The Worst Government for 100 years?

This rant on Harold Wilson's Labour Government came from the Wells (Somerset) Conservative Association. It was a one page flyer printed in blue ink and had first appeared in The Daily Telegraph. Anthony Lejeune, a highly competent journalist and author is not gifted with a Wikipedia page but there are traces of his career from a search on the site. He wrote a history of London clubs and has written about Arthur Machen and Fr. Brocard Sewell. He has written about Ernest Bramah in The Tablet which may mean he is a Catholic and almost certainly a book collector…the piece (very slightly  truncated) is very much of its time (circa 1966). Politicians are no longer condemned for wearing the wrong clothes at parties.

The Worst Government for 100 years? by Anthony Lejeune.
Do you remember George Brown on television, flanked by leaders of industry and the trade unions, flourishing his fatuous Declaration of Intent? Do you remember the commentators solemnly telling us that this marked a watershed in the history of British industrial relations? And do you remember any of those commentators apologising to us since for having been taken in by so naive a piece of nonsense? I don't.

Do you remember the National Plan?
I got into trouble with the BBC for treating it, the week it was published, with the disrespect which it soon proved to deserve. I'm still waiting for an apology or even an admission that I was right.

From Private Eye

Have we heard an apology from those who scoffed at predictions that a Socialist Government would mean big tax increases and that "voluntary" wage restraint would soon be followed by compulsory wage restraint? Have we, indeed, heard many apologies from the middle-class voters who argued blandly that a spell of Labour Government would "do no harm"?

We have not. All these people seem as reluctant to admit they were wrong as Mr Wilson himself.

But there is surely cause for apology. The plethora of troubles and distances into which we have been plunged since that black Election Day in the autumn of 1964 ought not to have taken any intelligent person by surprise. They were fully predictable and were, in fact, fully predicted. I point this out now, not from any desire to gloat, but in order to warn. Since our misfortunes stem very largely, not from accident or external circumstance, but from the ideology and incorrigible stupidity of Mr. Wilson's Government, they are likely to continue...

Without doubt, this is the worst, the most untrustworthy, the most contemptible, administration beneath which our unhappy country has languished for at least  a century. It began as it meant to go on - with an import surcharge which was both a breach of faith and a ludicrously short-term expedient. And, my goodness, how it has gone on!

Consider its leading figures. At its head, croaking like a pseudo-Churchillian bullfrog with a carefully cultivated lower-middle-class accent, comes Harold Wilson himself. He makes bullying speeches at home and boastful ones abroad. He tells sophisticated American bankers that Britain will "knock hell" out of them. He tells General de Gaulle that Britain "wont' take no for a answer". He tells the Commonwealth Conference that Rhodesia's rebellion will be over "within weeks, not months". He tells his electorate that the grammar schools will be destroyed "over my dead body".

He distracts attentions, meanwhile, by a series of dramatic non-events - the Vietnam peace mission, the Tiger meeting, the visit to Moscow, the tour of European capitals, the railwaymen's conference (which never happened at all, did it?). As the Chinese proverb says, "There's a lot of noise on the stairs but no one comes in". But, if anybody dares to criticise him, Mr. Wilson lashes out with the debating tactics of the gutter.

His second-in-command, George Brown, after (in his own words) "managing the economy as no economy has ever been managed before", was translated to the Foreign Office, where he announced his intention of treating the whole world as though it were a working men's club in Swadlincote. He kisses a great many people. He goes wrongly dressed to parties. He blurts out things which would be much better unsaid. Other nations watch him suspiciously, since they can hardly believe that any serious country would give such a man the job of Foreign Secretary.

But then who would believe that Jim Callaghan, fresh from a part time course in economics, could become Chancellor of the Exchequer? In his first television broadcast, he looked like the treasurer of a Christmas Club trying to explain that someone has pinched the funds...

Every policy of the Government has bristled with inconsistencies, with prejudice disguised as rationality. Why should it be legitimate business expense to entertain foreign buyers but illegitimate to entertain British buyers?...

But what can you expect? Look at some more of them - a Minister of Housing who amirs to being prejudice against landlords; a Minister of Transport who can't drive; pathetic little Fred Mulley; the ineffable Lord Stansgate; Douglas Jay, contradicting his own department's figures….

Is it any wonder that such a Government should be ridiculed or ignored by the outside world, disliked equally by white nations and black, despised by the Jews and hated by the Arabs, considered a bad ally by America and Australia and a bad risk by Europe? The wonder is that so many people in this country, including responsible optical journalist, still treat it as though it were a Government from which reasonable behaviour could be expected.

If only they'll stop clinging to their blinkers and speak out for Britain's sake, I promise never, never to say "I told you so".

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