Friday, February 13, 2009

Anglo-Soviet



Two things by me in this week's New Statesman, both of which investigate the unsung links between Britain and the early USSR. Accidentally. One of them has the obligatory annoying comment which appends every article ever published online on the Soviet Union. This one isn't really worth a reply, given the evident inability of the writer to understand irony or nuance - although the studenty Chris Morris-based pseudonym at least suggests the possibility that 'these killings were obviously ironic'. 

(image of David King via)

16 Comments:

Anonymous Lang Rabbie said...

Regarding Abram Games' poster of Finsbury Health Centre...

My recollection is that Churchill was more concerned by the suggestion that rickets was rife in pre-war England, than by his abhorrence of modern architecture.

It is often thought that Churchill suppressed the poster as a partisan action. But it appears that it was brought to his attention by none other than Ernest Bevin!

Does anyone knwo what Bevin wrote to Churchill ???

...Withdrawn from circulation as a result of the following minute sent by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill, to the Secretary of State for War, 17 April 1943:

"Pray see the attached and the comment which Mr Bevin made upon it. The poster is a disgraceful libel on the conditions prevailing in Great Britain before the war. With all our shortcomings, conditions in this country were a model to Europe and to many parts of the United States. It is a very wrong thing that the War Office should be responsible for such exaggerated and distorted propaganda. The soldiers know their homes are not like that. As Secretary of State, a political matter of this kind should receive your personal attention. I shall be glad if you will give me an explanation and, of course, withdraw the poster forthwith. 2. Generally speaking, it may be necessary to have a Cabinet inquiry into A.B.C.A. Meanwhile let me have a table of the numbers of officers and other personnel employed upon it, and their salaries, together with the total of any other monies involved. W.S.C. 17.4.43"

9:39 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

That's very interesting indeed, especially given the eventual renaming of Lenin Court as Bevin Court. Bevin of course was a Cold War thug so I'm not surprised that he might take a similar line. Ah, what would I do without you?

(having said that I stick by my mention of Churchill's antipathy to modernism - well documented, cf his opinions of the Festival of Britain)

10:55 pm  
Blogger renc-u-ana said...

hi owen, I would really like to know what you think about Billy childish, miss ludella black, holly golightly; after what you wrote on Black box recorder. thanks.

10:55 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

Sorry, I have no opinions on any of the above. Well I have some opinions on Billy Childish, but they're of a fairly predictable 'my enemy's enemy is not my friend' ilk.

12:15 am  
Blogger renc-u-ana said...

I see. thanks

11:27 am  
Anonymous Sturmovikij Pilotka said...

iirc "Your Britain - Fight For It Now" was a series of wartime posters (mostly by Frank Newbold) that depicted various beauty spots (South Downs, Devon Coastline etc.) Probably the least aggressive wartime propoganda posters ever.

I suppose the Grimes poster was an attempt to carry the series into the postwar, as part of the then Labour meme of carrying the momentum of national consensus into social reform.

12:12 am  
Anonymous Lang Rabbie said...

No, AFAIK, the two series of "Your Britain - Fight For It Now" posters - the Frank Newbould "conservative" ones and the Abram Games "progressive ones were produced roughly contemporaneously in late 1942.

From what I have read Newbould was nominally Games's assistant, but he seems to have been given complete freedom to design in his own idiom.

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