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Henry Pelling

Henry Mathison Pelling 1984
Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 1984 978-0-333-36356-0

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reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means,
without permission

First published 1984 by

London and Basingstoke
Companies and representatives
throughout the world

ISBN 978-1-349-17433-1 ISBN 978-1-349-17431-7 (eBook)

DOI 10.1007/978-1-349-17431-7

Typeset in Great Britain by

Wessex Typesetters Ltd
Frome, Somerset
List of Illustrations vi
Preface vn

1 Introduction 1
2 The 1945 General Election 17
3 Prime Minister, Cabinet and Party 35
4 Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945-6 53
5 Morrison and Nationalisation 75
6 The Making of the Welfare State 97
7 Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 119
8 Labour and the Empire 147
9 1947: Year of Crises 165
10 Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 187
11 Labour and the 1950 Election: The Prospect and the
Outcome 211
12 On the Defensive, 1950-1 235
13 Conclusion 261

Appendix A: List of Cabinet Ministers, 1945-51 269

Appendix B: List of Unpublished Sources Cited 271
Appendix C: List of Special Abbreviations used in the Notes 272
Notes and References 273
Index 303
List of Illustrations
1 Churchill on the Hustings, 1945 General Election. By David Low
(London Express News and Feature Service)
2 Morrison courts the Left: dancing with Barbara Castle at the Blackpool
Conference, May 1945
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
3 The Labour Victors, August 1945: Bevin, Attlee and Morrison
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
4 Attlee in the Cabinet Room, with his Press Officer, Francis Williams, July
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
5 Shin well, Minister of Fuel and Power, with young miners, early 194 7
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
6 Morrison tries to hold back wage-led inflation, June 194 7. By David Low
(London Express News and Feature Service)
7 A ttlee and the Economic Crisis of 194 7. By David Low
(London Express News and Feature Service)
8 Planning the Welfare State: Bevan at a Committee Meeting, late 1945.
Next but one to him is Griffiths
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
9 The Cabinet mission to India, 1946. Two of the three Ministers (Cripps is
not present) talking to Indian leaders. Left, Pethick-Lawrence with
Nehru; next, A. V. Alexander
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
10 Lord Mountbatten as Governor General of India, speaking at his
inauguration ceremony at Government House, New Delhi, 194 7
11 Dalton, undeterred by his misfortunes, holds forth to the press again in
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
12 Architects of the Marshall Plan, 1948: Left to right: President Truman,
General Marshall (Secretary of State), Paul Hoffman (Administrator),
Averell Harriman (Special Representative)
(US National Archives)
13 John Strachey, Minister of Food, poses with a US aid cargo, February
(US National Archives)
14 Two ministers leave Downing Street, January 1950. Cripps (right) with
Harold Wilson
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
15 Mr Cube ... (in text, p. 233)
The author who attempts a definitive study of six years oftwentieth-
century government is faced with such a plethora of documentation
that the task becomes well-nigh impossible. The chapters that follow in
this book clearly do not amount to such a definitive study. They are,
however, based upon a reading of what seemed to be the most
important of the papers, both private and public, that had become
available by the spring of 1983. I am grateful to Sir Mark Brown,
K.C.B., to Mr Max Nicholson, C.B., C.V.O., and to Dr John Pater,
C.B., for discussing events of the period with me. Mr Kenneth Harris
kindly allowed me to see the personal papers of Lord Attlee before his
own authorised biography was published; Sir Norman Chester gave
me access to the Morrison Papers at Nuffield College, Oxford; and the
Librarian of the British Library of Political and Economic Science gave
me permission to quote from the Dalton diary and letters. I owe
particular debts to Dr Angela Raspin, the Archivist of the British
Library of Political and Economic Science, and to Mrs Irene Wagner,
until recently Librarian of the Labour Party. Nevertheless the great
bulk of my reading has been done at the Cambridge University
Library, at Churchill College, Cambridge, and at the Public Record
Office at Portugal Street and later at Kew. My indebtedness to these
institutions is too general for individuals to be named; that does not
mean, though, that my sense of gratitude is diminished, merely that it is

StJohn's College, Cambridge H.M.P.

