This page was written on 10 July 2017
As I’ve mentioned on other pages, I’m in the process of digitising my written diaries, and some paper clippings, for posterity. Amongst them, I recently came across extracts from the election manifestos of the three main political parties of the day. 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 and which party used the title of this post, as their election slogan. (Answers at the end of this page but 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of positive action, of constructive progress, the true party of the nation – and the Conservative Party – the party of outdated ideas, of unemployment, of privilege.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. Nothing could be more untrue. 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. Folk of my age, or political historians, will probably be the only ones to recognise that the title of this page, 'Let us win through together!', was the Labour Party slogan for its 1950 General Election manifesto. This is my diary entry for that date:
To save you looking it up, the result of the electíon was as follows:
Labour (Clement Attlee): 315 seats, 13,226,176 votes, 46.10% of those who voted
Conservative (Winston Churchill): 298 seats, 12,494,404 votes; 43.40%
Liberal (Clement Davies): 9 seats, 2,621,487 votes; 9.10%
There were 625 seats in the House of Commons; 313 were needed for a parliamentary majoríty.
I referred in my diary to the election as The Great Day because it was the first election I could remember and the entire country, and the BBC almost non-stop on the Light Programme and the Home Service (predecessors of Radio 2 and 4) on the wireless, had been talking about it for weeks. The mentíon that "I floated a bit" refers, not to the election, but because, at the age of 14, it was the very first time I had ever been out of my depth. Until then I had never had an opportunity either to go to a public swimming baths or go paddling in the sea.