Post War Consensus Essay

Post War Consensus Essay-33
This feeling of consensus amongst the two parties can also be seen through the study of other policies which didn't really change between the different governments, for example foreign policy.In 1945 Ernest Bevin became the foreign secretary and essentially continued the policies of Sir Antony Eden with whom he had worked closely during the wartime coalition.Keynes believed very much in the expansion of the welfare state.

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However, had it not happened then the establishment of the National Health Service would not have been done, nationalisations of companies would not have occurred.

Living standards would not have increased either, the general public were living with much ease compared to those years when the depression was at its worst and it was in 1951 that Prime minister Macmillan made his famous speech of 'most of our people had ever had it so good.' Political writers like Peter Hennessy have often argued that 'consensus' is too strong a word to use during that particular era and what it implied was 'social harmony and an absence of conflict' between the major parties and was more in favour of using 'post war settlement' as a result of deferring political views.

In 1945 Clement Attlee was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain.

The argument that post-war consensus was a myth is supported by the differences between their policies, as seen in the 1950's election manifestos.

The successes of the consensus meant that both parties' ideas were almost identical but then again still there were differences.

As much as Atlee did for the British government during the consensus years Hugh Gaitskell replaced him in 1955 who would now run the labour party.

Gaitskell was different to Atlee in many ways, he also believed in the welfare state and most labour ideology but worked more effectively than his previous successor. Conclusion In conclusion, the consensus years has been approached differently by many critics in different manners.

There are those who say it existed and those who say it did not and that the earlier governments only acted out of pity and consciousness for the people at the time.

Kavanagh and Morris point out that following the labour victory in 1945 Attlee laid out his main foreign policy aims which included "retreat from the Empire...[to pursue...

Britain's role as a nuclear power and membership of the Atlantic alliance]", 11which they argue were policies that were accepted and pursued by conceding conservative governments as well. Conclusion They argue that there were differences between the parties but these were only "differences of ruhetoric... This links closely to Butler who stated that both parties spoke the language of Keynesianism, but they "spoke it with different accents and differing emphasis." This shows that a consensus existed at an elite level where it was most effective and apparent.


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