Monday, December 21, 2009

The Ghosts of Christmas Past: Xmas 1970


In the run-up to Christmas, the return of our 'Ghosts of Christmas past’ musical feature.

As bookies odds on a white Christmas in 2009 in Britain tumble and most of the country- and indeed much of Europe- enjoys some decent snowfalls- I thought we’d kick off by taking a Tardis ride back to the white Xmas of 1970.

It was the first Xmas of a decade which marked the zenith of 20th century progressive politics. The decade of Palme, Kreisky, Trudeau, Kadar and Nyerere, the National Enterprise Board and détente between east and west.

A decade when the top rate of income tax in Britain rose to 83%- the highest since the second world war. Imagine what the neoliberal fanatics would say if that was proposed today- they already want us to think that a rise in the top rate to 50% in 2010/11, will be the end of the world.

In June 1970, Harold Wilson’s Labour government, had suffered a rather undeserved general election defeat.

But not to worry: Ted Heath’s Conservative government, even with Margaret Thatcher as a cabinet minister, was still far to the left of New Labour (not that that’s too difficult). And a little more than three years later, Wilson and Labour were back in power, elected on an unequivocally socialist economic programme.

Riding high in the charts at Christmas 1970 was Grandad, by Clive Dunn, a star of the era's most popular comedy series, the wonderful Dad's Army.


And please write in with any memories you have of the snowy Xmas of 1970.


Robin Carmody said...

The harsh truth, though, is that Labour's win in February 1974 was the worst thing that ever happened to British socialism, in that it gave Keith Joseph et al the starting point for their reaction. The ideal scenario would have been for Heath to win, so his moderate agenda (having dropped the proto-Thatcherite stuff) would have been vindicated, the neoliberals wouldn't have had anything to define themselves against, and Labour would have regrouped (but crucially not gone neoliberal).

I can't remember it personally, but there were *much* better songs than this in the charts of Christmas 1970 - "Ride a White Swan", "Apeman", "I'll Be There", "Nothing Rhymed", "Blame it on the Pony Express", "When I'm Dead and Gone", even the Bee Gees' "Lonely Days" (though that did far better in the US than here). I grew up on Dad's Army (early 90s repeats), and it's pretty much embedded in my mind, but with a few exceptions (mostly from the first few series) I wouldn't mind if I never saw another episode again. You can't live on dreams forever.

jack said...

Off topic but opening video address to Hague Tribuneral of Slobodan Milosevic.

I don't understand the Vatican connection and why he brings that up.

You wouldn't know contact e-mail address of Neil of Milosevic's defence team?

I know it is a long shot that you do but I was wondering if I could contact them and the would be willing to release video evidence they provided to the Hague like Ashdown video of him meeting KLA members in Kosovo and promising them support from Blair.

That's the video that needs wide distribution across the net.

RT also showed the documentary (probably on a scaled down version) on it’s XL Report Kosovo can you imagine?

Gregor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin Carmody said...

That February 1974 point of departure is a favourite of mine though I'm aware it may well be wishful thinking: it would still have been hard to persuade the unions to moderate their position sufficiently to get Labour back in power with a workable majority, though I maintain that had Heath been seen to be vindicated, the neoliberal reaction might at least have been postponed. I think the 1993 Andrew Marr-fronted documentary 'Without Her' - which took a Labour win in an October 1978 election as point of departure - had Thatcher eventually becoming PM anyway, although I've only got the start of it on tape.

It might well be that a society as large and, increasingly, as diverse as the UK could not sustain social democracy - that the immigration the left mostly supported ate away at the cohesion and togetherness which held a certain social model together. I certainly think an independent Scotland *could* theoretically be more social democratic than the UK - the model social democracy is probably about that size, like Sweden.