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Bevanism in the 50s

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alan stewart

Joined: 24 Mar 2010
Posts: 1051

Location: Born Glasgow/living in West Yorkshire

PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:45 am    Post subject: Bevanism in the 50s  Reply with quote

Nye Bevan resigned in April 1951 from the Attlee Government in protest against health service charges and increased arms expenditure.  He'd been in Government for six years.  Harold Wilson, always the opportunist, quit alongside him.
The Tories returned to power that autumn and Labour entered a period of reflection.
Tribune in particular organised Brain's Trusts and Bevan himself became the focus -Birchall 91986) says- of "left discontent."
But whilst the Bevanites had "strength and militancy" they had no clear strategy.  The right still controlled the union bureaucracy.  Early in 19555 the Party's NEC -also right inclined- nearly expelled him.  He had to apologise for "any difficulties" he had caused the leader.
As it was Bevan was already distancing himself from the Left.  In 1957 he denounced unilateralism at the party conference.  He also began to be integrated into the pro NATO network, Birchall (1986) says, with invitations to deliver lectures in the US.
Bevan soon began to speak of a "third force" -a "bridge."  As Cliff (1998) would later point out it was not a case of "neither Washington nor Moscow" with Bevan but Washington AND Moscow.
By the late 50s Bevanism was, Cliff (1998) adds, on its' last legs.  After the 1959 election Bevan became Deputy Leader but died in July 1960.
Wilson, an ex-Bevanite, soon became leader when Gaitskell also died suddenly.  The left was now in complete disarray.  So much so that Michael Foot had no compunction in writing a political biography -a hagiography- praising Wilson.  And Frank Allaun, another Tribunite, said Wilson was the greatest socialist since Keir Hardie!

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