DensleyBlair

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Seems unnecessarily arbitrary to focus on one half of a writing and publishing duo, but then again we did it in OTL because one had a very catchy name, appearance and was conveniently deceased by the time the movement caught on...
Maybe someone has a grudge≤…

Or it's Marxism by stealth!

A vague google suggests that they differ mostly on interpretations of Hegel, so… if that's your angle maybe it would be fruitful?
 
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Wraith11B

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Honestly, I think I need to revisit it with the lens of age and wisdom and not the impertinence of youth. Then I would be able to properly evaluate it.
 

DensleyBlair

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Honestly, I think I need to revisit it with the lens of age and wisdom and not the impertinence of youth. Then I would be able to properly evaluate it.
Is that the sound of an Echoes Marx/Engels reading group I hear marching over the horizon?

(Jk. Obviously if we’re all reading Echoes we don’t have time to read Marx!)
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Not sure I want to read Das Kapital again. Although in general, it's an excellent philosophic lens of how to analyse and view history. The communist stuff is...kinda incidental throughout. Which is presumably why everyone can safely cite him as an orgin for their branch of socialism.
 
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DensleyBlair

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Yeah, I suppose you could say it’s more “this is how capitalism works (ergo we must oppose it!)” rather than “we must oppose capitalism! (and this is how it works)”.

I do remember someone saying once that you read Engels because he is a good writer, and Marx because he has good jokes. Would probably need to read more closely to judge that one…
 
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Le Jones

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Well I'm caught up and lots of possibilities here - I'm particularly looking forward to seeing how Eurosyn fares - will it mirror our 1989 I wonder?

On that, do you have an endpoint? A date that you're writing towards? Just wondering how you're structuring this.
 
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DensleyBlair

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Well I'm caught up and lots of possibilities here - I'm particularly looking forward to seeing how Eurosyn fares - will it mirror our 1989 I wonder?

Thanks Mr J – and welcome back to the present! :D

Eurosyn will be okay – although there will be a debate at some point in the near future over what it is actually for. The Syndies are safe from a true 1989 analogue in that I'd argue it's not overly clear that either 'capitalism' has triumphed nor 'communism' has failed. No one can really claim inevitability for their own system – which, in its own way, might hint at what is on the horizon…

On that, do you have an endpoint? A date that you're writing towards? Just wondering how you're structuring this.

The present volume will end in 1969, on my side, and I think with the 1968 election for @99KingHigh. The sequel volume is tentatively mapped out to about 1993, although things beyond the next decade or so still remain fairly hazy.

At the moment, the early 90s are just about the furthest I'd want to take this timeline. Part of that, I think, is the fact that it is still quite distant from where we are now, which makes it hard to envisage whether or not I'd find it a worthwhile period to write about yet. Another reason is not wanting to get too close to our own 'present', which I'm loosely and very solipsistically defining as 'years I was alive in'. (Apologies to you older folks in the audience.) This could easily change, though. A year ago, I still planned to end things for good in 1969. It was really only KH's enthusiasm for writing about the 70s that pushed me to develop a 'sequel'. So very big thanks due to him.

More likely, though, I stop in ~93 and start thinking about another project. Which may well involve fleshing out the patchier areas of this timeline…

For general interest, as planned the structure goes something like this:

Volume 1: Echoes of A New Tomorrow (1925–69)
  • Book 1: Class Against Class (1925–29)
  • Book 2: Popular Front (1929–45)
  • Book 3: Revision (1945–57)
  • Book 4: New Left (1957–69)
Volume 2: After the Echo (1969~93)
  • Book 5: "Crisis" (1969~80)
  • Book 6: "Renewal" (1980~93)
(Book 4, by the way, is on course to be as long as Books 1, 2 and 3 combined…)


* * * * * *
I'm going to post the first half of our special Election Night Broadcast later on. It's a two-parter, with the second half likely coming next week. Meanwhile, KH has shared with me the first draft of his next chapter, which takes in the Democratic primary race and promises to be pretty explosive. That should be up in between the election and the start of the next government on my end.
 
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1967 Election Results: 21:30 Thursday, May 4 1967

DensleyBlair

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



ELECTION NIGHT 1967
21:30, Thursday 4 May, CBC 1



CBC 1 Election Results 1967
Bringing you the fastest news of the night … Comment … Analysis … Prediction …


1967 ELECTION NIGHT TITLE CARD.jpg


It’s 9:29, election night, May 4 1967. We in the studio are waiting now to bring you the result of the votes that have been cast throughout the day.

But now, before we begin, the very, very first result of the night. We have it here on this piece of paper, and we’re loading it into this very special machine which will bring it to you, and to us, as fast as it can possibly be brought to you. And there on your screen is the first result of the night:



ASTON VILLA 3 : 1 CLAPTON COMMUNITY


—a result which I think might have more electoral repercussions in Clapton than it will in Aston.

But now, to the 600 results which are really concerning us in the coming hours.

The information comes in, as you can see, to this machine, as quickly as we can get it. Once it comes it, it flashes through the studio and onto your screens. And of course it also comes to me, and to my colleagues. Cliff Michelmore is standing by, as are Roy Spector, Sylvia Leighton and our very special guest commentator this evening, Bob Boothby. I am Tony Benn.



1967 TONY BENN WESTMINSTER.jpg


What happens in the next few hours, as we find out how the country voted – and what it means for the next four years – we will report, comment on and unpick throughout the evening. But of course, the pollsters think they already know how we voted, and if you look at their very latest results you will see that they vary from a coalition majority of 110 – that is to say, a combined majority of 120 for the Labour Unionists and the Popular Front – to a coalition majority of only 65.

But in the final analysis, it’s not the few thousand whom the pollsters ask who determine the form that our new government shall take, but us: the 44 million voters of this country who’ve been today to cast our vote.

This is, of course, the first election to take place under the reformed system passed in 1964, which increased the size of the People’s Assembly from 450 to 600 seats, and also abolished the system of electing regional councils who in turn elect a national parliament. Tonight, for the first time, we will be tabulating our results according to a direct, proportional system. What this means is that each region will elect a certain number of Assembly Members, the exact number decided by the size of its population, in proportion to the share of the vote achieved by every party in that region.

CBC reporters are in position up and down the country to give us the latest news on the ground in, and to give us an idea also of the mood in each region as we the results begin to make themselves clear.



1967 ELECTION NIGHT CLIFF.jpg


When, you may ask, will we have an idea of what the final outcome will be? Well, as every returning officer in the Commonwealth will tell you, the key thing in vote counting is accuracy, not speed. But this does not stop counting stations from engaging in the traditional race to declare first. In 1963, some of you may recall that our first result came in from Cheltenham shortly after 10 o’clock, and no doubt counters in Cheltenham tonight will be looking to see whether they can retain their crown this year.

But it must be remembered that results from individual stations only give us one small piece of the puzzle, and it is not until all the stations in any given region have verified their results and declared them that we can begin to talk about the real hard currency of the night: seats in the Assembly.

Over the course of the night, our analysts will use all of the data we accumulate from results across the country to build a picture of the situation as it stands, and to draw from this a projection of what seems likely to occur, given historic voting patterns, demographic distribution and other factors. These we will continue to update throughout the night.





Now Bob Boothby, who has joined us here in the studio tonight, is no stranger to the ins and outs of national politics. You stepped down from the Assembly in advance of this election, but no doubt you will be just as invested in it as if you were standing yourself. What is your feeling, going into the night?

“Well, Tony, it has not been a regular campaign by any means. Chairman Bevan’s death in March has certainly cast a shadow over proceedings, and I think Dick Crossman had a great challenge to overcome in putting his own case for the Labour Unionist Party forward to the voters. David Lewis, by contrast, has stepped into the premiership quite naturally, and he is a veteran figure now in the consciousness of the country. I think a majority for the government is likely, but I would not be surprised if we see some shifting of power within the coalition.”



1960 BOOTHBY TV.png




The time now is 10:05 and we have our first declaration of the night, which comes in – as anticipated – from Cheltenham. Now Cheltenham voted quite reliably in favour of the Popular Front at the last time of asking, as indeed did the whole of the South West, so the thing to look out for here will be to see how the Popular Front vote holds up. A strong performance could be an indicator, as has been suggested by some pollsters, that David Lewis’s party might overtake the Labour Unionists as the largest party in the Assembly.

And we cut now to the returning officer in Cheltenham:



1967 CHELTENHAM.jpg


“Ladies and gentlemen—As returning officer for the borough of Cheltenham, I declare that the votes polled for each party at this election are as follows: Communist Party of the Commonwealth of Britain – 2,005; Communist Party of Great Britain – 67; Communist Workers’ Group – 128; Group for Action – 4,659; Labour Unionist – 13,077; New Socialist Front – 6,162; Popular Front – 24,199. The total number of votes cast was 50,296.”

There we have it, then – a resounding lead for the Popular Front in Cheltenham, which suggests perhaps that it is going to be a good night for David Lewis and his party. Sylvia Leighton is with me now to offer some analysis of these figures we have just heard.

