AQA History Britain 1906-1951

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1.1 General election January 1906

Liberal landslide victory - made gains in Lancashire, the heart of British manufacturing

Liberals - 400 seats

Conservatives - 157 seats

Factors weakening conservatives before 1906:

  • The Boer War (costly and moral outrage)
  • The 1902 Education Act (all schools funded from local rates)
  • The 1904 Liscensing Act ('brewers bill')
  • The Chinese Labour Issue
  • The Taff Vale Case
  • Neglect of Social Reform
  • Tariff Reform Campaign
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1.1 General election January 1906

Attractions of Liberal Party:

  • Liberals united by 1905 under banner of Free Trade, a 'bread and butter' issue.
  • Promised welsh disestablishment
  • Liberal support for Home Rule of Ireland
  • The lib - lab pact

The lib-lab pact

1903 - liberals formed agreement with Ramsay Macdonald

  • liberals would not oppose Labour candidates in 30 constituencies
  • LRC restricted candidates in other constituencies to prevent a split in the anti-conservatuve vote
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1.1 General election January 1906

Why the liberals agreed to the pact?

  • Financial - had fund of £150,000, by reducing need to fight labour as rival, reducing cost
  • both had broad agreements of free trade
  • Both agreed about social reform
  • Joint campaigns against 1902 Education Act and Chinese slavery reinforced pact.

LRC (labour representation committee)

  • spent years getting organised. establishing constituency branches and drawing up a manifesto
  • LRC put up 50 candidates  in 1906 election and won 29 seats
  • pact worked well and adoption of 'The Labour Party'
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1.2 New liberalism

Classical liberalism

  • laissez-faire
  • 'self help'
  • freedom to do things (worship, publish)
  • low taxation

New liberalism

  • intervention by state
  • some help from state 'safety nets'
  • freedom from evils (poverty, low wages)
  • higher government spending
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1.2 New liberalism - the problem of poverty

  • population in Britain trebled in the 19th Century with increasing urbanisation
  • fears of disorder and revolution 'new' trade unions
  • Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree (30% poor , 10% in poverty), showed some poverty caused beyond people's control, such as unemployment.
  • Boer War had shown a high % of young men were unfit for military service.

Liberal social reforms (1906-1911)

  • 1906 Education Act (provision of meals)
  • 1906 Workmen's Compensation Act (accidents)
  • 1907 Education Act (medical inspection)
  • 1908 Children Act (illegal to sell tabacco/alchol to children)
  • 1908 Old Age Pensions Act (provided pension for elderly poor)
  • 1909 Trade Boards (fix minimum wages and conditions in some trades)
  • 1909 Labour exchanges (employment service)
  • 1911 National Insurance, unemployment and sickness, Acts
  • 1911 Shops Act (weekly half day holiday)
  • 1911 Coal Mines Acts (fixed length day underground, improved safety)
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1.2 First constitutional crisis: People's Budget 1

Why did Lloyd George want to implement the budget

  • needed £15 million for new social services and the construction of warships
  • opposition to Labour (wanted working class vote)
  • punish conservatives for their opposition in the Lords


  • an increase in income tax
  • super tax (incomes over £5,000 a year)
  • Increased death duties (over £5,000 a year)
  • new land taxes, such as of the 'unearned increment of land value'
  • indirect taxes on luxury goods

What happened:

  • 1909 - Lords vetoed the budget (due to outrage particularly the land taxes)
  • Liberals had to call 1910 general election on issue 'peers versus the people'
  • Liberals won 275 seats (cons 273) and with Irish support lords finally agreed
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1.2 Second Constitutional crisis: 1911 Parliament

Proposed by Liberals:

  • House of Lords have no power to reject 'true money' bills
  • could delay (not reject) other legislation for no longer than two years 'suspensory veto'.
  • general election period reduced to 5 years

What happened:

  • Liberals had to get the bill through the House of Lords
  • Asquith asked King Edward VII to create Liberal peers (but died)
  • George V tried to get both parties to compromise (constitutional conference)
  • Conference broke down as Asquith was under Irish pressure to reject the conservatives proposals of the Lords being able to veto any change in the constitution (enable them to block Home Rule)
  • George V agreed to make new peers if the Liberals won a general election on the issue.
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1.2 December 1910 election

  • Liberals and conservatives won 272 seats each
  • Liberals had to rely on Labour and Irish support to stay in government
  • Parliament became law in 1911
  • was passed by 131 Liberals and Conservative rats to 114 'diehards'
  • divided the Conservatives
  • Balfour 'hedger' was forced to resign and Bonar Law succeeded him

Liberal reforms after 1911:

  • Payment of MP's Act 1911 - helped widen representation in the Commons
  • Trade Union Act 1913 - 'political levy' to fund Labour allowing members to 'contract out'
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1.2 Third Irish Home Rule Bill 1912

Moderate measure - gave own parliament with powers to make laws


  • Economically ulster was richer - ulster protestant unionists did not want a heavy tax to fund rural Ireland
  • Conservatives feared undermine status by breaking up UK and Empire
  • Ulster leadership Carson, lawyer drew up Ulster Covenant, in 1913 when bill was held up at the Lords formed army, Ulster Volunteer Force
  • In 1914 - smuggled 30,000 rifles into Irish port in ulster, despite this Bonar Law offered support.
  • 'curragh mutiny' in 1914, British commanding officers threatened to resign than fight the ulster unionist resistance

For Home Rule:

  • Irish nationalists countered developments, formed Irish volunteers to enforce home ruke - also smuggled rifles - fear of a civil war

The bill was due to become law 1914, WWI averted civil war but did not resolve it.

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2.1 Strains of war: Liberal Party

  • undermined traditional beliefs (freedom of the individual)
  • 'shell shortage' May 1915 gave state greater power (munitions)
  • Asquith found it hard to give up principles such as laissez faire
  • Lloyd George, Minister of Munitions 1915, realised state must take extensive powers for the war
  • 1915 - Asquith gave up ruling alone and formed war coalition
  • 1916 - he was replaced by Lloyd George
  • 1918 - liberals split in parliament over maurice debate

Asquith and Lloyd George 1916:

  • Setbacks in 1916
  • Easter Rising - Irish Republicans in Dublin
  • Failure of Battle of Jutland (naval forces)
  • Battle of the Somme 1916
  • Lloyd George argued for conscription and an inner war cabinet - Asquith refused
  • December 1916 Lloyd George appointed PM, but split Liberals, about 100 gave support to Lloyd George and second war coalition
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2.1 Strains of war


  • 1914 - Great war got out of embarassing position of supporting armed rebellion in ulster
  • redirected energies to supporting the war effort
  • 1915 - joined Asquiths war coalition
  • coalition worked well even under the liberals with emphasis on patriotism, militarism and closeness to empire, gained political momentum


  • 1914 - almost split on war issue
  • Macdonald refused to compromise and support the war and was criticised in the press
  • 1916 - Henderson became first ever Labour politician with a place on the cabinet
  • cooperation of trade unions was vital, membership doubled during war reaching 8 million
  • 1918 - new constitution labour committed to openly 'socialist' ideas
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2.1 Strains of war

Irish Nationalist:

