[1987:] The illogical compromise [over the H-bomb] imposed by Attlee in 1955 and still uncomfortably maintained by [his successor, Labour leader Hugh] Gaitskell had left the party facing both ways at once: supporting manufacture of the bomb but opposed to testing it. Gaitskell too had opposed the British tests on 4 June, though less emotionally than [Deputy Leader Aneurin] Bevan. Their positions were essentially the same: the difference was that Bevan talked and wrote as though he believed that nuclear weapons could and must be abolished multilaterally, whereas Gaitskell more cautiously stressed the difficulties in the way of agreement. (Campbell, Nye Bevan 333)
By a virtuoso combination of unflappability and flair, [Prime Minister Harold] Macmillan contrived to dispel his party's mood of defeatism, projecting in its place an irresistible aura of success, based on a visibly rising standard of living. 'Most of our people', he proclaimed famously in July 1957, 'have never had it so good.' (Campbell, Nye Bevan 356)
[Aneurin Bevan's theme in his last major speech in the House of Commons on 3 Nov 1959 was] nothing less than the central problem of democratic government, as it had been revealed by the experience of both Labour and Conservative Governments since the war. The last twenty-five years have only gone to show how penetrating Bevan's analysis was.
'I would describe the central problem falling upon representative government in the Western world,' he began, 'as how to persuade the people to forgo immediate satisfactions in order to build up the economic resources of the country. [...] We failed to solve it. We frankly admit that. In the years immediately after the war we made very great efforts to build up a fixed capital equipment and sacrificed our parliamentary majority. Our name became identified with greyness and dullness, frugalities, shortages. ... We spent five years in doing what we thought was right, holding back present consumption, holding back immediate satisfaction, holding down the standard of living, to canalise and divert resources into building up the economy. [...] It was absolutely essential [to do that.]
I say at once that the party opposite has failed as signally as we failed because its parliamentary majority has been consistent with industrial stagnation. It has solved half the problem. It retained political popularity at the expense of the industrial resources of the nation.' In other words, Bevan suggested, overriding Conservative protests, the Tories had ridden back to power on a wave of shallow 'affluence' bought at the expense of the future. No less a witness than 'Rab' Butler admitted many years later that Bevan's charge was essentially true. (Campbell, Nye Bevan 365)