Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The 1966 general election

On Easter Monday, the BBC Parliament channel broadcast the entire coverage of the 1966 general election. With storm Kate raging outside, and making any outdoor activities unattractive, I watched most of the coverage.

David Butler said near the beginning of the broadcast that 'Britain is a uniform country.' Of course, he was particularly referring to the concept of swing which he was keen to defend throughout the broadcast.

What struck me about the vox pops with voters (not easy to do, as I know) was how many of them used the argument that Labour should be given a longer period in office with a larger majority to see what they could do. I was also struck by how many Conservative voters thought there was a real prospect of extensive nationalisation, for example of the banks. It was difficult to see the pragmatic Wilson ever doing that.

One American journalist who was interviewed said that if the country could produce political leaders of the calibre of Heath, Wilson and Grimond, the body politic must be in a healthy state. Could we say the same of today's leaders in either the UK or the United States?

Scottish Secretary and machine politician Willie Ross said that we were too politically mature to contemplate self-government for Scotland. However, David Butler did pick up on the growing Scottish Nationalist vote in the lowland belt.

In his press conference, Edward Heath was far more relaxed than I remember him, although he displayed his distracting habit of heaving his shoulders when laughing.