Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday historical hyperbole

A quick dispatch from the British Library, from a book on the popular press in the mid 20th century:

Churchill's first election broadcast, on June 4, was the crucial episode in the early part of the [1945] campaign, and the Express's enthusiasm now found an issue instead of just a mood. The essence of his argument was bannered next day on the front page: Gestapo in Britain if Socialists win, and expanded in the leader:
Voters of Britain! Will you go down to history as the men and women who smashed the inhuman tyranny in Europe but were too tired or too bewildered or too dazzled by your own glory to save yourselves from tyranny at home?

After ripping the Gestapo out of the still beating heart of Germany, will you stand for a Gestapo under another name at home?...

Were you shocked to learn from Mr. Churchill that State control leads to Fascism?

Think hard about it, and see how true it is.
A.C.H. Smith, Paper Voices: The Popular Press and Social Change 1935-1965 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1975)

Heady stuff. (I mean...'ripping the Gestapo out of the still beating heart of Germany'...Strewth! What vivid prose.)

So this is what papers like the Express and Mail did before they had 'political correctness' to freak out about.

(And, of course, this was not all that long after at least one of them had expressed a certain fondness for the dreaded f-word.)

It is left only to admire the clear-eyed vision with which the Express editorial noted above accurately predicted the terrorised Gleichschaltung that followed Labour's victory in 1945.

Well done, chaps. Stay vigilant.

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