1939-1951

Crisis of May 1940

Chamberlain and criticism:

  • appeasement - Hitler annexed Czech 1936 and Poland 1939
  • criticised for failing to deter Hitler
  • April 1940 - 'Hitler had missed the bus' - a few days later invaded denmark and norway
  • for not organising the economy for war - army inadequately prepared
  • defeat and evacuation Norway - ability to lead?

Resignation:

  • 7 May 1940 - Chamberlain opened debate on Norway, faced attack from Cons backbenchers - Labour demanded resignation
  • LG denounced him 'there is nothing which can contribute more to victory than that should he sacrifice our office'
  • Cons rebels refused to support unless Labour and Liberals prepared to support him also - Chamberlain resigned.
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Crisis of May 1940

Lord Halifax:

  • most likely to be able to reach an understanding w Hitler
  • foreign secretary 1930s
  • many cons, libs and even lab saw as best candidate
  • however, was a peer not MP
  • not sure himself if right for the job

Winston Churchill:

  • moved to cons 1924
  • Lab disliked due to role in gen strike and Gold standard 1925
  • Had military experience in India, Sudan, Western front
  • 1939 - navy experience
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Churchill wartime leader

Deciding factors:

  • 1930s warned of need to re-arm
  • speeches endeared him to press and improved lab relations 
  • contacts in US - valuable in wartime
  • contributions in parliament and newspapers etc - despite age, man of energy and determination

Churchill as leader:

  • May 1940 - Germans armied depe into northern France
  • British forced trapped near Dunkirk - 300,000 evacuated by sea
  • Halifax felt negotiation with Hitler was best
  • Churchill put everything into organising military effort against Germany
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Churchill as wartime leader

Summer 1940:

  • everything depended on control of skies
  • aerial battles - 'battle of britain' were key 1940

Churchill wartime coalition:

  • Churchill PM, Chamberlain head of cons
  • allowed him to act above party politics - stable and efficient
  • 1940 war cabinet; Attlee (Lab), Greenwood (Lab), Chamberlain (Cons), Halifax (Cons)
  • also brought in men w experience; Morrison, Woolton and Beveridge
  • didnt split Cons, absence of opposition
  • realised importance of labour movement for political reasons and war economy
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Policies of wartime coalition government

1. Organising economy for war:

  • Emergency Powers Act 1939 - any aspect to secure defence of the realm
  • centralist govt, ministries for food, shipping, information, economic warfare
  • Ernest Bevin - powers over workforce, conscription introduced and he added industrial conscription, 'bevin boys' 1943, 4.5 million entered armed forces
  • rationing food 1941
  • new production methods for efficiency
  • agriculture - dig for victory campaigns
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Policies of wartime coalition government

2. Paying for the war

  • cut earnings from exports and overseas investments
  • gold and dollar reserves spent out 1941 - dependent on american loans
  • squeezed consumption through high taxes
  • neglected new investment in any area other than war production
  • relied on oversees aid USA
  • income tax went up 10 shillings and all workers paid it
  • 'pay as you earn' 1943
  • US lend-lease 1941 - 27,000 million aid
  • 1954 - massive debts
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Policies of wartime coalition government

3. Planning for post-war Britain

  • war only turned in Britains favour Nov 1942-1943 - social problems 1941
  • emergency hospital scheme -free treatment bomb victims
  • free milk extra food for children
  • 'means test' abolished 1941
  • Keynes - avoid inflation and unemployment ideas
  • May 1944 - 'employment policy' committed future govts to ensure high stable level of employment
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Wartime coalition

Measures taken to implement 'Better Britain'

  • 1944 Butler Education Act - free compulsary education until 15
  • LA grant fees and maintanance for UNi
  • NHS 1944 - key principles established
  • 1944 - town and country planning act - LA power to clear slum areas and redevelop
  • 1945 Family allowances - weekly benefit 5 shillings 2 dimes extra per child
  • Beveridge report 1942 - 'social security' sold 600,000 copies  -administred by single govt department (social security) a vision of safe, secure and a prosperous Britain
  • Beveridge - want, disease, squaler, ignorance, idleness
  • 1944 - social insurance, accepted some of Beveridge report and Ministry of National Insurance set up
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Wartime coalition

Failures:

  • military disasters - singapore 1942
  • criticism of Churchill - revolt in support of back bench Labour - critical due to lack of beveridge report
  • Churchill face more than one vote of no confidence - nationalisation
  • divisions on state economy post-war
  • NHS disagreements - nationalisation of hospitals etc
  • Labour criticisms - LW argued reforms werent enough and critical of 1944 education for not abolisishing private school
  • consequences - claimed reform plans too expensive and radical

success:

  • strong national unity and Churchill charisma
  • electoral truce between parties
  • held together until almost end of war
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Impact of war

social:

  • nutrition of working class improved
  • 1942 - 50% unemployment reduction
  • average male earnings increased 80%
  • middle upper class hit higher tax
  • 1930s building boom halted
  • 1943 - gone down to 7000 houses built
  • bombing destroyed 4 million homes, killed 60,000
  • evacuation 1939 and 1940
  • rationing of clothes and food 1941
  • 1943 - censorship increases
  • 50% factory workers women and 80% women married
  • 350,000 'land girls'
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Impact of war