“As you say, Tony, a very good result there for David Lewis, who from this result – and it goes without saying that this is our first result of the night, so everything can still change in a heartbeat – but on this result the Popular Front look to have captured a considerable swing of about 4 per-cent. Not only does this put the coalition – assuming it survives intact – on course for a majority of over 100 seats, but it suggests that the Popular Front will indeed move ahead of the Labour Unionists as the largest party in the Assembly.”

What might Dick Crossman make of this first result?

“There is no mistaking the fact that the LUPA have come out of this contest the worse for wear – but I must stress that Cheltenham is not a part of the country where they traditionally excel. I don’t think at this point in the evening that Mr Crossman will be too worried one way or the other. The government as a whole still look in a strong position – not inconsiderable after the year they have just had.”

Beyond the government, of course, this news from Cheltenham gives us a first indication of how the new socialist parties might fare tonight. What do you make of their performance here?

“There are of course three parties running together under the banner of the ‘New Left Coalition’: the New Socialist Front, whose lineage extends back to the original Socialist Front formed after the Revolution; the Communist Party of the Commonwealth of Britain, who broke with the CPGB in 1964; and the Communist Workers’ Group, who might be called the political arm of the ‘shop stewards movement’. Together here they have taken 16.5 per-cent of the vote, which is a solid result in an unfavourable part of the country. It’s worth pointing out that turnout is up quite considerably on 1963 – on this evidence perhaps by as much as 10 per-cent – so it seems that the presence of an organised Left Bloc on the ballot paper may have tempted previous non-voters to the polls. This suggests that we might be in for a night of twists and turns, with large numbers of new voters pulling the results in unexpected directions.”

Thank you, Sylvia. We’ll be hearing a lot more from you as the night goes on.


Cheltenham
Popular Front: 24,199 (48.3%)​
Labour Unionist: 13,077 (26.1%)​
New Socialist Front: 6,162 (12.3%)​
Group for Action: 4,659 (9.3%)​
CPCB: 2,005 (4.0%)​
CWG: 128 (0.2%)​
CPGB: 67 (0.0%)​
Total: 50,296 (turnout: 75.4%)




The time has just gone midnight, which seems an opportune moment to check in once again with our master of predictions, Roy Spector. Roy, what can you tell us about the national picture?

“The big story at the moment, Tony, is the prospect of an effective increase to the government’s majority – but with the Popular Front, and not the Labour Unionists, as the largest party. I say ‘effective increase’ because, as we have said many times already tonight, the overall increase in the size of the People’s Assembly means that it is very likely that all parties will return increased seat totals compared to 1963—”

And in fact we have a chart to put this into perspective for tonight’s results, don’t we Roy?

“Yes, that’s right Tony. For the viewers at home, one your screens now you will see the results of the last election – the 1963 election – as if they had been conducted along the same lines as this election:


1963 general election results under the 1967 system
Party: Vote share – Seat total (1963 system) – Seat total (1967 system)
Labour Unionist: 35.8% – 161 seats – 215 seats
Popular Front: 30.6% – 138 seats – 183 seats
Ind. Socialist: 24.3% – 109 seats – 146 seats
Group for Action: 7.1% – 32 seats – 43 seats
CPGB: 2.2% – 10 seats – 13 seats
Turnout: 65.6%
LUPA–PF coalition – majority of 74 (1967 system: majority of 98)

“So, as you can see, had the 1963 election been conducted with 600 seats in play rather than 450, the government would have enjoyed a majority of 98.

“Now, as we heard at the start of the tonight’s programme, the pollsters reckon that the results of this contest will see the government returned with a majority of anything from 65 to 110 seats. This gives quite a large range of possible outcomes, from a 5.5 per-cent swing against the government to a 2 per-cent swing in the government’s favour. But the general consensus seems to be the the government will end the night with what is effectively a slightly reduced majority. Again – not to bang on about it too much, but it is important – I say ‘effectively’ because, whatever happens tonight, all parties will gain seats.

“As we stand currently, the government are on course for a surprise gain in their majority. The results that we have so far point to a final result that sits around the upper bound of our pollsters’ predictions, with a 2 per-cent swing in the government’s favour.

“However, this is not the whole story. If you had asked me an hour ago, Tony, I would have been able to astonish you with the news that the government were on course for a poll-defying landslide victory, with a swing of 3 per-cent in their favour. As I say, we now sit on 2 per-cent, and the trend seems to be that this is decreasing. The explanation for this is quite simple: the results which come to us earlier on in the night tend to be from more rural areas and generally lower-populated parts of the country. For obvious reasons, these tend to be the sorts of places where vote counting will finish the earliest.

“These also tend to be the parts of the country where the coalition parties perform better – in particular the Popular Front, which perhaps explains why it still looks like it might be a bad night for Dick Crossman. But he can take heart, because the Labour Unionists historically fare better in the towns and the cities, whose results we mostly still have to come. As they do come in throughout the night, it is likely that we will continue to see the government’s current lead decrease, and possibly even a restoration of parity between the two coalition parties.”

Are there any signs yet of what sort of effect the new socialist parties are having upon proceedings, Roy?

“It is still a bit too early to say anything meaningful, Tony, but we can begin to draw some predictions from the data we have received so far. For example, what does seem apparent is that the presence of new parties on the ballot paper has contributed to a significant increase in turnout on 1963 – we’re up by about 7 per-cent, which means over 3 million more people at the polls than there were four years ago. This could easily prove decisive come the end of the night.

“We can also say that the socialist vote seems to be holding across the country, picking up a respectable share of the vote even in areas where they would not be expecting to win. This does seem to suggest that the increase in turnout may end up hurting the government.”

Thank you, Roy. We’ll return to you later on when we have a clearer picture of what the final outcome might look like.





It’s just gone 1 o’clock in the morning on Friday 5 May, and for those of you still up with us on election night we can go to Salford, where the count has just been verified.



1967 SALFORD.jpg


“Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have quiet please. Ladies and gentlemen—thank you. As returning officer for the borough of Salford, I can declare that the results cast for each party are as follows: Communist Party of the Commonwealth of Britain – 6,122; Communist Party of Great Britain – 1,728; Communist Workers’ Group – 1,945; Group for Action – 2,881; Labour Unionist – 21,678; New Socialist Front – 17,068; Popular Front – 20,597. The total number of votes cast was 72,019.”

So that was a slim lead of about one thousand for the LUPA over the Popular Front. With Cliff Michelmore now is Barbara Lewis, who is seeking election on the Popular Front’s North Western list – Salford, of course, is in the North West region. Cliff—

“Yes, thank you Tony. I am indeed joined by Barbara Lewis, a leading figure in the Popular Front and lately Director of the Office for Economic Co-ordination. Mrs Lewis, you are seeking re-election to the Assembly on the North Western list tonight. What is the mood like among the Popular Front camp up there?”

“Well, Cliff, we are very pleased generally with the results we have seen come in so far tonight, and it looks like we will be on course to return to government in a very strong position within the coalition.”

“We’ve just heard the results from Salford there, where the Popular Front vote – and indeed the government vote as a whole – is down quite considerably, by about 7.5 per-cent. Does this give you any cause for concern?”

“No, I’m not concerned by the results from Salford. We have held onto our vote share in the face of a spirited challenge from the socialist bloc, and we took a very strong second place that will do a lot of good for our total here in the North West.”

“Looking at the national picture, what has been the target for the Popular Front tonight? Have you been holding out hope for an increased majority for the coalition generally?”

“Taking into account the coalition’s overall record over the last four years, throughout the campaign we have always been confident of returning to government. Of course, as a party we have had our own aims for where we might hope to gain seats, but these are secondary to the primary target, which is to return to government in coalition with our partners in the LUPA.”

“Mrs Lewis, thank you.”

“Thank you, Cliff.”


Salford
Labour Unionist: 21,678 (30.1%)​
Popular Front: 20,597 (28.6%)​
New Socialist Front: 17,068 (23.7%)​
CPCB: 6,122 (8.5%)​
Group for Action: 2,881 (4.0%)​
CWG: 1,945 (2.7%)​
CPGB: 1,728 (2.4%)​
Total: 72,019 (turnout: 70.3%)




The time is quarter-past 2 in the morning and we are joined now from Abergavenny by Michael Foot, a Popular Front candidate on the Welsh list and lately the Chairman of the People’s Assembly. Michael Foot, good morning. Can you hear us alright?

“Good morning, Tony. Yes, thank you – I can hear you perfectly. Good to be with you.”

It’s good of you to appear tonight. Thank you for travelling to Abergavenny to join us.

“My pleasure, Tony.”



1967 FOOT ABERGAVENNY.jpg


Mr Foot, we’ve started to see results coming in from Wales, but it looks like it will be a couple of hours yet before we have the full picture. Tell us, what is the mood in your camp?

“Well, as Barbara was saying earlier it looks like it will be a good night for the party generally. We have had encouraging results so far here in Monmouthshire, and also to the north in Powys and out west in Cardiganshire.”

