The self-congratulatory popular account insists that Dr. King called on the nation to fully accept its own creed, and the walls came a-tumbling down. This conventional narrative is soothing, moving, and politically acceptable, and has only the disadvantage of bearing no resemblance to what actually happened.
This historic general election, which showed that the British are well able to distinguish between patriotism and Toryism, brought Clement Attlee to the prime ministership. In the succeeding five years, Labor inaugurated the National Health Service, the first and boldest experiment in socialized medicine. It took into public ownership all the vital (and bankrupted) utilities of the coal, gas, electricity and railway industries. It even nibbled at the fiefdoms and baronies of private steel, air transport and trucking. It negotiated the long overdue independence of India. It did all this, in a country bled white by the World War and subject to all manner of unpopular rationing and controls, without losing a single midterm by-election (a standard not equaled by any government of any party since). And it was returned to office at the end of a crowded term.
For years, I declined to fill in the form for my Senate press credential that asked me to state my 'race,' unless I was permitted to put 'human.' The form had to be completed under penalty of perjury, so I could not in conscience put 'white,' which is not even a color let alone a 'race,' and I sternly declined to put 'Caucasian,' which is an exploded term from a discredited ethnology. Surely the essential and unarguable core of King's campaign was the insistence that pigmentation was a false measure: a false measure of mankind (yes, mankind) and an inheritance from a time of great ignorance and stupidity and cruelty, when one drop of blood could make you 'black.