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By Brian Harrison

During this, the 1st of 2 self-standing volumes bringing the hot Oxford historical past of britain as much as the current, Brian Harrison starts off in 1951 with a lot of the empire intact and with Britain having fun with excessive status in Europe. the uk may well nonetheless then declare to be an outstanding strength, whose welfare country exemplified compromise among Soviet making plans and the USA's unfastened marketplace. whilst the amount results in 1970, no such claims carried conviction. The empire had long gone, vital making plans used to be in difficulty, or even the British political approach had develop into debatable. In an surprisingly wide-ranging, but impressively targeted quantity, Harrison methods the interval from unexpected instructions. He explains how British politicians within the Fifties and Sixties replied to this transition by way of pursuing successive roles for Britain: all over the world as champion of freedom, and in Europe as exemplar of parliamentary executive, the multi-racial society, and monetary making plans. His major concentration, notwithstanding, rests no longer at the politicians yet at the judgements the British humans made mostly for themselves: on their atmosphere, social constitution and attitudes, race relatives, relations styles, monetary framework, and cultural possibilities. by way of 1970 the patron society had supplanted postwar austerity, the socialist imaginative and prescient was once fading, and "the sixties" (the topic of his penultimate bankruptcy) had brought new or even unique issues and values. Having misplaced an empire, Britain was once nonetheless resourcefully looking a task: it had but to discover it.

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Extra info for Seeking a Role: The United Kingdom 1951-1970 (New Oxford History of England)

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F. Zweig, Labour, Life and Poverty (1948), 84–5. ⁸³ R. Coopey, S. O’Connell, and D. Porter, Mail Order Retailing in Britain: A Business and Social History (Oxford, 2005), 115, 118. 26 the uni ted ki ngd om i n 1951 educational and cultural institutions that grew out of Labour Party branches, co-ops, and trade unions. These institutions flourished, together with Labour voting, in the classsegregated communities located well away from London: in the mining areas of South Wales, the Midlands, the north of England, and the Scottish lowlands; in the shipbuilding yards of Newcastle and the Clyde; and adjacent to the huge textile factories of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

S. Churchill, The Sinews of Peace: Post-War Speeches, ed. R. S. Churchill (1948), 98. ³⁰ G. Orwell, ‘Towards European Unity’ (1947), in his Complete Works, xix (1998), 163. ³² From the first flight on 25 June 1948 in the airlift to sustain the Berlin enclave that the USSR had cut off from the West, the British and Americans resumed their close wartime collaboration. No formal treaty was required to establish USA bases on British soil: these were Britain’s safeguard against Communist domination in Europe and the USA’s first line of national self-defence.

Middle-class educational fragmentation went further. Some public schools and universities carried more social cachet than others, and much depended on whether the child was on the right side of the great divide between public and grammar school. The careers of such middle-class Labour Party champions as Harold Wilson, Barbara Castle, and Hugh Gaitskell show how much the British left owed to the meritocratic grammar-school pupil’s resentment at privilege or to the public-school pupil’s repudiation of it.

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