  • war was a disaster
  • overtaken by more extreme Sinn Fein Party (complete independance)
  • 1918 general election, Sinn Fein won 73 out of 10 Irish seats
  • some Sinn Fein members took part in republican rising in Dublin Easter 1916
  • the violent suppression of the Easter rising by British troops led many moderate voters to switch to Sinn Fein
  • 1919 onwards, the Irish republican Army fought the British
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2.1 Coupon election 1918

  • Asquith/ Lloyd George rivalry
  • Lloyd George was popular but Asquith had control of funds and organisation
  • Lloyd George collaborated with the conservatives and promised a peacetime coalition government
  • those in support of the coalition were given a certificate signed by Lloyd George and Bonar Law 'coupon'
  • voters had to choose between two rival Liberal parties


  • Representation of the People Act had been passed extending the vote
  • 'coupon' Liberals won 133 seats
  • Asquith (lost seat) Liberals won 28 seats
  • Labour won 63 seats
  • conservatives won 333 seats
  • mainly due to 'coupon' and the nationalistic mood in the country
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2.1 State intervention and war

The government gained unprecidented powers:

  • conscript men for the army
  • censor any material it believed may aid the enemy
  • ration food
  • fix prices
  • fix wages
  • fix profits


  • Before 1914 relied on voluntarism (250,000)
  • 1914 - 1916 2 million volunteered (largest volunteer army)
  • recruitment posters
  • propaganda - pride, patriotism, fear of embarassment
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2.1 State intervention and war


  • 1916 Jan - Military Service Act, single men ages 18-41
  • 1916 summer- Battle of the Somme, Military Service Act included married men
  • 1918 Feb - Russia pulled out of war, extended age to 50
  • men refusing to join were imprisoned
  • men already in the army that refused to fight could be court marshalled and shot

Trade unions:

  • at first not certain Labour would support 'capitalist war' (anti-war demo 1914)
  • dilution agreements made with Lloyd George, trade unions avoid strikes if state controls on rents and profits and safeguards so workers got their jobs back when the war was over, exemption of highly skilled workers from conscription
  • 1915 - major strike on Clydeside
  • 1917 - south wales
  • days lost through strikes fell (1913 - 10 million, 1916 - 3 million)
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2.1 State and economy during the war

  • By 1918 - state was virtually running the whole economy
  • Britain had to support massive increase in production of weapons
  • 1918 - overall shell production 187 million
  • machine guns, 1914 - 270, 1918 - 120,870
  • had to supply material to allies, demands to provide transport and fuel (coal)
  • had to increase and protect provision of food
  • demand of the war pushed up prices and created shortage of materials and workers in 1914
  • state began commandeering war materials and fixing prices
  • after failing of the Neuve Chapelle offensive 1915, which was blamed on a shortage of shells.
  • Lloyd George convinced parliament that DORA needed to be extended and successfully campaigned for Ministry of Munitions, he was appointed head of
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2.1 State and the economy during the war

Ministry of Munitions:

  • set up central purchasing system
  • organised British Science to develop new weapons, e.g. tanks
  • encouraged factories to change for the war and built national factories, one in Leeds employed 16,000 workers, 25 million shells a year
  • key industres taken under state control, railways, docks and coal mines
  • 1918 - managed 250 state factories
  • altered clocks, reduced strength of alcholic drinks and limited opening hours for public houses

Department of Food Production:

  • huge armies needed to be fed
  • shortage of labour and German U-boats sinking ships bringing food
  • department increased homegrown foodstuffs
  • government subsidised farmers to plough up wasteland, allocated scarce fertilisers, supplied pow to work on land
  • women encouraged to volunteer for farmwork
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2.1 State and the economy during the war

Cost of the Great War:

  • 1913 - govt spending £200 million
  • 1918 - govt spending £2,600 million
  • 'balanced budget' abandoned
  • instead borrowed money from neutral countries and own people
  • Britains national debt increased by 1,200%
  • 1915 - income tax extended

Cost of war on trade:

  • caused disruption, traditional export markets blocked off - affecting profits
  • imports ceased available or too expensive
  • vital cargoes where lost at sea
  • new markets had to be opened up and new purchasing power
  • relyed on US
  • late 1915 - loan $5,000 million
  • 1918 - severe economic debt
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2.1 Impact of the War

Working classes:

  • full employment - for women and older children too
  • controls on rents and essential commodities
  • limited amount of rationing of basic foodstuffs
  • meant the percentage of population in deep poverty was reduced

Middle and upper classes:

  • reduction in living standards
  • income tax rose - profits limited
  • high death rate among junior officers
  • taxing on lands
  • 25% of land holdings in England were sold between 1917 and 1921

Social mobility:

  • did increase, but class divisions not broken down, working class women went into munitions, middle class women went into nursing/administration
  • officers and men divisions but terrible war caused common bond of suffering
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2.1 Impact of the war


  • military service - emotional and physical trauma
  • 6 million served, 750,000 died, 2 million wounded
  • 1916 conscription and rationing
  • men had to accept being replaced by women in workforce
  • 1918 - all men over 21 could vote

Beliefs and attitudes:

  • stuffier aspects of victorian society loosened during the war
  • education disrupted due to conscription and working class children left school early for work - 300,000 children lost fathers
  • churches - greater public role, chaplains for the army
  • churchmen needed for various services, including buriel services
  • some found it hard to justify the slaughter on the Western Front
  • small minority, mainly Quakers, refused to fight, became known as 'conscientious objectors' - many pacifists sentanced, others volunteered for dangerous but non-combatative work
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2.1 Impact of the war

Women's position in society:

  • helped to accelerate changes that had already began before 1914 such as newer occupations
  • even some women attending university
  • war accelerated changes and helped to loosen traditional social constraints

Women in workforce:

  • around 1 million women entered the workforce
  • another 250,000 women moved from peacetime to wartime job
  • 1918 - women made up a third of the workforce
  • 1918 -  80% of shell factories was female
  • 1918 -  150,000 were serving in auxiliary services
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2.1 Impact of the war

Results of the war for women:

  • challenged victorian view that women are passive, weak creatures
  • many became main breadwinners
  • 1919 - Sex Discrimination Act - opened civil service, local govt, jury service to women
  • Fashion - shorter skirts
  • 'keeping the home fires burning'
  • still 1.2 million domestic servants in 1918
  • women didn't recieve the same pay for a job as a man would


  • between 1912 - 1914 womens suffrage became more extreme
  • 1913 - Cat and Mouse Act
  • 1913 - Emily Davidson committed suicide
  • 1914 - NUWSS had 50,000 members
  • WSPU smaller but made a national impact
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2.1 Impact of the war

Suffrage and the war:

  • 1918 - Representation of the People Act - gave some women the vote at age 30 if married
  • wasn't untill 1928 that women got the same rights as men in terms of voting

WWI impact:

  • Problem of Ireland
  • Weak economically
  • Strengthened socialism
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2.2 Post war crisis

Problems facing Lloyd George:

  • victory came at a cost
  • mass casualities - shortage of marriagable men (demographics)
  • demobilisation and absorbtion of men into peacetime economy
  • war debts
  • staple industries difficult future
  • war had strengthened the trade unions and socialism - industrial unrest

Post war coalition:

  • depended on conservatives but had liberal prime minister
  • peacetime coalition regarded as patriotic, effective united
  • would help restore normality
  • Lloyd George 'the man who won the war'
  • Conservatives liked Lloyd George's reputation of reform as they feared political extremism
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2.2 Post war crisis

Lloyd George's position:

