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Flashcards in Postwar Politics - Historiography Deck (135)
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Thorpe (1945-51) (2)

  1. Tories recovered quickly by closing party ranks in the post-45 climate
  2. Agreed narrative of wartime sacrifice against socialist self-interest


Addison (1945-51) (6)

  1. War engaged in state planning for centralisation of wartime production. 
  2. Interwar period did not see radical experiments like in USA
  3. Main causes of poverty - family size increase, real wage static.
  4. "Labour broke in and took office" 
  5. Tories adopted Labour agenda - Labour intelligentsia gave non-socialist reasoning for actions which were compatible with Toryism. 
  6. Road to 45 concerning the nature of conensus.


Zweiniger-Bargielowska (1945-51) (6)

  1. Labour's defeat in 1951 due to government fatigue, redistribution (Tory 35 seat bias), and Liberal disintegration.
  2. Labour victory in 1945 - poor Tory campaign, People's war, interwar memory
  3. Industrial Charter 1947 significant to Tories.
  4. Discontent with shortages - bread and potato rationing 46-48 deeply controversial. 1947 v. Bad - Dalton Annus Horrendous. Hit middle class hardest. British Housewives League symbolising discontent.
  5. Gallup Polls - 1947 show public swing to right. 1947 - food and basic petrol by-election. Right focus on liberties took nostrum of liberals.
  6. Tories more economic with campaigning - Conservative success in 1951 was based on recapturing middle-class waverers, attracting stranded Liberals, and generally making inroads in areas where conversions mattered most. 6 categories of seat - focus on marginals


Cole (1945-51)

1) 1949 - Labour was essentially operating along Keynesian, and hence, Liberal, lines; it was not Socialism.


Barnett (1945-51) (3)

  1. New Jerusalem missed every opportunity to modernise the economy. Looked like 1990s Russia - power over-stretched, queues for basic foodstuffs, planners galore, industrial obsolescence.
  2. Labour's three issues: - Thinking it was a world power still - Underwriting the Sterling era instead of repudiating Britain's Sterling balances. - Instead of modernising infrastructure, wasting time on NHS.
  3. Comparisons to Germany were devoid of the contextual exceptionalism of the German situation. 


Field (1945-51) (4)

  1. Expansion of the unions was not as important as the growth in union assertiveness and confidence - recovery from 1926 blunder. 
  2. Labour pursued a form of tribal loyalty through ending regional unemployment, raising living standards and revolutionising social expectations. 
  3. Savage and Miles - working class - homogenous communities in enclaves during interwar period WWII deepened a sense of class identity and reshape do class relations in important ways


Middleton (1945-1951) (4)

  1. The intention/ pitch of nationalisation was on the premise of greater efficiency - this was arguably not achieved through coal, which did not return the projected gains nationalisation had predicted. 
  2. Nationalisationw was, however, beneficial to workers - miners secured better wages, security and union rights. This did not however appeal to Middle England.
  3. Planning, if not dead, was particularly weak in 1951
  4. British postwar performance severely dented by Korea. Rearmament costly + imposed restrictions.


Tiratsoo (1945-51) (3)

  1. Churchill was a great war leader but a terrible Party leader.
  2. This reflected in a distinct lack of domestic policy emerging from the Party, where Labour had an active intelligentsia which was gaining ground on the electorate.
  3. Revisionist argument - war not inevitable - Charmley - Churchill needed the war more than the war needed churchill


Fielding (1945-51) (9)

  1. Labour's accent lies in the people’s war against the Axis.
  2. People were radicalised, leading to the collapse of traditional class, leading to the upsurge of a new social order. 
  3. Evacuation at the rediscovery of poverty in England, as town people met middle-class.
  4. ABCA- suggests instilled socialist values on soldiers. Highly overinflated.
  5.  Tories went into “cold storage” during war. Members were either acquiescent or disengaged.
  6. Labour argued for the failing of private enterprise – tied with Tories. Tories countered with support for entrepreneurial spirit.
  7. Tories used personal appeal of Churchill to gain support. Failings – Gestapo speech, 220,000 houses pledge (not enough). Socialist thinkers like JB Priestley given platform not otherwise present.
  8. The General Election of 1945 was no manifestation of a politically conscious electorate setting up machinery for a changed order of society. At its best, it was no more than a profound distrust of the old political setup… At its worst it was a cynical hope that change might, perhaps, be for the better …. A vast body of opinion still looks to Tory politics and Tory politicians for satisfactory government." 
  9. Something went wrong during 45-51 – not policy, but electorate misinterpretation. Labour felt ethical socialism was acceptable due to wartime experience. In 1945, most wanted return to prewar conditions. Let us face the future – practical reforms accepted, no wish to accept ethical change.


