In her answer to the question of who came out on top in the ITV leaders’ debate (Journal, 20 November), Katy Balls suggested that the decisive issues for the coming election would be “Labour Brexit uncertainty or Tory untrustworthiness”. The debate and the release of Labour’s very radical manifesto reminded me of another momentous event in Labour history.
On 23 May 1945, Winston Churchill resigned, bringing the wartime coalition to an end. He then called a general election for 5 July. At the time Labour offered a convincing programme for the future but, as AJP Taylor wrote in his English History 1914-1945, so did the Conservatives. However, the people “cheered Churchill, but voted against him” (Taylor) because they did not trust him. The Tories were well and truly trounced by Labour because the electorate did not believe the Tory promises. Many of them remembered the unemployment and suffering of the 1930s and Churchill’s disdain for working people. It was what the future offered that motivated the voters and it was Labour’s radical programme that the majority of voters trusted most of all.
That future was led by Clement Attlee – a modest man, who got on with the job and who exuded forthright honesty. And who does that remind us of?
• Your articles do seem to be finding unrelieved misery and despair among Labour campaigners in the constituencies you’ve been visiting (‘Feels worse than last time’: Dismay over Johnson and Corbyn in Labour marginals, 23 November, and reports passim). May I put the other side?
Here in Gainsborough, the constituency Labour party are facing down an apparently ironclad Conservative majority (about 17,000) with indefatigable enthusiasm. We are turning out to canvass for our local candidate in darkness, rain and occasional floods. The Conservative incumbent may have the wonga, but we’re the ones with the willpower and the wellington boots.
Within the constituency, the Christmas fair in Saxilby village is brought to you by the district Labour party this year after the parish council was unable to run it.
Our candidate will be behind the craft stalls while our party members are selling homemade cakes. All profits are going to a local homeless charity, and Father Christmas – yes, we’ve arranged for him to be there too – will have good reason to wear red. All I want for Christmas is social justice and human dignity for all…
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