Six years in the struggle against poverty

Six years in the struggle against poverty

Poverty Matters Blog

Sixty years ago, on 12 February 1951, the Manchester Guardian carried a letter from Victor Gollancz calling for people to join him in an urgent campaign against world poverty and militarism. Britain was at that time fighting an unwinnable war in Korea, and Gollancz asked all those who agreed with his call for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict to send him a postcard marked with the single word “yes”.

The letter provoked a massive response. Within a month, Gollancz had received more than 10,000 postcards, and War on Want was born. The future prime minister Harold Wilson, then an ambitious Labour MP, was tasked with drawing up a plan for world development, which was published the following June. The report cited the yawning gap between the world’s rich and poor as “the supreme challenge of the next 50 years”, and called for a popular movement to address that challenge.

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