Britain 1940-51 - Attle government 1945-51

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1945 Election

  • Labour won 393 seats vs Cons 197
  • 1st overall majority in 50 year history
  • Libs = 12 seats
  • Coalition ended March 23 1945
  • Key people;
    • Bevin = Foregin Secretary 
    • Herbert Morisson = Leader in Commons
    • Hugh Dalton = Chancellor
    • Stafford Cripps = Board of Trade
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Reasons for Labour Landslide

  • Leftward shift during war  
  • Opinion polls 1941 - Labs >popular
  • 1943> 10-20% lead
  •  Beat Cons in by-elections
  • >ing TU activity
  • Soviet Russians help defeat Hitler
  • Cons blamed for failures of 30s; unemployment, social deprivation & appeasment
  • 'ghost of Chamberlain' - Labs used failures as electoral propaganda - 'Never Again'
  • Public saw benefit of state planning & intervention
  • Churchill's 'Gestapo speech'
  • Social unity - social mobility - public wanted equal society
  • Cons opposition to Beveridge Report
  • Lab viewed differently after war - well known, experienced & effient
  • Forces pro-labour
  • 20% new voters   
  • Recovered form 1931 disaster
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1945 Election Campaign

Conservatives 

  • Cons 'Mr Churchills Declaration to the Voters' - uninspiring
  • Overconfident of victory - spent less money
  • Focused too much on Churchills personallty
  • Tours of Britain > popularity slightly
  • Voters saw difference between wartime leader & untrustworthy Con leader - too old - 70
  • Didn't adapt wartime speeches - focused on histroic events instead of relevant policies

Labour

  • 'Let's Face The Future' 
  • Had > agents in constituencies - TUists involved
  • Focused on domestic policies 
  • Recovered form 1931 disaster
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Economic policies - Finance and Trade

  • Loans from US -  
    • strong currency 
    • needed to pay for imports
  • Rationing
    • Intesified - limit imports 
    • 1948 rations lower than in war
    • Livining standards kept down - 'austerity'
    • Focus on producing exports to earn $s
  • Exports
    • More exports to US = more $s
    • needed to close '$ gap'
  • Exchange Controls
    • prevented foreigners withdrawing money from B
    • Limited use of $s abroad by Brits 
    • stopped waste of $s
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Economic policies - Industry

  • Switching to peacetime production
    • govt controls to allocate materials 
    • regional policly - opened new factoires in drepressed areas
    • controls on prices & wage kept
  • Planning & employment
    • State planning to support exports & full employment
    • Nationalistion; coal, steel & B of E
    • rationing - able to control allocation of labour & materials - prioty to exports
    • used taxes, interest rates & budget to stimulates economy & avoid inflation + unemployment 
    • Agriculture - subsidies & guranteed prices
  • New international economic system
    • coop with US to build new economy - World Bank & IMF
    • Meeting of economic experts in Bretton Woods, US 1944
    • General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - aimed to reg trade & stop depression  
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Economic recovery - Successes

  • Got help from US - $3,7000 mill 50 year loan Dec 1945 - Keynes
  • Got help from Canada - $1,500 mill - easier terms
  • Bevin got B biggest share of Marshall Aid 1948 - crucial
  • Exports increased 80% 1946-50 - 1950 - 50% higher than 1937
  • Car industry production X2ed
  • Devauling £ reduced trade defacit with US
  • 1951 Balance of payments better than 1945
  • Kept rates,inflation & wage cuts low  
  • Producing > home grown food - imports <ed
  • Agriculture production >ed
  • 1/2 factories built 1945-51 in depressed areas
  • 'Export or die' campaign - full production
  • 1945-50 - real wages rose 1% - inflation rose <3%
  • Agriculture subsiduries
  • Nationalisation - 20% industry state controlled
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Economic recovery - Failures

  • Had to pay interest on US loan & make £ convertible to $
  • Had to dismantle 1932 import system & accept US imports
  • Loans too small - ran out in 1947
  • Dalton had to allow Brits to convert sterling to $s - B of E not enough $s - convertability suspended after a month - shook confidence of govt - B dependant on US loans
  • Fuel crisis 1947 - bad winter - villages cut off - no coal tranported & no stockpiles - indutrty halted - coal exports <ed 20% & unemployment >ed 2 mill
  • 1948 - control <ing enterpise - lifted 1949-1950
  • 1949 payment crisis - US recesion - <ed demand for exports - Cripps <ed exchange rate - £ worth $2.80 - $4.03 B4
  • Korean War 1950 - B rearmed - >ed imports - balance of payments crisis
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Reforms - Welfare State

  • Reforms 1945-8 formed basis
  • Welfare provision still poor
  • 1000's workers not on National Insurance Scheme
  • 40,000 workers had no unemployment benefit - fell back on Poor Law 1834
  • No guarantee of Emergency Health Scheme continuing - no free healthcare
  • Labour committied to providing free education + health service & abolishing Poor Law + means test
  • Sense of community war -  Brits saw need for fair society - need to win the peace
  • Brits didnt want 1930s repeated
  • widespread support of Beveridge report  
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Reforms - Nationalisation

