In 1957 there was big news on the home front when my sister Lindsay was born but around the world following the excitement of wars and revolutions in 1956 this particular year seems to have been less frenetic.
The Treaty of Rome established the Common Market, which was a deeply significant event that has shaped the recent history of modern Europe. This has become the European Union and has undergone a number of expansions that has taken it from six member states in 1957 to twenty-seven today, a majority of states in Europe. Britain joined in 1973 after a long period of being denied membership by France and in particular the deeply ungrateful and Anglophobe President de Gaulle.
Harold MacMillan became the new Prime Minister of Britain when Anthony Eden resigned over the Suez crisis debacle and this ushered in the baby boomer years of the late 50’s and 60’s when life generally improved for everyone. He led the Conservatives to victory in the 1959 general election using the campaign slogan “Life’s Better Under the Conservatives” and MacMillan himself is remembered for his famous personal assessment of these years when he said,“indeed let us be frank about it – most of our people have never had it so good.”
So was he right? In an honest personal assessment I have to say yes. I was born in 1954 in the years of post war reconstruction and investment and at a time when there was genuine optimism about the future. For me and my contemporaries there was no World War to live through, a free National Health Service, an education system that led to guaranteed employment and an expectation of a long and rewarding life.
My childhood was comfortable if not extravagant, dad had a career in Local Government and mum stayed at home and kept house. There were annual holidays to the seaside, a sack full of presents at Christmas and long glorious summers without a care in the World.
I liked to go to school, even though I wasn’t terribly successful but eventually I was able to progress to University which in 1972 was an achievement rather than an expectation.
After three years of state funded education I started work immediately and followed my dad into a local government career with a guaranteed ‘gold plated’ (according to the anti public sector press these days) index linked pension.
I bought my first car soon after starting work and a first house soon after that, getting loans and mortgages was easy and I soon started to climb the property ladder.
I have two children and three grandchildren . I have never been unemployed, sick or poor and now I am retired from work at sixty years old and hope to look forward to a long and happy life.
So, was Harold MacMillan right in his assessment of life for the Baby Boomers? In my case I have to say a categorical yes!