Quote [85] – Freedom, Steering Society Delivering Change


Nationalisation was not an end in itself but an essential element in achieving the ends which we sought.  Controls were desirable not for their own sake but because they were necessary in order to gain freedom from the economic power of the owners capital.

A juster distribution of wealth was not a policy designed to soak the rich or take revenge but because a society with gross inequalities of wealth and opportunity is fundamentally unhealthy.

s It Happened – C R Attlee


It had always been our practice, in accord with the natural genius of the British people, to work empirically.  We were not afraid of compromises and partial solutions.  We knew that mistakes would be made and that advance would be often by trial and error.  We realised that the application of socialist principles in a country such as Britain with a peculiar economic structure based on international trade required great flexibility. As It Happened – C R Attlee


The old pattern was worn out and it was for us to weave the new.  Thus, the kind of reproach levelled at us by Churchill, that, instead of uniting the country by a programme of social reform on the lines of the Beveridge Report, we were following a course dictated by social prejudice or theory, left us completely unmoved.  We had not been elected to try to patch up an old system but to make something new.  Our policy was not reformed capitalism but progress towards a democratic socialism.

Furthermore, our experience in the war had shown how much could be accomplished when public advantage was put before private vested interest.  If this was right in war-time it was also right in peace.  I therefore determined that we would go ahead as fast as possible with our programme.

As It Happened – C R Attlee


An order of priority was adopted.  It was obvious, for instance, that the coal industry was more urgently in need of reconstruction than Iron and steel.  National Insurance was in a more advanced stage of preparation than the National Health Service.  First things had to come first.  It was also the case that every minister had urgent immediate problems needing solution.  Care was taken that present needs were not subordinated to long-term policy, but equally, present needs must not prevent progress being made with major schemes. As It Happened – C R Attlee
It was difficult to argue that what had been done in war with such good results should not be continued in peace, especially in the view of the situation in which the country was placed.  On the other hand, unless there had been a government with a clear policy and a resolute will we might well have slipped back to the evil conditions of the past.  No doubt we made many mistakes, but there has been in many directions a remarkable advance. As It Happened – C R Attlee



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