South Wales has, as we know, been the site of great controversy – and indeed great tragedy – over the previous months. Is there an anticipation that the government’s vote will suffer overall in the region?

“What happened at Aberfan was an unspeakable tragedy, and the anger we saw in the Valleys over the winter was entirely justified, there can be no mistake about that. But shortly before the death of Chairman Bevan, we made good progress towards a real settlement in favour of the workers, and the communities who have been so terribly affected by events here. I think that if the coalition does hold its vote in South Wales tonight, it will be a clear indication that we must press ahead to implement the settlement towards worker autonomy in Wales as fast as possible, and not to back away from this necessary reform.”

There has been some uncertainty from within the Popular Front as to whether David Lewis, if re-elected as chairman, intends to implement the reforms outlined by Chairman Bevan before his death. Are you saying then, Mr Foot, that a good result for your party in Wales should be taken as an endorsement of the government’s prior commitment to reform?

“It is my belief that we owe it to the people of South Wales to get these reforms implemented, irrespective of the results tonight. I have been very clear about that over the past months, and this is a point on which I do diverge slightly from the general opinion of my party. But I do think, looking frankly at the Popular Front’s record in dealing with the consequences of the disaster at Aberfan, and also looking elsewhere at the appearance of the socialist bloc and support for Cymru Rydd, that the mood in Wales is in favour of a settlement that reflects the sacrifice workers and communities here have made over the winter.”

One final question, Mr Foot, seeing as you bring up the socialists and Cymru Rydd – do you anticipate a strong challenge from the new opposition parties tonight?

“I think we will very likely see the newer parties record a good result in Wales, yes – and I welcome this as a positive development for parliamentary democracy in the Commonwealth.”

Michael Foot, thank you.

“Thank you, Tony. Always a pleasure.”




It’s just gone half-past 3 and I am back with Roy Spector, who believes that it is now possible to begin to see the shape these results are ultimately going to take. What do you make of the data, Roy?



1967 ROY PREDICTION.jpg


“We’ve now received just over half of the results from up and down the country, and it is looking to be the case that the government can expect a diminished share of the vote compared to four years ago. The government retain quite a commanding lead in the regions and boroughs already declared, but we have now come to the point where we can expect to see results coming in from parts of the country more favourable to the new opposition parties. With this in mind, we have a revised prediction of the final outcome, which will appear on your screens momentarily. This prediction takes into account both results already declared, and what we here in the studio – and, perhaps more importantly, our computers – think is likely to happen over the coming hours.

Prediction at 03:30 – 50% of results declared
Popular Front: 207 seats (34.5%)​
Labour Unionist: 183 seats (30.5%)​
New Socialist Front: 102 seats (17.0%)​
Group for Action: 45 seats (7.5%)​
CPCB: 39 seats (6.5%)​
CWG: 12 seats (2.0%)​
CPGB: 9 seats (1.5%)​
Cymru Rydd: 3 seats (0.5%)​
Total: 600 seats (100%)
PF–LUPA coalition – majority of 90

“These results would see the governing coalition return to the Assembly with 65 per-cent of the seats, giving a majority of 90, which is a swing against the government of about 1.5 per-cent. Thinking back to the chart I presented earlier showing the 1963 Assembly under the new system, this would equate to an effective loss for the government of about 8 seats.

“It is worth pointing out a couple of things about this prediction. The first thing is that all percentages are given to the nearest half a per-cent, which is about as accurate as our computer can go based on the current sample data. The second point is of course that these figures do not mean that we can call the election already, and we still have plenty of the night left for surprises.”

Thank you, Roy. To reiterate, these are not final figures by any means, but results seem to suggest that the government is on course to lose ground on 1963, with the Popular Front leapfrogging the Labour Unionists into first place.

I’m going to return now to Sylvia Leighton, who has some thoughts about what might be going on underneath these figures. Sylvia—

“Yes, Tony. Looking at how the swings are falling regionally, and indeed nationally as we begin to build up a picture of the whole country, it does look like the key thing has been turnout. We are seeing a large number of younger voters coming out to support the socialist bloc, which has eaten away at support for the LUPA in what would historically be a reliable constituency of theirs.

“At the same time, we are seeing a sharp split emerging between rural areas, where the Popular Front lead, and industrialised urban centres, where the Labour Unionists are holding on more solidly – but also the socialists are seeing their strongest support. What we can perhaps infer from this is that David Lewis’s strategy of hedging his bets on the question of industrial reform has played well in less industrialised parts of the country, but has cost him in areas with a stronger tradition of work organisation.”

Thank you, Sylvia. We will of course continue to update these figures, with fresh comment and analysis, as the night goes on.

 
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Voting reform is only going to get more contentious.
 
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Voting reform is only going to get more contentious.
Hmm. Maybe. Voting law itself is fairly liberal as it stands – the problem is the parties on offer. Which is going to be a very contentious issue very soon. Or is already, what with the right-wing press asking where’s Macleod
 
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OPERATION EXODUS

NARRATED BY
VANESSA REDGRAVE

1979
Up to here. Red Vanessa will not stint on the revolutionary zeal, I’m sure!
Bourgeois students drive a bus.
Sounds like something she would say - some offhanded dismissal of the naive bourgeoisie! ;)
Ramsay MacDonald accepted an offer from heiress and Conservative MP Nancy Astor – whose anti-communism was matched only by her anti-Semitism – to reconvene Parliament at her home at Cliveden after the summer recess.
“Just pop around to the country house for a Parliament, PM. The South Wing should suffice.” A little tone deaf for a Labour PM to accept such an offer?
it was unclear who would be the prime beneficiary when the time finally came.
I think I can hazard a guess, with the benefit of alt hindsight. :D
Mosley’s break with the Labour Party inspired fierce emotional response from the Fascisti, who branded the PLUA leader an “enemy of the people”.
I think he’s about to become the Blink-182 version of that expression. :eek:
no longer was British politics dictated by matters of policy, but by the events being played out on the streets of London and elsewhere.
The descent approaches its nadir.
The success of Operation Exodus put the workers of Britain within touching distance of final victory over the forces of capital. The United Kingdom had only weeks to live.
The Disunited Kingdom can’t stand as a house divided. There will be more blood.
 
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Glad to see you caught up with another update, Bullfilter! You’re fast approaching the business end of the affair now :D

Up to here. Red Vanessa will not stint on the revolutionary zeal, I’m sure!
Red Vanessa will indeed be back later on :D

“Just pop around to the country house for a Parliament, PM. The South Wing should suffice.” A little tone deaf for a Labour PM to accept such an offer?
Tone deafness is, regrettably, a requirement of the job of Labour PM. MacDonald was quite at home hobnobbing with the toffs

But then, he’s in a sticky spot here. He physically can’t go back to Westminster – not without a lot of likely bloodshed, anyway – and kind Mrs Astor has offered up her massive house. It would be churlish to refuse, would it not? :p

I think I can hazard a guess, with the benefit of alt hindsight. :D
Predictions are a mug’s game! :p

I think he’s about to become the Blink-182 version of that expression. :eek:
:D

The Disunited Kingdom can’t stand as a house divided. There will be more blood.
Yes – but whose?
 
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1967 Election Results: 07:00 Friday, May 5 1967

DensleyBlair

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



ELECTION NIGHT 1967

07:00, Friday 5 May, CBC 1



Good morning. It’s just gone 7 o’clock on the morning of May 5 1967.

We remain here in the studio in London to bring you continuing coverage of the results of the general election as they come in from across Britain. For those of you who have just woken up – and, indeed, those of you who have been up all night and need a reminder – the headlines from over the night are as follows:

The coalition between the Labour Unionist Party and the Popular Front seems set to return to government, albeit with a decreased share of the vote relative to 1963. Additionally, the Popular Front look almost certain now to usurp the Labour Unionists as the largest party in the Assembly, which means of course that David Lewis is very likely to retain his position as premier.

As concerns the opposition parties, the new socialist bloc – the New Left Coalition – have given a solid performance and look set to enter the Assembly with about one quarter of the seats. The Mosleyite vote has more or less held steady for the Group for Action, and in Wales – a key battleground between the government and the opposition after the turbulence over the winter – the autonomist party Cymru Rydd have made a strong showing. They look like they will capture three seats, all at the expense of the Labour Unionists.

In a short while we will be hearing from Professor Harold Wilson, a statistician at the London School of Economics who has prepared some analysis of the data behind the figures – that will be coming up in about half an hour. In the meantime, I’m going to return once again to Bob Boothby, who is going to give his reaction to the story so far.



1960 BOOTHBY TV.png


Bob, it’s been a night of twists and turns, hasn’t it?

“It certainly has, Tony. Makes me all the more happy that I’ve retired, I have to say!”

Bob, you know Dick Crossman well. How do you think he will be handling the news of his party’s likely demotion to the junior role in the coalition?

