Aneurin Bevan is a name that probably rings no bells here in the U.S. – however, ask someone in Britain who Aneurin Bevan was and, depending on who you talk to, will either tell you Bevan was one of the most revered and respected Politicians in post-War Britain, or he was a left-wing radical, bent on destroying the British way of life.
Bevan represented the Welsh Labour Party and became Minister of Health in the post-War government of Clement Atlee. As a tireless campaigner of workers rights and social justice, Bevan was frequently at odds with conservative members of the government, who saw his leanings to Democratic Socialism a dangerous step toward Communism. However, he championed the National Health Service which was to provide free medical care to all Britons and worked on behalf of the workers to create fairer labor conditions and to Nationalize much needed services.
When Bevan died in 1960, he left a legacy that has endured to this day. And even though National Health has been widely criticized and held up for ridicule (especially by those from the Private Insurance and Pharmaceutical sectors), the idea of a National Health plan for all people has served as rallying cry for many political campaigns, especially in the U.S. – that it gets the same hollow fear-based criticism from the opposition is further proof Bevan was on the right track.
Bevan was a champion for the working person – the person who lived from paycheck to paycheck. They were the backbone of Britain during the post-war rehabilitation of the country – they are still the backbone. As the worker is here. Although its interesting to point out that the fears posed by the Bevan opposition have only come true by way of the deregulation wave that came about in America, starting in the 1970s – and how the question of health is always a hot-button topic, come election time in the U.S. Big Pharma, Big Insurance and Too-Big-To-Fail have positioned and imbedded themselves so deeply within the political fabric of this country that any sort of change, no matter how small, is fought by relentless waves of fear and threats of calamity. Much as the powers of Capitalism and deregulation have prevailed over our electoral process, there is a sense that change can happen – and that maybe Aneurin Bevan had a workable plan.
Here is a documentary on the political life of Aneurin Bevan. The Member of Abbw Vale was produced by the BBC around the time of Bevan’s death. As I said, even though the name Aneurin Bevan may not ring any bells with Americans, what he stood for and tried to achieve is apropos to our current election cycle.