Wheat and Tares Together Sown: The Attlee Labour Governments 1945–51
‘That first sensation, tingling and triumphant, was of a new society to be built, and we had the power to build it’, Hugh Dalton was later to write of the Labour Party in 1945 as it formed a Government that had a commanding majority in the House of Commons. ‘There was exhilaration amongst us, joy and hope, determination and confidence. We felt exalted, dedicated, walking on air, walking with destiny.’1 There was singing too when the new Parliament assembled, as Dalton recorded in his diary for 1 August 1945: ‘The Tories sing for Churchill, “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow,” and we reply with “The Red Flag”.’2 This singing of the socialist anthem was said to have stunned House of Commons officials, and caused Oliver Lyttelton on the Conservative Front Bench ‘to fear for my country’.3 There may have been no justification for this reaction since several Labour MPs did not even know the words of their anthem, with ‘Red Ellen’ Wilkinson choosing to sing for Churchill anyway, and then the Conservative, Colonel Clifton-Brown was re-elected to the post of Speaker of the House of Commons,4 which behaviour signified continuity in the British constitutional arrangements.
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