‘I have never wavered…’

Nov 4th, 2011 | By Matthew Brown | Category: Articles

The Labour Party in Perspective by Clement Attlee was published in 1937. Here are a couple of brief extracts.

‘Some thirty years ago, when I was a young barrister just down from Oxford, I engaged in various forms of social work in East London. The condition of the people in that area as I saw them at close quarters led me to study their causes and to reconsider the assumptions of the social class to which I belonged. I became an enthusiastic convert to Socialism. I joined the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party and became a member of my trade union, the National Union of Clerks, For many years I worked as a rank and file member of the movement, taking my share of the work of branch activities, and propaganda meetings at street corners. I shared the hopes and disappointments incidental to Socialist work…

‘After the war, as Mayor and Alderman of a Borough Council and a Poor Law Guardian, I had full experience of municipal work. I was then elected to Parliament. Circumstances called me to occupy a position of high responsibility in the movement. Throughout those years I have never wavered in my faith in the cause of Socialism. I have never doubted that the Labour Party, whatever faults or failings it may have, is the only practical instrument in this country for the attainment of a new order of society.’

The Labour Party in Perspective (1937), pages 7 & 8, ‘Introductory’

Attlee portrait‘The deciding factor, to my mind, will not be leadership or the exact theories which are held to be orthodox Socialism. It will not be the brilliance of particular individuals. The thing that will secure the triumph of Labour will be the demonstration by Socialists in their lives that they have a high ideal and live up to it. People are converted more by what they see Socialists are than what they hear them say. Here is the responsibility which lies upon everyone in the movement.’

The Labour Party in Perspective (1937), page 285, ‘Prospect’

Read ‘Attlee, the ILP and the Romantic Tradition‘, by Jon Cruddas MP

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  1. My favourite Atlee quote: when asked what it was like to be 80 years of age, he replied, ‘Better than the alternative!” You gotta love the man!

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