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The Coalition of 1950 was an electoral alliance brokered between the Labour Party of Bancairn and the Bancairn Socialist Party. The union was formed shortly before the General Election of 1950 in order to ensure a strong socialist showing in the elections. The Conservative Party of the time had taken the forefront of right-wing politics after years of coalition inside the National Popular Front-Home Association led by Charles Tombany, and it was essential for the leaders of the LPB and BSP to avoid a Conservative victory.

Before the Coalition (1948-1949)[]

A resurgence of Revolutionary Socialist theory inside the Labour Party occurred around 1948, when a newly elected politician, John Gillard, presented this thesis for a Socialist State in Bancairn in a pamphlet, The Socialist State. In this book, Gillard envisaged a rapid reform of Bancairn's political institutions and the creation of a welfare state, as well as a radical nationalisation of the industry. His motive for the change was the observation that Bancairn was now a nation of workers and working-class people, and that it was ready for a change in their favour. Populations belonging to the lower and middle-class were more and more numerous, especially after the war, while the industry was booming, but profited only the richest actors of the economy. Much of Gillard's theory was inspired from the works of Labour politician and political theorist Albert Heresberg, in particular his treatise Marxism adapted to Bancairn and Atlantic Nations.

However, the idea was far from a communist revolution or takeover: the actions Gillard imagined remained in the realm of democratic socialism, as the tradition had been since the beginnings of the Labour Party as a modern socialist organisation in 1900 (see History of the Labour Party). In fact, Gillard reinvented that tradition by repeating that the Socialist State could only be democratic: any attempt to do otherwise would result in a non-socialist state, which Gillard likened to the Soviet Union and its "state capitalism" (his words). Consequently, Gillard, like the socialist establishment of the time in Bancairn, rejected Stalinism and criticized the Soviet Union for its expansive stances towards Eastern Europe. Events such as the Blocus of Berlin also attracted criticism from the left. Towards the middle of 1949, Scott Farman resigned his leadership of the Labour Party, and Gillard was easily elected in his place.

Meanwhile, the Bancairn Socialist Party was faring mildly. A leadership crisis had seen three leaders in quick succession ; faction infighting was weakening party strength (between the supporters of traditional reformism, those who wanted to go "red", in an attempt to emulate European communist parties or the LPB, and those who advocated a modern reformist party, with marked differences from Labour). Either way, the party had little choice but to agree to an electoral alliance, with bitter resignation. Indeed, from 1948 to the landslide victory in 1950, Gillard continuously criticized the BSP, on the grounds that their social-democracy was a simulacra of real socialism.

"Democratic socialism is a repetition of the same word. Socialism is democracy; one is the other. Both are contained in each other. But those words have been ably perverted by ideologists. In fact, for those who use and adopt those words, the result is often that their policies are neither democratic, nor socialist. Those who insist on using both words when describing their policy or politics are misleading the public into thinking that there are two forms of socialism. There is only one, and it is socialism, full stop. There are no "democratic" and "undemocratic" brands of socialism."
-Excerpt from the Cross-Left party debate, June 16, 1950.

The constant battering of the BSP's policy by Gillard unseated the Socialists and each debate was a step further towards an annexation of the Socialist Party. Towards the end of 1949, a coalition between both parties seemed simply inevitable.

Forging the Coalition (1949-1950)[]

Several meetings "at the top" were held in the winter of 1949 between Gillard and the Socialist Party's leadership, represented by Harvey Athden, the First State Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister of the time. They concluded in January 1950 with a statement from Athden:

"[...]assuring our colleagues of the Labour Party of Bancairn that the Bancairn Socialist Party is committed to supporting democratic reform in favour of the working-class now; it shall for this purpose constitute an alliance with the Labour Party for the upcoming elections."

The statement was contested by the traditional and modernist reform wings of the Socialist Party, but somewhat silenced by the leadership. The choice between electoral success and policy independence privileged the former, although senior MPs were often heard commenting that "There is no point getting elected on a program which isn't ours".

The Farnham Conference (February 1950)[]

A conference between prominent members of both parties, including sitting MPs, Senators, and Ministers, was scheduled for February: its goal was the establishment and commitment to a list of policies, many of which originated from the ideas propounded in The Socialist State ; a few of them emanated from the Socialist Party. The 7-day conference was the theatre of lengthy disputes between "modernists" and "traditionalists", "reformers" and "revolutionaries", "reds" (attracted to Soviet Communism) and "blacks" (the more anarchist-oriented section of the Socialist Party", all of whom took the opportunity of the conference to debate matters of ideology or political philosophy. However, at the end of the week, a Common Policy Paper was signed and agreed on, in time for the primaries.

The 1950 Primary Elections[]

Public sentiment and opinion before the Primaries[]

The public of 1950 was still largely in a post-war mood. Only five years had elapsed since the end of the conflict which had claimed many a Cairn's life, and the experience of war, both through the eyes of the veterans who had survived the fighting, and the civilians who had faced the prospects of isolation and economic austerity during those years, was still present. After the Government Reform Act of 1945, which shortened political mandates for Government and Parliament to 4 years, and the second Act of 1948 (which shortened the political term to 3 years), it was felt that power was becoming unstable; the years before the war, which had seen political stability in the form of the seven-year term, and an enduring Cabinet under Charles Tombany, appeared as a "golden age" of institutional strength. The brevity of the new term system implied necessary political instability from one election to the next, and a majority of citizens declared themselves dissatisfied with the change. The press in particular denounced the "vagrancy of power" resulting from the constitutional changes, predicting "an age of irresponsible, fleeting politics, with no foundations, no stability, and contradictory changes every three years".