  • weak
  • relied on former enemies
  • no strong political base of his own
  • leader of one wing of a divided party that was in decline
  • had made promises in 1918 - 'homes fit for heroes'

At the end of the war, Lloyd George faced:

  • ending controls on prices, rents and profits
  • gradually getting rid of rationing
  • re privatising railways and coal industries
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2.2 Economic problems facing Lloyd George

  • 1921 - unemployment had reached 2 million
  • failure of staple industries e.g cotton
  • Lord Sankey recommended the nationalisation of Coal industries but conservatives refused
  • membership of trade unions increased from 4 million to 8 million 1914-1918
  • amalgamation of unions into the TGWU, Ernest Bevin


  • 1919 - police strike in Liverpool and riots in Glasgow
  • 1920 - dockers refused to load ships with weapons against bolsheviks
  • 'hands off Russia' campaign got support from unions
  • 1921 - national miners strike
  • which caused 1921 Emergency Powers Act to declare 'state of emergency'
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2.2 Economic problems facing Lloyd George

Social reforms post war:

  • 1919 - Addisons Housing Act - 200,000 council houses
  • 1918 - Fisher's Education Act - raised leaving age to 14 and promised part time education to 18
  • old age pensions were extended and war widow's pensions introduced
  • national insurance act extended unemployment benefit

Geddes Axe:

  • 1921 appointed Sir Eric Geddes to head committee on govt. spending
  • proposed cuts of £86 million
  • Lloyd George reduced £64 million
  • but seriously limited post war social reforms
  • 'land fit for heroes' been betrayed
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2.2 Economic problems facing Lloyd George


  • 1919 - Anglo-Irish war
  • Lloyd George deployed 'black and tans' to fight IRA
  • 1920 - Government of Ireland Act (preserve unionist rule in north and autonomy in Catholic Nationalist south)
  • Sinn Fein rejected the act as they wanted complete independance, so
  • 1921 - Anglo-Irish Treaty (self governing dominion of the British Empire known as the Free State)
  • Sinn Fein signed on the basis ulster would soon be united, Valera rejected deal, 'pro' and 'anti' treaty factions followed until 1922
  • Victory for Valera, partition was confirmed and borders between ulster and Irish Free State fixed

Lloyd George and Ireland:

  • policy failures led to Anglo- Irish war, northen Ireland relying on repression
  • Liberals and Labour appalled by 'black and tan' methods
  • Conservatives and unionists never forgave for seperating most of Ireland
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2.2 Fall of Lloyd George

  • resignation of Bonar Law May 1921 weakened his relationship with the Conservatives in the coalition
  • 1922 - 'Honours Scandal' - accused of selling peerages to finance his own political party through the 'Lloyd George Fund'
  • 'Chanak Affair'  - accused of acting high handedly without consulting coalition partners
  • 1922 Oct - meeting of Conservative MP's
  • they made key speeches - Bonar Law and Baldwin
  • Conservatives voted overwhelmingly to fight the next election alone
  • within hours Lloyd George resigned

General election 1922

  • Lloyd George and Asquithian Liberals won 116 seats between them
  • Labour won 142 seats
  • Lloyd George's career virtually over
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2.2 First Labour Govt

  • 1923 - Bonar Law became ill and resigned, was succeeded by Baldwin
  • Dec 1923 - decided to call a general election on tariff reform - fail!!
  • 1924 - Macdonald became the first ever Labour MP
  • minority govt.
  • convinced people that Labour was moderate
  • reforms -raising old age pensions and unemployment benefit, Wheatley's Housing Act 1924, 0.5million council houses
  • However lasted only 10 months because Liberals withdrew their support

Why the Liberals withdrew their support:

  • accused 'soft on communism'
  • trade deal with USSR
  • Macdonald's handling of the Campbell case - who had urged armed forces to disobey if they were sent to put down a general strike
  • so Macdonald resigned
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2.2 General election 1924

  • due to Macdonalds resignation, a general election was called
  • dominated by Labour's supposed links to extremism
  • four days before election, Daily Mail published Zinoviev letter - damaged labours campaign
  • conservatives won enough seats
  • PM Baldwin
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2.2 Economy 1923-1929

Economic Problems:

  • staple industries major problem - structural unemployment
  • 1920s unemployment remained at about 10-15% of insured workforce
  • Britains share of world export trade fell from 18% to 11%
  • US replaced Britain as world money lender
  • US dollar displaced the pound as the worlds major currency

Positive developments:

  • new industries of the 'second industrial revolution' - chemicals, motor vehicles, electrical goods and canned foods
  • motor car production by mid 1920s were 3x what it had been in 1913
  • 1926 - Central electicity board and national grid
  • 1923-1929 overall economic growth was faster than before 1914
  • service sector grew - retailing, road transport, mass entertainment
  • rising living standards
  • 1920s - perhaps as many as a million jobs created in service sector
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2.2 Govt economic policies 1923-1929

Conservatives 1922:

  • tariff reform but lost election based on this issue

Labour 1923:

  • trade treaty with Russia
  • Dawes and Young Plan - trade with Germany
  • Public works programme
  • subsidies in civil aviation

Conservative 1924:

  • Britain back on Gold Standard in 1925
  • Baldwin broke off relations with Russia
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2.2 Govt. economic policies 1923-1929

Results of the policies:

  • Labour signed trade treaty but cancelled by Baldwin in 1924
  • German economy did revive from mid 1920s
  • Public works programme was too small and over too short amount of time
  • civil aviation was encouraged
  • exchange rate was set too high, making British exports uncompepetative in staple industries
  • prevention of revival of Anglo-Russian trade

Economic difficulties and industrial unrest:

  • unrest, particularly coal mines where there was high injury and death rate
  • high costs and foreign competition led owners to try to reduce wages
  • disputed in the coalfields in 1921, 1925, 1926 opposing wage cuts
  • employers and the govt. feared a socialist revolution from CPGB and Bolshevik Russia
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2.2 1926 General Strike

  • coal, iron, steel, chemical and newspaper industries
  • docks, railways, london underground and bus
  • govt. sent soldiers and armoured cars
  • warships were sent into the rivers Clyde, Tyne and Mersey
  • anticipation of violence and revolution
  • lasted 9 days in May
  • controversial - began with lockout by employers
  • 3 million workers involved
  • TUC 'no challenge to the constitution' - Baldwin disagreed


  • demand for coal had fallen due to foreign competition and substitutes (oil)
  • coal mines were old and inefficient - miners wanted nationalisation
  • 1913 - docker, miners and railywaymen had formed 'triple alliance'
  • 1925 - back on Gold Standard - British exports more expensive
  • Samuel Commission established - unions thought victory 'red friday'
  • but it rejected nationalisation and favoured wage cuts- owners declared miners would be locked out unless accepted wage cuts and longer hours.
  • Miners slogan 'not a penny off the pay, not a second on the day'
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2.2 1926 General Strike

Baldwin failed to prevent it:

  • instead of compromise, invoked 1921 Emergency Powers Act
  • abrubtly ended taks with TUC after unofficial strike the day before by printers at Daily Mail


