Tuesday 3 January 2017

Why Clement Attlee was the greatest PM of the 20th Century

Clement Attlee was born on January 3rd 1883 and served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between July 1945 and October 1951. He was, in my view, by far the best UK Prime Minister of the 20th Century and his government was an inspiration to the developed world.

When Attlee's Labour government came to power in 1945 the UK was a blitzed-out and war fatigued nation with the biggest national debt in it's entire history (more than 237% of GDP). Attlee's government rapidly reconstructed and restructured the UK economy to avoid a post-war crisis, founded the NHS, improved pensions, introduced Legal Aid, nationalised core industries, improved workers' rights and built hundreds of thousands of decent houses a year to replace the appalling slums that George Orwell wrote about in The Road To Wigan Pier.

The really incredible thing is that this amazing post-war government reconstruction and investment frenzy actually resulted in a huge drop in the national debt.

Attlee's government took on a massively complex post-war reconstruction project; lifted millions of people out of dire poverty, ill-health and slum dwellings at the same time; and they did it in such a way that he actually ended up significantly reducing the national debt in the process.

In light of these incredible achievements I have no hesitation in saying that he was the best Prime Minister of the 20th Century.

It's very interesting to contrast the 40%+ drop in the national debt Attlee's government achieved between 1945 and 1951 through their investment and reconstruction agenda with the massive increase in the scale of UK public debt after six years of George Osborne's ruinous austerity agenda.

History is shouting us a clear message that strategic investment is the key to recovery, not some ludicrous economic fairy tale that there is no alternative to a load of endlessly repeated and desperately failing "let's cut our way to growth" nonsense.

When Theresa May described George Osborne's socially and economically ruinous austerity agenda with the platitude "living within our means" she made it absolutely clear that she's determined to stick with this catastrophic strategy even after six long years of lamentable failure.

Clement Attlee proved that it is absolutely possible to make life better for all sectors of society through strategic investment whilst actually reducing the national debt in the process. In sticking with the Tory strategy of talking in woeful economic platitudes to justify imposing ever more of their ruinous austerity dogma, Theresa May has proven her determination to do the precise opposite.

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