  • Increased crime
  • 1940s entertainment boom, 1945 - 10 million private radios, cinema attendances 30 million a week
  • US 'GI brides' 60,000 brit girls married US troops
  • american influences - clothes, music

attitudes 1945:

  • dented class divisions - didnt break them down
  • strengthened monarchy and empire
  • Labour politicians proved reliable in wartime government
  • 'never again' deepoly rooted slogan in 1945
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1945 General Election

  • Churchill wanted to continue until war against Japan ended
  • Labour rejected as no election in 10 years
  • 23 May coalition ended
  • Labour landslide 393 seats
  • cons 197 seats
  • cons and allies 209 seats
  • libs 12 seats
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Reasons why Labour won

  • 1930s recovery of Labour
  • trade union expansion
  • USSR - socialism in good light
  • cons - appeasement, social deprivation 1930s - negative
  • churchill Gestapo Speech - tried to discredit Labour and backfired
  • Churchill argued only a wartime leader
  • Cons - several errors, thought they would win, didnt spend any campaign money, relied on Churchill personality, too old, failure to adapt to peacetime
  • Labour ran 'let us face the future' - effective
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Economic crises and recovery 1945-51

  • 1945 - economic situation serious
  • long term policies e.g. nationalisation and welfare state
  • 1946-47 - attempt financial solvency and face massive expenditure on overseas commitments

Britain overseas developments:

  • expenditure on armed forces and overseas bases
  • after 1945 - involvement Cold War
  • 1948 - formation of NATO

Loans and economics:

  • Loans from USA
  • 'dollar gap' needed to be bridged
  • peacetime production
  • economic planning - nationalise railways
  • 1944 GATT  (general agreement trades and tariffs)
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success and failures of economics

  • 1945 - Keynes negotiated $3.7 million loan over 50 years
  • 1949 - Stafford Cripps devalued pound and made exports cheaper - reducing deficit 1950
  • 1945-50 - real wages 1% rise and inflation 3%
  • 1951 - economy under state control

crisis and recovery:

  • 1951 - better economically
  • full employment maintained
  • economic recovery widespread
  • 1950 - no need of marshall aid
  • Labour won more votes in 1950-51 than 1945
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Reforms of the Attlee Government

Key aims 1945:

  • take industry into public ownership
  • bring universal state welfare provision
  • set up NHS

aims ideological and practical - in planned economy and full employment its possible for social ideas to become a reality

Nationalisation:

  • by 1945 - no longer theoretical
  • by 1951 - 20% of economy nationalised and 10% workforce
  • improvements through national grid and elecriticty expanding
  • cost 2700 million pounds
  • coal mines - didnt improve much but had managers
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Nationalisation and radical change

radical change:

  • survived in state ownership until 1980s
  • moved Britain towards collectivist society
  • economy become a mixed economy of private and state

arguments it didnt mean radical change:

  • most industries had a history of state involvement
  • socialist demand for worker control ignored
  • most industries privatised become unprofitable
  • oeace of nationalisation slowed down 1947
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Welfare state

  • 1945-48 - a range of welfare reforms
  • most unemployed reciever 36 weeks and then claim dole, 40,000 workers non insured had to fall back on 1934 poor law
  • Attlee govt committed to make welfare universal and free

Labour welfare:

  • 1946 - NHS Act
  • 1948 National Assistance Act
  • 1945 family allowance and 1944 education helped families
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Welfare state

1947 National Insurance:

  • universal - applied to all employees
  • unemployment/sickness - maternity and death, widows, pensions

1946 Industrial Injuries Act:

  • universal - generous compensation and iinjury benefit for 6 months, disability for permanent injury and death benefits for dependants

Housing acts 1944:

  • built 1.5 million new homes and 1/4 million prefabs
  • 1946 - new town act e,g, Stevanage 

1948 National Assistance Act:

  • ended Poor Law and financial responsibility to central govt
  • National assistance board provided homeless accomodation
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The NHS

  • didnt function until 1948
  • Bevan, minister of Health provoked contraversy
  • faced conservative opposition
  • needed BMA support - feared NHS would weaken doctors professional status
  • Bevan compromised
  • consultants allowed private patients
  • hospitals have private and state wards
  • medical profession given role in adminisration of NHS

Success:

  • 190,000 prescriptions first year
  • 8.5 mil dental patients
  • 95% population NHS doctors
  • 1951 - admired by western europe

Failure:

  • not unified and shortage of staff and heavy costs (double projected 1951)
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The Welfare State

success:

  • family allowances - women direct payments - benefit for working class mothers
  • maintainence of full employment
  • 'tripartite' system for working class to go to grammar
  • Rowntree third survey - 1950s old age biggest poverty cause so had changes since 1930s

Limitations:

  • level of welfare low and didnt rise with inflation
  • poverty didnt end
  • economic problems prevented housing - not until 1948 did 200,000 a year be built
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General Election 1950

  • Attlee called Feb 1950
  • did well in votes but fell to 5 majority
  • small majority caused new election 1951
  • Labour won votes but Cons won majority

Reasons for Labour defeat:

  • timing - 1950 held before full extent of recovery was realised
  • many voters still influenced by 1949 devaluation
  • damaged by internal party divisions - 1951 prescription and dental charges
  • Bevanites criticses rearmament
  • reivival of Cons - Woolton had membership drive and exploited Labour setbacks, opposed nationalisation - pledged NHS and 300,000 houses a year
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