British Labor in Retrospect

British Labor in Retrospect

“Some, indeed, said things were worse; that the morals of the people declined from this very time; that the people, hardened by the danger they had been in, like seamen after a storm is over, were more wicked and more stupid, more bold and hardened in their vices and immoralities than they were before; but I will not carry it so far neither.” —Daniel Defoe, “Journal of the Year of The Plague”

The third Labor Government of England, which held political power for somewhat more than six years, was the first in which the Labor Party ruled with full authority and responsibility. Two prior coalition governments had ended in disaster. A half century of Labor Party life, celebrated in 1950, found the party at its peak; a short time thereafter it was again plunged into defeat and crisis.

The Labor regime was the first effort to institute socialist policies, on some considerable scale, in a highly industrialized country, and simultaneously, to adopt these policies to a tradition of political democracy. Its brief experience, apart from an obvious intrinsic interest, must command the attention of everyone concerned with the idea of socialism and of everyone who hopes for democratic solutions to the problems of humanity.