We were taught that history was an onward march: things would always get better. There were backward steps – wars, the depression, the Thatcher years – but surely the path to improvement and enlightenment would be found again. History was reassuringly inevitable: factory acts, banning boys up chimneys, the universal franchise, trade union rights, Lloyd George’s 1911 people’s budget, Beveridge, Roosevelt’s New Deal and its British incarnation in 1945. Attlee gave us not just the NHS and social security but helped the birth of Nato, the UN and a postwar consensus that saw Macmillan build 300,000 homes a year, mostly council houses.
Edward Heath took us into Europe and opened out a little our island mentality. The advantages seemed obvious: holidays, football teams, Erasmus, free trade, MEPs together in one European parliament must mean friendship with neighbours so like us in culture, history and democratic purpose.
A distinctly Whiggish view which might be appropriate given the name.