“Dick Crossman I’ve always known to be a very level-headed man, so I imagine he will be taking this in his stride. He will be in government, of course, so even if it does not look like he will end up as chairman, there are positives to draw from the result.”

How do you think Crossman and David Lewis will fare as coalition partners? Do you see a continuation of the same sort of good relationship that Lewis enjoyed with Nye Bevan?

“David Lewis and Dick Crossman have worked together in government for six years, and before that they were both heavily involved with the parliamentary movement to oppose Mosley. They have a long-standing working relationship – although, as Dick Crossman, naturally, has a different style of leadership to Nye Bevan, I don’t think it would be too hard to conceive of a change of character to the government.”

There has been some tension between the coalition partners since Chairman Bevan’s death over the issue of worker self-management. David Lewis has made no secret of the fact that he intends to renegotiate the settlement Chairman Bevan agreed with the unions in February. Do you foresee any friction between Lewis and Crossman on this front?

“Dick Crossman was Chairman Bevan’s most loyal lieutenant, so we might well expect that he will back the late Chairman’s settlement. But at the same time, Crossman is not the fighter that Bevan was. He is rather like me: a product of the old upper middle classes. Unlike me, he is an extremely talented scholar – a classicist by training – and I know that he likes to bring his scholar’s assiduity to bear on his work in government. David Lewis is another former don, of course, so in this sense they are well-matched. But I think Lewis is a little more worldly, and it will be intriguing to see them as a pair. I don’t anticipate that Crossman will be easily cowed – and certainly, going off the projections we have so far, Lewis will need his support to get any business done – but inter-cabinet battles will have a different flavour than they did during Bevan’s time.”

Is there any part of you that wishes you could be a fly on the wall in the cabinet room to witness it?

“I assure you, Tony, I’ve had quite enough of that cabinet room for more than one lifetime.”

Well, it’s always a pleasure, Bob. Thank you again.




Thank you Professor Harold Wilson for that fascinating look into the work that goes into generating these predictions here at election HQ. Clever stuff, I’m sure we can all agree.

Just a reminder of our latest projection as the time approaches 8am: our computers are giving the government a majority of 85, with turnout sitting around 73 per-cent. This equates to a swing against the government of 2.3 per-cent, which according to our earlier method of measuring tonight’s performance against the 1963 system is an effective loss of about 11 seats.



1967 WILSON.jpg


We’re now going to join Fred Davies in Gateshead, where he has been gauging the reaction of the public to the election results. Fred—

“Thanks, Tony. I’ve just been talking to these five gentlemen who work in a metal fabrication factory here in Gateshead, hearing what they have to say about the prospect of four more years of coalition government. We’ve been talking in particular about the possible fate of the worker self-management reforms, which are threatened perhaps now that a David Lewis premiership seems likely. I’ll come to you first, Martin. You’ve worked at this factory for thirty-four years, is that correct?”

“That’s correct, Fred. Been here since I was 18 years old.”

“You’ve obviously got the benefit of quite a long view of things. How did the last four years compare with the rest of your working life before that?”

“They were better in some ways because the unions have been freed up again, so we had a bit more of a say in how we ran things on the factory floor; a softer touch from management, which was appreciated.”

“One of the main issues of this election has of course been self-management, and we were talking a little bit about it before we came on air. You were saying I think Martin that you were in favour of the reforms Chairman Bevan put forward in February?”

“That’s right. I think it’s the logical thing that those of us who actually do the work have a say over how it gets done. We’ve had some bright lads come along in the past to manage this place, but they’ve usually ended up just saying the same thing, which is to produce more in less time. And you can be as bright as you like, but if you don’t know how production works – what the men are doing at their machines every day – then you’re not going to get very far trying to make it more efficient.”

“Might I ask who you voted for – if you did vote?”

“I voted for the Labour Unionists. I voted for Nye Bevan in 1963, and I would’ve voted for him again if I could have. So I did the next best thing.”

“Harry, you also voted for the Labour Unionists I believe?”

“Aye, Fred. I don’t trust David Lewis to look after the working man, and these new socialist parties I don’t see getting into government yet, so I voted Labour.”

“Would you have voted Labour Unionist if you had felt that the socialists might stand a chance of forming a government?”

“No, probably not. I would’ve voted for the Communists.”

“The CPCB?”

“Yeah. I think I’d trust them most to sort out industry, having actually come from industry themselves. Labour and the Popular Front both are just full of professionals, but we’re going to have them in power whatever happens so I went with the lesser of the two evils.”

“What is your opinion of Dick Crossman?”

“I think he needs time to set himself apart from Nye Bevan. I respected Nye Bevan. He made a pig’s ear of things in South Wales, but he was the man who booted out Mosley so I always had time for him. Crossman doesn’t have that to fall back on. He needs to prove he’s got the labour movement at heart.”



1967 VOX POP.jpg


“Albert, you’ve also been talking to me and you did vote for the CPCB, isn’t that right?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“What was it about the party that attracted you over all the others?”

“I like that they’re new… that they’ve got new ideas. For a socialist country I don’t think I’ve ever seen a socialist in charge – Bevan was maybe the exception. I reckon it’s time the socialists got a chance to run things.”

“Out of interest, Albert, would you mind telling us how old you are?”

“I’m 26.”

“So before Chairman Bevan, all you had known was life under Oswald Mosley.”

“That’s right, yeah.”

“You would have been 22 at the 1963 election. Did you vote then?”

“No, I didn’t. I liked Bevan, but I didn’t see much point in voting for him when he was always going to win. I didn’t think there was really much point to the People’s Assembly. It didn’t feel like something that was important to my life.”

“And now you’ve changed your mind?”

“I don’t know if I’ve changed my mind, but I thought at least now we have other parties other than the ones who’ve been in charge since I was born.”

“Bob, if I could come to you now. You were telling me earlier about your hopes for the next four years. It looks like we’re going to have a government led by David Lewis. What do you make of that?”

“I think it’s a worrying prospect to be honest. David Lewis has said all sorts of things about a new settlement with the unions… I think he’s going to come after us after what happened in South Wales, with the miners and Gwion Parry. He wants to go back to the days when the government and the union bosses were best friends, and I reckon that’s going to mean trouble.”

“Would you oppose restrictions to union powers, for example an attempt to outlaw the sort of wildcat striking that was seen in the Welsh Valleys?”

“Yes, I would. I’ve been working here since 1944 – started as an apprentice after I got back from the Pacific. My first years on the job I saw Mosley come after the unions because he wanted to control the workers himself, appointing his own managers and stopping us going on strike. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like having to go on strike any more than the next man, but the right to organise is a fundamental right for a worker, and if the government take that away then we’ve got nothing. I worry that David Lewis wants to control things as much as Mosley did, and if that means he comes after us then I’ll be the first out on the picket.”

“Out of interest, Bob, did you vote yesterday?”

“I did. I voted for the New Socialist Front.”

“Before we go back to the studio – Peter, you have a more favourable view of David Lewis, don’t you?”

“Yeah, Fred, I think he’s alright. He spent his life standing up to Mosley, I don’t think he’s going to turn around now and take things back to how they were then.”

“What do you make of the Popular Front’s plans for industry and the economy?”

“I thought they sounded perfectly reasonable. As far as I’m concerned, things work well when the government and the unions are working towards the same goals, and as much as I’m in favour of self-management I think there has to be a middle ground. We can’t just change things all at once. Bevan – God rest his soul – I think he wanted to rush through reforms because he knew he was running out of time. Lewis I think can actually sit down with the TUC and come up with a plan that works for everyone.”

“Thank you all for coming on and speaking to me, gentlemen. Spirited stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree Tony.”

Spirited stuff indeed, thank you Fred.

It’s now just gone quarter-past eight, and here in London we are preparing another total. 95 per-cent of the votes have now come in, and we can announce that as things stand the People’s Assembly will look like this:


Prediction at 08:15 – 95% of results declared
Popular Front: 203 seats (33.8%)​
Labour Unionist: 180 seats (30.1%)​
New Socialist Front: 103 seats (17.1%)​
Group for Action: 43 seats (7.1%)​
CPCB: 42 seats (7.0%)​
CWG: 14 seats (2.3%)​
CPGB: 12 seats (2.1%)
Cymru Rydd: 3 seats (0.5%)​
Total: 600 seats (100%)
PF–LUPA coalition – majority of 83

There we go, then: a government majority of 83 – two more seats lost since our last prediction at half-seven – with the Popular Front as the largest party, and the socialists continuing to make gains.




It’s now 9 o’clock and we are joined now by Labour Unionist NEC member Peggy Herbison, who is talking to Cliff Michelmore from her home. Cliff—

“Thank you, Tony. And thank you, Peggy Herbison, who has come onto the programme to give her reaction to the night’s events.”

“It’s good to be with you, Cliff.”



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“Ms Herbison, it’s been a frustrating night for your party in some ways – you’ve lost your largest-party status to the Popular Front, and the new socialist bloc have taken votes from you across the country – but you will be returning to government. What is your overall feeling?”