  • Baldwin set up Organisation for the Maintenence of supplies - 100,000 volunteer workers
  • argued strike threat to British constitution (who ruled Britain)
  • Churchill in charge of British Gazette - campaign to undermine support
  • leaders of strike, Smith and Cook
  • TUC called strike off unconditionally - had only begun preparations a week before, no national system for coordinating stike action, publicating British Worker came out too late, and TUC was divided
  • did not harm unions/labour
  • 1927 Trades Disputes Act - outlawing sympathy strikes
  • Macdonald refused to involve Labour - image of moderation
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2.2 The end of Baldwin

  • self inflicted defeat in 1923 election
  • put Britain back on Gold Standard in 1925
  • handling of the miners strike
  • however, did set up BBC, built new houses, reforms pushed through by chamberlain
  • Equal Franchise Act - gave women equal voting rights with men in 1928

1929 General Election:

  • Macdonald distanced Labour from trade union movement
  • programme 'Labour and the nation' - cautious reform (unemployment)
  • Labour - 288 seats
  • Cons - 260 seats
  • Liberals - 59
  • Labour was the largest party for the first time
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3.1 Second Labour government

  • prospects seemed favourable 1929 - once again dependant on Liberal support

Reforms 1929 - 30:

  • Arthur Greenwood Housing Act - increased subsidies for building houses and introduced slum clearance schemes
  • Land utilisation Act
  • Agricultural Act
  • Marketing Act - marketing boards to help producers
  • Coal Mines Act - redued day from 8 hrs to 7.5hrs
  • unemployment benefits were increased

Some reforms failed:

  • lack of liberal support
  • included; education bill (leaving age 15), maximum working week of 48hrs and repeal the 1927 Trade Union Act
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3.1 Economic crisis

  • 1929 - wall street crash, 1931 - Great depression
  • 1929-1931 value of exports fell by a half, unemployment 2.5 million by 1931, 3 million by 1932

Financial crisis and Labour:

  • Macdonald set up Economic Advisory Council 1930 - industrialists and economists
  • Labour believed  in provision of benefits but rising unemployment  undermining Mcdonalds beliefs in a balanced budget and appered irresponsible

Snowden, Chancellor of the Exchequer:

  • Balanced budget, maintain Gold Standard, spending cuts, reduce expenditure on welfare

Moseley, junior minister:

  • expansionary govt. spending policy - finance public works programmes and social reforms though govt. loans, Keynesian economics
  • resigned in May 1930 when his 'Moseley memorandum' was rejected
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3.1 Labour and financial crisis


  • not convinced Moseley's ideas would work - fearful radical measures would undermine confidence in economy overseas and create more unemployment
  • economists were divided
  • cabinet could not agree on size of cuts
  • Liberals proposed a committee and Macdonald appointed the May Committee

May committee:

  • ran by Sir George May - head of prudential insurance company
  • published 31 July
  • predicted deficit of £120 million by 1932 unless severe cuts were made
  • recommended £96.5 million with pay cuts for public sector, 20% cut in unemployment benefit and heavier taxation
  • two labour members did not agree and produced 'minority report' which was ignored
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3.1 Fall of Labour 1931

  • May committe recommendations caused outcry - Labour and trade unions wanted to tax rich not cut unemployment benefit
  • Macdonald followed report as other parties would not agree to increased taxation
  • cabinet was divided
  • 12 August - 'cabinet economy committee' agreed to £38 million and 10% cut in unemployment benefit - however substantiallly less than May committee
  • 19 August - cabinet agreed to £56 million - but other parties rejected as too small
  • next day - Macdonald and Snowden met with TUC, who rejected May committee entirely - put pressure on Labour cabinet
  • Bank of England needed new loans, New York bankers would only agree if cuts to unemployment benefit were made
  • Macdonald new proposald for cut unemployment benefit stood for 'the negation of everything the Labour party stood for'
  • but argued vote of approval in national interest - 23 August won 11 to 9 votes
  • those who opposed included leading ministers and split the cabinet so badly - 24 August Macdonald went to tender resignation to King George V.
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3.1 Formation of the national government

National government:

  • Macdonald expected to resign
  • but was agreed Macdonald would contine as PM at the head of a new 'national govt.
  • at time - planned as temporary arrangement and 'govt. of persons' rather than coalition
  • Conservatives and Liberals saw it as an advantage in times of unpopular measures

Labour's reaction:

  • cabinet taken by suprise
  • only three followed Macdonald (snowden)
  • Macdonald became PM resting on support of Conservatives and Liberals
  • many Labour supporters never got over what they felt was an underhand move by Macdonald and betrayal of the movement
  • August 1931 - led to bitterness in Labour party at the time and controversy ever since
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3.1 Macdonald and the National Government


  • Attlee said 'greatest betrayal in the political history of this country'
  • arrogant
  • allowed opponents to decide financial policy
  • not brave enough to face new ideas
  • too slow to respond
  • too easily ignored unions and cabinet
  • sacrificed Labour in interests of upper classes 'aristocratic embrace'
  • failed to take honorable course and resign - allied with conservatives


  • had no reason to distrust 'orthodox economic principles'
  • acted honorably by sacrificing party principles for national good
  • George V 'he put aside all personal and party interests to stand by this country in this grave crisis'
  • only changed direction when the Bank of Englands gold reserves where threatened
  • did reluctantly but showed 'responsibility' and acting in the national interest
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3.1 National government's impact on Labour

  • Macdonald was made PM of national government
  • Henderson became leader of Labour
  • new cabinet - 4 Conservatives, 2 Liberals and 3 Labour
  • few weeks later, Macdonald was formally expelled from party
  • Snowden's method was finally able to gain approval and banks recieved the loans needed in Sept,
  • however, Britain's currency was not saved
  • 21st September - Gold Standard was abandoned
  • Macdonald felt need to call a general election to restore confidence

1931 'Doctor's Mandate' election:

  • Labour was reduced to 52 seats - Henderson lost seat
  • supporters of National Government won 554 seats
  • opponents of National Government won 61 seats
  • leadership of Labour was switched to Lansbury and Bevin and trade unions had a greater role
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3.1 Labour recovery 1930's

  • individual membership rose
  • Labour won most of by-elections between 1931-1935 (13)
  • gained 154 seats in 1935 election
  • won 38% of votes - only due to 'first past the post' system
  • Labour was the only serious alternative (Liberals split in 1931 and 1932)
  • Communists won 1 seat but Labour  rejected 'popular front' against fascists
  • National govt. policies produced dissillusionment
  • under National govt. unemployment rose to 3 million in1932 (long term in parts of Britain
  • cuts in unemployment benefit, means test, and hunger marches helped to maintain working class loyalty
  • changes in leadership - Attlee in 1935
  • 1934 - first thorough Labour programme since 1928
  • 1935 - moved away from pacifism - in favour of armed League of Nations
  • 1939 - full resistance to Nazi Germany
  • Daily Mirror - 1938 pro labour, Daily Herald almost popular as Daily express
  • moderate 'respectable' policies - Labour avoided any taint of 'radicalism'
  • used years in opposition to clarify ideas - 1937 accepted Keynesian and set out programme or nationalisation of British industries
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3.2 Economic problems 1930

  • cotton - by 1932 less than half of 1913
  • coal - 238 million tonnes, by 1933 declined to 108 million tonnes
  • 1 million tonnes shipping annually 1920s, 133,000 tonnes 1933
  • 1932 - 47% of steel workers unemployed
  • 1932 - 60% of insured workers in shipbuilding were unemployed
  • 1938 - one fifth of coal miners and one quarter of cotton workers were unemployed
  • due to cyclical and structural unemployment
  • 1932 - over a third of insured workers in wales, over a quater in norther England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were unemployed
  • Jarrow - 70% unemployment
  • National figure 1.5 million, 10% of workforce unemployed
  • not untill 1941 that unemployment fell below 1 million

