’m in the process of digitising all my written diaries from 1948-2018 for posterity. Amongst them, I recently came across the election manifestos of the three main political parties of the day for a past General Election. Just for fun, I attach about 180 words copied verbatim from each of those three (must be fair!) manifestos. See if you can guess which General Election they were written for. (Answer at the end of this page, so don't peek now!)
Labour. The country is facing another General Election. We ask our fellow citizens to assert in their free exercise of the franchise that by and large the Labour Government has served the country well. The task now is to carry the nation through to complete recovery. That will mean continued, mighty efforts from us all. The choice for the electors is between the Labour Party – the party of positive action, of constructive progress, the true party of the nation – and the Conservative Party – the party of outdated ideas, of unemployment, of privilege. Finance must be the servant and not the master of employment policy. Subject to the will of Parliament, we shall take whatever measures may be required to control financial forces, so as to maintain full employment and promote the welfare of the nation. No trade union movement in the world has such a proud record as the British. With unexampled restraint and loyalty, it has co-operated to hold wages steady through these difficult years.
Conservative. The Socialists promised that they would make the people of Britain masters of their economic destiny. Every forecast has proved grossly over-optimistic. Every crisis has caught them unawares. A complete change is needed. Only the Conservative Party can make this change. The Socialist Government are temporising with grave economic perils. Britain’s difficulties will not be resolved by some trick of organisation, nor will prosperity come as a gift from government. The nation will enjoy in benefit only as much as it is prepared to create by its own effort. With a high spirit, through great endeavours, relying on our native skill, every man and woman must bend their energies to a new wave of national impulse. Only thus can the British people save themselves now and win lasting prosperity for the future. The crushing burden of public expenditure must be drastically reduced. All who cherish the cause of our country at this fateful moment must cast their vote after hard and long thought, and make sure they cast it effectively.
Liberal. We believe that our Party is more likely to unite the nation than either the Conservatives or the Socialists – locked as they are in what is really a class struggle. Britain has been brought close to bankruptcy by the effects of two wars, continued world disunity, and aid to friends abroad. The only tried system of completely fair representation according to the voting strength of Parties is through Proportional Representation by the single transferable vote. The present system is not even faintly equitable. We are anxious to reform the composition of the House of Lords, so as to eliminate heredity as a qualification for membership, which should be available to men and women of distinction. We wish to restore the authority of Parliament and the status of its individual Members by reversing the trend towards supreme Executive power. Old Age pensioners who wish to go on working are performing a great public service, and a Liberal Government would revoke the Means Test on the working pensioner.
Did you guess right? Those manifestos were for the 23 February 1950 General Election. Nothing much changes, does it - except you can't believe pre-election manifestos. To save you looking it up, the official result of the election was as follows:
Labour (Clement Attlee): 315 seats, 13,226,176 votes.
Conservative (Winston Churchill): 298 seats, 12,494,404 votes.
Liberal (Clement Davies): 9 seats, 2,621,487 votes.