Labour's Promised Land? Culture and Society in Labour Britain, 1945-51

Labour's Promised Land? Culture and Society in Labour Britain, 1945-51

Labour's Promised Land? Culture and Society in Labour Britain, 1945-51

Labour's Promised Land? Culture and Society in Labour Britain, 1945-51

Synopsis

"The Labour governments of 1945-51 were the high point of Labour's popularity and enthusiasm for reform. They also established the framework for the post-war political consensus. This new collection of essays explores the cultural climate of Labour Britain and the framework of post-war political culture and welfare policies which conditioned that climate. Labour's Promised Land? resists the temptation to view British culture of the period through rose-tinted glasses. The contributors critically assess the successes and failures of the Governments' policies, and cover issues such as: British cinema of the period, working-class consumer culture, the founding of the NHS, Labour's attempts to house and educate the heroes and their families, post-war feminist activity and the response of the right to their crushing defeat." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This is the second of two collections of essays marking the fiftieth anniversary of Labour's electoral landslide of 1945. The first, Labour's High Noon: The Government and the Economy 1945–51, was published in 1993.

That volume analysed different aspects of Labour's economic policies and their consequences. This book explores wider territory, the cultural climate of Labour Britain and the framework of post-war political culture and welfare policies which conditioned that climate. Few histories of the period pay more than superficial attention to cultural developments, although they were of considerable significance.

The essays do not cover every aspect of British culture – there is, for instance, no chapter on science. Their aim is rather to convey to readers in the 1990s the atmosphere – social, political and cultural – in which artists and intellectuals worked. Naturally, there are differences in emphasis and approach among the contributors, because there was no one line of development which embraced all corners of cultural life; there were successes and failures as the hopes of 1945 were fulfilled or disappointed.

It is tempting today, when British society is fragmented and cultural endeavour too often starved or thwarted, to look back at post-war Britain with nostalgia. But these chapters show clearly that, in spite of all that was achieved then, no rosy view of the period is justified. Much of what went well in Britain from the 1950s to the 1970s, as well as much of what went badly, had its source in what was done or not done from 1945–51. Readers of these two volumes may wish to consider if there are things relevant to our own time that may be learned from them.

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