Strike volatility 1940-44

  • Strikes went from 922 to over 2000 between 1940 and 1944.
  • Short - less than a week, in four generally tempestuous industries (coal, ship-building, metals, engineering)


Gender structure of 45 voting

  • 65% of working-class men but only 52% of the female counterparts had voted for Attlee.
    • Legacy of longer term political organisations?


Class structure '45 voting

  • Middle class sympathies had swung to Labour, but not dramatically so.
  • It mainly attracted the lower of the middle class.
  • Only about 10% of top business people and 15% of higher professionals were Labour supporters


How many Conservatives were in war work as of 1944?



How many controls and statutory laws under Attlee?

25,000 controls , 13,551 new statutory rules


List some policies in Dalton's budget?

  • Dalton’s first budget - surtax on incomes +£2500 PA, and on incomes over £20,000, the rate went up to 10s 6d in the pound from 9s 6d
  • Labour effectively put a ceiling on post-tax income at £6000


What motions existed in the party?

Foot, Crossman had agitated for a capital levy


What are the limitations of the 1951 budget?

Property inequality remained unaccounted for in Labour's 1951 budget


What did favourable economic conditions allow in Tory administration

“the British people earning, eating, producing, buying, building, growing and saving moe than they ever did under the socialists"


What organisation arose to respond to Labour?

The United Front Against Socialism


What was included in the New Tamworth Manifesto?

"an assurance that, in the interests of efficiency, full employment and social security, modern Conservatism would maintain strong central guidance over the operation of the economy"



  • Kavanagh claimed that decolonisation was core issues of the postwar consensus. 
  • Darwin - post 1945 foreign policy was unplanned and inconsistent. At same time as dispensing power to India, Paki, Burma and Ceylon, was also imposing new generation in Malaya and intensified penetration into tropical Africa. war saw ruthless state planning for efficiency + from 1940 onwards, egalitarianism and community feeling - brought by the ration book - Addison - more powerful than the propaganda of the left



  • 1940s settlement was ‘Keynes-plus-modified-capitalism-plus-welfare-state'


What was the Let Us Face the Future plan?

Let us face the future - commitment to 20% of total economy under public ownership. 1949 ‘Labour believes in Britain’ alongside 1950 ‘Labour and the New Society’ - credit public ownership programme to the success of Labour


Jones - why does consensus exist?

  • Consensus born more so to emphasise the differences from Heath to Thatcher. Butler – humanised capitalism.
  • 3 groups on Beveridge:
    • 1. Authoritarian - believed in adopting Beveridge
    • 2. Tory - complacent
    • 3. Liberal - believed led to Road to Serfdom (Hayek) - market should take it from here - Hogg - poverty is a basic of human condition.
  • Socialists want poverty and misery to be the lot for the majority
  • Education Bill 1944 - consensus par excellence - though Labour was divided over comprehensives and private education: - Moderates behind Gaitskell believed grammar schools and the 11+, though not great equality wise, should remain Left-wing Technocrats wanted abolition of grammar schools



  • Planning was not understood universally in the party – division between the thermostatters and the gosplanners
    • Stafford Cripps, in the early days of his Chancellorship, continued to promote some aspects of the Gosplanners’ agenda. It concludes that the Attlee government's transition from socialist planning to demand management was a slower and more closely disputed process than has generally been recognised.


What's the difference between Gosplanners and Thermostatters?

Gosplanners - hardline socialist (based on soviets) Thermostatters - moderates



  • 1950s - Labour enter divide over the nature of corporatism - and its place in party. 1950 - 'in this problem of the relation between Government and private industry we have what is almost a vacuum in Socialist though' shifts in attitude to private corporation...were related to a failure on the part of the party to reconcile some much broader and contradictory ways of thinking about the nature of the firm and of modern capitalist
  • First, Labour's desire to raise investment in the private sector was in tension with its hostility to the distributional consequences of large profit
  • Second, Labour's adherence to 'big is beautiful' for reasons of economic efficiency was at odds with the perception that big corporations were too powerful.
  • Third issue, how to respond to the perceived divorce of ownership and control. inally, in its search for greater efficiency, Labour was torn between the benefits of competition and regulation.


Who fought who in cabinet?

Well, lots of people, but chiefly Morrison (right) vs Bevan (left)


Bevan's view on the government in later years

Socialist objectives could not be achieved with slim majority


Opinion polls 1950

  • 12% ahead - Tories