Tag Archives: harold macmillan

LibLink: Tim Farron – Where have all the political giants gone?

CO 1069-1-3. Harold Macmillan. Photo by National ArchIves UKOver on politics.co.uk, party president Tim Farron has been expanding on some of the themes of his weekend lecture. He begins with some interesting history:

When you ask me who my political heroes are, I will reel off a list of people like Beveridge, Penhaligon, Harry Willcock (the man who brought down the ID cards scheme in the 1950s) and Paddy Ashdown.  But in the last 12 months I have become attached to Harold MacMillan, when he was housing minister between 1951-1954. This admission usually raises an eyebrow or two.

Now, MacMillan is a much maligned political figure, I think that has much more to do with his association with David Cameron than to do with him. But as housing minister he was someone who, working under the post-war consensus, delivered one the best social policy achievements of the 20th century – he delivered 300,000 homes a year.

In 1951, he was appointed by Churchill to be housing minister – his task, to build 300,000 per year. It was a bold policy in the Conservative party manifesto and one many considered totally undeliverable. Famously, when tasked by Churchill, he was told: “It is a gamble. It will make or mar your political career. But every humble home will bless your name if you succeed.”

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Opinion: Council Housing – our role in its downfall

Housing is not an issue of Conservatism or Socialism. It is an issue of Humanity

The Conservative Minister for Housing said that. In the 1950s. His name was Harold Macmillan, and he oversaw more than 300,000 homes built every year of that decade, two thirds of which were council homes.

Those words were spoken in a time when there was a consensus that the state should step in where there had been a market failure, and to ensure that everybody who wanted a decent home could afford one. Fast forward fifty years and what has happened that concrete and brick foundation …

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Vince: Cameron is “100% behind” my graduate tax proposals

Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable is interviewed in the Sunday Telegraph (“in open-neck pink shirt and slippers”, intriguingly).

The paper chooses to headline it, Vince Cable: ‘I’m not having fun in government’, trying to feed into the narrative that Vince is a semi-detached member of the coalition government, though he’s certainly loyal in all his utterances. Incidentally, the headline quote set in context reads rather more uncontroversially: “People sometimes ask me ‘are you having fun?’ ” he says. ” No! It’s hard work and it’s tough, but it’s important.”

The paper largely ignores what seems to me a …

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Would the coalition dare to cut welfare back to Labour levels?

After adjusting for inflation, welfare spending today is an astonishing ten times higher than in 1948, according to figures published in yesterday’s Guardian.

The graph shows that the sharpest rises in welfare spending were both under Conservative administrations (presumably not unconnected with the recessions at those times – 1981-84 and 1991-94 – though the bill rose in all but three of the 18 years of Conservative government).

Only under Churchill and Eden in the 1950s did the welfare bill fall slightly.  Under Macmillan it rose about 50%, and the welfare bill Labour inherited in 1997 was almost double that they’d handed …

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