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Before last month, Britain had experienced two supreme democratic moments in the previous 100 years.
The first of these came immediately after World War II, when Clement Attlee’s Labour surged to victory on the back of mass popular support against a Conservative party which (though led by Winston Churchill) had lost touch with ordinary people when it came to peacetime matters.
Attlee - Victory - Effect - Change - NHS
Attlee used his victory to effect profound social change. He created the NHS, the Welfare State and placed full employment at the heart of government policy. Indeed, Attlee’s vision was so comprehensive that it was not seriously challenged by Churchill’s Conservative administration when it regained power in 1951.
By the Seventies, the Attlee approach no longer worked. Repeated economic failure by the Left led to the rise of Margaret Thatcher, who injected dynamism and ruthlessness into the management of the economy. Above all, she took on the unions and restored British pride in our identity. This was our second great democratic moment.
Thatcherite - Vision - Labour - Successors - Tony
The Thatcherite vision proved so strong that it was even embraced by her Labour successors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown — and, in due course, David Cameron.
However, a dark and unexpected problem was emerging — the growing gap between a new professional governing elite and ordinary people. This was very dangerous to British democracy.
Cause - Alienation - European - Union - Power
A crucial cause of this alienation was the European Union, whose burgeoning power meant that British politicians were no longer responsible for decisions which viscerally affected voters. Turnout at elections slumped, economic vitality declined, and democracy itself came to be held in contempt.
The momentous events of the past three weeks cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of this essential background. Over these tumultuous days, Britain has undergone a political revolution potentially as profound as anything that has taken place in our history.
There have been no riots on...
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