  • Little opposition
  • Civil aviation associated with state 1920s
  • B of E already govt's bank
  • Cons opposed coal & steel - argued they would run < efficiently - denationalisied 1951
  • 1946-51 - 20% entreprises & 10% workforce state controlled
  • owned most of fuel + power production, steel, transport & B of E 
  • gas & electricity expanded
  • growth in civil aviation & cable + wireless communication
  • electrification extended
  • Cons only reversed coal & steel 1950s & electricity 1980s
  • Cost £2700 mill -  private owners compensation
  • some unprofiting - needed subsiduries
  • workers not involved in decisions - coal had same managers 
  • Competition - coal vs electricity
  • little improment in pay & conditions
  • Mixed economy - B no longer 100% capitalist - step towards > socialist B - social need not private gain
  • based on 'public corporations' 1930s -  socialist 'worker control' demand ignored
  • 1947 - slowed down - belief <ed
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Reforms - Housing and Employment

  • Housing
    • 1.5 mill house & 1/4 mill pre-fabricated temporary dwellings 
    • 1946 New Towns Act - major new towns built around London to house bombing victims e.g Stevenage 1946
    • Town and Countryside Act - made LAs to plan development & created green belt
  • 1946 National Insurance Act
    • Applied NI to all workers
    • Weekly payment from worker & employer
    • Provided unemployment & sickness benefit, maternity grants, death grants, widow allowances, orphan allowances & pensions
  • 1946 Industrial Injuries Act
    • Universal - wider compensation for work-related illness & injuries
    • 6 month injuriy benefit, disability benefit for permanent injuries, & death benefits for dead workers families
    • Tribunals set up to assess cases
  • 1948 National Assistance Act
    • Provided help for destitute & ended Poor Law - transfered responsibility from local to central govt
    • National Assitance Board gave benefits & LAs forced to house homeless
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Reforms - The NHS

  • Parliament act 1946 - disscused for 7ral years
  • 1945 - only workers got certain free healthcare 
  • Doctor bills expensive - poor unable to pay - mothers neglected own health to care for children - dieseases diagnosed too late / not treated properly
  • Aneurvin Bevan wanted to create national health service that offered free healthcare to everyone
  • Principles had support but Bevan had to fight to get it established
  • Opposed by Cons - too socialist - easily overcome by Lab majority in parliament
  • Opposed by BMA - doctors self-employed & earning high fees - didnt want state control - no independance
  • Bevan & BMA compromised - doctors working for NHS could have private patients + NHS hospitals would have some private wards
  • Doctor given central role in admin
  • Doctors payed most of salary from state & rest from each patient treated
  • Established 5 July 1948
  • Provided immediate medical help without financial obstical
  • Improvment in health of B 1st few years
  • Infant mortatlity + dieseases e.g. TB  already <ing & living standards >ing B4 NHS - >ed housing + employment & better diet 
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Reforms - Successes

  • NHS
    • 187,000 prescriptions in 1st year - 5.25 mill glasses
    • 8,5 mill dental patients
    • Poor mothers with big families had regular healthcare
    • Widely accepted - 95% population enrolled
    • 88% doctors & 95% dentists joined
    • 1951 - Admired in W Europe
  • Reform programme
    • Gave benefit to WC mothers
    • Adopted 'tripartite' model in 2ndary education -  WC 11 years olds could get scholarships to grammer schools if academic or go to technical college or normal 2ndary school
    • Big improvement on welfare system B4 war
    • Lasted until 1980s - basis of modern system
    • Rowntree's 3rd survey 1950 - only 2% in primary poverty - 10% 1899 
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Reforms - Failures

  • Bevan had to comprimise on NHS
  • No central admin system - 163 local councils for general practice & 19 regional boards for hospitals
  • Shortage of staff - 10,000 dentists for 47 mill 1948
  • 1st local health centre not opened til 1952
  • Large regional variations in level of care
  • Spending X2ed 1948-51 
  • 1951 crisis - prescriptions + some treatment no longer free - Bevan resigned
  • welfare low - poverty not ended
  • National Assistance Board uses means test
  • Compensation claims for illnesses hard to prove
  • Less housebuilding - couldn't build > than 200,000 p.a. til 1948 - had to suspend building of private MC houses 
  • Tripartite system left many children feeling like failures 
  • Technical colleges neglected
  • Secondary schools never as prestigious as grammar schools
  • Private schools not abolished - many Labs disappointed - felt class still had too much influence on education
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Reasons for Labour's Defeat

  • Election 1950 - majority fell to 5 seats
  • Attle forced to call election 1951 - Cons won - 321 vs Labs 295
  • Timing - held in Feb 1951 & economy didnt improve until a few months later
  • Voters influenced by devaluaton - humiliating 
  • 1951 - economy faultering again - Korean War - economy improved 1952
  • Internal divisions - prescription charges & rearmament - Bevan argued with Hugh Gaitskell
  • Bevanites thought Attle too influenced by US Cold War policies
  • Voters tired of control, rationing & austerity - wanted change
  • Leaders under too much strain - seen as exhausted & ill - not capable of running govt for another 5 years
  • Revival of Conservative Party
  • Wooton reorganised eletoral machine & started fundraising scheme - new membership drive
  • Exploited Labs failures & opposed nationalisation of coal & steel
  • Promised to keep other nationalisaton, reforms & NHS
  • Promised to build 300,000 houses p.a - attractive policy - housing shortage
  • Labs in political wilderness until 1964
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