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Labour’s golden myth

Since the Wilson years, Labour have revered Attlee's 1945 government. But, as a new history by Giles Radice suggests, the modern party must shed this uncritical fascination if it is to win a fourth term

By Patrick Diamond   January 2009

The Tortoise and the Hares: Attlee, Bevin, Cripps, Dalton, Morrison by Giles Radice Methuen Politicos (£20)

During the late 1950s and 1960s, political discussions of the Attlee era tended to be highly critical. For the right, Attlee identified Labour too closely with obsolete shibboleths like nationalisation and the cloth cap; for the left, his government represented a spectacular failure to capture the commanding heights of the economy. In the light of the defeat and disillusionment that afflicted the Labour party during the Wilson years in the 1970s, however, perceptions of the 1945 Government were transformed; and that has remained the…

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