THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Election candidate warns of the dangers nationalisation

From the News Letter, February 7, 1950

By Darryl Armitage
Sunday, 7th February 2021, 6:00 am

A warning that Ulstermen could not afford to be apathetic in the forthcoming general election was given by Sir Walter Smiles when he spoke at an election meeting at Kircubbin, reported the News Letter.

Sir Walter accused the incumbent Labour (“Socialist,” in his words) government of being both extravagant and inefficient.

He told the meeting that the Northern Ireland PM, Sir Basil Brooke, “would not let the powers that the socialist government had at Westminster exist for one moment in Northern Ireland”.

Sir Walter Smiles had told a meeting in February 1950 that the Northern Ireland PM, Sir Basil Brooke, “would not let the powers that the socialist government had at Westminster exist for one moment in Northern Ireland”.

Continuing, Sir Walter said that the one thing that he was really opposed to was the nationalisation of industry.

He said: “The coal industry has been brought under government control and since that time coal has become more expensive and of a poorer quality.”

He said he had written to Mr [Hugh] Gaitskell, the then Minister for Fuel and Power, on the matter.

He said that he had received a reply from Gaitskell which had been “as dusty as the coal he sold”.

Referring to the proposed nationalisation of the British steel industry Sir Walter that it would have a negative impact on the large factories and shipyards in Belfast which depended on imported steel.

He concluded: “If the price of steel supplied to Messrs Harland and Wolff’s went up they will not be able to sell their ships all over the world.”