I Thought you Artists only Played with Crayons all Day?


Theme: The forgotten side of Atlee’s government: some instances of oversight, inconsistency, or expediency in the making of foreign and domestic policy by the Labour government of 1945-50.

I feel that to understand the Labour Party of today, we must consider the criticism from political friend and foe concerning claims of the 1945-50 government and its promises. However, I need some understanding as to whether allegations of an apparent absence of an ethical foreign policy agenda (for example over Palestine, Kurdistan, and India) have any truth to them. You must decide yourselves. Today, Labour supporter still feel that (psychologically) they associate Tory foreign policy with the Gallipoli campaign, the Profumo situation and the Suez crisis - in other words, PR disasters, and electoral assets for the Labour party. To me, that's the pot calling the kettle black, not just in recent years (Blair and Brown's policies), but from Labour's flagship ‘trump card’ of the Attlee government (1945-50).


1. British governments had repeatedly promised the Kurds that they would have their own state as a reward and incentive for fighting Axis powers in WW11. That is, until oil in massive reserves were discovered. Where was the ethical dimension?

2. Why did India get its independence in 1947? Perhaps because the Kurds had less political muscle, or, Britain's exit strategy from India was cobbled together by labour so that the British could avoid having to provide huge resources to prevent the bloody civil war that ensued between Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities that established Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In other words, Atlee’s government was being less than principled. Here, this illustrates the theme of Labour (1945-50) honouring British promises, but being pragmatic in their application.

3. In the setting up of the state of Israel in 1947 (a promise kept), did the ‘back of the cigarette packet’ Labour plan provide harmony between the world and the Jews? Instead, neither were Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, nor the rest of Palestine happy. The Labour government seemed to underestimate the mutual mistrust of all communities at best, and at worst, ignore the multiple and conflicting claims from those concerned of historical and geographical indigenuity to Palestine. There still is more than a residual enmity today in the region, which can be traced to Atlee’s government's incompetence or negligence, not just to centuries of regional conflict.


© 2020 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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