It seems likely that the Labour Party is shifting its position and will adopt the budgets of the coalition. As a result there has been a flurry of debate - well, not quite that - about the funding of public services and the history of the Welfare State since Beveridge. The BBC's Nick Robinson was wheeled out to peer back into the past.
Needless to say, this has caused disaffection on the left, and there is talk of yet another new party emerging, thanks to the inspiration from Ken Loach's passionate film Spirit of '45.
Now, I've blogged about this before, after I appeared on Start the Week with Ken Loach, partly to talk about my new book Broke. He shook his head vigorously at me while I spoke, so I suppose it is fair to say that we don't agree.
I think the Attlee government founded some of these institutions that Loach wants to revive complete with the seeds of their own destruction inside them - over-centralised and dangerously over-professionalised. As a result, the institutions have become sclerotic and ineffective, and increasingly expensive. It meant that Beveridge's Five Giants were only temporarily slayed, and come back to life again every generation to be slayed all over again.
So, while I long for the boldness of that government - I think it is time to start looking forward, not endlessly harping back to what we have lost. We can imagine what kind of institutions might work, and it is time to start making them happen.
So, no, I won't be joining a new political movement based on nostalgia for 1945. But what I wanted to say here is that it anyway misses the point.
The real founding moment of the modern British state wasn't 1945 but 1940. That explains our national obsession with the Second World War and the Blitz, but - unlike 1945 - the Spirit of '40 needs a bit more unpacking.
It wasn't just the relief people felt then about 'standing alone', without the complications of allies across the Channel, though there was an element of that. It was the extraordinary sense of national mission and cohesion that had begun to take hold during the Battle of Britain, so different from the divided nation that had gone to war so reluctantly. Even by 1942, people were looking back to that summer of 1940 where everything seemed to be coming together.
Those are all well-known. But the real reason why 1940 remains important in the national psyche has been half forgotten. It was the sense that innovative, effective people could abandon long-establish and stultifying procedures and make things happen. It was the moment when the Old Guard, the appeasers and those who had muddled through the Great Depression, had been swept aside by people who could take events by the scruff of the neck.
In short, it was the moment when the forces of conservatism were pushed out in a moment of supreme crisis.
It might not have happened. Neville Chamberlain would have survived the critical debate on the Norwegian campaign in the House of Commons if the mood had not been changed by the arrival of Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, the hero of Zeebrugge, in the full uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet, who laid into the government from the Conservative benches.
The result was that Chamberlain resigned, Churchill took over and the rest - as they say - was history.
In comparison to this symbolic moment of liberation, the Spirit of '45 was the apotheosis of the professional classes and the Man from Whitehall. It is the Spirit of '40 that still animates.
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