Leader – Coping Very Well Thank You
The other day just after the last Political Conference of the season had come to an end I happened to meet up at different times with two people I know well who asked very similar questions.
The first asked, and I should say has now had enough of the U.K. and lives in Italy, “what an earth is it like having David Cameron as Prime Minister we listened to his speech and it was a disgrace”.
The second friend asked, “how are you coping with Jeremy Corbyn as the Leader of your party, he’s against the armed forces isn’t he?”
I should add that the first is what would best be described as a Liberal Socialist and the second is definitely a Conservative.
The common factor was that both viewed David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn as being out of touch and light-weight in terms of what they consider to be a leading politician and what a Prime Minister should be.
I’m not going to defend David Cameron, he’s the Prime Minister which is undisputable owing to the fact that his party won more seats than the rest of the opposition put together.
The perception about Jeremy Corbyn, (putting aside the fact that my friend was wrong about him being anti-armed forces which I put right by pointing out to him that he had read it in the Daily Mail), was interesting especially when he said he didn’t think he was capable of being the Prime Minister.
Let me take you back a while, in fact to 1940 some 75 years ago when who was unquestionably one of the greatest prime ministers in history one Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister.
He wasn’t considered beforehand as Prime Minister material and in fact his disastrous role in 1915 as First Lord of the Admiralty and the expeditionary force to the Dardanelles that cost over half a million lives perhaps should have ruled him out from ever having the role.
But circumstances change and once he was in place that was forgotten, as was his role in the handling of the Tonypandy Riots in 1910 and forceful subjection of workers by the use of the army and the following year when he once again deployed the army in Liverpool when two people were killed.
What history now shows of course is that for all of the misgivings he clearly rose to the challenge and epitomised everything that was required at the time.
What people forget sometimes is that in his wartime cabinet was a slightly stooping and balding 57 year old man with round spectacles, quiet unassuming and certainly not considered by anyone within the establishment as capable of being Prime Minister and especially in a post war Britain that was on the verge of bankruptcy after 5 years of war.
It could be argued that he was in fact only in the Cabinet because he happened to be the Leader of an Opposition Party.
His name was Clement Attlee who to the surprise of the rest of the world, not the least the USA led Labour to a landslide victory winning 48% of the votes and 393 seats in 1945.
Even then, the establishment believed that it would be a short-
term Government and that Attlee wasn’t mad of the ‘right stuff’ to be a Prime Minister and especially during a time of austerity and the problems of building a post war Britain.
It was an underestimation of the man of enormous proportions because of all things Clement Attlee understood Government was something between being a bureaucrat and politician and understood the maxim of Government that was the creed of James Maddsion.
“That good Government begins with the recognition that men are born to disagree”
This quiet unassuming lawyer brought in the National Health Service Act (1946), National Insurance Act (1946), Nationalised the Coal Industry, Electricity Railways, Town and Country Planning Act (1947) and the Children Act (1948) as well as creating the first National Parks and Access to the Countryside by the Act of 1949.
Some record for a man not deemed to be Prime Minister Material.
Since Clement Attlee there have been 13 Prime Ministers, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
I would bet the majority of whom also had the words depending on your views, “Are they qualified and fit to be Prime Minister?” ringing in their ears.
In answer to my friends all I could say to the first was,
I agree and the sooner David Cameron he and his cronies go the better.
To the second, wait and see, time will tell and Jeremy Corbyn may well “Clement Attlee” us all.
In fact given the ferocious attacks from the media and even some within the Labour Party he may well have to in order to protect the NHS and correct the damage being done to the Attlee Welfare State by the Conservatives.
In the meantime I’m coping very well thank you with Jeremy Corbyn as the Leader of the Labour Party.