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

Why Did the Post-war Consensus Breakdown?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Why Did the Post-war Consensus Breakdown? The term 'post-war consensus' is used because there was substantial agreement between the Labour and Conservative parties over the direction which foreign and domestic policy should follow after WWII. The post-war Labour government stayed in power until 1951. The foundations of the welfare state had been laid out and the Conservative government that took power in 1951 did not choose to dismantle them, which suggests the acceptance of the principles of the post-war consensus by both the public and the political elite. However, that does not mean there was no conflict. The main parties had agreed on the aims and principles, but differed in emphasis and style. There is some disagreement as to why it was that the post-war consensus came about. Middlemass (1979) and others have argued that it had its origins in the 1920's and 1930's. Writers on the left such as Milband (1961) have maintained that members of the Labour Party were committed to the existing system and sought to contain working-class ambitions within it. Although the post-war Labour government was responsible for setting up the welfare state, the principles which underlay it were laid down by a liberal, William Beveridge. In 1941, he was commissioned by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to write a report examining existing welfare schemes and suggesting ways of improving them. The Beveridge Report was published in 1942 and became a bestseller. ...read more.

Middle

It could be argued that the breakdown of the post-war consensus was inevitable, as there were a number of inherent problems with the idea. Firstly, and probably most importantly were the huge expenses needed to begin and maintain the welfare state. These were paid for by the US initially. However, the costs of maintaining the functions of the Welfare State, such as the National Health Service, are ever increasing. Also, there has been demographic change due to the welfare state. People now live longer. This means further expense because there are more illnesses and a huge increase in care for the elderly. The elderly expect a pension until they die, and because they are living much longer nowadays, this has become a huge expense. Also, people now work for less of their lives, so there is less money coming into the welfare state. A second inherent problem can be attributed to the high expectations of people due to the initial success of the post-war consensus and the welfare state. Perhaps people took it for granted and never believed that there was the possibility of it being destroyed. Therefore there is a substantial amount of discontent amongst the population, who feel that the government is failing to maintain the welfare state and therefore reducing their living standards. However, these people are failing to recognise the problems that the post-war consensus and the welfare state has had to deal with throughout the years. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Thatcherite's blamed the inefficient if the nationalised industries for the balance of payments problems and this paved the way for their programme of privatisation and tighter controls on public spending. Thatcher's economic theory, 'monetarism', completely rejected the aims and techniques of economic management proposed by Keynes. Whilst the primary goal of Keynesianism is to maintain full employment, the primary goal of monetarism is to keep inflation under control even if it means high unemployment. Whereas Keynesian economists argue that the government's only role should be to control the money supply (the money supply is the total amount of money circulating in the economy). By adopting monetarism, the first Thatcher government took an important step in breaking with the post-war consensus. A further reason for the breakdown of the post-war consensus is the fact that Britain was losing her empire and the French empire was also collapsing. The new independent countries wanted prosperity and so they sold assets at prices which suited them e.g. oil. In 1973 Britain could hardly cope with these high oil prices. We were also beginning to import more than export. So there were a series of economic problems facing Britain, which meant that keeping up the welfare state and the post war consensus was becoming harder and harder. With a mixture of bad treatment form the likes of the Thatcherites, and the inevitable increase in expenses mixed with a suffering economy, Britain saw the gradual breakdown of the post-war consensus. ?? ?? ?? ?? Darius Kabbani U6 Crawfurd ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

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

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 GCSE Politics essays

  1. What led to the breakdown of the post war political consensus?

    state in tact is not as easy as it was thought to be and nonetheless they had no idea what trouble the government was in with regard to different areas of policy. Secondly one must note that Britain's standings on the international scene were at a low level as well.

  2. To what extent was there a 'post war consensus' between 1945-1970.

    A Social Security System provided benefits from the 'cradle to grave'. There was a large-scale housing programme to build new homes and remove slums, and full employment was achieved, which was seen as essential to relieve poverty and improve the wellbeing and moral of citizens.

  1. 1. Why was 'a welfare state' introduced after the War (note here that the term ...

    Beveridge acted as one of the foundations of a future welfare state though not its chief architect. His report did not determine but characterised British feeling and the ordinary man's consciousness. It is debateable whether his report would ever have gained the media coverage or discussion if it had not been for the collectivist impulse occurring in the country.

  2. What Are The Key Elements Of Thatcherism? To What Extent Was It A Reaction ...

    Thatcher therefore severed the links with the union leaders. Legislation was drawn up the Thatchers government in an attempt to curb the power and influence of the unions. Centralisation is the fourth theme behind Thathcherism. It is obscure to think of this as a right ideology from a government who

  1. Describe what was in the Beveridge report

    Increasingly economic problems of the 1970s and the growing levels unemployment meant that high levels of government welfare spending could not be sustained. As a result the political consensus on welfare gradually broke down. New ideas began to emerge about the role of state and peoples rights in health and welfare provision.

  2. The Creation of the Welfare State

    Therefore, in an attempt to tackle poverty was a failure. 'Squalor', or housing in some ways was an improvement, such as when the government introduced the Town and Country Planning Acts and the New Towns Acts, which provided shelter for the poor.

  1. How far were Gandhi's actions after 1920 responsible for Indiagaining her independence in 1947?

    were a 'satanic institution.'29Although Nanda rebuts Gandhi by claiming that focus lay on 'stray acts of violence rather than the remarkably peaceful nature of Gandhi's campaigns,' his failure to reconcile his differences with Jinnah so that there was a united front against Britain and his introduction of religious language into

  2. What, other than the personal beliefs of Margaret Thatcher was there to Thatcherism?

    This style sought to maximise her personal power base through structure and agency. She achieved the former by increasing the size and scope of the Prime Minister's office whilst concurrently downgrading the Civil service into a more managerial role. The personal motivation for the reform of the Civil Service was

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