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In Place Of Harold Wilson?

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Chapter Summary

Nobody will be able to accuse Paul Foot of having understated the case against the Prime Minister. It is often on quite small matters that Paul Foot is most effective: when he quotes the Prime Minister as deprecating appeals to the Dunkirk spirit in 1961 and then appealing to it in 1964, he brings out the way in which the man will trim his utterances to his circumstances. Yet precisely what is Paul Foot indicting? Certainly not only Harold Wilson as a person, but the substance and style of pragmatist and opportunist politics. If we criticise Wilson in the way that Foot does, it implies that the Prime Minister could have done better; but, if Wilsonian politics is the inevitable outcome of the social environment, and only a revolutionary transformation of that environment could win us a new and better politics.

Keywords:Dunkirk spirit; Harold Wilson; Paul Foot; Prime Minister; revolutionary transformation; social environment; Wilsonian politics



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