1 Introduction
When the Labour Party won its unexpected victory in July 1945, the
extent of its success was such as to provoke comparison with January
1906, when the Liberals had been almost equally triumphant. On
neither occasion had the major party of the Left secured more than
half the total poll: but it was so far ahead of its rivals as to be able to win
a great majority of parliamentary seats. In 1906 the Liberals num-
bered 400, in a House of Commons totalling 670; in 1945 Labour
gained 393 in a House of 640. In the general elections that intervened,
however, the Conservatives had almost invariably been the largest
party in Parliament; and it was only in 1929 that Labour, with a slightly
smaller share of the total vote, secured a lead in the number of seats-
though not a sufficient lead to give it a majority over all other parties.
This continued strength of Conservatism may well seem surprising,
for most of the inter-war period was dominated by economic depres-
sion and unemployment, which might have been expected to result in a
rapid change of loyalties in the country. Sociologists have regarded it
as a challenge to their skills. 1 But the principal explanation lies in the
character of the electoral system and the divisions among the parties of
the Left. Labour was seeking, with increasing success, to replace the
Liberal Party as the major challenger to Conservative predominance;
and the Liberals, although divided during the First World War and
slow to unite thereafter, and again broken on the issue of Tariff
Reform in 1931-2, retained a considerable body of support in the
country, at least until the last inter-war general election in 1935.
Throughout the inter-war period the outstanding spokesman of the
Left was the ex-premier David Lloyd George; and, as Dr John
Campbell has pointed out in a valuable study of his career in those
years, he was always, as it were, the 'King over the Water', feared by
his rivals on both Left and Right of politics. 2 It was not until1935 that
the Labour Party emerged decisively as the replacement of the Liberal
Party; and this was in spite of the fact that on the eve of the general
election of that year, it had committed what Dr Stannage rightly calls

2 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

'an act of hara-kiri' by suddenly disposing of its accepted leader and

replacing him with 'a politician unknown to the electorate at large',
who was described officially as only a 'stopgap'. 3 This was none other
than Clement Attlee, who was nevertheless to become Prime Minister
in 1945.

* * * *
The Labour Party formed two minority governments between the
wars, first for ten months in 1924 and then secondly for over two years
from 1929-1931. Its leader was Ramsay MacDonald, a Scot of humble
origins but imposing presence and considerable diplomatic skill.
MacDonald had built up the party as its first secretary in the early years
of the century, holding a careful balance between the Socialist societies
and the trade unions and negotiating electoral agreements with the
Liberal whips. 4 He was, in theory at least, a Socialist himself; but any
radical changes by legislation were ruled out during both his govern-
ments by the fact that his party was always in a minority in the
Commons, necessarily reliant upon Liberal support for Parliamentary
purposes. It is difficult to believe, in fact, that even if MacDonald had
secured a Parliamentary majority he would have been able to
introduce Socialist legislation, for his election programmes were very
far from clear about the means of doing so. In his day the object was
still to win over Liberal voters and this could best be done by laying the
principal stress upon such issues as Free Trade and Disarmament.
The first Labour Government emerged from its short period of
office in 1924 without serious discredit, and with the advantage of
having established a presence for the Labour Party as a party capable
of government. 5 But the second government of 1929-31 ran into
serious difficulties, culminating in the financial crisis of August 1931
which led to its collapse. In order to stabilise the pound, the Bank of
England sought loans in Paris and New York; and the bankers, before
agreeing to supply assistance, required a commitment to a balanced
budget. The Treasury proposals to satisfy this request involved a
reduction in unemployment pay by 10 per cent; but this was rejected
by the Trades Union Congress General Council, and thereafter by a
majority of the members of the Cabinet. MacDonald thereupon
decided to resign, but the King urged him to call in the Opposition
parties and to form a 'National' Government representing all the
parliamentary parties. MacDonald's success in this venture led to the
departure of most of the Labour ministers and to the great bulk of the
Labour Party, backed by the TUC, going into opposition. MacDonald
Introduction 3

