Post-War Consensus

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  • Created by: Mia
  • Created on: 26-05-13 17:31

Post-War Consensus: Why Did It Exist?

Civil Servants
Whilst governments and ministers came and went, civil servants provided continuity, and civil service culture, traditions and favoured policies endured long after the civil servants themselves moved on. Individuals who have most shaped British policy from 1950 such as Sir Edward Bridges, Sir Norman Brook, Sir Frank Lee, Sir Robert Hall, Sir Burke Trend and Sir William Armstrong bear comparison with the weight carried by most departmental ministers. Civil servants dislike change and favour continuity of policy and advises against (and tries to block) radicalism from both the left and right wing. The civil service was content to act on the Keynes-Beveridge inspired policies from the 1940s to well into the 1970s.

The Electorate
The mass of British voters favoured moderate policies which included full employment, a welfare state and a strong defence. Because of this, policies favoured by the left, such as unilateral disarmament and wholesale nationalisation, and from the right such as dismantling thewelfare state, would have rersulted in removal to the margins of British politics. This explains why the leadership of both parties were adamant to marginalise their radical MPs, hence Attlee's and Gaitskell's onslaught on the Bevanite (and post-Bevanite) left. The electorate's attatchment to the welfare state also explains it's largely untouched survival until the late 1980s, long after other aspects of consensual policies had fallen under Thatcher.

Constraints: Time and Electoral Majority
The implementation of radical policies would have needed a set of circumstances which didn't exist. The first two Labour governments in 1924 and 1929-31 were discouraged from introducing radical changes due

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