Stalin Would Be Proud of the White Elephant That Towers over the One-Party State of Hull

By Barker, Paul | New Statesman (1996), April 24, 1998 | Go to article overview

Stalin Would Be Proud of the White Elephant That Towers over the One-Party State of Hull


Barker, Paul, New Statesman (1996)


I can't report on the view from the bridge. Vertigo descended. I clutched the wheel in a cold sweat, stared straight ahead, and prayed for the high, swooping cables of the world's longest suspension span to come down, finally, to solid earth. I paid the attendant my [pounds]2.10 toll, and put the vertigo behind me.

I had decided to enter the one-party city state of Hull across the Humber bridge.

In a city whose politics are mired in quarrels and sharp practice, this was the biggest sweetener of all. In 1966 Harold Wilson was terrified Labour would lose a Hull by-election. Barbara Castle, his transport minister, announced that the long-promised crossing would be built. Labour won the by-election so resoundingly that Wilson called a (victorious) general election.

The bridge is now the whitest of white elephants. It was meant to unite the two halves of a projected New City of Humberopolis, a Milton Keynes of the north. The rising birth rate was supposed to demand it. But the debt-laden bridge is hardly used. Humberopolis never happened.

In between Hull constituency business, I like to think John Prescott sometimes goes to sit on his folding camp-stool in the Humber reed beds, and looks out at the most expensive view in the north of England. I see him as a 20th-century version of Edward Gibbon, musing on the classical rains in Rome, and deciding to write The Decline and Fall. But this time it would be a two-part treatise. Volume 1: The decline and fall of demographic forecasting. Volume 2: Regional regeneration is easier announced than done. Both will be handy for his shelves at the grandiosely named Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

The 500-foot towers of the bridge rise teasingly above the ruler-flat north Lincolnshire landscape. Stalin would have been proud: a monument to socialist endeavour. You then come down into Hull. This is as sad as any East German historic town left in the care of Ulbricht and Honecker. Eric Hobsbawm argues that Soviet communism made Britain and other bits of the west perk up their welfare systems to compete. I'm not so sure. But, unarguably, emulation of Stalin's Moscow shaped the British postwar consensus on how to rebuild cities.

Hull was badly bombed. But the city council knocked down more historic streets and churches than the air raids did. It was as if they wanted to erase memory. Germans say Dresden was destroyed twice: by Anglo-American bombers and by communist reconstruction. (Dresden is now being re-rebuilt.) Ditto, on a smaller scale, in Hull.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Stalin Would Be Proud of the White Elephant That Towers over the One-Party State of Hull
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.