Is it true that both sides of the current Labour debate will invoke the memory of Aneurin Bevan? I’ve only heard Owen Smith doing it – and inaccurately.
It seems more likely that Mr Smith wants reflected glory – he says he’s a fan of Mr Bevan so he must be okay as well – than to actually call on any of the late Mr Bevan’s political thought, which would be so far removed from the policies of Mr Smith’s strain of Labour that it would seem alien.
And of course, Nye Bevan is the man who brought the National Health Service into existence (although its conception was the responsibility of many people – not all of them Labour members). The iconic value of the NHS had to be worth something, he must have reasoned.
The trouble is, the NHS gets wheeled out as the UK’s greatest achievement all the time, but it seems to mean too many different things to too many people.
So it seems more likely that the continual mention of Mr Bevan is a miscalculation.
You don’t see Mr Corbyn invoking Bevan at the drop of a pin, do you?
Owen Smith’s constant invocation of Aneurin Bevan has started to become tiresome to many. In a recent leadership hustings, when Smith said his political hero was Bevan there was a groan from many in the audience.
Smith supporters interpreted this as a slander against Bevan: Corbyn supporters were booing the name of one of Labour’s greatest heroes! However, it is more likely to be Owen Smith’s incessant invocation of Bevan that made Corbyn supporters groan.
But herein lies the problem – both sides of any argument will invoke the legacy of Bevan and use it for their own purpose. It’s inevitable with a figure such as Bevan who has left a huge imprint on the conscience of the Labour Party, but whose political thought contains aspects that are contentious and sometimes contradictory.
The invocation of his legacy can be seen as a reflection of the disagreements over the future of the Labour Party.
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