“I think on balance it is a fair result. Dick Crossman has done well in the months after Nye Bevan’s death to keep the party organised, but in the end to campaign was overshadowed by the loss of Chairman Bevan and we were always on the back foot.”

“It looks almost certain that David Lewis will continue to hold the premiership. How do you interpret the voters’ endorsement of his party?”

“David Lewis was a very long-serving ally of Chairman Bevan’s, so in some ways one could say that a vote for either our parties – the Popular Front or the Labour Unionists – is an endorsement of Bevan’s programme. But at the same time that would be to ignore the differences that do exist between us, and I think it is clear from tonight’s result that the British people want a change of course. David Lewis has his ideas about what this might involve, of course, but our task now as a coalition will be to work together to find a way of taking the country forward that respects a range of viewpoints.”

“Worker self-management has come up time and again as a key issue over the course of the campaign. This is of course one issue where the coalition parties do disagree quite significantly, with the Popular Front favouring a more moderate approach than that outlined by Chairman Bevan before his death. Will resolving this issue be the first item of business for the new government?”

“Evidently, I can’t say with any certainty what the government’s first item of business will be as it is quite unlikely that I will be leading it. But I have no doubt that it will be a top priority. I take the election result not as a total rejection of the idea of self-management, but as a reminder that this is not something that we can rush through in response to a crisis period. Finding a solution will take a lot of work, and a lot of patience on all sides. David Lewis I am sure will be able to meet the task.”

“Finally, Ms Herbison, a question about your own party: What will be the character of the Labour Unionist Party under Dick Crossman’s leadership? Is this morning’s result an indication that the party needs to reconsider its offer to the voters?”

“I think it will take time for Dick Crossman to develop his own style as leader, particularly as he was so close to Nye Bevan – as we all were. Bevan’s loss has hit us all very hard, of course it has. But the last thing he would have wanted would have been for us to respond to his death by navel-gazing. We will continue to fight for an equitable and open Commonwealth, and we look forward to putting these aspirations into practice in government.”

“Peggy Herbison, thank you.”




The time is half-past nine on Friday 5 May, 1967, and we are ready now to announce the final results of this year’s general election. The results are as follows:

Popular Front – 11,456,387 votes; Labour Unionist Party – 10,228,917 votes; New Socialist Front – 5,864,580 votes; Communist Party of the Commonwealth of Britain – 2,489,036 votes; Group for Action – 2,352,651 votes; Communist Workers’ Group – 818,313 votes; Communist Party of Great Britain (Anti-Revisionist) – 716,024 votes; Cymru Rydd (Free Wales) – 170,482. The total number of votes cast was 34,096,390. Turnout was 72.7 per-cent of the electorate.

Let’s take a look now at what this means for the composition of the People’s Assembly:


Final results at 09:30 – 100% of results declared
Popular Front: 202 seats (33.6%)​
Labour Unionist: 180 seats (30.0%)​
New Socialist Front: 103 seats (17.2%)​
CPCB: 44 seats (7.3%)​
Group for Action: 41 seats (6.9%)​
CWG: 14 seats (2.4%)​
CPGB: 13 seats (2.1%)
Cymru Rydd: 3 seats (0.5%)​
Total: 600 seats (100%)
PF–LUPA coalition – majority of 82

As you can see, the coalition is returned to power with a majority of 82 – more or less what we had been expecting for the past few hours. A majority of 82 corresponds to a swing of 2.8 per-cent against the government – not an inconsiderable swing by any means, and indicative of a strong opposition movement, even if it wasn’t enough to prevent the coalition from returning to power.

Shortly we will be able to show you how these results break down by region, but before that Sylvia Leighton is on hand to give her final summing up.

“Yes, thank you Tony. This result may seem somewhat run of the mill with the government having been returned more or less as it was, but it is fair to say I think that this is something of a landmark moment in the politics of the Commonwealth. This is the first time since 1933 that the British electorate has returned a government led by a party other than the Party of Action or its successor, the LUPA. And it is of course the first time that turnout has exceeded 70 per-cent since January 1929 – which is to say since before the Revolution. Perhaps this is a signal that parliament is set to assume a renewed significance as a site of real political contestation? Or perhaps this is symptomatic of a wider sense of frustration with the status quo? We won’t be able to grasp the full implications of what has happened over the last twelve hours for some time yet, but what is certain is that this is a definite break from the past. This has been a watershed election.”

Indeed it has. Thank you, Sylvia.

We will be staying with you until the news at midday, discussing these results and hearing from those at the heart of the action. We will also have David Lewis himself – Chairman Lewis – talking to Cliff Michelmore in about half an hour’s time, giving us more of an idea, perhaps, of his plans and hopes for the coming four years.

In the meantime, Roy Spector has been hard at work putting the finishing touches to this map showing the results by region, which we can show you now:



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Chapter 7: To Hell, Chicago, and Back Again (I)



"There is only one thing to do — take it to the country!"

Eugene McCarthy, 1968


It is generally forgotten nowadays that at Los Angeles, at the Democratic Convention in 1956, the single most impassioned speech was by Eugene McCarthy—in favor of Adlai Stevenson. The Kennedy forces looked on, unamused. Not that they were afraid that Senator McCarthy, whose oratorical cadenza was dazzling in its beauty, could succeed in changing the prescribed outcome of the Los Angeles Convention, which was clearly for Kefauver and Kennedy. But they did fear that Senator McCarthy’s extraordinarily effective oratory might have the effect, on certain critically situated people, of suggesting to them that the nomination of John F. Kennedy to the vice-presidency had nothing whatsoever to do with democratic idealism, that in fact, the New Frontiersmen got themselves into power by wresting it from the truly qualified dauphin of democratic idealism, Adlai Stevenson. But then Mr. Kennedy was not only nominated, but also elected, and then elevated, by Kefauver’s mortal finish, to the Presidency. It was well known that Senator Eugene McCarthy wanted most anxiously to be nominated as Vice President in 1964, back when it was not known, until the very last minute, just whom John Kennedy would designate as Vice President. I was there, at Atlantic City, when Senator Eugene McCarthy called a press conference, twenty-four hours before the designation of the Vice President, at which press conference the Senator, arriving thirty five minutes late—always the sign of the successful, or at least the optimistic politician—flirted oo-la-la with the press, suggesting that he was in a position positively to demonstrate his relative desirability as a Vice Presidential candidate.

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Eugene McCarthy, arguing for a peace treaty with Communist Vietnam on the campaign trail (March 1968).

Kennedy took himself another bride, Stuart Symington. Eugene McCarthy, who had held out against John Kennedy at Los Angeles, found himself spurned by his own history. As often follows the charge of the exiled, Eugene McCarthy discovered in 1968 the opportunity for a Restoration, offering himself to dissatisfied Democrats as the alternative to John F. Kennedy. The instinctive assumption of professional observers at the time was that Senator McCarthy was a part of Senator Bobby Kennedy’s operation, for this Gloucester, in bits and pieces, thought to take for himself the crown, which he believed that his regal brother had abused and therefore forfeited. In fact, this was most unlikely, for Senator McCarthy retained a healthy disrespect for Senator Kennedy. He was untainted by cooperation with the administration, unlike Senator Robert Kennedy and Senator Fulbright. And he had his own views too, as a true Stevensonian would, for Senator McCarthy was the most meticulous liberal—never had he erred in the direction of common sense when the alternative was to vote liberal. His final advantage, contra Bobby Kennedy, was that he could sink into the mud and the muck against the President on Southeast Asia, whereas Bobby, the central opponent of the administration’s civil rights policy, had danced along with the war until 1966, when he slid off from the White House to take his seat in New York. McCarthy’s folks were not content merely to abominate the policies of John Kennedy; they went further and chose to abominate the man.

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President Kennedy during the ruinous days of the Tet Offensive (Feb 1968).

Still, that McCarthy never had to attempt a direct assault on JFK during the President’s “golden moment” after the Bay of Pigs was the true harbinger of his success. The fall of South Vietnam injected such turbulence into American political life that the old adage that an incumbent President could affect his renomination appeared to be mortally wounded. In that moment of emotional volatility, President Kennedy doubted whether he could command the movements of the delegates, and with good cause. He was not simply the victim of a seizure in American public opinion, but the architect of a strategic judgement that now exposed American international credibility to its cruelest verdict since the Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles. That realization yielded the amazing, though not unexpected, withdrawal of a weary President Kennedy on April 5.

