Labour’s European Dilemmas: From Bevin to Blair by Roger Broad (auth.)

By Roger Broad (auth.)

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Extra resources for Labour’s European Dilemmas: From Bevin to Blair

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16 This was his last fling at European unity. Enthusiasm for a European solution waned. In February 1949 a less federalist EDM won support from under 60 Labour MPs, all but nine of whom had signed the April 1948 motion. The mainstream Left’s interest in European federalism was thus ephemeral. After 1950 it disappeared from the leftwing agenda, even as an aspiration. The federalist Mackay was out of Parliament after 1951. Only the old Independent Labour Party tradition was still there, but weakening.

7 On 2 June Paris asked the six governments now involved to decide within 24 hours whether they would take part on the terms proposed. By now Bevin was in hospital and Attlee was on holiday. Cripps, who was more positive about the proposal, was also absent, sick. It fell to Bevin’s deputy Kenneth Younger to find acting Prime Minister Herbert Morrison in a restaurant with the news of the ultimatum. The latter’s reaction: ‘It’s no good. We cannot do it. 8 On 3 June the government issued a tight-lipped statement which concluded that, ‘an unhappy situation would arise if, having bound themselves to certain principles without knowing how they would work out in practice, they [the governments] were to find themselves, as a result of the discussion, compelled to withdraw from their undertakings’.

8 When peace came, Britain was separated from continental Europe not only by 20 miles of water and two centuries of imperial history, but by differing wartime experiences. The few neutrals apart, the continental countries, whether Allied or Axis, had one experience in common: military defeat and foreign occupation. Their political and judicial institutions had been destroyed by the occupier, their civil societies undermined, and their nation states subjected to his will. On the continent the nation state had failed in its primary function of protecting its citizens from external threat.

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Labour’s European Dilemmas: From Bevin to Blair by Roger Broad (auth.)
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