had hoped that the National Government would be purely a temporary

expedient; but after a few weeks he was impelled by his new allies to
call a general election, and this resulted in a catastrophic defeat for
Labour. The number of Labour MPs, which had been 288 in 1929, was
now only 46, although there were also 5 members of the Independent
Labour Party, which had broken off from the main party in order to
pursue more radical policies. The number of 'National Labour' MPs-
that is, supporters of MacDonald from within the Labour Party- was 13.
The Labour Party naturally indulged in much heart-searching after
its heavy defeat- which had been exaggerated hy the 'first-past-the-
post' electoral system. The success of the Conservatives and their allies
in securing mutual withdrawals and consequent straight fights with
Labour had been remarkable. Only 523 Conservatives had stood in
the election, as against 590 in 1929; but they won 4 73 seats. Labour
had retained more than three-quarters of its 1929 vote (6.6 million as
against 8.4 million) but had lost all but its safest seats. During the
campaign, Labour's most senior leaders fought against their own
party, and Philip Snowden, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a radio
broadcast described the new Labour election programme- which was
similar to those on which he had previously stood- as 'Bolshevism run
mad' .6 It was no wonder that he and MacDonald were regarded as
'traitors' by the party which they, and particularly MacDonald, had in
the previous thirty years done so much to build up. The senior Labour
minister to resist the MacDonald coalition was Arthur Henderson,
who had been Foreign Secretary, and he led Labour in the general
election; but he was himself defeated, and the only Cabinet Minister to
survive the tidal wave of anti-Labour feeling was George Lansbury,
who had been First Commissioner of Works. Lansbury, already aged
71 and known for his strongly left-wing views, was the inevitable
choice as parliamentary leader.
The little Parliamentary Labour Party of the early 1930s could do
nothing to challenge the National Government. It was also very weak
vis-ii-vis the other organs of the labour movement. It consisted
overwhelmingly of members sponsored by the unions, and at the
outset after the election exactly half of its members (23 out of 46) were
nominees of the Miners Federation of Great Britain. At that time the
party contained only two men of professional experience, both of
whom were drawn in by Lansbury to help in running the party: Major
Clement Attlee, a former social worker and lecturer whose East
London seat was overwhelmingly working-class; and Sir Stafford
Cripps, KC, who had been MacDonald's Solicitor-General for a time.
4 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Lansbury was a Christian pacifist; and he complained of the 'Jekyll and

Hyde' position in which he was placed in having to defend official party
policy, which was one of collective security through the League of
Nations: but the strain did not become acute until1935. 7 Attlee, too, in
those days was thought to be 'left of centre'; and Cripps was even more
left-wing. The miners of course reflected the bitterness of men whose
industry was in decline, and who had fought and lost a prolonged strike
in 1926.
At this time, though, the General Council of the Trades Union
Congress contained at least two far-sighted leaders in Walter Citrine,
the General Secretary, and Ernest Bevin, the secretary of the
Transport Workers, by now after the Miners the second largest of the
unions. Both were at the height of their powers - Citrine was 44 in
1931 and Bevin was 50. By building Transport House in Smith Square,
Westminster, and letting accommodation to both the TUC and to the
Labour Party, Bevin had become the landlord of the whole movement;
he had also taken charge of the sickly Daily Herald, and ensured its
future success as a popular daily in a deal with Odhams Press. Between
them, Bevin and Citrine established effective control of Labour Party
policy through the agency of the National Joint Council, which was
henceforth to have a majority of TUC members although it also
contained representatives of the National Executive of the Party and
of the Parliam-entary Party. It was now to meet regularly once a month
and lay down policy on matters of major political importance. In 1933
it claimed the right to choose speakers for broadcasts 'whenever any
section of the Movement [was] invited' ;8 and in 1934 it assumed a new,
more distinctive title, that of the 'National Council of Labour'. 9 The
National Executive was relatively weak by comparison: its trade-union
membership was composed, as had become normal, of second-string
trade-union leaders, and its constituency parties' section- also elected
by the full conference- until 1935 contained more defeated MPs than
sitting members. 10 Bevin was critical of Lansbury's leadership, and in
March 1933 wrote to him criticising his intention to speak at an Albert
Hall rally called by the new left-wing body, the Socialist League.
Lansbury, who resented this interference with his freedom, replied

