Britain 1945-51

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Prime Ministers

  • Churchill 
  • Attlee - 1945
  • Churchill - 1951
  • Eden - 1955
  • Macmillan - 1957
  • Douglas-Home - 1963
  • Wilson - 1964
  • Heath - 1970
  • Wilson - 1974
  • Callaghan - 1976
  • Thatcher - 1979
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Successes of 1945-51

  • Nationalisation of major industries (coal, iron and steel etc)
  • Cooperation of TU leaders
  • Over 1 million new homes had been built by 1951
  • Absence of strikes (due to wage freeze) - only 9 million working days lost in 1945-50 compared to 178 million in 1918-23
  • Welfare State set up
  • Marshall Aid
  • Export Drive (lowered imports and raised exports due to balance of payments crisis in 1949)
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Failures of 1945-51

  • Some on left think Attlee didn't go far enough in his reform - made system more accaptable to workers without changing it
  • Some hated continuation of rationing and shortfall in housing provision
  • Failed to join EEC (when Britain could have taken leading role)
  • Failed to bring a 'socialist britain' - just made life a little better for poor
  • Nationalisation: Usually left the same managers in charge (still unaccountable and inefficient)
  • Austerity: Meant more people voted Conservative due to bad conditions
  • Economy: Convertability Crisis, Summer of 1947, Winter of 1947, Balance of payments crisis

Convertability Crisis: Keynes secured a loan of £3750 million at 2% interest rates (repayments to start in 1951). Britain must make £ fully convertible to $ within a year.

Summer of 1947: Due to CC, there had been a run on the pound. British resereves low. Bankruptcy loomed. American loan was being spent faster than anticipated. Contract on loan broke on 20 August. 

Winter of 1947: Jan/Feb. One of the worst winters on record. Coal couldn't reach power stations because road, rail and sea links disrupted. Production fell by 50%. 20% of sheep, 50,000 cattle and 116,000 acres of winter grain destroyed. 

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Why did Labour win in 1945?

Pro Labour:

  • Labour leaders involved during war
  • People wanted a new social order - total war
  • Beveridge report
  • Clear and precise manifesto

Anti Conservative

  • Appeasement
  • Blamed for not solving unemployment and poverty and failure to help poor
  • Not involved with domestic policies
  • Forgotten about during the war
  • Vague manifesto
  • Gestapo speech
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What was the Welfare State?

  • Education Act 1944 - Grammar, Technical and Modern
  • Housing
  • Poverty - National Assistance Act 1948, Industrial Injuries Act 1946, National Insurance Act 1946, Family Allowances Act 11 June 1945
  • Health - National Health Service Act 1946 (NHS)
  • Employment 
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Economic Problems (1945)

  • Cost of war: 1/2 million houses/factories/shops destroyed
  • National debt increase to £3,500
  • Income tax raised to 50%
  • President Truman suddenly ended the Lend-Lease
  • Winter of 1947
  • Summer of 1947
  • Keynes Loan
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Bevin and Bevan

'Do you agree with the view expressed in source 6 that the achievements of the Attlee Government were remarkable?' - 1 point is that Attlee appointed ministers such as Bevin and Bevan.

Aneurin Bevan:

  • Ministry of Health
  • Responsible for health and housing
  • Nationalised all hospitals (NHS)
  • Pragmatic, political operator
  • High standards meant his construction of houses was slow

Ernest Bevin:

  • Appointed as foreign secretary
  • Played a large role in re-engaging the US with Europe
  • Instrumental in securing Marshall Aid and setting up of NATO in 1949
  • (Marshall Aid = self interest from the USA but did help Europe's development as a 'properous, free and capitalist corner of the globe)
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