Wednesday, 6 July 2022

No going back

William Atkinson has an interesting piece in CAPX on the political stagnation implemented by the Attlee government which is still with us today.

Why Britain’s biggest problems are all Attlee’s fault

Happy NHS Day! Yes, the 1946 National Health Service Act came into force on this day in 1948. The 5th July may not yet hold the same resonance as yesterday’s Independence Day does across the pond. But with the current American passion for historical self-flagellation and the ongoing adoration for Aneurin Bevan’s monolithic monstrosity, it cannot be too long before we see Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum returning to biff up aliens in honour of our health service.

It isn't only the NHS, but central planning generally which the Attlee government introduced and which still holds us in it's inescapable grip.

Only 6% of Britain is developed. Yet we have around 4 million fewer homes than we do families and households, and prices have increased by 500% since the early 1990s. This housing hyperinflation is fundamentally baked into the 1947 act. But it is impossible to alter. As the creation of the NHS created millions of publicly employed voters who scream at the slightest hint of reform, so did the Planning Act create a permanent NIMBY class with an interest in preventing development or a fall in house prices.

This is because of the fundamental shift in mindset that the Attlee government enshrined in British politics. The First and Second World Wars had forced an expansion in the size and cost of the state as a necessary corollary to victory. But Labour, rather than rolling that back, ensured the state would remain permanently larger and more intrusive as a route to their vision of socialism in one country.

The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder of how impossible it is to roll back the central planning ethos of a permanently over-large state. It probably explains the collapse on the Tory party into just another socialist party under Boris Johnson. 

Politically, any major party is almost bound to conclude that there is nowhere else to go. Not enough voters are ever likely to understand an alternative political ethos to blaming everything on the government.


Sam Vega said...

He makes some good points, but if state central planning prevents the countryside being built over, and was responsible for Brexit, then I'll withhold my unqualified condemnation.

A K Haart said...

Sam - possibly without pervasive central planning there would have been no need for Brexit and the countryside would be relatively unspoiled. It's hard to tell what greater independence and less political interference might have delivered.

Tammly said...

The central planning ethos ushered in by Atlee's government was an understandable but intellectually mistaken belief taken from the success of CP as a response during the War. The mass poverty and exhaustion that still existed in the British population after WWII they felt, had to be addressed. Like the remedies sought on the Continent to forestall aggression by formation of the EC, they did not see the comming of modern mass consumerism which actually markedly changed the social landscape and 'short circuited' their beliefs. The intellectual elites once they were thoroughly indoctrinated in this mistaken thesis, were and are oblivious of course and collectivism holds sway as a result.

A K Haart said...

Tammly - yes, a good summary, they thought it would work.