BH - Labour 1945-

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Overview

Gained a large majority, nationalised industries and the NHS, repaired housing/education... disengaged from Empire and became a key member of Atlantic alliance during Cold War

1940s-1970s largely brought about post war 'consensus politics', commitment to Keynesian policies of high public spending to keep unemployment controlled

Internal divisions in Labour party during 50s, MPs v Parliamentary Labour Party w/ Harold Wilsons administration in 1963 bringing a truce

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1945

Opinion polls indicated a Labour win, though the heroics of Churchill in WW2 made people believe otherwise

Majority of 146 seats, won seats in Southern England

Revision of Labours aim (Labours Immediate Programme [1937]) were in its manifesto such as nationalisation of Bank of England and coal mines

Had appeal for being a party opposed to appeasement of the Nazis, and attracted intelectual members i.e. Anthony Crosland

1940 joined coalition in return in full partnership running the war, w/ many Labour leaders becoming ministers - Clement Atlee -> Deputy Prime Minister, Ernest Bevin -> Minister of Labour, Hebert Morrison -> Home Secretary... Churchill ignored the war front, focused more on the actual war

Beverdige Report published in 1942 - that revolutionary measures had to be taken to free Britain from the 'five giants on the road to reconstruction - WANT, DISEASE, IGNORANCE, SQUALOR and IDLENESS. it sold 600,000 copies and opinion polls shows 86% were in favour

Churchill believed Beveridge was dangerously optimistic, Labour were in favour - 1944 education act introduced a tri-partite education system + leaving age up to 15 + universal secondary education

Rationing, economic controls, mobilisation of labour became acceptable by the public, Cons + Labs varied in views of the state... The electorate merely didnt want to ever return to the state of living in 20s/30s


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1945 #2

Election campaigned revolved around the need for reconstruction, the Conservatives campaign was lackluster

Labour however were clear in their idea of post-war Britain that it aimed to create, wanting to tackle these 5 giants... Their goals were in tune with the electorate, 

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Building Jerusalem

Radical initiatives such as nationalisation and welfare state introduced before 1947, post 1947 was a more pragmatic period

Atlees second administration was short Feb 1950-Oct 1951, only a majority of 6 MPs, tiredness of senior minister meant Labour were losing authority

Leftists argue Labour didnt move enough towards socialism, whilst Rightists argue Atlee should have devoted resources to recovering industry/economy

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Internal Pressure

Internal - relationships between MPs were good though there was deep personal aniomosity between Ernest Bevin and Herbert Morrison 

Atlee was a team PM, cabinet and leadership had control at all levels of the party hierachy (the opposite to Margaret Thatchers leadership)

Trade union were supportive of the government,  and hostile towards far left/Communists - slight split centred around reamament programme proposed by the Chancellor of Exchequer due to Korean War - introducing prescription charges/cuts to welfare state -> resignation of Bevan, Harold Wilson and Freeman

Majoirty of ministers were conservative figures,conditioned by inter-war period - they were interested in retaining Britains powerful position on the world - wanting to defeat evils of society rather than looking forwards

Education ministers accepted tripartite system, resisting demands for comprehensives - Labour here didnt offer anything new and only opposed it in the 60s

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Economic Pressures

WW2 bankrupted Britain, and were largely dependant on American loans and after Americas victory against Japan ended their financial support

Keynes - Britain were facing an economic dunkirk - negotiations secured another loan of 3.75 billie for 5 years, Labour were still keen on bringing social/economic equality

Balance of payment crisis in 1947 - country imports more than it can export causing loss of confidence from international markets  and the outflow of British gold reserves ... import controls was introduced

Devaluation of the £, 1949 a 'dollar drain' forced a 30% devaluation against the $ to $2.80 to £1

Pressure on social spending on welfare such as NHS, and conservatives blamed labours incompetence

Devaluation however meant British goods were more competitive in a slowly recovering post-war world

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Domestic Pressures

Decade of rationing, shortages, intrusive state control meant people were exhausted, and more restive in the late 40s

British Housewive League campaigned against rationing, at its peak garnering 100,000 members

Government reacted cautiously due to the economic situation, rationing was eased in 1949

Bread rationing was ended in 1948, rationing of clothes ended in 1949, and a freedom to buy confectionaries

Festival of Britain held in 1951 displayed how Britain was recovering from war, it showed Britains technological/artistic skills - and proved to be highly popular with the public

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Achievements

Welfare state - NHS offered free universal healthcare, Atlee appointed Bevan as Minister of Health - local/charity hospitals became publically owned - the NHS however faced opposition from British Medical Association, NHS was in high demand and the NHS budget rose incrasing costs and demands on the budget, introduction of prescription charge leading to Bevan resigning, abolishment of means tested welfare and introduction of the family allowance, pension and allowances increased  - old age pension per week rose to 26 shilling from 10 shillings

Housing - Bevan responsible for housing, 700,000  houses damaged in WW2 and roughly 750,000 was required, short supply on raw materials, 2 solutions - provision of pre-frabricated house w/ 125,000 of these in 1948 + and squatting - homeless occupied empty properties such as army bases, 217,000 council houses by 1948, decline due to economy but 1 mil built by 1951, Bevan insisted on good quality housing

Nationalisation - 20% of industry suffered from unver investment - these industries were nationalised, coal mines were nationalised due to pressure from mining unions, key success of Atlees government, it sustained morale and key industries such as coal, electricity, gas and railways were better as national monopolies - some industries suffered from poor privatised management and relations, nationalisation encouraged efficiency and investment + improvement of working coniditions, it was the sole solution for certain industries such as transport, most were run competently

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Failiures

Nationalised industries retained existing managers rather than appoint representatives of the workforce to their boards

Planned economy wasnt successful, planning was non-existant as ministers adopted a voluntary appoarch towards industry

Labour planned before the outbreak of the war, but were still rather failing

Foreign/defence policy the Atlee administration was conservative, as they grew up in an era Britain was a great imperial power - India was merely granted independance as they noticed the growing problems and British forces unable to control communal strife

The need to remain a great power distorted economic recovery, the government in 1946 builded an atomic bomb 

Financial crisis in 1947, due to drain on Birtains financial reserves due to a world role which exceeded Britains financial capacity - the rearmament of 1951 derailed Britains recovery

BUT - 1. UK returned to peacetime economy w/ no mass unemployment, 2. transformation of society improved lives of millions by welfare state, 3. mixed economy and welfare state adopted by future politicians inc. conservatives - leading to post war consensus til 70s

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Comments

bigjoe


very helpful thanking you muchly

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