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Voluntary Deference in Crisis (1945–1972)

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Abstract

The first serious challenge to the well-oiled and essentially Whiggish description of the constitution, in which everything seemed to flow naturally, was due to the fact that Britain had changed after the war. This change was much greater than that of the inter-war period through decolonisation, the opening of the country to immigration, and the creation of the welfare state. The need for greater equality in society undermined the old customary ways of doing and obeying. After World War II the concept of deference continued to be used to explain the traditional love and respect of most English people for the monarchy, but less and less to explain the esteem the people might have for their constitution, their political leaders and the duty such leaders were supposed to feel towards those they led.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Vernon Bogdanor, The New British Constitution, op. cit., p. 55.

  2. 2.

    In 1948, the Representation of the People Act mainly got rid of the double-member constituencies and university seats and the 1969 Representation of the People Act reduced the voting age to 18 instead of 21.

  3. 3.

    Edward Shils, ‘Deference’ in: Edward Shils, The Constitution of Society, op. cit., p. 175.

  4. 4.

    In 1966, Roy Jenkins, Labour Home Secretary, gave his definition of multiculturalism: ‘I define integration, therefore, not as a flattening process of assimilation but as equal opportunity, accompanied by cultural diversity, in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance.’ Roy Jenkins, ‘This is the Goal’, London, 23 May 1966 in: Brian MacArthur (1999, pp. 362–363).

  5. 5.

    See Alan Watkins (1970, p. 35).

  6. 6.

    See J. W. Gough (1961, p. 223).

  7. 7.

    See Kenneth O. Morgan (1985, pp. 45–93).

  8. 8.

    See Correlli Barnett (1995, p. 226).

  9. 9.

    See: Brian Harrison (1996, p. 283).

  10. 10.

    For example, the decisions to launch an independent British Nuclear Programme were never discussed in full Cabinet but in a secret Cabinet Committee and Parliament was only informed much later. See David Marquand (2008, p. 128).

  11. 11.

    Clement Attlee, Leader’s speech, Scarborough 1951, http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/speech-archive.htm?speech=161, accessed 11 February 2017.

  12. 12.

    See the very perceptive following explanation of the poem: James E. Swearingen (1992, pp. 125–144).

  13. 13.

    See the explanation given by the Women’s Institute at https://www.thewi.org.uk/faqs/why-was-jerusalem-chosen-as-the-wis-anthem, accessed 28 February 2017.

  14. 14.

    See: Judy Cox, ‘Blake’s Jerusalem’, The Socialist Review, September 2012, no. 372, http://socialistreview.org.uk/372/blakes-jerusalem, accessed 11 February 2017; ‘Why we… believe that ‘Jerusalem’ is not a nationalistic hymn’, Times Higher Education, August 17, 2001, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/why-we-believe-that-jerusalem-is-not-a-nationalistic-hymn/164437.article#, accessed 11 February 2017.

  15. 15.

    Paradoxically however, here, Attlee’s use of history does constitute a rational deferential gesture towards retrieving an un-deferential past.

  16. 16.

    Aneurin Bevan explained in his biography how the House of Commons was like a church: ‘The vaulted roofs and stained glass windows, the rows of statues of great statesmen of the past, the echoing halls, the soft-footed attendants and the whispered conversations, contrast depressingly with the crowded meetings and the clang and clash of hot opinions he has just left behind in the election campaign. Here he is, a tribune of the people, coming to make his voice heard in the seats of power. Instead, it seems he is expected to worship; and the most conservative of all religions—ancestor worship.’ See Aneurin Bevan (1952, p. 6).

  17. 17.

    David Marquand, Britain Since 1918. The Strange Career of British Democracy, op. cit., p. 149.

  18. 18.

    For two dissenting views on the post-war consensus, see Ben Pimlott et al. (1989, 2:6, pp. 12–15).

  19. 19.

    Labour lost with 48.8% of the vote while the Conservatives won with 48%. The results in terms of seats were the following: 321 seats out of 617 for the Conservatives and 295 for Labour. See: http://www.ukpolitical.info/1951.htm, accessed 11 February 2017.

  20. 20.

    See Lord Butler (1971, p. 28). Also quoted in: David Marquand, Britain Since 1918. The Strange Career of British Democracy, op. cit., p. 151.

  21. 21.