Discussions between husband and wife about sounding the retreat only became intense during March 1968 when it became evident that McCarthy’s darkhorse campaign, however “dull, vague, and without either balls or poetry,” would imminently steal the lead from the President. The Tet Offensive had shifted the ground of American politics, and at the New Hampshire primary the Kennedy campaign played right into the hands of the McCarthy forces. The President relied on the Democratic party organization of the state, enlisting the support of Governor John King and Senator McIntyre. To preserve the fiction that the President was not yet an official candidate, the Kennedy forces worked to obtain write-in votes. When the Kennedy campaign rightly claimed that a vote for McCarthy was a vote for Ho Chi Minh, the voters grew irritated at this avuncular attitude from a diminished authority. Not two days later, The New York Times reported that General Creighton had requested two-hundred and fifty thousand more troops to initiate a Reconquista in Indochina—a Reconquista it would have to be, for such an undertaking, as judged by the American public, would be just as protracted and just as violent before the deliverance of victory. That proposal set off a divisive internal debate within the administration over whether or not to meet the request. The story, accurate enough, suggested that the administration was as likely to escalate the American commitment in Southeast Asia as to reduce it.


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An American soldier carries a wounded ARVN soldier in the Saigon suburbs.

The result in New Hampshire surprised Washington, but few others. McCarthy emerged as the winner with 27,843 votes to Kennedy’s 22,985. The anti-war campaign scored all twenty-four delegates; McCarthy had surpassed all expectations that the press had established for his campaign, while Kennedy’s reputation as the consummate politician was thrashed. These results punctured the illusion that JFK was the Anointed One, and made Eugene McCarthy into a credible national figure among Democrats. In other states where liberal Democrats usually prevailed, such as Massachusetts, there was no one on the ballot other than McCarthy. A large turnout of petition signers put McCarthy’s name on the California primary ballot on March 14. The morning after the primary, Senator McCarthy told the press, “I expect to win in Wisconsin too...I think I can get the nomination...I’m ahead now.” Unfortunately for Senate McCarthy he had precious little time to savor his good showing. By exceeding press expectations he changed the character of the 1968 race. All the pretenders now sniffed blood, and came to take their place in the contest, however mutilated and demoralized the throne. In particular, Senator Robert Kennedy faced an agonizing choice. During the fall and winter of 1967 he had declined offers to imitate McCarthy’s challenge, allowing the Minnesota senator to transform what had seemed to be a feckless race in New Hampshire into a formidable national candidacy. With the President’s vulnerability more evident, his estranged brother began to gather information about entering other primaries and to consider what the race would demand of him and his beliefs.

At the same time, several Democratic grandees, working on RFK’s behalf, pursued face-saving strategies that would enable him to get his point across without wading into the fray. Joseph Gargan, a Kennedy nephew, floated the idea of a commission of prominent Americans unconnected with the administration’s Vietnam policy who would review the war situation and make recommendations for future action. Gargan raised the issue with the President on March 11, and after the New Hampshire primary asked for a list of those who might serve. The President, who had not been on speaking terms with his brother since his defection from the administration over the White House’s conservative turn on civil rights in 1966, at first resisted, but later relented as White House officials pressed this increasingly reviled leader to make an outreach to any potential allies. RFK and Gargan then met with Secretary of Defense McNamara on March 14 to examine the proposal. Senator Kennedy insisted that if the President named individuals who reflected a “clear-cut willingness to seek sound strategy and negotiations in Vietnam,” he would not run for president against his brother. But part of the price for such a declaration would be a statement that his policy in Vietnam “had proved to be in error.” Neither McNamara nor the President would succumb to such a confession. The RFK camp then attempted to work out an accommodation with McCarthy. In another act of fraternal treachery, Senator Edward Kennedy, who had supported his brother’s Vietnam policy until the Tet Offensive, flew to Wisconsin to meet with McCarthy to propose a joint anti-JFK effort. McCarthy, to his credit, showed no interest in an endeavor which would inevitably relegate him beneath the charismatic Kennedy. He told his wife Abigail during a flare-up of old animosities, “That’s the way they [the Kennedys] are...when it comes down to it, they never offer anything real.” On March 16, Robert Kennedy announced his competing candidacy for the nomination. The language of the declaration seemed to appropriate the rhetorical intensity of his brother’s earlier years: “I do not run for the Presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies.” The press wept tears of ecstasy; Americans mostly shrugged.


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Robert Kennedy announces his candidacy (March 1968).

The reaction of the McCarthy camp to Kennedy’s intervention was a predictable outrage at having their man usurped by a dynastic who had been too cautious on Vietnam two years before. Like Kennedy, McCarthy had not rationally calculated his chances of accomplishing the presidency when he announced; his impeccable timing alone, declaring two months before the Tet Offensive, had not initially appeared propitious. All Democrats, before Tet, exuded a sense of confidence that whoever won the nomination would have no difficulty at all defeating any other Republican in the autumn. The problem of winning a majority of the electoral vote played little part in the political calculations of leading Democrats during the first six months of 1968. In this comforting scenario the GOP would nominate either Richard Nixon or Nelson Rockefeller, sure losers, with the presence of George Wallace and Charles Lindbergh draining enough votes to elect the Democratic nominee. In essence, they believed that the Democrats would not have to win the 1968 election; their opponents would lose it. Such confidence papered over the fact that within the Democratic Party, and among its voters, sentiment was leaning towards a revolution on Southeast Asia policy. Within the White House, however, an attitude of political resilience persevered. On March 18 the President gave a hawkish speech in Minnesota, promoting the defense of the Saigon pocket and a conventional counter-offensive that the Chiefs of Staff insisted was the best means of restoring the military’s credibility. A worried McNamara proposed that the President reconvene the “Wise Men” on March 25 even as Secretary Rusk insisted that the bombing campaign needed to be halted for peace negotiations. The President did not share this timidity; he wanted peace language out of his speeches and told his speech-writers flatly “let’s just make it troops and war.” When the Wise Men met on March 26, McGeorge Bundy reported the majority’s feeling that “we can no longer do the job we set out to do in the time we have left, and we must begin to take steps to disengage.” Others disagreed, including Justice Abe Fortas, but the weight of opinion after the disastrous events of that February was indisputably on the side of drawing down the American commitment. Abandoned by the towering heights of post-war American public authority, Kennedy crept towards his resignation on April 5, as a stunned nation heard the putrescent Executive announce that he would not seek another term.

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President Kennedy announces that he will not stand for re-election (April 1968).

The president’s announcement disrupted the political landscape and realigned the prospects of all the other candidates. The most immediate beneficiary of the President’s decision seemed to be George Wallace and Charles Lindbergh, who could now complete their conquest of the South without worrying about Kennedy’s favorable reputation in Dixie—a reputation that had been disrupted by Kennedy’s push for civil rights in late 1967 and then redeemed after the ranks of the Dixiecrats closed after Tet. Robert Kennedy’s chances were also much augmented. Richard Nixon predicted the New York Senator would be favored to win the Democratic nomination. The Kennedy campaign phoned Democrats around the country, urging them to enlist with the probable winner. Yet there was no great stampede. During the period between his entry and his brother’s withdrawal, Kennedy had waged a frantic, intense campaign in support of his cause, traversing college campuses to adoring audiences. As he lacked possession of the institutional party, which had remained loyal to his brother, RFK was forced to rely on popular enthusiasm as the primary vector of his campaign. His rhetoric failed to impress the moderate wing and resentments regarding his fraternal treachery lingered and naked ambition flushed around him. The cumulative impact of his emotional campaign and unforgiving personality left many Democrats still looking for an alternative. McCarthy had scored an easy victory in the Wisconsin primary on April 2, but he too was imperfect, for his qualifications to the Presidency were challenged for the first time, particularly as a result of his advocacy for a weaker executive branch. Though strong on civil rights, he lacked the vigorous dedication to the cause that characterized Robert Kennedy’s appeal. His staff in Wisconsin had to tussle over making a strong appeal to black voters in Milwaukee before they finally decided to add black workers and make him more visible in the ghetto areas of the city. Furthermore, his strength as a protest candidate could dissipate now that the chief object of that protest—President Kennedy—had abdicated from the contest.

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Eugene McCarthy canvassing during the Wisconsin primary (April 1968).

