A life apart: the English working class, 1890-1914 by Standish Meacham

By Standish Meacham

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Perhaps more fundamentally, Calder was making a plea for a particularly British national pride. His Scottish identity was irrelevant for him in advocating a new post-imperial British identity whose roots were embedded in the legacy of British morality. That is not to say that Calder did not see himself as Scottish or primarily Scottish, but apart from his personal identity he was advocating a particular idea about what Britain should be doing based on his view of British ideals, values and morality.

This was particularly true for those on the left and especially after 1964. The impact of the Suez Crisis and the implications of the end of empire and Britain’s changing international status were beginning to permeate society and were compounded by disillusionment with Wilson and his government. From the middle of the 1960s, there were increasing doubts both about the will of the British government and their ability to retain or regain Britain’s strong, moral international position. For many people on the political left, it was the Cuban Missile Crisis rather than the Suez Crisis which was the first real indication of Britain’s second-tier status.

CND argued that Britain should be the world leader in disarmament and moral authority, not one of the nuclear powers. B. 12 It is hard to accurately gauge CND support. They did not have official membership until the mid-1960s. However, their perceived impact on activism in Britain in the 1960s, and the left more generally, still looms large. 14 CND acknowledged that in the aftermath of the Second World War Britain was no longer a key military power. The toll that the war had taken on Britain, and the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as military, and particularly nuclear, superpowers arguably put Britain in the role of a second-rate power.

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