By Robert Pearce
The Labour governments of 1945-51 are one of the most crucial and arguable in glossy British historical past, and feature been the point of interest of in depth learn during the last fifteen years. during this examine, Robert Pearce makes the result of this study on hand in a concise and available shape, while encouraging scholars to formulate their very own interpretations. He seems on the major political personalities of the interval, units their paintings within the context of Labour background given that 1900, and examines their household, international and imperial achievements.
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Extra info for Atlee's Labour Governments 1945-51 (Lancaster Pamphlets)
Bevan was passionately devoted to his NHS and particularly to the principle that all treatment should be free at the point of need. To impose charges would, to his way of thinking, be a crucial change in kind. He had got on very well with Labour’s first two Chancellors, Dalton and Cripps, even though Cripps had found it necessary to insist that a small charge for prescriptions might have to be imposed. Prescription charges placed Bevan in a dilemma; but there was no certainty that they would be levied, and he decided not to be so quixotic as to resign over a mere possibility.
The result was a reduction in welfare provision and the resignation of Bevan. Furthermore the war led to a decisive movement in the terms of trade against Britain. A steep rise in import prices had deleterious effects not only on the balance of payments but also on inflation. At first sight Labour’s economic record seems poor. Problems were inevitable, but its handling of each issue showed palpable weaknesses. It failed to take adequate precautions to prevent the fuel crisis during the early months of 1947 and the Labour and the economy 27 convertibility crisis of July and August 1947.
Bevan was deliberately kept out of the limelight in the campaign. Nevertheless he did his best to minimise the political effects of his resignation and at the 1951 conference called for Labour supporters to unite and fight the election joyously, adding that he was frightened of the prospect of the warmonger Churchill (‘still fighting Blenheim all over again’) becoming Prime Minister in place of Clem Attlee (with his ‘quiet, moderate, balanced approach’). The result was a very closerun contest. 9 per cent swing to the Tories.