The Five Giants by Nicholas Timmins. History of the welfare state in Britain from its postwar founding to the Cameron government. The title from the Beveridge report, written by a civil servant during WW2 planning out a future welfare state. He described five giant evils blocking the path to progress: Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.
Another book in the more-interesting-than-you-might-think-but-still-pretty-heavy camp. Does have some good points that were new to me.
He points out that during WW2 there was a cross-party consensus that there would have to be some kind of welfare state. If the Conservatives had won it would have been smaller and structured differently, but something would have existed. The Conservative vote against the establishment of the NHS was an electoral albatross round their neck for years. However they would almost certainly not have taken the bold move of nationalising the hospitals at once.
Timmins makes some interesting points. Throughout its history the NHS has almost always been considered to be in some kind of state of crisis. On education, elsewhere in Europe private eduction is often chose for religious and cultural reason, but doesn't have for the class as in the UK. The original NHS bill was strongly opposed at the time. A former secretary of the BMA described it as looking "uncommonly like the first step towards National Socialism as practised in Germany"
Another interesting point that's not directly related is that in the Seventies increased unionisation followed inflation, it didn't precede in. In particular there was a wave of white collar unionisation in the public sector. Though the right-wing narrative is always that unionisation ruined the economy, in fact what happened is that workers turned to unions to defend their pay cheques against inflation.
A few more points:
...two days before the D-Day landings, Churchill invited Bevin to accompany him to Portsmouth to say farewell to some of the troops. Bevin recounted... "The one question they put to me as I went through their ranks was: 'Ernie, when we have done this job for you are we going back on the dole?'... Both the Prime Minister and I answered 'No, you are not'".
Bevan... had also forseen -- and taken pride in -- something which all health ministers should take to heart, but by which many have been beaten down. "We shall never have all we need," he had declared. "Expectation will always exceed capacity." In adition, "the service must always be changing, gorwing and improving; it must always appear inadequate."
- On pensions:
The index measuring the cost of living had been fiddled by boty governments. The prices of sub-times which figured in the index had been held down... By the time the full scheme was introduced in 1948... benefit rates were nearly a third below what Beveridge had recommended as necessary for subsistence.
- Keith Joseph in the mid Seventies:
The Conservatives, he argued, had allowed themselves to become "stranded on the middle ground"... The middle ground, he declared, was merely "a slippery slope to socialism and state control" becasue each Labour government, under pressure from its left wing, shifted leftward. The Conservatives, on each return to office, accepted many of those changes. "We have replaced the pendulum in politics with the ratchet. The Socialists move it up a few notches during their term; at best we leave it still while we are in office"
What I'm Reading
The Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams. Early twentieth-century book that claims to be a non-fiction account of an epic cattle drive in the 1880s. Out of copyright and apparently very influential.
I found it hard to believe that all these incidents would happen on just one cattle drive which hapens to be the author's first. Most of them seem pretty plausible apart from one saloon-bar gunfight though. In general it feels convincing and it's quite gripping with lots of detail.
It is marred by some unpleasant racism in a couple of places though. Worth a read if you're interested and can overlook that.
Leg still playing up, been cycling rather than running. Tried a few very short runs of 3km, first couple were fine but then I overdid it. Work is OK. Getting a new CEO but probably won't affect us in the trenches much.
I've been following the world cup as much as I can, this really seems like a classic. England looked surprisingly competent against Sweden. Saw the last part of the Croatia game which was fantastic. It's really hard watching it with the kid around though, I have to try to get him to bed about halfway through any match at a time I can watch.
Kid was sick and is a bit obstreperous. I think the heat gets to him and he has trouble sleeping too.
Articles. Yellow Submarine had uncredited dialogue by poet Roger McGough. Classicists create Pharos project to fight back against far right appropriation: Romans never used "Roman salute". "Ice Poseidon's" Life as a livestreamer.
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