How valid is the term 'Butskellism' in explaining British post-war politicals?



  • In 1954 The Economist invented the word 'Butskellism' because the policies and attitudes of the current Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, R.A Butler (51-55) were so similar to those of his Labour predecessor, Hugh Gaitskell (45-51). While they had differences, Butler and Gaitskell shared similar approahces e.g. Economic control and government direction.
  • For 30 years, after WW2, there was a widespread agreement among the political leaders about their policies and style of government. This is known as the 'post-war consensus'.
  • David Dutton ''Shared commitment to improving the lot of the ordinary citizen''
  • Hugh Gaitskell 1956: explained though there were still some differenes between the two parties but there were far smaller than before 1939; ''to a large extent the Conservatives had taken over the policies of the post-war Labour government''.


  • Both chancellors followed Keynesian economic policies. John Maynard Keynes argued the government would be able to solve the nations problems through economic management, using technique of 'demand management' e.g. achieving and maintaining the goal of full unemployment and economic growth. 
  • Keynes advocated that the government should be running important sectors of the economy: A mixed economy through nationalising specific industries. 
  • The wartime spirit of national unity also reinforced the


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