The Labour Party MPs of 1945 were overwhelmingly working class men. One only need look at the backgrounds of two giants of the Attlee administration, Nye Bevan and Ernest Bevin. Ernest Bevin was born into poverty, and made an orphan by the age of six before working as a lorry driver. Nye Bevan had left school at 14 to work in a coal mine. Their personal backgrounds of poverty and hardship despite their hard work meant they fully understood working class people. As a miner, a profession notorious for low wages and appalling health risks, it is no surprise Bevan was so keen to set up the free-at-the-point-of-treatment NHS.
The Labour Party MPs of the 1964 intake were totally different. Tony Benn had grown up as the son of an aristocrat on a country estate with servants and chauffeurs. Anthony Crossland’s family had a long history of civil service comfort and wealth. The Labour Party of 1945 was from the working class and for the working class. To them, politics was about fighting for safer and fairer working conditions for those in poverty, something most Labour MPs in 1945 had personal experiences of, and providing a social safety net in sickness and old age for people who could not afford one for themselves. By sharp contrast, the Labour Party MPs of 1964 were from the upper-middle class, and for the upper-middle class. They had almost all been to Oxbridge at a time of notorious left-wing radicalism, and had clearly soaked it up. The professors who taught them at Oxbridge had lived through the 1920s and 1930s. A defining disappointment for the professors’ generation was the failure of the British working class to rise up and emulate the Russian Revolution. They believed their mission was to bring about the radical change the working class had failed to do for themselves when they didn’t emulate the Russian Revolution.
The Labour Party MPs of 1964 were spoiled upper middle class brats who hated their country and viewed it as their task to ideologically re-engineer it. Put simply the MPs that would make up the 1964 government had been radicalised by Marxists at the Oxbridge schools they attended. The 1945 Labour MPs had been too poor to go to these universities so had not been poisoned by the anti-British, anti-family, anti-capitalist, crime-is-always-society’s-fault leftism that did the rounds in Oxbridge classrooms. When the 1964 General Election came around, memories of the 1945 intake’s helpful policies spurred working class people to vote Labour. Once these Oxbridge graduates found themselves with the keys to Number 10, they would embark on some of the most radical and damaging policies for working class communities.
The work of Roy Jenkins as Home Secretary saw some of the most radical social policy changes in history. One was neutering the police and courts, making it almost impossible to punish criminals. Anthony Crossland famously barked that he would close “every f**king grammar school”. This is particularly despicable in light of the fact Crossland himself had attended the exclusive Highgate School, a member of the same alliance of schools as Eton. With the police unable to fight crime any more, crime surged in working class communities. With grammar schools closed, millions of bright but poor students were denied the spring board into the professions. There was one last radical policy the Labour Party had planned – stepping up mass immigration.
Bertolt Brecht once joked that if your government couldn’t persuade people to back a policy, “Wouldn’t it be easier for the government to elect a new people?”. With mass immigration, that is precisely what they do. The white working class had failed to live up to the revolutionary expectations of the upper-middle class, Oxbridge educated Labour MPs. If working class Brits would not embrace radical left politics, perhaps Labour would have to import people who would. Labour began encouraging mass immigration into white working class areas like the Mill Towns of the Pennines or the East End of London. Decades later, this demographic change would mean avowedly anti-capitalist left-wing radicals like Respect could become the official opposition on Tower Hamlets council and win MP seats in both Bethnal Green and Bradford West on the back of the immigrant vote.
In short, the Labour Party of 1945 deserves to be admired. They were principled men, who genuinely knew what it was like to be working class. By contrast, the Labour Party of 1964 were upper-middle class graduates, who studied the working class through the abstract, disdainful lenses of Oxbridge Marxist theory. The modern Labour Party are even worse than the 1964 intake. If Britain is to be politically saved, the working class must be made to realise how badly the noble party of 1945 became the not-so-noble party of every election ever since.