Do you remember the 1970s? It was when Britain reached peak decline. I was at primary school, but still those years have stayed with me like no others. Do you remember how we had three television channels? In fact, my family only had BBC1 and we could only watch it on a black and white set. Our house was heated by a coal fire in the sitting room and radiators elsewhere that were rarely turned on. I wore thick hand knitted jumpers to keep warm and, in the winter, there was ice on the inside of my bedroom window. We were well off. My mother was a teacher my father worked in the oil industry. But we were poor. We visited relatives and called it a holiday. We played outside and our games cost nothing. Food was made from what lived or grew in Scotland. The news consisted of strikes and terrorism and union bosses visiting the Labour Prime Minister in Downing Street.
Britain had been exhausted by two world wars which we didn’t need to fight. Although we won both of them, the result in each case was that we were in a worse position than before. The First World War plus overreaction to rebellion cost us the unity of our kingdom. The Second World War bankrupted us and cost us what we had fought both world wars to maintain. It also gave us socialism.
British socialism of the 1940s was patriotic but mistaken. Labour wanted to create a country that rewarded those who had fought but rewarded them instead with poverty and decline. Compare and contrast American films of the 1950s with British ones. As America boomed after the war and American standards of living increased, we had rationing until 1954, not because of U-boats, but because we couldn’t afford to import all that we needed.
British industry was dominated by trade unions and as a consequence was more inefficient than our competitors. What we produced was of a lower quality than the Germans or the Japanese and it was more expensive. Our productivity was lower than theirs but we demanded higher wages. The result was that our industry didn’t make a profit, but instead had to be propped up by Government subsidy. This not only bankrupted our industry it very nearly bankrupted our country. This is why most classic British brands of cars and motorcycles are no longer produced. They were produced inefficiently, and the cost was too high. Traditional British industry was destroyed by socialism.
There was a political consensus in Britain from 1945 to 1979. The Conservatives were moderates and they didn’t question the fundamentals of what the Labour Government had introduced in 1945. The Conservatives supported membership of the Common Market because they could see how much better the Europeans had done since the war than Britain. We looked enviously at the French, the Germans, even the Italians and thought we’d better join to do something about our decline. But it wasn’t the Common Market that made life here better.
Do you remember the Winter of 1978-1979? That surely was the lowest point. Endless strikes. Rubbish piled up in the streets. No room at the inn even for the dead. We together looked into a bleak Labour future and somehow reached a consensus that we just couldn’t go on this way and so we didn’t.
The person who changed everything of course was Margaret Thatcher. She was hated for it. She is still hated. But if you compare living standards in Britain today with how they were in 1979 it is almost entirely due to her. Do you really want to go back to the 1970s?
Thatcher broke with the Tory moderates who had simply managed Britain’s decline. Boris has just repeated the move. She realised that it was socialism, vested interests and trade unions that were keeping Britain poor. It was Labour in partnership with “one nation” Tory wets and libertine Liberals who together wanted to keep us stuck in the Slough of Despond, because they called this morality and thought it was kindness.
The measure of Thatcher’s victory was that the next Labour Government after 1979 was no longer socialist. Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock had reformed Labour to the point where the Far Left had been almost completely defeated. Tony Blair’s Government was social democratic. It accepted capitalism but hoped to spend the profits on public services. Of course, it spent more than it earned, Labour always do, but briefly it even looked as if Labour might be able to run the country moderately sensibly and without leading us into penury.
But no. Same old Labour.
Do you remember 2008? It looked for one moment as if there would be no money coming out of the cash machines and when the Conservatives arrived in 2010 to begin fixing things, they found a note saying, “There is no money left”. Labour had bankrupted Britain again. Not only that. Tony Blair’s legacy was massively increased immigration just to “rub the right’s nose in it” and just when we could least afford still more people requiring access to our housing, health and public services.
Labour too were directly responsible for the catastrophic results of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The fault here was not so much fighting as failing to win and deliver peace. Labour unforgivably left both of these countries in a worse state than they found them. Blair’s legacy was ISIS and terrorism on our streets.
What has Britain done to deserve Labour? Every Labour Government leaves Britain worse off. People who remember Labour Governments know this. This is why we don’t vote Labour. The problem is that Labour promises to cure all society’s ills, just like a snake oil peddler promises with his confident patter to give you strength and vigour and the elixir of life. You just have to give socialist snake oil one more try.
The snake oil peddler now however is worse even than before. While Atlee, Wilson, Callaghan and even Blair and Brown were mistaken, they were at least for the most part patriotic. They got things wrong, but they usually had good intentions. Corbyn and the Far Left are something different. Given the chance they would very much like to run Britain along Marxist lines. Whenever Britain has faced threats in the past Corbyn has sided with Britain’s enemies. He backed the Soviets during the Cold War and Putin when he poisoned us. He backed Jihadis, Iranians and the IRA. We would be lucky if he merely brought back the 1970s.
If Labour wins the election, years from now people will look back with horror and say “Do you remember 2019?”
This post was originally published by the author on her personal blog: https://www.effiedeans.com/2019/11/do-you-remember-1970s.html