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This has interesting parallels with Spain's Adolfo Suárez...
For the past 30 years rumours that the security services were plotting against the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson and that preparations were being made for a coup have been dismissed as a paranoid fantasy. The general tenor of press comment has been that Wilson was already in the grip of the Alzheimer's disease that eventually killed him when he made his allegations of a plot against him. But a recent BBC documentary has confirmed that the security services, top military figures, leading businessmen and members of the royal family were conspiring against Labour governments led by Wilson in the 1960s and 1970s.

The programme was broadcast on March 16 to coincide with the anniversary of Wilson's resignation in 1976. It was based on interviews that BBC journalists Barry Penrose and Roger Courtiour conducted with Wilson and his private secretary Marcia Williams shortly after he resigned. The tapes were made secretly and have never before been broadcast or made public. Despite their considerable historical value, they have remained in Penrose's attic ever since. Only a small portion of more than 70 hours of recording were dramatised in the documentary.

Various rumours were circulated to explain Wilson's sudden resignation--as the result of threats by the security services to reveal evidence that he was a Soviet agent, that he had compromised himself by having an affair with Marcia Williams, or more prosaically that early stages of Alzheimer's disease had convinced him that it was time to go. But the documentary made clear that Wilson wanted to expose those who were seeking to discredit him and wanted the activities of the security services investigated. He invited Penrose and Courtiour to his house with the specific intention of telling them about his suspicions and gave them valuable leads that would enable them to pursue their inquiries. Far from being afraid of exposure, Wilson wanted the case brought out into the open.

Nobody really knows why Adolfo Suárez resigned as PM of Spain. The 23-F 1981 coup took place during the Parliamentary investiture session of his successor, Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, and therefore succeeded in taking hostage the entire Lower House. Unfortunately, Adolfo Suárez has had Alzheimer's for several years now, and according to his daughter he doesn't remember being Prime Minister. So, unless he recorded his inside view of the Spanish Transition to Democracy before he went senile, we'll probably never know what happened.

The Spanish Wikipedia says:

Fue una etapa de gobierno llena de dificultades políticas, sociales y económicas. En 1980, el PSOE presentó una moción de censura que, aunque derrotada de antemano, deterioró aún más la imagen de un Suárez desprovisto de apoyos en su propio partido. Finalmente la falta de sintonía con el rey Juan Carlos y las tensiones crecientes en su propio partido, le llevaron a presentar su dimisión el 29 de enero de 1981. En su mensaje al país afirmó:It was a government period fraught with political, social and economic difficulties. In 1980, the PSOE introduced a motion of no confidence which, although sure to be defeated, further eroded the image of Suárez, lacking support within his own party. Finally, the lack of understanding with King Juan Carlos, and the growing tensions within his own party, led him to resign on 29 January 1981. In his message to the country he stated:
Yo no quiero que el sistema democrático de convivencia sea, una vez más, un paréntesis en la Historia de España.
I do not want the democratic system of convivality to be, once again, a parenthesis in the history of Spain.
Esto que dio pie a pensar que renunciaba por la presión de los militares. Esta teoría pareció confirmada por el intento de golpe de estado que tuvo lugar durante la investidura de Calvo Sotelo. Sin embargo, algunos autores, Javier Tusell y Charles Powell entre ellos, insisten en el cansancio y la falta de apoyo de la Corona como principales factores para su dimisión.This prompted thoughts that he was giving up pressured by the military. This theory seemed confirmed by the attempted coup which took place during the investiture of Calvo Sotelo. However, some authors, among them Javier Tusell and Charles Powell, insist on fatigue and lack of support from the Crown as the main factors for his resignation.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:07:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is sheer conjecture, but again I think we are ignorant to believe that we are immune to catastrophic breaks in which extraordinary events facilitate rapid change otherwise unforseeable.  September 11th being a prime example.

Now consider the effect that the pasalo demostrations had on tempering any nascent belief that elections following major terrorist attack were secondary to national security on the part of Aznar.

If Calle Genova had not been filled that Saturday night, would Aznar have felt more able to postpone the elections until a later date.

Remember that the municipal elections being held in New York City on September 11th were postponed due to the attacks.  So even in a much longer established democracy than Spain, this is not entirely without precedent.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:34:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't comment on Spanish history, but for me Wilson's resignation marks the end of the post-war ascent of the Left.

Callaghan's appalling term led directly to Thatcher, and now here we are, some thirty years later.

Carter's hostage-crisis set-up was also a very calculated and deliberate election fixer for Reagan, and even though entirely treasonous it worked perfectly.

I'm not suggesting Callaghan was a plant or that Wilson was a perfect shining example of the British Left.

But Wilson was the last PM who could seriously be considered even slightly on the Left, if only because he had more than a token reluctant interest in running the economy in a way that distributed wealth rather than concentrating it.

Since then power has been shared between the far-right and the centre-right, both of whom have been happy to continue with tax cuts, deregulation, privatisation, and wealth concentration.

As I said above, there has been no democractic choice about this, and no formal or organised democratic opposition to it.

I suppose you could argue that this reflects what the public wants. But I don't think the public is really all that enthusiastic about cuts in health care, affordable housing, or public transport. And the only reason it hasn't given oppressive white collar working practices a firm thumbs down is because there's an endless drumbeat of pro-market 'the economy needs...' which has made alternatives unthinkable.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 01:16:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
History does not operate on the scale of mere mortals men.

What's important is that because society is a living breathing thing greater than its constituent parts, and not like the mechanistic conception put forward by classical liberals, things have a way of working out on their own.

It's Polayni's double movement, the problem is that these things take time.  It may take 50-60 years for events to reach a breaking point at which the continuation of the neo-liberal status quo is unsustainable.

We seem to be rushing towards that point, but there hasn't yet be a traumatic break.  A Great Depression scale event that creates a period of uncertainty as the old solutions are shown ineffective.  So in order to instill certainty, new ideas are needed. And once those ideas provide stability, they become entrenched, because challenging them means introducing uncertainty back into the system.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 01:30:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "movement" has to be implemented in actual demands, organisations, politicians, and mere mortals... History doesn't work without the people, you Hegelian !

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 04:47:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is history determined by structure, or have we the agency to change its course by force of will?

I think we are awash in the currents of history, and the belief that through agenct we may change its course is naive.

As much as we impose the futile forms our philosophy grants us on what we see, we still remain blissfully ignorant as Plato's men in the cave supposing that the forms we derive are in some way truth.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 05:03:11 PM EST
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What is then this structure, but human beings?

I think we have limited tools to think about thousand, million or indeed billion agents. This leeds to simplified stories of either the "world leaders" wrestling it out - Churchill vs. Hitler, Bush vs. bin Laden - or giving agency to groups of people and viewing them as one person - England vs. Germany, US vs. UUSR, Republican party vs. Democrat party, CocaCola vs. Pepsi. Neither gives us tools to understand how we change the world, but we do, all the time. The world change, and it is the actions of people that makes the changes.

I think what is needed is tools to see our own actions in the larger picture. We do not need to be persons of power to affect change, indeed we do it all the time. To choose for ourselves what change we will affect, we need to see and evaluate our own positions and possibilities in the structures. And then act accordingly.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Aug 5th, 2007 at 04:30:32 PM EST
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