The 50 Years Ago column from the August 1998 issue of the Socialist Standard
In a speech at Manchester Mr. Bevan, Minister of Health, let himself go about the Tory Party. “They are lower than vermin,” he said. (Daily Mail, 5/5/48). For them he had “a deep burning hatred in his heart.”
It was not always so however. In 1940 when the Labour Party decided to enter into coalition with the Tory Parry under a Tory Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, Mr. Bevan said:
“The Government have been in office for two weeks and like my hon. Friend the member for Llannelly . . . I felicitate them upon the way in which they have set about their task” (Hansard, 30th May, 1940.)
The Press naturally made much of Mr. Bevan’s abuse of the Tory Party but actually a more revealing passage in his speech was one that attracted no comment. He said that Churchill’s policy would mean “cinemas, mansions, hotels and theatres going up, but no houses for the poor.” (Daily Mail, 5/7/48.)
It is that last phrase that is significant. Mr. Bevan and the Labour Party charge the Tories with seeking to meet the needs of the rich. The Labour alternative is to try to help the poor by building comparatively low rented (and small) houses for them. It is only Socialists who seek the abolition of both rich and poor, of both the property-owning class and the propertyless working class.
[From “Notes by the Way”, Socialist Standard, August 1948]