    As Marquand reminds us, social diversity, let alone gender diversity, was not the way to make it into the Cabinet: ‘Macmillan’s Cabinet contained one fewer former public-schoolboy than Eden’s (seventeen out of eighteen as against eighteen out of eighteen), and two fewer Etonians (eight as against ten). However, fifteen of its members were Oxbridge graduates as against fourteen under Eden.’ David Marquand, Britain Since 1918. The Strange Career of British Democracy, op. cit., p. 163.

  22. 22.

    Ibid., p. 158.

  23. 23.

    The speech can be heard online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZmw8XIoZeY, accessed 28 February 2017.

  24. 24.

    See the questions raised in an adjournment debate on 9 November 1956 by Tony Benn over the use of a radio in Cyprus taken over to broadcast the ‘voice of Britain’ and contradicting the Prime Minister: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1956/nov/09/middle-east-broadcasts, accessed 14 February 2017.

  25. 25.

    See the transcripts of the answer of the Prime Minister in the Hansard: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1956/dec/20/israel-and-egypt-anglo-french-ultimatum, accessed 14 February 2017.

  26. 26.

    See David Cannadine (2000, pp. 159–160).

  27. 27.

    David Marquand, Britain Since 1918. The Strange Career of British Democracy, op. cit., p. 163.

  28. 28.

    Ibid., p. 164.

  29. 29.

    See Robert Rhodes James (1991, pp. 114–120).

  30. 30.

    See Hugh Thomas (1962, p. 12).

  31. 31.

    Ibid., p. 13.

  32. 32.

    See Peter Kellner (2009, p. 438).

  33. 33.

    For example, just to pick one sketch from That Was The Week That Was poking fun at the dishonesty of politicians, the 1963 sketch on the Conservative Home Secretary, Henry Brooke was particularly vicious and ended with the final repartee: ‘Just shows. If you are Home Secretary, you can get away with murder.’ That Was The Week That Was, commonly known as TW3, was watched by millions—12 million for the most-watched episodes. See: Ibid., pp. 438–441.

  34. 34.

    John Profumo, Personal statement to the House, 22 March 1963, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1963/mar/22/personalstatement#S5CV0674P0_19630322_HOC_7, cc809–810, accessed 28 February 2017.

  35. 35.

    Harold Macmillan, 17 June 1963, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1963/jun/17/security-mr-profumos-resignation, cc 54–55, accessed on 15 February 2017. See also Harold Wilson’s indignation in Parliament on the same day and his insistence on the gravity of lying to the House: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1963/jun/17/security-mr-profumos-resignation, accessed 15 February 2017.

  36. 36.

    Editorial, The Times, 6 June 1963.

  37. 37.

    ‘Private Morals and Public Life’, The Guardian, 6 June 1963 cited in: Wayland Young (1963, p. 112).

  38. 38.

    ‘No Moral Issue’, The Spectator, 23 June 1963, p. 3. http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/21st-june-1963/3/no-moral-issue, accessed 15 February 2017.

  39. 39.

    Lord Home renounced his peerage using the 1963 Peerage Act. This act enabled peers to disclaim their peerages and admitted all female hereditary peers to the House of Lords.

  40. 40.

    Iain Macleod, ‘The Tory Leadership’, The Spectator, 17 January 1964, p. 5, http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/17th-january-1964/5/the-tory-leadership, accessed 17 February 2017.

  41. 41.

    Adam Tomkins, Public Law, op. cit., p. 171.

  42. 42.

    One of the main books of this movement was Out of Apathy (1960) edited by E. P. Thompson for the New Left book series. See: E. P. Thompson (1960, 308pp).

  43. 43.

    The 1944 Education Act had created a tripartite system: grammar schools, secondary modern schools and secondary technical schools—but a lot of technical schools failed to open.

  44. 44.

    David Cannadine, Class in Britain, op. cit., p. 167.

  45. 45.

    Ibid., p. 161.

  46. 46.

    Ibid., p. 167.

  47. 47.

    The most damaging article for the concept of deference in those years is the following: Dennis Kavanagh (1971, pp. 333–360). See also: Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (2018, 262pp).

  48. 48.

    See Alan Watkins (1970).

  49. 49.

    See McKenzie and Silver (1968, pp. xi–295) and Eric A. Nordlinger (1967, 276pp).

  50. 50.

    See especially: Raphael Samuel (1960, pp. 9–13); S. M. Lipset (1960, pp. 10–14); Crossman, Richard, ‘Introduction’, in: Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution, op. cit., pp. 1–57; Frank Parkin (1967, pp. 278–290).

  51. 51.

    Eric A. Nordlinger, The Working-Class Tories. Authority, Deference and Stable Democracy, op. cit., pp. 34–35.

