Tony Blair on the "Spirit of '45"
Labour in 1945 combined idealism and practicality in equal measure to lead a national crusade for a Britain based on social justice, equality of opportunity and social solidarity. Out of the ruins of war, the 1945 Labour government set out to fulfil the age-old promise of a "land fit for heroes". To a remarkable extent, it succeeded.
The Second World War was a people's war, fought in the name of democracy and humanity against fascism. Labour promised a people's peace. It delivered a national insurance system to provide security against unemployment and old age. It established a national, integrated rail system. It was instrumental in the establishment of international institutions - like the UN, born in London in 1948. And it set up the pride and joy of British socialism - the National Health Service. What is more, at the end of its period in office, the Labour government secured the largest vote ever achieved by the Party.
[1945 was] a remarkable political era ... it summons up the spirit of hope, expectation and - in the cases of defeated Tory candidates - bemusement that marked the 1945 General Election. The lesson of 1945 should be clear: democratic socialism can be both practical and popular.
Tony Blair, 'Foreword', to Austin Mitchell, Election '45: Reflections on the Revolution in Britain (London, 1995), p. 7.