Sunday, 24 April 2016

Whatever Happened to Harold MacMillan?

The headline is there to be returned to later in this post. Don't worry. We will get there.

Current news item is that discussion in UK newspapers continues around the facts about one or more busts of Churchill and their positioning inside the White House. Analysis from Toby Young in the Mail on Sunday (page6 today) includes supposed evidence that "our (UK) relationship with America hasn't been all that 'special' since Obama came to power." The evidence for this claim? "As he admitted one of his first acts as President was to remove from the Oval Office the bust of Churchill that Tony Blair had presented to George W. Bush". No mention in this "analysis" of what President Obama actually said during his press conference. Please look it up.

Actually, have a look at the newspapers and make up your own mind. I am getting to Harold MacMillan much quicker than I thought I would. You can guess the context.

What puzzles me is why Harold MacMillan is not apparently part of the Brexit discussion. I am not a big fan exactly. I do not have a statue in the back yard. But his experience is just a bit relevant. Looking at the history pages on the BBC website two things seem relevant.

Despite bearing some responsibility for the Suez debacle of 1956, Macmillan proved to be a beneficiary of the crisis, which forced the resignation of the prime minister, Anthony Eden in January 1957. Macmillan took his place.

Macmillan's second term was beset with crises. Britain's application for membership of the European Economic Community split the Conservative party, and was eventually vetoed by France.

Eventually though there was some sort of explanation of all this that Harold MacMillan could live with. As could quite a lot of voters as memory serves.

So why is he hardly ever mentioned?

The BBC web page is dated 2014 and is archive only, no updates. Fair enough for history and there are budget cutbacks of course. But I will continue to do a web search on Harold MacMillan and expect something may turn up.

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