Kennedy’s withdrawal opened the way for still another Democrat to wade into the presidential race. Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson had not expected to have a chance for the White House in 1968 when the year opened. He anticipated, as the White House’s favorite spokesperson, an enlarged role in the 1968 re-election campaign. After the events of Tet, however, and the withdrawal of the President, Jackson became the favorite of Democratic moderates and conservatives. He had learned about the President's decision ahead of time and was told by Kennedy that “if you’re going to run, you’d better get ready damn quick.” He paused only briefly before concluding that it was his best chance for the highest office. The fifty-six-year-old Jackson came to the presidential race with impressive credentials and formidable weaknesses. His strengths grew out of his record as a simultaneous spokesman for stalwart anti-communism and Democratic liberalism ever since his election to the Senate from Washington in 1952. On civil rights, health care, and other democratic issues, Jackson had been in the vanguard of the downtrodden, never deviating from the ideals, however misguided, of the New Frontier. He had earned this reputation even while towing the official party line during the period of Southern accommodationism. In foreign policy he had made great contributions both to the institutions of neo-Wilsonianism, such as the Peace Corps, and to the formulation of American grand strategy in its golden age. His years as de facto spokesman of the administration, however, had crippled his political standing among liberal Democrats. He had been a loyal subordinate for Kennedy, enthusiastically endorsing the administration’s policy on Vietnam and earning a deserved reputation as a Democratic hawk. His defense of the Vietnam policy was made in such glowing terms that it left many who heard him wondering if he was a Senator or a sycophant. Worse yet for the progressive wing, he was a (gasp!) dear friend of Senator Goldwater. His candidacy faced one further, and formidable, obstacle. Because he entered the race so late, it would be possible for him to qualify for only two of the spring primaries yet to be held. To win the nomination he would have to gather delegates from those states that held caucuses and state conventions. This route, however, meant that he would be identified with the older style of Democratic politics and would owe his elevation to the very leadership and political institutions that committed liberals delighted in scorning. His only advantage at the outset was money. As the candidate with the best chance to block RFK and McCarthy, he became the beneficiary of all the forces within the Democratic party that feared a progressive nomination. Big business, long suspicious of Jackson’s liberalism, rallied to his campaign. Money from JFK’s presidential effort flowed seamlessly toward him in April and May 1968. Organized labor also strongly backed Jackson, for the anti-corruption attacks made by McCarthy and RFK during the 1950s and early 1960s soured union leadership on the progressive wing. He also enjoyed significant support in the South among the party grandees. A liberal renegade during the 1950s, he was now the candidate of the Democratic establishment. An intense fight for the Democratic nomination lay ahead.

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Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson announces his candidacy for President (April 1968).

Meanwhile, with George Wallace incapacitated by the death of his wife, Charles Lindbergh managed to extend the early successes of his presidential candidate by placing their names on the ballot of nearly every state. Their standing in the polls, at first, rose slowly and perceptibly; they were the choice of ten percent of the voters in October 1967. After the Tet Offensive, Wallace and Lindbergh climbed to twenty-five percent. One pollster concluded a few months later that there existed a “very strong possibility that George Wallace will deny either major candidate the electoral votes needed to win.” They were buoyed by the centrality of Vietnam in the public agenda. To that extent the election appeared to be more about the American role in Southeast Asia rather than any domestic issue. Whether or not the United States should defend the Saigon pocket or hasten to make a peace treaty with North Vietnam (and therefore forfeit the lingering independence of the capital) became a fault-line among the candidates. McCarthy naturally preferred a settlement in Vietnam and a corrective withdrawal from Indonesia. Jackson proposed a stark alternative—defense of the pocket with the never disavowed possibility of opening a counter-offensive if demanded by strategic considerations. Such an analysis for the most part held true, but it was not absolute. In the first few months of 1968, the violence that followed the 1967 assassination attempt on Malcolm X continued in fits and starts. Cities remained sporadic receptacles of violence, arson, and looting with intermittent rioting disrupting urban repose. The defeat in Vietnam and the convalescence of the anti-war and the civil rights movement afforded these unlawful activities further legitimacy. Republicans justifiably charged that the administration had undermined social stability, turning young Americans into hippies, hookers, and hellraisers. Senator Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader in the Senate, remarked with no lack of insight that “we have been talking a long time about color when in fact we should also be talking about conduct.” Others went a different route. Lindbergh rambled on that the “Communist movement has, all along, been behind the civil rights movement.” Still, he deliberated those messages with practiced skill, and his rallies had the flavor of a Country and Western stage show, a political camp meeting, and a religious revival. If he faced demonstrators as president, he knew how he would handle them. “When we are in the White House, and some anarchist lies down in front of our car, it’ll be the last car he’ll ever lie down in front of.” Wallace, when he returned to the trail, tried to find the common bond among white voters North and South. “People always say that George Wallace just appeals to the crackers, the peckerwoods, and the rednecks, “ Wallace would say as the crowd anticipated the punchline, “well George Wallace says there’s an awful lot of us rednecks in this country--and they’re not all in the South!” Race relations, too, were on the ballot box that November.

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Wallace campaigning in the New York City suburb of Westchester (May 1968).

Whatever the conventional wisdom about RFK’s advantage after the President’s announcement, neither McCarthy nor Jackson was prepared to concede the Democratic nomination. McCarthy intended to make Kennedy run against his own legacy…”we’ll remind him about Jack.” His supporters were a diverse mixture of radical Democrats who found even RFK too conservative for their tastes—an impressive feat for a genuine conservative—liberals who looked back longingly to the wry, intelligent messages of Adlai Stevenson and the liberal authenticity of Estes Kefauver. But his campaign was poorly organized, and he seemed out of step with the black and Hispanic Democrats with whom RFK connected most effortlessly. He was easily distracted, disliked emotional appeals, and occasionally gave the impression that he was above all the excitement of the campaign. Some Democrats responded to his cool aloofness, others found his detachment infuriating. Unlike RFK, he ran well in the suburbs but not in the inner cities, while Jackson captured residual support in both of these constituencies.

One key to Jackson’s hope for success with party regulars was their sense that he would do the least electoral damage to Democrats in the general campaign. During late April and into May he pulled off strong majorities of delegates in such states as Maryland and Pennsylvania, precisely where he needed them most. Jackson HQ predicted he would be nominated on the first ballot; polls indicated he was the leading choice among rank-and-file Democratic voters. His apparent success emerged not because of any inherent strength of the campaign organization. To appeal to younger voters, who were presumed to be the sine qua non of the 1968 election, he named Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma and Walter Mondale of Minnesota to run his campaign, United Democrats for Jackson. At the same time, Democratic grandees and longtime political friends were offered significant roles, creating a confused and shifting organization, the result of which muddled his messaging. Still, the candidate’s main dilemma was how to present himself as independent of his relationship with JFK. Luckily for Jackson, his rise coincided with bitter primary battles in Indiana, Nebraska, Oregon, and California between McCarthy and Kennedy. The press concentrated on this apparently enrapturing horse race between the two famous Democrats to see who would become the credible alternative to the establishment’s selection. The descent of Democratic liberalism into a fratricidal saturnalia gave encouragement to the Jackson campaign and later contributed to the electoral problems of the party in 1968. The battles unfolded as American society watched with dismay as evidence of the younger generation’s disenchantment grew more perceptible. The most visible of these confrontations occurred at Columbia University, towering above the black district of Harlem from Morningside Heights. A fraught relationship with their black neighbors climaxed when the university planned to construct a new gymnasium, which was presumed by the program’s opponents to be primarily for the usage of the white and affluent student body. Radical students, many of them black, distrusted the university’s position on the draft and were eager for an occasion to dramatize their grievances. Protects against the gymnasium and the Southeast Asian War on April 23 led to a student occupation of the university’s main building. Within a few days another five buildings were seized. The occupiers demanded that the university recognize the immorality of the Southeast Asian War and the inadvisability of building the gymnasium. Negotiations failed to produce a settlement, particularly on amnesty for their intrusion. Instead, seven days after the initial occupation, the NYPD evicted the students, arresting five hundred students and injuring over a hundred and fifty; three weeks later the charade was repeated with similarly violent results. Richard Nixon, with his typical prescience, called the events at Columbia University “the first major skirmish in a revolutionary struggle to seize the universities of this country and transform them into sanctuaries for radicals and vehicles for revolutionary politics and social goals.” Voters were inclined to blame the Democratic party for fostering this unrest.


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Columbia University, the prestigious New York University, endures occupation by anti-war students (April 1968).

A week after the occupation, the first skirmish unfolded between McCarthy and RFK during the Indiana primaries. Indiana, a conservative state, was receptive to the Republicans and Wallace (generally in the southern part of the state), having voted for the Democrats only in 1936, 1956, and 1964. The ruling Democratic party organization, under Governor Roger D. Branigan, was hostile to both the liberal candidates, openly preferring Jackson. Nevertheless, Kennedy and his aides decided that Indiana offered the best opportunity to knock out McCarthy and force the delegates to choose between Robert Kennedy and Jackson. Kennedy poured several million dollars into the campaign with the objective of enlisting the state’s black voters and white working-class behind him. He cut his hair, exaggerated his law-and-order credentials, and played down his similarities with McCarthy. Since Indiana roundly opposed anti-war protests, Kennedy moderated his tune on the war, and placed less emphasis on a negotiated settlement of the conflict and more upon improving the democratic tenets of occupied Saigon. He talked of the role businessmen could play in addressing the problems of the cities, including tax credits for firms that assisted in the development of the inner cities. McCarthy, by contrast, doubled-down on his anti-war credentials, and despite internal discord and campaign blunders, succeeded in presenting himself as a calm, rational alternative to those voters that disliked the Kennedys in equal measure.The exultant crowds that surrounded Kennedy enabled McCarthy to play on those made apprehensive by their zealotry; McCarthy called for “your patience and attention for a politics of participation and a politics of personal response on the part of this country’s citizenry.” He made innovations too, even if they were abominations to reasonable men, including a call for the end of the Cold War in Europe (“there’s no need to go on fighting it”), the ousting of J. Edgar Hoover from the FBI, and the replacement of Dean Rusk as Secretary of State Dean Rusk. These attacks on establishment Democrats invigorated left-leaning Democrats on a national scale, allowing McCarthy to outflank Kennedy, though it did little to reassure Indiana voters about his concern for issues of inflation and crime. When the results came in, Kennedy led the field with forty-two percent, but without a decisive blow, allowing Branigan (the stand-in for Jackson) to take thirty percent and McCarthy to take twenty-seven percent. In fact, since McCarthy had done better than expected, the press concluded that the primary was a victory for him. “We have tested the enemy,” he declared, “and we know his techniques, we know his weaknesses.” As the liberals quarreled in the Midwest, Jackson amassed convention delegates with growing regularity. His confident managers, Mondale and Harris, talked openly of a first-ballot victory.

