The Wrong Revolution: The Wilson Labour Governments 1964–70
The slogan that the Labour Party eventually devised to describe the period of Conservative rule between 1951 and 1964 was that of ‘thirteen wasted years’. The popular history of that era cuttingly observed that the slogan would have been a more accurate description of the Labour Party’s record in Opposition during those years,1 which was certainly the case in terms of serious policy preparation for office, and, on both sides of the 1948 divide, attempts to set out the relevant positions in terms of practical philosophy all failed dismally. That, in 1952, Bevan called his credo In Place of Fear raised expectations that he would tell how a democratic socialist system would be organized in obvious contrast with the brutal authoritarian regimes of the existing socialist countries. It turned out that Bevan had no coherent programme that would deliver Parliamentary socialism, and all that he succeeded in doing was to demonstrate that Bevanism had no distinctive intellectual content, which was why it was soon forgotten. When, in 1956, Strachey attempted to establish the principles of democratic socialism in his book Contemporary Capitalism his efforts were well described as a halfway house for those tired of the journey.2
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