Jarrow Crusade 1936:

  • 200 unemployed men walked 300 miles to petiton the government
  • organised by Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson
  • Palmers shipyard closed in 1935 - male unemployment 77%
  • Baldwin refused to meet them - there was little immediate benefit
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3.2 Economic policies of the National government

  • Balance budget
  • 10% cut in unemployment benefit
  • 'means test' for additional dole
  • cuts in wages of public employees
  • intervened in currency markets - keeping pound stable
  • interest rates to 2% in 1932 - 'cheap money' available
  • 'sterling area' - pound to settle trading accounts
  • Import Duties Act 1932 - tariffs for non empire countries
  • imperial tariff system agreed at Ottawa conference 1932
  • trade treaties
  • Special Areas Act 1934
  • Cotton Industry (reorganisation) Act 1936
  • British Shipping (assistance) Act 1935 and North Atlantic Shipping Act 1934
  • marketing boards for milk, bacon and potatoes (guaranteed prices for farmers)
  • subsidies for livestock farmers and sugar beet growers
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3.2 Economic policies of the National government

How effective were the policies?:

  • cutting spending 1931 stopped banking crisis - however lowered demand, unemployment rose 1932-1933
  • 1931 cuts didn't save Gold Standard - pound then fell in value making British exports cheaper but then other currencies depreciated in value too
  • other countries introduced protective tariffs - exporting difficult even with sterling area
  • 'cheap money' allowed investment in industry and a house building boom due to mortgages (2 million built in 1930s)
  • housing mainly advantaged middle class, although 700,000 council houses were built 1931 - 1940
  • Special Areas Act - £2 million - only most depressed areas, (West Cumberland) others didn't qualify and National govt. had no regional policy
  • preferred unemployed to move rather than encourage industry
  • schemes to close down cotton did allow new investment (machinery) however employed fewer workers
  • agriculture - security for milk and potatoes but not for arable farmers
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3.1 Economic recovery 1930s

  • new industries - motor vehicles, chemicals and aircraft
  • motor car production doubled 1929-1939
  • total unemployment fell by half 1933 - 1940
  • 1938 - steel producing more than in 1928
  • growth in consumption - real wages increased due to low prices
  • home market-electricity consumption doubled 1930s and consumer durables
  • by 1938 - 9 million wireless radio's
  • jobs expanded in retailing, transport and banking
  • mass entertainment growing - cinema's and dance halls
  • new methods of production - assembly line and use of electric power
  • small family car, 1922 - £220, 1932 - £120
  • 1939 - motor industry employed 400,000 tended to locate in Midlands and south east rather than old industrial regions
  • rearmament spending, 1935 onwards increased, 1938-1939 - shot up sharply
  • rearmament directly stimulated old industries like shipbuilding and steel as well as new industries - aircraft and chemicals
  • 1930s - 'have nots' working class, 'haves' middle classes - suburbs had little connection with working class society
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3.2 Political extremism 1930s

CPGB - 1920:

  • based on philosophy that claimed to provide working classes with a model for a more equal and progressive society
  • after 1917 - appeared building a 'new civilisation'
  • 1930s - capitalism seemed to be collapsing - mass unemployment, 1931 break up of Labour and formation of BUF attracted people to CPGB
  • rise of fascism in Europe, Spanish civil war - international brigade
  • played key role in major strikes - 1932 - Lancashire cotton industry
  • leading role in National Unemployed Workers Movement - 50,000 members
  • active in disrupting meetings and marches held by BUF
  • Daily Worker - daily circulation 80,000 copies
  • Left book club - 50,000 members by 1939
  • CPGB - got handful of MP's elected
  • party membership doubled in early 1930's
  • 'apostles' cambridge spies
  • never serious threat - membership peaked at 18,000 - never more than 1/2 MP's at one time, moderate trade union leaders (Bevin) and Labour never allowed it to affiliate
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3.2 Political extremism

BUF - 1932:

  • founded after Moseley visited fascist Italy - black uniforms, silver flash insignia and used fascist salute
  • gained support from Lord Rothermere propreitor of Daily mail
  • grew quickly, 50,000 members by 1934, late 1930s - 20,000
  •  London, northern cities e.g. Leeds - recruits young working class men
  • The greater Britain programme - superior to Hitler's and Mussolini's writings
  • 100 speaches, wrote 3 books and wrote articles - few other talented people
  • people attracted due dissilusionment with traditional political parties -collapse of 2nd Labour govt., failure of national govt., cuts and means test contrasted with dynamism of fascism
  • Moseley's anti-semitism - for every supporter due to racism at least one would be turned off
  • won some support in north argueing tariffs to protect declining textiles
  • some support from people who wanted to avoid war or thought Hitler was valuable defence against communism
  • lost support of Lord Rothermere following violence Olympia Hall 1934
  • 1936 - Battle of cable street
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3.2 Political extremism

Factors limiting political extremism:

  • National govt. policy-1934 Incitement to Disaffection Act(revolution/ violence),1936 Public Order Act (uniforms and gave police control)
  • National govt. itself - won huge majorities 1931 and 1935 (stability), had no need to depend on alliance with extremists, appeasement avoided conflict with extremist countries (public support till 1939)
  • Labour movement - led by moderates who opposed linking with communists (bevin), rejected popular front against fascism, hung on to core vote (remained opposition)
  • International events - late 1930s truth about collectivisation, show trials and mass purges and hostility to Stalin's role in Spain, 1939 - Nazi-Soviet Pact, 1935 Mussolinis invasion of Abyssinia and backing of Franco 1936, 1938 Kristallnacht (agressive foreign policy), WW2- Moseley and 700 arrested
  • economic recovery 1933-4 - by 1937 mass unemployment reduced, middle classes did not suffer, long term unemployed became demoralised and apathetic
  • CPGB and BUF own failure - communists no leader, Moseley made political mistakes, BUF reputation for thuggery, no widespread loss of faith in parliamentary government nor in constitutional monarchy
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3.2 Appeasement

  • Baldwin resigned 1937
  • Chamberlain was his successor
  • many people thought he would make a great PM
  • 1937-1938 - Appeasement seen as logical policy
  • when Chamberlain signed Munich agreement  1938 gained mass popularity
  • but did not last
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4.1 Crisis of May 1940

Chamberlain and criticism:

  • appeasement- Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia 1936 and Poland 1939
  • criticised for failing to procure alliance with Soviet Russia to deter Hitler
  • April 1940 - Chamberlain 'Hitler had missed the bus' -  few days later Germany invaded Denmark and Norway
  • criticised for not organising the economy for war - MPs felt army inadequately prepared, blockade of Germany not tight enough
  • failed to win support of Labour and form new National govt.
  • Chamberlain 'how I loathe this war. I was never meant to be a war minister'
  • defeat and evacuation in Norway - ability to lead questions

Chamberlains resignation:

  • 7 May 1940 Chamberlain opened debate on Norway, faced attack from Conservative backbenchers - Labour demanded resignation
  • Lloyd George denounced him 'there is nothing which can contribute more to victory than that should he sacrifice our office'
  • Conservative rebels refused to support unless Labour and Liberals were prepared to support him as well - no chance, Chamberlain resigned
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4.1 Crisis of May 1940