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Robert Kennedy in a predominantly Negro area of Indianapolis (May 1968).

The next primary skirmish came in Nebraska, another decidedly conservative state. Kennedy began the race with a double-digit lead over McCarthy, aided by extensive resources and McCarthy’s apparent disinterest (he preferred to concentrate his campaign in Oregon). Kennedy scored a more decided victory, scraping together a slim majority against McCarthy’s thirty-two percent, but his attempts by the campaign to dismiss McCarthy as a “credible candidate” once again did not succeed. “We are going on to Oregon,” McCarthy proclaimed. Indeed, the Oregon primary would be the most significant before the California primary. Democrats in Oregon were fervent opponents of the war in Southeast Asia, and they responded positively to his vocal denunciations of American intervention. Better yet for McCarthy, Kennedy would be unable to draw on minorities and those sympathetic to serious urban problems, for Oregon simply did not have an abundance of either. Organized labor was strong in the state and it showed no affection for the darling blue-blood who had opposed the Teamsters Union in the 1950s. And here, unlike in Nebraska or Indiana, the McCarthy campaign was well organized and determined. During the acrimonious campaign, Kennedy attacked McCarthy for his Senate votes against a 1960 minimum wage law and against a repeal of the poll tax in the 1963 Civil Rights Act. In turn, McCarthy’s campaign bitterly charged that Kennedy had engaged in illegal wiretapping during his service in the administration. McCarthy supplemented his advantage by sharpening his attacks on the war in Southeast Asia and Kennedy’s association with the escalation of that conflict. “Involvement in Vietnam and Indonesia was no accident...it did not happen overnight,” thundered McCarthy. The emotional temperature of the contest was rising.

sZ7FfH8.jpg

Robert Kennedy touring near Lincoln, Nebraska (May 1968).

Kennedy never found his momentum in Oregon and was thoroughly thumped by what one aide observed was the “great white middle-class suburb.” McCarthy took fifty four percent of the vote against Kennedy’s thirty-two. At the victory celebration the crowd chanted “Gene in ‘68, Bobby’ll have to wait.” To the equal detriment of the liberal candidates, the civil war on the Left served to strengthen Jackson’s campaign for the delegates. Kennedy’s chances thereafter hinged on California; failing that and wavering delegates would abandon him for Jackson or McCarthy. McCarthy needed a win over Kennedy to emerge as the anti-Jackson candidate. In this contest the logistics and organization of both candidates were balanced. The antiwar sentiment in the state offered McCarthy a grass-roots base from which to drive statewide enthusiasm. Kennedy’s campaign would be propelled by his secure base of Negro and hispanic voters, supported by a complex network of campaign outposts and a minor army of volunteers. Among suburban white-voters, sentiment was evenly split with McCarthy running particularly well among those who had voted for Kefauver in 1956. The centerpiece of the primary was the debate among the candidates—the first of the campaign, for Kennedy had refused to stage one until after his defeat in Oregon. The two men appeared face-to-face on June 1 before the television cameras, neither diligently prepared nor well presented (and I do, believe it or not, have a thing or two to say about television decorum). It featured several moments of legitimate contestation. When asked what they would do about Saigon, McCarthy indicated that he would sanction a negotiated settlement with Hanoi and effect the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Indochina and Indonesia. Kennedy challenged that position on the grounds that it would involve “the submission of the government of Saigon to a tyrannical government.” As he had done in Indiana, he was careful not to repudiate the cause of the war. McCarthy responded, quite ambiguously, that he would accept a settlement but would not impose one on Saigon. When they came to the issues of race and the cities, Kennedy suggested that the government invest in the rehabilitation of ghetto areas. McCarthy responded that it would be better to relocate many ghetto residents in localities outside the inner city. Kennedy replied that this strategy would yield “catastrophic results,” and he added the remark, “you say you are going to take ten thousand Negroes and move them into Orange County” (the conservative suburb near Los Angeles.) There were further discussions of Kennedy’s responsibility for the policies and failures of his brother’s administration. In the end, the conventional wisdom that McCarthy was the superior performer triumphed, although Kennedy, in a reversal of Indiana, exceeded press expectations. That result yielded a marginal plurality victory for Kennedy, forty-five percent to forty-four percent with the remainder divided among Jacksonsite sympathizers. The slim victory was another stalemate in the grueling contest, but the margin of McCarthy’s tiny defeat encouraged the Minnesota Senator that Kennedy’s grip was slipping on the race, and that no concession was necessary. He was enthusiastic that within a few days, he would begin to drain Kennedy of his core support and make an unexpected claim on South Dakota.

kgyJvZl.jpg

McCarthy and Kennedy at their first and only debate (June 1968).

He never got the chance. After meeting with supporters at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to wild chants of “We Want Gene” on June 5, Eugene McCarthy was shot by an infuriated South Vietnamese nationalist, Vu Hong Linh. He died early on the morning of June 6 from the effects of the wounds he had received. The days that followed were filled with memorable scenes as McCarthy’s body was carried to Washington for a requiem mass and burial. Thousands lined the route to the burial before the Immaculate Conception Church. All the politicians adjourned the campaign, and the press, in a rare reversal, took to examining the phenomenon of mounting social violence, though perhaps not their own role in stimulating the very vices that affected such outbursts. No matter, the death came to symbolize the anguish of a year when shock followed shock in bewildering succession...

Vwu0azx.jpg


 
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Here we go, the Democrats are going left, the Republicans are going...Well, rather hard right since they seem to be trying to appeal to anti-black white votes. Add to that a popular reform candidate getting gunned down by a foreign national...

Ooo. The 70s are going to suck for the US. They are not going to handle any oil crisis (or any crisis at all really) very well...
 
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Here we go, the Democrats are going left, the Republicans are going...Well, rather hard right since they seem to be trying to appeal to anti-black white votes. Add to that a popular reform candidate getting gunned down by a foreign national...

Ooo. The 70s are going to suck for the US. They are not going to handle any oil crisis (or any crisis at all really) very well...
It just wouldn't be the 1970s without sustained, profound crisis in every direction now, would it?
 
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It just wouldn't be the 1970s without sustained, profound crisis in every direction now, would it?
What's going on with the Railway Series, and the railways themselves come to think? Bout now is when steam really starts to disappear otl so...
 
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What's going on with the Railway Series, and the railways themselves come to think? Bout now is when steam really starts to disappear otl so...
Per my notes there is a Eurosyn high speed rail project just around the corner, which may or may not be called Concorde. Domestically… well we’ve obviously not had Beeching, and road travel remains less frequented except for some haulage, so I imagine there’s impetus for upgrades as per. One thing Bevan was actually pretty good on TTL was investment into that sort of heavy infrastructural stuff, so I’d say things are in good shape.

I would do a ‘state of the railways’ mini update for vol 2, were I not wary of provoking another turf war with Pip. We all remember the rice and tractors debacle…

Anyway I’m glad you bring this up because it gives me an excuse to share this badass poster I saw on Twitter the other day:

2948B0EC-DD0F-4636-9B8C-B35E58DE7DCA.jpeg


What we could’ve won, eh?
 
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Per my notes there is a Eurosyn high speed rail project just around the corner, which may or may not be called Concorde. Domestically… well we’ve obviously not had Beeching, and road travel remains less frequented except for some haulage, so I imagine there’s impetus for upgrades as per. One thing Bevan was actually pretty good on TTL was investment into that sort of heavy infrastructural stuff, so I’d say things are in good shape.

I would do a ‘state of the railways’ mini update for vol 2, were I not wary of provoking another turf war with Pip. We all remember the rice and tractors debacle…

Anyway I’m glad you bring this up because it gives me an excuse to share this badass poster I saw on Twitter the other day:

View attachment 745459

What we could’ve won, eh?
Nice.

Ah yes, Mr Beeching. Possibly the only man in the train world more terrifying than Toppham Hat.
 
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My favourite thing about it is the insistence on including Crewe. I mean, I know all rails lead there at some point or another, but… on a Eurotunnel teatowel? Really?

There was another cool poster for the night services:

3DB38BB8-28D8-4891-816F-3C5928039999.jpeg


Divine.

Ah yes, Mr Beeching. Possibly the only man in the train world more terrifying than Toppham Hat.
It’s a difficult feat, but somehow he manages it
 
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