While the fears of political instability did not engage a majority of the public, which was more preoccupied by economic viability and the necessities of modern institutions for health and resources, the debate on powers trickled down and became a meaningful issue.

Respective party platforms on the issues[]

The Economy[]

The Conservative Party, benefiting from a regain of electoral trust since 1945, entered the Primaries on a platform of economic stability, promising better work conditions, higher pay, and a stronger consumer power. Defending the free market, they also committed themselves to bringing an end to "misery", and striving for fuller employment. Led by James Howard, who had become Conservative House leader in 1948, the party adopted a "compassionate" approach, with a modernist touch, severing its "aristocratic roots". Howard, as a major figure, and candidate to the Home Office, insisted on the need for Conservatives to appeal to everyone. In doing so, he set a lasting trend of humanist, "Howardian" conservatism, which "put the well-being of the nation before the profits of an elite". In fact, it was a move towards a more balanced economy, based less on industries and more on emerging services.

The Coalition led by the Labour Party and John Gillard advocated immediate nationalization of the industry, and a general reshuffle of economic circuits. It advocated a progressive tax grid, which would discourage the accumulation of "useless fortunes" by the richest members of society, by taxing what was defined as "superfluous property". The higher classes hated the idea and supported the Conservatives in return, while the lower and middle-class, who had for long silently stood the "excesses of the rich", recognized Gillard as an honest candidate.

The Liberal Democrats adopted a policy heavily based around the mixed economy. Also in favour of a balanced economic structure, they campaigned in favour of lowering taxes on families, and for the increase of pensions for the aged.

The Republican Party, which had been at the top before the war, still held on to the rights of city financiers, stockholders, shareholders and landowners, opposing the Coalition's promise to heavily tax property. While in favour of a traditional economy based on the riches of the soil (agriculture and mining), they also defended institutions against "generalized atheism", for example by resisting the abolition of private schools, religious schools, and religious institutions, which was the goal of the Coalition.

Finally, the Home Association, which had become rump after Derek Home's death in 1949, were committed to pursuing the centrist and progressive policies of the past ten years under Tombany; but their voice was dimming. Advocating economic justice and growth, they fell under the criticism of the Coalition for "calling themselves popular while refusing to commit to the realities of a popular movement".

Foreign Policy & NATO[]

The Conservative Party operated a change of focus. Great Britain, and Europe, who had suffered from the war and whose economies now lay in ruins, were not models anymore. Instead, the Conservatives turned towards the United States and Canada, their "American friends". Howard in particular admired the United States for its strength and standing. On the other hand, diplomatic relations with the USSR were taut. The Conservative Party was prepared to severing the links between Communist countries, while attempting to repair those broken during the war, (with Germany, Italy Spain and France), thus keeping an eye on the eastern coast of the Atlantic. The party also promised to expand its diplomatic relations with the Americas. Subsequently to his position on the United States, Howard was also a vocal supporter of NATO, as was the Conservative establishment of the time. But Howard was also banking on fruitful relationships with Egypt, while remaining neutral on the issue of Israel; open to relations with decolonized countries (such as India), and supportive of self-determination. Bancairn, he stressed, had to participate as much as it could in world affairs. Economically, Bancairn had all to gain from exchanging with other countries, especially by exporting its mineral riches and excess oil, which would in return enable it to import technology and machinery which it did not produce.

The Coalition also argued in favour of turning away from the Soviet Union, only to focus on Bancairn. Gillard the theorist had concluded that Bancairn would have to do its revolution on its own, and could not count on other socialist countries for help or guidance; Gillard the politician would pursue exactly that policy, focusing inward and maintaining cordial, but limited, relations with friendly nations. Any influence on the Socialist State from outside would necessarily be negative, because foreign: as such, Gillard could not think of any special relationships to entertain with other powers. He was suspicious as much of communist countries and socialist republics as he was of freewheeling capitalist nations. Regarding NATO, Gillard was sceptical; he had little interest in the alliance and was prepared to quit, preferring a "non-aligned" stance. Again, this was due to the implications of bringing about the Socialist State.

The Liberal Democrats adopted a policy of centralism. Bancairn, they argued, was a centre, a node for the relations between Atlantic Nations, and this node had to be preserved in light of the new distribution of powers after the war (the formation of the Western and Soviet blocks). In light of this, they supported NATO, albeit what they saw as a peaceful and pacifying organisation.

The Republicans remained isolationist, privileging few, but strong, relations with Great Britain and the United States, and insisting on "Cultural Community": their policy of keeping close to countries with the closest cultures, preferably with a Judeo-Christian heritage. Suspicion towards "new foreigners" was high amongst Republicans.

The Home Association kept its old policy of "to all country; something to tell and something to hear", privileging no relationship with any country in particular. At the height of Cold War intrigues, this was seen as naive and unrealistic by the other parties. The Home Association, with its tradition of nationalism and economic independence, or autarchy, was not enthusiastic about developing dense trade relations with other countries. That too, in light of the emerging globalization, was seen as short-sighted and dim.