The Making of Modern Britain.
- Leader of the Labour party 1935-1955.
- After the war served as PM form 1954-1951.
Major Acts as PM:
- National Health Service (NHS) Act 1946 – healthcare free to citizens.
- National Insurance Act 1946 – working persons pay contribution to be entitled to a range of benefits.
- Nationalisation – Coal, electricity and transport.
- Improved Childcare – reformed services for orphaned and deprived and set regulations for child minders (standards of facilities, methods etc.)
Peter Hennessy: ”The Atlee legacy is the foundation stone of all that is best of Post War Britain”.
Nigel Lawson: “Atlee’s government set the political agenda for the next quarter of a century.”
The Economy 1951.
- Post- war economy faced Britain with huge problems.
- Economy damages and massive debts.
- Relied on financial aid from the USA.
- Nationalisation – hope to modernise.
- Rationing coming to an end – consumer good expensive and scarce
- However, remained optimistic – competitors i.e. Germany suffered worse.
- Britain still exporting and manufacturing many goods.
Britain’s World Position:
- Part of the alliance that won the war.
- Held a great Empire.
- Ally of the USA.
- One of 5 permanent council members of the United Nations.
- However – war weakened Britain’s power.
- Colonial power decreasing.
- Withdrawal from India 1947 – decline in imperil status.
- Couldn’t compete with the USA and Soviet forces.
- Rejection to join the EEC = mistake.
- Very few homes owned, TV’s or cars
- Rationing and consumer goods shortages – not popular.
- Industrial towns
- Married women didn’t really work.
- Still class divides – middle class vote conservative, working class vote labour and support trade unions.
Why the Conservatives won:
- Disappointment in post-war economy and rationing.
- Atlee called the election too early – Labour may have retained power otherwise.
- Labour disunity – Bevanite quarrel, Korean War – not popular.
- Labour exhausted and out of touch.
- Conservatives brought new youthful eager MP’s and ideas.
- Reorganisation of the Conservative party.
Post-War consensus –
- Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Gaitskell and Current R.A. Butler formed consensus upon: finance economy, welfare state “Butskellism”.
- Maintaining full employment.
- Cooperation with the TU’s
- Continue reforms i.e. NHS and Welfare state.
Churchill’s re-election 1951.
- Roy Jenkins described him as “gloriously unfit for office”.
- Churchill – aging and increasingly unwell – 80years old when finally resigned in 1955.
- Inactivity in domestic affairs.
- However – under Churchill ‘The Age of Affluence” – lucky in timing – economic recovery