Lord Halifax:

  • most likely to be able to reach an understanding with Hitler
  • foreign secretary in 1930s
  • many Conservatives, Liberals and even Labour saw him as best candidate
  • however, closely associated with policy of appeasement as a peer not MP
  • not right man to lead a democracy into a great war
  • questions about motivation and self belief
  • not at all sure in his own mind he was right for the job

Winston Churchill:

  • moved conservative 1924
  • against independance for India and appeasement so our of office 1929-1939
  • Labour and trade unions disliked for role in general strike and return to Gold Standard 1925
  • had military experience in India, Sudan, Western Front, admirality 1912-1915
  • 1939 - navy again and during 'phoney war' only navy won
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4.1 Winston Churchill wartime leader

Deciding factors:

  • 1930s warned of need to rearm
  • speeches endeared him to press and improved relations to Labour and trade unions due to uncomprimising oposition to Hitler and Nazism
  • also recommended trade union leaders, such as Ernest Bevin should be in govt
  • contacts in US - valuable for help in war
  • contributions in parliament, articles in newspapers, historical works and broadcasts on radio gave impression that despite age, man of determination and enery

Churchill as wartime leader:

  • end of May 1940 - Germans armies deep into northern France
  • British Expeditionary Force was trapped on channel coast near Dunkirk and 300,000 evacuated by sea
  • invasion seemed imminent as fall of france was only a matter of time
  • Lord Halifax and other Conservatives felt negotiation with Hitler was better
  • Churchill put everything into organising the military effort against Germany
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4.1 Churchill as wartime leader

Summer 1940:

  • everything depended on control of skies
  • aerial battles of 'Battle of Britain' in 1940 between Luftwaffe and a few hundred Royal Air Force pilots were key
  • by September Luftwaffe had failed and Hitler switched towards plans for invasion of Soviet Russia 'finest hour'

Churchill's wartime coalition:

  • Churchill as PM, but Chamberlain was still head of Conservatives
  • allowed him to act above party politics - stable and efficient
  • 1940 war cabinet consisted; Attlee (Labour), Greenwood (Labour), Chamberlain (Conservative), Lord Halifax (Conservative)
  • Churchill also brought men with experience outside westminster; Morrison, Woolton and Beveridge
  • didn't split Conservatives, absence of opposition - Chamberlain ill, Halifax ambassador to US
  • realised importance of having Labour movement for political reasons and war economy
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4.1 Policies of wartime coalition government

1. Organising economy for war

  • Emergency Powers (defence) Act 1939 - any aspect to secure defence of the realm (100's of regulations)
  • centralised govt, ministries for food, shipping, information, economic warfare
  • Ministry of Aircraft Production and Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Production set up - cabinet committee's to coordinate
  • Minister of Labour - Ernest Bevin - powers over Britains workforce, conscription already been introduced but he added industrial conscription, late 1943 -'Bevin boys' work in coal mines, 4.5 million entered armed forces, workforce rose by 2 million, 'essential work orders' forced better conditions, lunchtime entertainment 1941 BBC radio 'workers playtime'
  • coal mines inefficient, had to rely on imports of oil - U boat attacks,
  • rationing basic foods 1940, most others 1941
  • Royal Ordanance Factories employed 300,000, another 265 factories did work, non essential factories run down for materials and labour
  • new production methods, encouraging science for efficiency and warfare
  • agriculture - production shifter from meat to cereals, use of fertilisers and tractors and 'Dig for Victory' campaigns
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4.1 Policies of wartime coalition government

2. Paying for the war

  • cut earnings from exports and overseas investments which had to be sold off
  • gold and dollar reserves spent out by 1941 - dependant on American loans
  • squeezed consumption through high taxation, rationing and persuading public to buy war bonds
  • neglected new investment in any area except for war production
  • relied on oversees aid from the empire and the US
  • income tax went up 10 shillings in pound and nearly all worker paid it, introduced 'pay as you earn' in 1943
  • indirect taxes on goods and services brought in money
  • Canada provided $1000 million and interest free loans - other empire countries sent materials
  • US agreed lend-lease scheme 1941 - £27,000 million in aid
  • by 1945 - Britain faced massive debts
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4.1 Policies of wartime coalition government

3. Planning for post-war Britain

  • war only turned in Britains favour between Nov 1942 and 1943 - plans to tackle Britains social problems began as early as 1941
  • attitudes towards planning changed - maintain morale, war itself, common danger
  • 1943-1944 - people were impatient about what improvements
  • outside pressure, in 1941 the TUC pointed out defects in national health insurance system and asked for reform
  • articles, radio talks, official reports and publications from leading churchmen created demand for planning reforms
  • Emergency Hospital Scheme - free treatment for bomb victims
  • free milk and extra food for children and mothers
  • 'means test' abolished 1941
  • proposals for 'better Britain'
  • J.M. Keynes put forward ideas of avoiding inflation and unemployment
  • May 1944 - govt white paper 'Employment Policy' committed future govts. to ensure 'a high and stable level of employment'
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4.1 Wartime coalition

Measures taken to implement promises of a 'better Britain':

  • 1944 Education Act - free compulsory education - leaving age 15
  • local authority grants for fees and maintanence available for university
  • White paper 'A National Health Service' 1944 - key principles estabished
  • 1943 - Ministry for Town and Country Planning
  • 1944 - Town and Country Planning Act - local authorities powers to deal with blitzed or slum areas - redevelopment
  • 1945 - Family Allowances Act - promoted by Labour MP's and Eleanor Rathbone - weekly benefit and 5 shillings for 2nd and every further child
  • measures formed start of welfare state - but only a plan
  • Beveridge report 1942 - 'social security and allied services', sold over 600,000 copies, wrote of slaying 5 giants want, sickness, lack of education, bad housing, unemployment, all benefits administered by single govt department - Ministry of Social Security, providing a universal national minimum benefit for everyone from birth to death - gave a vision of safe, secure and prosperous future
  • 1944 - white paper 'social insurance' accepted most of Beveridges proposals and Ministry of National Insurance set up
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4.1 Wartime coalition


  • military disasters e.g. Singapore 1942
  • criticism of Churchill - revolt in support of back bench Labour motion - critical of govts. negative reaction to Beveridge report
  • Churchill had to face more than one vote of no confidence - nationalisation
  • divisions on state economy post war
  • NHS disagreements - nationalisation of hospitals, should doctors become state employee's, medical treatment being free for everyone
  • Labour criticisms - LW argued reforms not going far enough, critical of 1944 Education Act for not abolishing private schools, criticism of flat rate national insurance payment and benefits too low in Beveridge report, family allowances and old age pensions inadequate
  • Consequences - claimed reform plans were much too radical and expensive


  • strong national unity and churchill's charisma
  • electoral truce between parties
  • held together untill almost end of the war
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4.2 Impact of the war

Social mobility:

