Clement Attlee, Deputy Prime Minister through the war, Prime Minister of the first majority socialist government from 1945 to 1951, made Britain a safer, kinder and more equal country; a Land Fit for Heroes after the struggle with Hitler. His story here: http://en.wikipedia.org/
It is a thinner veneer than we often care to think about that divides civilised society from the harsh and fearful chaos of survival of the fittest. Attlee's government went a long way to ridding our country of such fear - fear of losing your job and going hungry, fear of not being able to pay for a doctor if you were sick and the many fears born of the ignorance that exists when there is limited education. It is forgotten that before his Government, women did not even enjoy the same legal property rights as men - how easy it is to to take for granted things that past generations had to struggle tooth and nail for.
Margaret Thatcher set out to roll back the achievements of Attlee - she despised his belief in community, denouncing his legacy with the statement that "There is no such thing as society, just a collection of individuals."
And with that cri de coeur, she set about a process of lauding self-interest at the expense of others that carried on through the dull days of Major and the self-congratulatory smirking of Blair's Nu-Labour, to the ever harsher neoliberalism of the Coalition. In their hands, the social veneer is worn and chipped, and thinner than ever.
We commemorate her and forget Attlee at great peril to ourselves, our country and our future.
Rest in peace, Clement Attlee. And thank you for all the chances you gave to all of us to make our lives and our nation better.