I do maintain my right to put the Party's case ... whenever an

opportunity occurs, and I do not think I am called upon to ask
permission from anybody to do this. 11
Introduction 5

Not long afterwards he broke his thigh, and was in hospital for the first
six months of 1934. The running of the Parliamentary Party neces-
sarily devolved for the time being upon Attlee. 12
The decisive conflict between Lansbury and Bevin came in 1935,
when foreign policy assumed greater importance. During the Abyssi-
nian crisis the National Council of Labour pledged itself to support, if
necessary, military sanctions against Italy under the aegis of the
League of Nations: but Lansbury, being a pacifist, hated the idea. At
the Trades Union Congress meeting at Margate in September 1935-
one month ahead of the Labour Party conference - he heard Citrine
emphasising the National Council's line; and as the Labour Party's
fraternal delegate, he felt obliged not to repudiate it, although in
private he made clear to colleagues his own personal opposition. 13
Bevin did not speak in this debate, but he took part in another debate
at the Congress and was described by the Manchester Guardian
correspondent as 'like a heavy-weight boxer ... a veritable Jack
Dempsey of debate, delivering blows that crashed through the hall' .14
When the Labour Party conference met at Brighton a few weeks later a
similar resolution was moved by Hugh Dalton, who had been
Henderson's Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1929 to
1931 and who fully accepted the need for a policy of collective security.
On this occasion Lansbury made an emotional speech threatening
resignation, referring to his 'overwhelming conviction since I was a boy
that force is no remedy'. He was greeted warmly, but after he sat down
Bevin rose to reassert the policy of the National Council. He described
Lansbury's behaviour as 'trailing your conscience round from body to
body asking to be told what to do with it' .15 'It was a cruel scene', wrote
the Guardian correspondent; 16 but the voting that followed was
decisive. The resolution was carried by 2 168 000 to 102 000; and a
few days later, when the Parliamentary Party met, Lansbury resigned,
refused a request to reconsider his decision, and left his deputy,
Clement Attlee, 'as Leader for the remaining weeks of the present
Parliamentary session' .17 An editorial comment ran:
This is hardly more than an interim appointment ... Mr Attlee ...
has yet to show that he has the personality of a popular leader. The
Labour movement is much more than the Parliamentary party, and
in its present distracted state needs decisive leadership more than
anything else. 18
Meanwhile the Italian invasion of Abyssinia had begun; and
Baldwin, claiming rather unconvincingly that there was a 'lull in
6 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