  • 1940 conscription - took men abroad, women conscripted into Women's Auxiliary Forces or war work
  • mid 1941 - 3 million men in armed force, 1 million of which were volunteers
  • 1944 - armed forces 4.5 million, 1943 home guard 1.75 million men, 1944 - 1.5 million overseas army stationed in Britain
  • mass migration of people as well as soldiers
  • nutrition standards in working class families improved
  • 1939 - unemployment over a million, by 1942 - fell by half, 1943 - disappeared
  • certain aspects not enjoyed, 20,000 'Bevin Boys' and resentment of 'spivs' black market
  • 11-12 working hours per day and night working, tirdness lead to 1000 per year industrial accidents
  • fewer than 2 million days lost through strikes 1940-1945 (5 million during 1914-8)
  • status of unions rose - 6.3 to 8.9 million members
  • combination of employment and overtime raised earnings of working class
  • 1938 - 1945 - average male earnings increased by 80%, women doubled
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4.2 Impact of the war

Not everyone gained:

  • wives and families of serving men (4 million 1944)
  • servicemen's pay relatively low
  • middle and upper classes hit by high tax, death duties and limits on profits
  • 1930s house building boom halted
  • 1939-40 - 22,000 houses, 1943 - 7000 houses
  • bombing destroyed 4 million houses, killed 60,000 civilians, injured 86,000, made 2 miillion temporarily homeless - often resentment of middle class who could drive out to safety


  • 1939 - million children out of main cities
  • some lucky - children from inner cities found themselves better fed and clothed, others neglected, mistreated or bored, by 1940 - more than a half returned
  • evacuated again in 1940 blitz and 1944-45 during V1 and V2 rockets
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4.2 Impact of the war


  • 1939 - 1943 - 'Battle of the Atlantic' caused strict rationing system
  • new recipes encouraged by Lord Woolton, Minister for food 'woolton pie'
  • 1941 - meat, tea, jam etc. was rationed
  • 1941 - clothes were also rationed 'make do and mend'

Identity cards:

  • 1940 - anyone of German, Austrian or Italian origin could be interned in camps, deported to Canada or subjected to strict police controls
  • 1943 - released
  • anyone considered a potential threat could be arrested without trial - 1,600 including Moseley
  • other govt. regulations included, blackouts, preventing 'defeatist' thoughts, censorship, propaganda - Ministry of Information
  • 'social revolution' debated - gulf between classes may have narrowed byt not disappeared altogether
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4.2 Women and the war

  • 1939 - 1945 - women had to cope with conscription and role in womens voluntary service (evacuation of children etc.)
  • for some - liberating and exciting, others - exhaustion, loneliness and misery
  • late 1943 - over half factory workers were women
  • 1943 - 80% of married women were working - war did not bring equal pay, rarely got 60-70% of mans wage, discrimination, stereotypes and patronisation
  • after war many women gave up their jobs, but after 1945, % of married women working was higher than before
  • 500,00 women served in auxiliary of armed forces, 350,000 worked in civil defence or became Land Girls - most assigned to clerical and admin work, some flew aeroplanes, fighter controllers, radar operators, some worked as code breakers at Bletchly Park, thousands entered nursing at home and on fronts
  • said caused a 'sexual revolution' - moral constraint loosened, 'nice girls' less likely to 'say no' when might not see someone again - moving/shot, at home broken marriages were common, real 'sexual revolution' in 1960s
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4.2 Impact of the war

Myths and realities:

  • looting - crime
  • propaganda on news - 'careless talk costs lives' 'Dig for Victory' and 'the squander bug' - resist temptation to spend money and buy war bonds
  • 1940s - mass entertainment boom, 1945 - 10 million private radio sets, cinema - attendances 30 million a week
  • US influence 'GI brides' - 60,000 British girls who married US troops
  • American used music, dance, food, 'jive', 'jitterbug'

Attitudes by 1945:

  • argued 'post war concensus' after 1945 - influenced all parties
  • argued dented class divisions but did not break them, 'social revolution' temporary.
  • strengthened monarchy, empire and commonwealth
  • Labour  politicians proved reliable 1930s still raw in 1945
  • 'never again' deeply rooted before Labour adopted it as campaign slogan 1945
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4.3 1945 General election

  • Churchill wanted to continue untill war against Japan ended
  • Labour party rejected as no general election for 10 years
  • 23 May coalition ended - Churchill remained 'caretaker' untill July
  • Labour landslide - 393 seats,
  • Conservatives - 197 seats
  • Cons and allies - 209 seats
  • Liberals - 12 seats
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4.3 Reasons why Labour won

  • 1930s recovery of Labour, unofficial left wing independants succeeded in defeating Conservatives in several by-elections
  • trade union expansion
  • contribution of USSR towards defeat of Hitler - socialism in a good light
  • Conservatives - appeasement, unemployment and social deprivation 1930s
  • state planning - nationalisation worked during war, why not in peacetime
  • Labour able to declare proudly it was socialist, without fearing accusation
  • Churchill's 'gestapo' speech -  tried to discredit Labour - backfired
  • war had encouraged belief in a more equal society - national unity
  • social mobility - middle classes had contact with contact with working classes
  • Beveridge -lack of Cons support convinced vote Labour for 'better Britain'
  • perception of Labour party - they had played key role in war e.g. Bevin
  • 1945 - faces well known - gained experience and known for efficiency
  • Churchill not associated with domestic policy
  • 20% voting first time in 1945 - armypro labour (RAF Tedder said 80%)
  • Labour ran effective 'let us face the future' campign than Churchill
  • Conservatives - several errors, thought bound to win, didn't spend money, focused on Churchill's personality, too old, failure to adapt to peacetime
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4.3 Economic crises and recovery 1945- 1951

  • 1945 - economic situation serious
  • had long term policies such as nationalisation and building of the welfare state
  • 1946- 1947 - attempting financial solvency and economic survival
  • enourmous debt and face massive expenditure on overseas commitments

Britains overseas commitments:

  • expenditure on armed forces, overseas bases ad govt of colonies
  • after 1945 - involvement in cold war
  • 1948-1949 - berlin airlift and formation of NATO
  • 1951 - rearmament in response to Korean war
  • 1947 - 'winter crisis' - Britain could no longer support Turkey and Greece and would withdraw from Palestine - US responded with Marshall Plan
  • 1947 - Britain's withdrawal from India
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4.3 Labours financial and economic policies

  • loans from USA - vital to get US dollars to pay for essential imports
  • rationing - 1948- rations below wartime average - living standards fell so production could go into exports to earn dollars - 'austerity'
  • rebuilding exports - 'export drive', 'dollar gap' needed to be bridged
  • exchange controls - stop foreigners withdrawing money, limit comany/individual wishing to spend dolllars abroad
  • switching to peacetime production - allocate materials for export, regional policies , new factories in depressed areas, wartime controls on prices and wages
  • economic planning and employment - nationalisation (railways, coal, bank of england), used taxation, interest rates and budget to avoid unemployment and inflation, agriculture helped by subsidies and guaranteed prices
  • building a new international economic system - 1944 - General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
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4.3 Success and failures in achieving economic rec

  • 1948 - 1950 - Marshall aid
  • 1945 - J.M. Keynes negotiated loan of $3,700 million repayable over 50 years, had to promise to make pound sterling fully convertable to US dollar 1947 (financial crisis caused) and open emipre markets to US goods, Canada provided $1,500 million on easier terms
  • 1947 - need for continual financial help if Britain was to recover
  • exports increased by 80% 1946-1950, 1950 - volume 50% higher than 1937 e.g. motor vehicle due to lack of competition from Germany and Japan
  • 1949 - (recession America) - Cripps devalued pound against US dollar, one pound worth 2-8 dollars instead of 4.03 dollars, made British exports to US cheaper and reduced trade deficit, 1950 - balance of payments surplus
  • 1950 - Korean war - major rearmament balance of payments crisis - however much better condition than 1945
  • kept interest rate, inflation, wages low - easier to invest expand and export
  • agriculture home grown, reducing imports, increasing productivity
  • 1945-1951 - half of new factories in 'depressed' areas', 'export or die'
  • 1945-1950 - real wages rose by 1%, inflation rose less than 3%,
  • 1951 - 20% economy under state control, 'mixed economy' didn't undermine private industry - had to be pushed through under Conservative opposition
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4.3 Economic crisis and recovery

