Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Golden Age That Never Was

... the social system was at least as authoritarian as the political system. It was shocking for an unmarried couple to sleep together and a disgrace to have a baby out of wedlock. A homosexual act incurred a jail sentence. Divorcées would not be considered for the honours list or the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. Procuring an abortion was a criminal offence. Violent young criminals were birched, older ones were flogged, and murderers were hanged. Two years' National Service was compulsory for 18-year-olds. Small children sat in rows in the classroom and were caned if they misbehaved. Drugs were confined to the surgery (and the aristocracy). The bobby on the beat made sure the streets were safe at night. And for an England cricket captain to miss a Test Match by flying home to be present at the birth of his child would have ruled him out of serious consideration not just as a cricketer but as a man.

So what happened ? How did we get from there to here ?

Anthony Jay is of course describing Britain under the 1945-51 Labour Government.


Anonymous said...

Is Sean Gabb’s proposal the way back?

Cultural Revolution, Culture War:
How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back

He has some interesting remedies for the BBC.

The full document is here

Confessions of a Reformed BBC Producer

If he had written it thirty years ago it might have saved a lot of trouble.

Anonymous said...

Don't get your point. At the beginning of the article, Jay speaks of a Britain of identity papers and a one party state, to modern sensibilities very much the framework which underpins Orwell's 1984. There are many advantages to modern living - Jay's point, I think, was that an anti-establishment viewpoint espoused by the liberal media has undermined institutions, not that evry was rosy some fifty years ago as you sometimes tend to imply.

Anonymous said...

Don't get yours. Britain was run under 'War Socialism' by a Conservative for the purpose of fighting a war for national survival.

There are advantages to modern living - but they're nearly all physicsl ones to do with improved technology.

Anonymous said...

Most of those authoritarian provisions were removed once the war was over.

malpas said...

Wars for Britain went on for a good while after WW2
As did rationing and morality.
Even formal education lasted until the sixties or so.