foreign affairs', decided on a dissolution of Parliament and a general

election for 14 November. 19 As he had specifically asked for a
memorandum on the timing of the election from Sir Patrick Gower of
the Conservative Central Office, and as the latter had recommended
early 1936, it is difficult to conclude other than that the Prime Minister
had decided, as indeed he was entitled to do, to capitalise on the
weakness of the Opposition at a time when its leadership had just been
changed and when the new incumbent had had no opportunity to
make himself known to the country at large. 20 It was obvious, as
Winston Churchill said during the election campaign, that Attlee was
no more than a 'locum tenens'; 21 and the Morning Post cartoonist
decided to make Herbert Morrison, the leader of the Labour-
controlled London County Council, the butt of his humour for the
time being. 22
One feature of the 1935 election was the failure of the Liberal Party
to put up more than 159 candidates- a failure due above all to lack of
finance. By contrast, Labour's coverage, albeit incomplete, was
sufficient to give it a clear majority under favourable circumstances.
But the circumstances were not favourable. Baldwin had adopted the
Labour Party's policy of collective security through the League of
Nations, and in the domestic sphere there were now many signs of
economic recovery. Turnout on election day was relatively low, and
although the Labour Party won 94 seats beyond its 1931 total, it had
not even reached the numbers of 1929. The National Government
retained a substantial majority, of the order of 250. Several Labour
ex-Cabinet members now returned to Parliament, including Morrison,
whose London Labour Party did markedly better than the national
average, securing a swing of about 13 per cent, whereas in Britain as a
whole the swing was only 9 per cent. 23 The one outcome ofthe election
that really did bode well for Labour was the weakening of the Liberal
Party to a mere 19 seats. Henceforward, it seemed clear that a Labour
Government was the only alternative to the existing one.

* * * *
This is not the place to recount the vicissitudes of the National
Government's policies, either in the foreign or in the domestic sphere,
except in so far as they affected the Labour Party's development.
When the new Parliament met, Attlee was confirmed in the leadership
in an election also contested by Herbert Morrison and Arthur
Greenwood. The latter had been Minister of Health in 1929-31, and
was now working as the head of the Labour Party's small research
Introduction 7

department. He was a convivial man, and apparently had the support

of the Parliamentary Party's Masonic Lodge. 24 Attlee's advantage in
the election was that his colleagues in the preceding Parliament
recognised both his efficiency and his unpretentiousness. He did not
have the charisma of MacDonald, but they did not want another
MacDonald. Morrison was a strong contender and probably had the
support of most of the London MPs; but he had clashed with Bevin on
the question of how far unions should be represented on the boards of
nationalised industries, and so members of Bevin's union at least were
not likely to back him. Attlee ran ahead of Morrison on the first ballot,
with Greenwood in third place; and on the second ballot the bulk of
Greenwood's votes went to Attlee, who was thus re-elected for a
further term as Leader. Dr Hugh Dalton, an ebullient ex-Cambridge
economist, had supported Morrison, booming loudly to his friends that
otherwise the choice was between 'a nonentity or a drunk' ;25 but it was
the 'nonentity' who won. Morrison refused to serve as Deputy Leader
and so this post fell to Greenwood.
Although the Parliamentary Party was still very much in the
minority in the House of Commons, it was nevertheless three times as
large as after the 1931 election and a gradual shift of authority within
the movement took place towards it and towards the National
Executive, on which its more prominent personalities were rep-
resented. Attlee as Leader was an ex officio member of the Executive,
and Morrison and Dalton, both parliamentary front-benchers, were
regularly elected to membership. Dalton, the Executive's chairman
from 1936 to 193 7, secured the approval of Bevin and other
trade-union leaders for an alteration in the party constitution to enable
the constituency parties to elect their own representatives: previously
they had been chosen by the entire conference. Sir Stafford Cripps,
who had been on the Executive from 1934 to 1935, resigned rather
melodramatically just before the 1935 Conference because he could
not accept the policy of collective security. He was not a pacifist, but he
was very left-wing, and described the League as an 'International
Burglars' Union' .26 In spite of this, by 1937 the Executive had become
a distinctly more important element in the party than before.
Furthermore, by ruling in 1934, on the resignation of the ailing Arthur
Henderson, that the general secretary should not be a government
minister, the Executive had ensured that it was more fully in control of
the party machine both at Transport House and in the country. 27 From
1934 to 1944 Henderson's successor was J. S. Middleton, who had no
pretensions to a major role in the movement. From 1903 onwards he
8 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

