UK Politics

Kindred spirits?

Reading the assertions of one of our commenters that “The English Labour Party [sic] support for Stalin, and comunism [sic], is far more obscene than anything that [Michael Howard] has done,” and that “socialism and communism were, in essence, kindred spirits,” I was reminded of this wonderful account of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Britain in 1955 (from a book called The Fifties by Peter Lewis):

Mr K, as the headlines called him, was pleasantly enough impressed by the hospitality of Eden’s dacha, Chequers, by tea with the Queen, and by learning from Winston Churchill how to eat oysters. He also watched Churchill nodding off in his seat in the Commons. It was a peaceful scene of bonhomie, but it was shattered by the Parliamentary Labour Party. [At a dinner they gave him] Hugh Gaitskell, the party leader, presented a list of Social Democrats imprisoned in Eastern Europe. Khrushchev asked truculently why he should care what happened to the enemies of the working class. George Brown shouted, “God forgive you”, Aneurin Bevan shook his finger at the guest with the warning “Don’t try to bully me!” and Khrushchev roared above the din: “I haven’t met people like you for thirty or forty years!” Unused to the rough and ready answering-back of British socialism, he remarked next day that if he lived in Britain he would be a Tory.

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