  • 1951 - better economically
  • full employment maintained
  • economic recovery was widespread
  • 1950 - no need of marshall aid
  • Labour won more votes in 1950 and 1951 than it did even in 1945
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4.4 Reforms of the Attlee government

Key aims 1945:

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

Aims ideological and practical - in planned economy and with full employment possible to make Labours social ideals become reality

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4.4 Nationalisation

  • by 1945 - nationalisation no longer strange and theoretical
  • after war - many middle classes and even business believed nationalisation
  • 1920s - civil aviation associated with state, 1694 - Bank of England been govt,
  • others did oppose nationalisation of road transport and steel
  • 1940s - debate was about extent and cost
  • 1946-51 - 20% of economic enterprise nationalised - 10% of workforce
  • improvements - supply of electricity and gas expanded - growth in civil aviation ans cable and wireless communications
  • electricity was extended to more and more remote parts of the country
  • cost a lot - private compensation £2,700 million, unprofitable industries coal
  • coal mines had some managers -some industries in competitive (gas with electricity)
  • pay and conditions didn't improve much
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4.4 Nationalisation and radical change

Arguements it did mean radical change:

  • survived in state ownership untill 1980s
  • moved Britain towards becoming a collectivist society
  • economy became a 'mixed economy' - balance between private and state ownership
  • a step toward a more socialist Britain - industry would run for 'social need' not 'private gain'

Arguements it did not mean radical change:

  • most industries nationalised had a long history of state involvement and control
  • socialist demand for 'worker's control' were ignored
  • most industries nationalised tended to be unprofitable
  • private owners were compensated
  • after 1947 - pace of nationalisation slowed  - industry remained in private hands
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4.4 Birth of the welfare state

  • 1945 - 1948 - Labour passed range of major welfare and social reforms that formed basis of welfare state
  • welfare inadequate 1945, uneven coverage,  outside national insurance
  • still differences in living standards between social classes and regions
  • most unemployed recieved 26 weeks and then claim dole but 40,000 workers in non insured occupations still had to fall back on 1834 Poor Law
  • Attlee's govt. committed to making welfare universal and free of charge
  • ideology - socialism providing collectively for needs of people
  • Britain already was 'welfare society' before 1939 incomplete (liberals and war)
  • from 1942 onwards there was public support for Beveridge's ideas on social insurance 'from the cradle to the grave'

Labours welfare:

  • everyone - 1946 NHS Act (effective 1948)
  • destitute - 1948 National Assistance Act
  • workers - 1946 Industrial Industries Act, 1946 National Insurance Act
  • children and families - 1945 Family Allowance Act, 1944 Education and housing programme
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4.4 Welfare state

1946 National Insurance Act:

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

1946 Industrial Injuries Act:

  • universal - made more generous compensation, provided injury benefit for 6 months, disability for permanent injury, death benefit for dependants

Housing Acts and programme:

  • built 1.5 million new homes, quater of a million 'prefabs'
  • 1946 - New Towns Act e.g. Stevenage 1946, Town and Countryside Act (future development and 'green belt')

1948 National Assistance Act:

  • ended Poor Law by transferring financial responsibility to central govt
  • National Assistance Board-local govt. to provide accomodation for homeless
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4.4 The National Health Service

  • didn't function untill 1948
  • Bevan, Minister for Health and Housing ideas provoked controversy
  • faced opposition from Conservatives and medical profession
  • needed support of BMA - who feared NHS would weaken doctors professional status and independance (ancient hospitals feared they would lose their wealthy endowments)
  • Bevan compromised 'stuffed their mouths with gold'
  • consultants allowed to have private patients
  • hospitals have 'pay beds' and private wards
  • medical profession given role in administration of NHS
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4.4 The National Health Service

Successes of NHS:

  • 187,000 prescriptions in first year
  • 8.5 million dental patients
  • 5.25 million spectacles prescribed
  • after 1948 - infant mortality fell so did cases of TB -gained public acceptance
  • 95% population enrolled with NHS doctors and dentists
  • 88% doctors, 95% dentists joined
  • 1951 - much admired in western Europe - showed universal, comprehensive and free health care could be provided in a democratic capitalist society

Limitations of NHS:

  • Bevan compromises
  • no unified system  - regional patterns of health care
  • shortage trained staff and buildings-1948,10,000 dentists 47 million people
  • local health centres slow to develp (1st 1952)
  • cost - greater than expected, 1948-51 spending doubled
  • financial crisis 1951 - introduce payments for prescriptions and some central treatment - caused divisions, Bevan resigned
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4.4 The welfare state

Successes of reform programmes:

  • family allowances - women direct payments-benefit working class mothers
  • maintainence of full employment
  • 'tripartite' system - allow bright working class children to go to grammar school
  • Rowntree's third survey - 1950 old age biggest cause of poverty, 1936 - unemployment - suggests significant improvement in living standards

Limitations of reform programmes:

  • level of welfare benefits low and didn't automatically rise with inflation
  • poverty not ended
  • National Assistance Board applied means test
  • claims for compensation for industrial accidents remained difficult to prove
  • economic problems prevented house building - not until 1948 that built more than 200,000 a year
  • private housing held back, middle class complaints (taxation/rationing)
  • 'tripartite' schools-Labour dissapointed, felt class had influence on education
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4.4 General election 1950

  • Attlee called election Feb 1950
  • did well in votes but seats fell to only 5 majority
  • 'we have office without power' Hugh Dalton
  • such a small majority cause Attlee to call a new election 1951
  • Labour won lots of votes but insufficient seats and Conservatives won a majority

Reasons for Labours defeat:

  • timing - 1950 held before full extent of recovery was fully realised
  • many voters still influenced by 1949 devaluation (national humiliation)
  • 1951 - economic recovery faltering due to impact of Korean War and expensive rearmament programme
  • damaged by internal party divisions - 1951 prescription and dental charges, 'Bevanites'  criticised charges and rearmament, years of strict rationing and austerity, Labours leaders ill and exhausted e.g Attlee, Morrison, Bevin
  • revival of Conservatives - Woolton began fundraising and membership drive, exploited Labours setbacks, opposed nationalisation of steel but made clear to preserve NHS, pledged 300,000 new houses a year
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Arizona Mosby

this is an amazing revision tool:) well done Alex!

Amrit Kaur

Awesome, thanks so much!


Thank you so much! This is so helpful :)


this is so great only if i found it sooner


this is amazing, your an actual life saver! 


This is exactly what I was looking for! Shame the exam's tomorrow morning haha.



Alex F

Anyone know how to print this so that it doesn't put half the slides upside down?

Grace Hannaford

Really helpful revision notes thank-you! but there are a few spelling mistakes :)

Gauranga Purohit

These notes are fantastic! Thanks :)

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