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Growing up in the hardship of a South Wales mining community, Aneurin Bevan developed a passionate conviction in the need for collective action by his class. In 1929 he began his long career as the Member for Ebbw Vale, shining as one of the most brilliant debaters in Parliament.
In 1945 he entered the Labour Cabinet as Minister for Health and Housing and was instrumental in establishing the National Health Service. Despite opposition from both his own and opposition parties as well as the British Medical Association, the National Health Service Act 1946 was passed, nationalising more than 2,500 hospitals within the United Kingdom.
In Place of Fear, first published in 1952, is a series of superbly written chapters on many of the key issues faced by the Labour movement in Parliament, including the role of the legislature, private and public spending, the health service, and the transition to socialism. Although the statistics relate to the forties and fifties, the most striking thing about the book is the way that Bevan’s perceptions remain directly relevant today.
In Place of Fear should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the struggles and achievements of our social democracy.