had been the assistant secretary of the party, serving MacDonald and
Henderson in turn.
If 'Transport House' and the parliamentary leadership were
stronger than before, they still had to face formidable criticism from
recalcitrant members. There already existed within the party a
left-wing grouping, formed really to replace the vacuum left by the
departure of the ILP. This body, called the Socialist League, was
largely financed and controlled by Sir Stafford Cripps. Its policy of
forming a 'united front' with other left-wing parties, including the
Communist Party, was one which seemed to gain justification from the
European scene, for a Popular Front Government was formed in
France in 1936, and a similar consolidation of forces defended the
Spanish Republic in the civil war which broke out in the same year. Just
at this time, too, an enterprising left-wing publisher, Victor Gollancz,
launched the Left Book Club, which supplied to its members a 'Left
Book of the Month', and by the middle of 193 7 had 45 000 members.
The attitude of the National Executive to all these initiatives was far
from friendly; and the term 'Transport House' became a by-word for
rigidity and bureaucratic conservatism. 28
All the same, the Socialist League and the Left Book Club catered
for only a minority of the middle class; and the Labour Party still
looked above all to the working class as its natural constituency. In so
far as the majority of the members of the Executive looked to a 'united
front', it was to an alliance already in existence, of the trade unions, the
Co-operative societies, and the party itself. Neither the General
Council of the TUC nor the National Executive would have anything
to do with the idea of collaboration with the Communist Party,
although the Communists for their part desired the association on
instructions from Moscow. It was true enough that in Britain the
Communist Party remained a negligible force, and any such link would
have been damaging to the Labour Party at election time. The
National Executive therefore condemned the Socialist League's
attempt to campaign for a 'united front' and early in 1937 decided to
disaffiliate the League altogether. The League accepted its own
dissolution at a special conference in May 1937; but as a result of the
new arrangements for the representation of the constituency parties,
Cripps himself, and also two other left-wing intellectuals, Professor
Harold Laski and D. N. Pritt, KC, were elected to the Executive.
Nevertheless the principal achievement of the 1937 Conference was
the adoption of Labour's Immediate Programme- a policy document
outlining measures which could be enacted during a single term of
Introduction 9

office of a majority Labour Government. The programme involved the

nationalisation of the Bank of England, the railways, the mines, gas
and electricity. In moving the acceptance of the document, Attlee
emphasised that it had been drawn up partly with the experience of the
New Zealand Government in mind:

I was talking this year with our friends from New Zealand, and they
pointed out to me that they used to have very long programmes.
They came down to a short programme of action. They achieved
power, and they put that programme of action into force, and I think
their work is an enormous encouragement to all of us. 29

The New Zealand Labour Government, elected in 1935, had indeed

already nationalised the country's central bank.
Early in 1938 the worsening international situation- the weakening
of the Spanish Republicans, Eden's resignation and Hitler's occupa-
tion of Austria - all led to the resurgence of demands for a political
consolidation of the Left, but this time in the form of a wider alliance
embracing Liberals and progressive Conservatives as well. The
movement was strengthened by the Czechoslovak crisis in September
and by the humiliating concessions made by Chamberlain at Munich.
A by-election at Oxford saw the withdrawal of the prospective Labour
candidate, Patrick Gordon Walker, and the adoption of A. D. Lindsay,
the Master of Balliol, as an 'Independent Progressive': although he
was not elected, he substantially increased the 1935 Labour poll. In
November a similar contest at Bridgwater, normally a safe Conserva-
tive seat, resulted in a victory for the 'Progressive' candidate, the
journalist Vernon Bartlett. Shortly afterwards Cripps presented a
Memorandum to his colleagues on the Executive calling for a special
conference to consider the idea of an electoral pact with other
parties. 30 When it was discussed in January 1939, it encountered the
same opposition as his earlier proposals had done; and Cripps and his
band of supporters, who included the young Welsh miners' MP,
Aneurin Bevan, were expelled from the party. Bevan was re-admitted
later in the year after giving a 'satisfactory undertaking' to the
Executive; but Cripps would not agree to abandon his principles so
readily for the sake of re-admission, and so he stayed as an indepen-
The customary interpretation of the Labour Party's lack of success
in the 1930s is that the parliamentary leadership was too feeble and
was lacking in socialist commitment. Professor R. Miliband, for
10 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

