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The Postwar MomentProgressive Forces in Britain, France, and the United States after World War II$
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Isser Woloch

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300124354

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300124354.001.0001

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Labour’s Moment: The Election of 1945 and After

Labour’s Moment: The Election of 1945 and After

(p.139) 4 Labour’s Moment: The Election of 1945 and After
The Postwar Moment

Isser Woloch

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on Britain after World War II. The British could take pride in their stubborn endurance over six long years of war, but the toll and the scars ran deep by 1945: over 950,000 wartime casualties, including 357,000 killed; massive bombing destruction of already scarce housing; pervasive shortages and bleak austerities; and an empty treasury. From day one, inexorable postwar economic and financial constraints enveloped the Labour government, apart from its self-inflicted wounds such as the winter coal crisis in 1946–47 and the convertibility fiasco. However, across its five-year term of office, Labour stood by its proclaimed egalitarian values. Labour honored its unprecedented commitment “to raise the living standards of the people as a whole,” and it linked that goal to the imperative of raising the economy's productive capacities. The chapter also looks at the general election of 1945.

Keywords:   World War II, postwar Britain, wartime casualties, financial constraints, Labour government, winter coal crisis, Labour Party, housing, 1945 election

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