Monday, March 03, 2008

The never-never

Just finished "Never Again", Peter Hennessy's history of Britain between 1945 and 1951. This is in the same week that the clamour is rising once more for a referendum on membership of the EC.
The Labour government of the time kicked into the long grass the idea of membership of what was then the Iron & Steel pact between France and Germany because they didn't want to return to where they'd just finished a war, they were too preoccupied with the problems of the pound, they were committing themselves to a war in Korea and, to quote Ernest Bevin, "the Durham miners would never stand for it." How quaint that sounds now.
France and Germany were in such disarray that they just got on with it. That's the way it is with positive action. Having no choice concentrates the mind wonderfully. Ever since then it seems that every time a nation is asked to vote on membership they vote against. Somehow it's the posture that can never be proved wrong.


  1. You are showing your age David. It's not been the EC for quite some time. Trades under the name of the European Union now. Which may explain why the Consevatives aren't that keen. Not a fan of Unions the Tories.

  2. If I'm recalling things correctly through the fog of my great age the government that first rejected membership was Atlee's (Labour) and the government that took the UK in was Heath's (Conservative). One of the things your learn from reading the history is that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in the Punch and Judy show of contemporary politics.

  3. all of which just goes to show I really shouldn't attempt to make cheap jokes late at night, rolling in after a gig [Tina Dico - very good she was too]. I did study the EEC at school [they didn't call it a "comprehensive" education for nothing back then] and I still have the project I did on it aged 14 somewhere.

  4. And the only mainstream British political party ever to commit to withdrawal from the EU was Labour in 1983 in what is considered the most “left wing” manifesto in history.
    David, I presume you’ve read the two Dominic Sandbrook books Never Had It So Good and White Heat. If not, I think you’d enjoy them.

  5. Read the first but not the second. The other interesting book about this whole area is "Post War" by Tony Judt.