Man Who Needs a History Lesson; Commentary

Daily Mail (London), April 23, 2009 | Go to article overview

Man Who Needs a History Lesson; Commentary


Byline: by Dominic Sandbrook

WHEN Alistair Darling elected to use Gladstone's battered red leather box for yesterday's Budget speech, rather than Gordon Brown's shiny New Labour replacement, it was meant to symbolise his affiliation with the titanic Chancellors of the past, from Gladstone and Disraeli to Healey and Howe.

But sadly, Mr Darling seems to have abandoned the most basic historical legacy of all - the need for prudent housekeeping and hard choices.

For as David Cameron pointed out yesterday, the Chancellor's baffling optimism about an early return to growth flies in the face of all the current economic wisdom.

And with Britain set to borrow [pounds sterling]600billion over the next four years, our children will be paying off Labour's debt for decades to come - a classic example of borrow now, pay later.

But Mr Darling would have done better to look to Labour's very first Chancellor for inspiration - and for proof that it is always better to take tough decisions today rather than put them off till tomorrow.

As a high-minded Methodist, pacifist and teetotaller, Philip Snowden would hardly have thrived in today's shallow, celebrity-driven media climate. But as Chancellor during the economic crisis of the 1930s, he put the national interest ahead of Party advantage.

Snowden grew up 'in an atmosphere which regarded borrowing as an evil', according to his biography. And instead of throwing money at the Great Depression, he preferred to slash a record [pounds sterling]70million in benefits and public spending (some [pounds sterling]20billion today). At the time, his decision was hugely controversial.

Snowden's austerity tore the Labour Party apart, and he found himself part of a National Government with Conservative and Liberal politicans and reviled by his old colleagues.

But his cautious economic management did the trick - and Britain recovered from the Depression faster than any other major nation.

If Mr Darling shudders at that example - and Snowden's name is still mud in Old Labour circles - then he could have turned for inspiration to another high-minded Labour Chancellor, the eccentric Sir Stafford Cripps.

The Marxist son of a Tory baronet, Cripps was an evangelical Christian, a vegetarian and a famously severe, chilly character.

Yet in the late 1940s he set Britain on the road from austerity to affluence - thanks once again to his determination to put the national interest first.

In 1947, with a threadbare, bomb-damaged Britain gripped by a wave of strikes, the worst weather in living memory and a crippling currency crisis, Cripps found himself staring into the economic abyss. …

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

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Man Who Needs a History Lesson; Commentary
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
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.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.