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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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Building Socialism British Style

Building Socialism British Style

(p.255) 7 Building Socialism British Style
The Postwar Moment

Isser Woloch

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the postwar legacy of the Labour Party. Labour's legacy included a fully formed welfare state with the National Health Service (NHS) at its core; an ambitious public housing program; strong trade union bargaining power; quasi-Keynesian fiscal tactics to sustain purchasing power; a degree of central planning for a mixed economy; and a constant reiteration of egalitarian values. A few of Labour's far-reaching programs no doubt had roots of a sort in the thought and experience of the coalition years of World War II. However, the forms and transformational heft of Labour's postwar settlement derived in the main from the party's prewar social democratic agenda, its surprisingly decisive victory in 1945, and its hard-fought exercise of power. After 1951, the Conservatives came to terms with Labour's bedrock achievements but worked steadily to modify them incrementally in favor of free enterprise.

Keywords:   Labour Party, welfare state, National Health Service, public housing, trade union, egalitarian values, social democratic agenda, World War II

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