• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Achievements of the Attlee government and the birth of the welfare state

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss the achievements of the Attlee government and the birth of the welfare state Attlee's Labour government is sometimes described as one of the great reforming governments of 20th-centry Britain, pushing through even more sweeping reforms than those of the Liberal government before 1914. The record of the post-war Labour governments is dominated above all by one issue - the introduction of the so-called 'welfare-state' and the setting up of the National Health Service (NHS). Labour idealists in 1945 believed they were going to 'build a new Jerusalem' in Britain, overcoming class divisions and ensuring fairness for all in a progressive modern society. These idealistic objectives could only be achieved by practical politics. To be able to fulfil its social aims, Attlee's government had to prove that Labour could handle political power, deal with economic problems and cope with the burdens of imperial and foreign affairs. By 1951, Labour had gone a long way towards achieving its goals. Attlee himself is now widely regarded by some historians such as Peter Hennessy as having been one of Britain's best PMs, which is remarkable in itself in view of the dismissive way many people (inc. Churchill and some Labour politicians) regarded Attlee in 1945. But the post-war Labour government did not enjoy complete success and the Attlee legacy is still disputed. For many on the right, Labour's policies were inefficient and expensive, burdening the country with unnecessary controls and restricting economic growth. ...read more.

Middle

They argued that these would be run more efficiently under private ownership and when they came to power in 1951 they denationalised these industries. The national mood in the mid-1940's, however, accepted most of the nationalisation programme; debate at the time was more about its extent and cost. Between 1946 and 1951, the post-war Labour governments succeeded in taking into public ownership 20 per cent of economic enterprises, employing 10 per cent of the workforce. The State, in the name of the people, now owned and controlled most of fuel and power productions, transport, the steel industry and the Bank of England. Nationalisation brought improvements in some industries. The supply of electricity and gas was expanded. There was a growth in civil aviation and in cable and wireless communication. Electrification was extended to more and more remote parts of the country. Although when the Conservatives came to power in 1951 they reversed the nationalisation of road transport and steel, they left the rest of the nationalised industries in State ownership until the late 1980s. However, the nationalisation programme cost a lot of money. Private owners had to be compensated and this cost �2,700 million, money which some have argued, both at the time and since, could have been better spent. Labour had also burdened taxpayers with some seriously run down, unprofitable industries which would have to be subsidised indefinitely, such as coal mining and the railways. Nor did the nationalised industries always benefit from State control. ...read more.

Conclusion

Attlee's government was committed to making welfare provision universal (open to everyone) and free of charge. This commitment was partly due to ideology - Labour had been committed to free education, a free health service, abolishing the old Poor Law and means testing for decades. Labour interpreted socialism as providing collectively for the needs of all people regardless of the ability to pay. Labour was building on a series of welfare reforms going back at least to the Liberals' reforms of 1902-12. This provision of old age pensions, national insurance and other benefits had been steadily expanded by coalition, Conservative and Labour governments during the inter-war period. Britain was already a 'welfare society', if an incomplete one, before 1939. The experiences of the war generated a strong sense of community in Britain and persuaded people of all classes of the need for reform through collective action. There was widespread support for the idea that, having won the war, Britain would have to 'win the peace' by making a fairer society and ensuring that there was no return to the dark days of the 1930s. The war had already prompted increased welfare provision. Fears of mass aerial bombing led to the creation of the Emergency Medical Service which was a kind of national hospital service. The mass evacuation of children revealed the extent of deprivation amongst children. From 1942 onwards there was public support for Beveridge's ideas on social insurance 'from the cradle to the grave'. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

The author make some convincing evaluative points but their coverage is uneven; arguably the most important reform, the NHS, is barely discussed and the essay lacks a conclusion. 3 out of 5 stars.

Marked by teacher Natalya Luck 16/07/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The victory of Sinn Fein in the 1918 general election was solely due to ...

    4 star(s)

    Sinn Fein was also credited with the successful opposition to the threat of conscription in April 1918 and also benefitted greatly from the alleged ?German Plot?. Finally, Sinn Fein?s respectability amongst the electorate was increased by the support they received from members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, for example Archbishop

  2. Why did Labour win the 1945 election and lose in the 1951 election?

    a fight against the fascist Germany, but a struggle for a prosperous post-war Britain" was welcomed by the electorate. The need for a better post war Britain was felt amongst all classes and Labour's support of the Beveridge Report brought widespread support.

  1. How successfully did James deal with religious problems throughout his reign?

    As Abbot had sympathy for the Puritans he sought them to become parish ministers and did not force strict regulations of Bancrofts canons. With the cooperation of Abbot and king James in control of the Church of England the most extreme Puritans remained happy to a certain degree.

  2. What Was The Main Cause Of The First English Civil War?

    punished those who refused to accept religious reforms, which were widely despised. These events would culminate in the Grand Remonstrance of November 1641 - initially proposed by Pym, an exceptionally detailed account of Charles' transgressions and misdemeanours throughout the time he had reigned as King; a vital factor precipitating the English Civil War.

  1. How successful was the Labour Government (1945-51) in dealing with Beveridge's "five giants on ...

    that they have a bit of money saved up to stop the slump. They did very well and by 1950 unemployment had been brought down to an all-time low. The welfare state was also a Labour success but it did have some faults.

  2. Assess the validity of the view that the Rump and Barebones parliaments had no ...

    of creating a system of strict supervision of clerical appointments reached no agreements. The Rump did nothing on the question of tithes. Few Rumpers wished society to be left completely free in matters of morality, meaning there was to be no 'liberty of conscience'.

  1. Was there a mid-Tudor crisis during the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I ...

    There were crushing foreign policy failures. The Duke of Somerset's costly and ineffective campaigns in Scotland and against the French (�1 million) between 1547 and 1549 seemed to begin a precipitous slide, and then came, under the Duke of Northumberland, the Treaty of Boulogne in March 1550, which A.F.

  2. Why did Pitt dominate politics 1783-93?

    His first major policy was the India Act in 1784. The act set up joint control of India with the East India Company, and set up of board of control in London so parliament could see what was going on.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work