William, Brown and Beveridge, not Brexit

We do not know what William Brown would have made of Brexit. The Just William stories, however, did cover many key political moments in the early to mid-twentieth century. Contemporary commentators find that the stories still have relevance today.

William Beveridge published his report in 1942 and recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the five ‘Giant Evils’ of ‘Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness’. Professor Eugene Milne, an Editor of the Journal of Public Health, reflects on how William Brown and the Outlaws respond in 1944 to the Beveridge Report, on which the foundations of our National Health Service were built:

“Richmal Crompton’s short story, ‘The Outlaws’ Report’, first published in 1944, revolves around our hero, William Brown, and his gang—Ginger, Henry and Douglas (I don’t recall whether Jumble the dog was present)—penning a response to the report’s publication and smuggling it into the briefcase of a War Office official….

William and his Outlaw friends’ amendments to Beveridge; their additional ‘Giants’ were:
1. As much holidays as term.
2. No afternoon school.
3. Sixpence a week pocket munny and not to be took off.
4. No Latin no French no Arithmetick.
5. As much ice cream and bananas and cream buns as we like free.
6. No punishments and stay up as late as we like.

It is a sign of diminished political times and dialogue that this is now, essentially, our national policy on Brexit.”

See: Eugene Milne, “William and the Beveridge Report!”:
https://academic.oup.com/jpubhealth/article/39/4/651/4781894
Eugene Milne; Just William, Journal of Public Health, Volume 39, Issue 4, 1 December 2017, Pages 651–652, https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdx165

 

 

 

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