Last night I was watching a series of films made by the admirable Humphrey Jennings in the early 1940s. ‘London can take it’, ‘Spring Offensive’, ‘The First Days’, were all made for morale boosting propaganda purposes, but nevertheless painted a realistic picture of what the people and their government were doing to improve national health, educate people about their union rights, and inspire the population to further efforts.
One thing comes across with dazzling clarity. The genuine wish, translated into actions, of the war cabinet of the day, to enable everyone to be as healthy, as well cared for, and as informed as possible. No outsourcing or private companies stood to make profits. The priority was ourselves, the ordinary people, and these films show how much the government of the day valued its citizens and respected the conditions they were enduring.
Of course, having a war to fight helped. We had a common purpose and a shared vision. But is this what it takes to make politicians care about us? What a tragedy. It seems we have learned nothing from recent history. The nation’s health improved; we took more exercise, our diet was better, even our teeth and eyes were looked after, because those in power over us believed we mattered.
These films should be required viewing for the present day cabinet, who have forgotten what a resource we could be. If they cared.