  52. 52.

    Ibid., p. 43.

  53. 53.

    Ibid.

  54. 54.

    R. T. McKenzie and A. Silver, Angels in Marble. Working-Class Conservatives in Urban England 1958–1960, op. cit., p. 252.

  55. 55.

    See Frank Parkin (1971, p. 84).

  56. 56.

    Ibid., p. 84.

  57. 57.

    See Alan Watkins (1970, p. 35).

  58. 58.

    Ibid.

  59. 59.

    David Cannadine, Class in Britain, op. cit., pp. 167–168.

  60. 60.

    See Dennis Kavanagh (1971, pp. 333–360).

  61. 61.

    Ibid., p. 333.

  62. 62.

    Kavanagh based his study on the research of the following scholars: Richard Rose and Harvé Mossawir, ‘Ordinary Individuals in Electoral Situations’, in Richard Rose (ed.), Policy-Making in Britain, London, Macmillan, 1960; Eric A. Nordlinger, The Working-Class Tories. Authority, Deference and Stable Democracy, op. cit.; see A. H. Birch (1964, 252pp, 1967, 264pp); Harry Eckstein, ‘The British Political System’, in: Samuel H. Beer and Adam Ulan (eds.), Patterns of Government: The Major Political Systems of Europe (1958), New York, Random House, 1965, xvii–780 pages; see Almond and Verba (1963, 562pp); W. G. Runciman (1966, pp. xiv–338); R. T. McKenzie and A. Silver, Angels in Marble. Working-Class Conservatives in Urban England 1958–1960, op. cit.; J. H. Goldthorpe, et al. (1969, pp. viii–239).

  63. 63.

    Dennis Kavanagh, ‘The Deferential English: A Comparative Critique’, op. cit., p. 337.

  64. 64.

    Ibid., pp. 336–354.

  65. 65.

    Ibid., p. 360.

  66. 66.

    See Bob Jessop (2011, pp. 20–21).

  67. 67.

    See Erving Goffman (1956, pp. 473–502); Edward Shils (1968) in: The Constitution of Society, op. cit., pp. 143–175.

  68. 68.

    In 2000, the French journal Communications, published a number of articles on deference and translated as well as analysed Shils’ 1968 article. See: ‘La Déference’, Communications, no. 69, 2000, 268 pages.

  69. 69.

    Edward Shils (1968) in: The Constitution of Society, op. cit., p. 159.

  70. 70.

    Ibid., p. 169.

  71. 71.

    Ibid., pp. 144–145.

  72. 72.

    See John Ray (1972, pp. 244–251).

  73. 73.

    Ibid., p. 245.

  74. 74.

    Ibid., p. 246.

  75. 75.

    Ibid., p. 247.

  76. 76.

    In an article written in 1960, two academics warned of the difficulties in research interviews of not taking into account the social relationship created between the interviewer and the interviewed in terms of class and how deference (here voluntary deference) could have implications in gathering data, including in nations in which equality was a starting point. John Ray does not take into account this problem in his own research in Australia. See Lenski and Leggett (1960, pp. 463–467).

  77. 77.

    John Ray, ‘The Measurement of Political Deference—Some Australian Data’, British Journal of Political Science, op. cit., p. 251.

  78. 78.

    Whether extreme anarchists would defer is another problem because, in their case, it is in their wilful determination and absolute rejection of the state and hierarchy that they end up deferring to their self only. But even anarchists defer within their own group to those they consider worthy of being like themselves.

  79. 79.

    David Cannadine, Class in Britain, op. cit., p. 141.

  80. 80.

    Kingsley Martin, The Crown and the Establishment, op. cit., p. 115.

  81. 81.

    See John W. Wheeler-Bennett (1958, p. 132).

  82. 82.

    Vernon Bogdanor, The Monarchy and the Constitution, op. cit., p. 248.

  83. 83.

    The Commonwealth Immigrants Act (1962) restricted immigration to those who could prove that either they, their parents or grandparents had been born in Britain. The 1971 Immigration Act further restricted immigration as Commonwealth citizens lost their automatic right to remain in the UK and faced the same restrictions as other nationalities—they had to live and work for five years in the United Kingdom.

  84. 84.

    On this separation between ‘Crown-as-Executive’ and ‘Crown-as-Monarch’, see: Sir William Wade, ‘The Crown, Ministers and Officials: Legal Status and Liability’, in: Sunkin and Payne (1999, p. 26).

  85. 85.

    Vernon Bogdanor, The Monarchy and the Constitution, op. cit., p. 249.

  86. 86.

    The Royal Titles Act of 1953 confirmed the Queen’s titles as ‘Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith’.

  87. 87.

    Edward Shils, ‘Deference’, op. cit., p. 175.

  88. 88.

    See Michael Billig (1992, pp. 72–74).

  89. 89.

    See Tom Nairn (1988, p. 361).

  90. 90.

    Around 300 million people viewed the coronation. See: Dr Eliza Filby, ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation: what we can learn from 1953’, The Telegraph, 30 May 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/queen-elizabeth-II/10089421/Queen-Elizabeths-Coronation-what-we-can-learn-from-1953.html, accessed 14 February 2017.

  91. 91.

    See: Vernon Bogdanor, The Monarchy and the Constitution, op. cit., p. 215.

  92. 92.

    Kingsley Martin, The Crown and the Establishment, op. cit., p. 118.

  93. 93.

    Ibid., p. 121.

  94. 94.

    David Law, ‘Morning After’, The Guardian, 3 June 1953.

  95. 95.

    John Grigg, ‘A summer storm’, in: Jeremy Murray-Brown (ed.), The Monarchy and its Future, op. cit., p. 48.

  96. 96.

    Ibid., p. 43.

  97. 97.

    Ibid., p. 52.

  98. 98.

    Jeremy Murray-Brown (ed.), The Monarchy and its Future, op. cit.

  99. 99.

    Irving, Clive, ‘The Palace and the Image Machine’, in: Ibid., pp. 108–109.

  100. 100.

    William Rees-Moggs, Sunday Times, 13 October 1963, cited in: Vernon Bogdanor, The Monarchy and the Constitution, op. cit., p. 98.

  101. 101.

    According to Kingsley Martin, the first cartoon in ‘a century’ to lampoon the monarchy, was a caricature by Cummings in The Spectator, 19 January 1962, poking fun at Lord Snowdon (Princess Margaret’s husband) carrying on his career as a photographer for the Conservative Sunday Times (putting the Crown in an odd position of being seen as supporting the Conservatives). See: Kingsley Martin, The Crown and the Establishment, op. cit., p. 133.

  102. 102.

    ‘The Queen’s Departure’, That Was the Week That Was, March 1963, Season 1, Episode 17. Cited in: Sarah Bradford (2011, p. 133).

  103. 103.

    Colin Macinnes, ‘Our Own Kings’, in: Jeremy Murray-Brown (ed.), The Monarchy and its Future, op. cit., p. 148.

  104. 104.

    See Richard Hoggart (1957, p. 92).

  105. 105.

    Michael Billig, Talking of the Royal Family, op. cit., p. 72.

  106. 106.

    David Attenborough cited in Robert Hardman (2012, p. 213).

  107. 107.

    William Heseltine cited in Robert Hardman, in: Ibid., p. 213.

  108. 108.

    With the advantage of hindsight, Royal Family was highbrow in comparison with the truly dire It’s a Royal Knockout of June 1987—watched by 18 million viewers—devised by Prince Edward against the wishes of his mother, and including the participation of Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and his wife, the Duchess of York, in a humiliating and ridiculous spectacle, albeit for charity. See Daniel Roseman (1996).

  109. 109.

    See Lord Denning (1949, p. 126).

  110. 110.

    See: Lord Hewart of Bury, The New Despotism, op. cit.

  111. 111.

    Martin Loughlin, The British Constitution. A Very Short Introduction, op. cit., p. 93.

  112. 112.

    The Rule of Law was recognised by statute in the Constitutional Reform Act of 2005 but no clear definition was given, leaving it open to the interpretation of the judges—in the time-honoured fashion of evolutions and adjustments to the context and the cases. See: Tom Bingham, The Rule of Law, op. cit., pp. 7–8.

  113. 113.

    Adam Tomkins, Public Law, op. cit., p. 170.

  114. 114.

    Ibid., p. 171.

  115. 115.

    In his lecture ‘The Judge as Lawmaker’ (1972), Lord Reid declared: ‘We do not believe in fairy tales anymore, so we must accept the fact that for better or worse judges do make law.’ Lord Reid, ‘The judge as law maker’, 1972, 12 JSPTL, p. 22. See also: E. W. Thomas (2005, p. 3).

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      Marshall, C. (2021). Voluntary Deference in Crisis (1945–1972). In: Political Deference in a Democratic Age. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-62539-9_7

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