instance, supposes that the party would have done better in the 1935
election if it had convinced the electorate that it had an 'angry cause' .31
Dr Ben Pimlott, on the other hand, takes the view that the 'left-wing
pressures' themselves 'inhibited the Party leadership and restricted its
room for manoeuvre' .32 Dr Pimlott is quite right to point out that the
left-wing organisations had relatively few members, and that the great
bulk of the electorate could more readily have been won for a
Liberal-Labour policy than for a purely Socialist programme. In short,
the Labour Party should have looked to the expansionist ideas of the
great economist Maynard Keynes and the example of the New Deal in
the United States, rather than to alliance with fringe Socialist groups
such as the ILP or the Communists. Policies along these lines were in
fact gradually being worked out in the mid-1930s under the aegis of the
New Fabian Research Bureau, where young economists such as Hugh
Gaitskell, Evan Durbin and Douglas Jay were turning their minds to
the 'problems of the transition'. 33 But this made little impact upon the
party until after the 1935 election; and in the later 1930s it was not for
the most part domestic affairs but foreign affairs and the imminence of
war that dominated politicians' thoughts.

* * * *
When war broke out in September 1939, Neville Chamberlain at once
tried to persuade the Labour and Liberal Party leaders to join him in a
Coalition Government. But the Opposition's degree of distrust of
Chamberlain was so deeply ingrained that the proposal was rejected,
although all the parties agreed to support the war effort and to accept,
for a year at a time, an 'electoral truce' to restrict conflict between the
parties at by-elections. Chamberlain was thus able to strengthen his
ministry only to the extent of bringing in non-party men and senior
backbenchers from his own party, most notably Churchill and
Anthony Eden.
Much to the surprise of western strategists, Hitler made no move in
the west until April1940; and the intervening period of seven months,
dubbed by the American Senator Borah the 'phoney war', was
frustrating for the British Government and people. The French army
was unable to relieve the pressure upon the Poles, whose country was
rapidly overrun; the Soviet Union, having made an agreement with
Nazi Germany, joined in the extinction of the independence of the
Baltic States and Poland, and proceeded to invade Finland. The Finns
fought back through the winter, and the western allies sought means of
supplying aid, but they could do little more than they had done in the
Introduction 11

case of Poland. Meanwhile the censorship of news was strict, the winter
severe and the black-out disagreeable. At least there were no heavy
casualties, and war production and mobilisation proceeded at a steady
if not startling pace.
Then suddenly in April 1940 Hitler launched an amphibious assault
upon Denmark and Norway, and within a few weeks his troops
occupied all the principal strategic points of the Scandinavian littoral,
extending as far north as the Arctic circle. This sudden and daring
assault - albeit probably a defensive move, and certainly a strategic
error- exposed the weakness of British Intelligence and air power and
led to a motion of 'No Confidence' in the Government. Although the
motion was defeated by 281 votes to 200, the Government's normal
majority had wasted away considerably, and Chamberlain realised
that he had lost much of his support in the Commons. After further
futile attempts to broaden his ministry, he resigned office on 10 May
in favour of Churchill- a fellow-Conservative, but one who until lately
had been out of office since 1929 and under whom both the Labour
and Liberal Parties were willing to serve in a new Government.
In the negotiations which took place for the formation of the new
ministry, Attlee was scrupulously careful to ensure that the appropri-
ate organs of the labour movement were properly consulted, and that
he had their approval. It was fortunate, for a start, that the Labour
Party's annual conference was actually in session at the time at
Bourne mouth, and that the National Executive, being present there at
the time, could authorise participation. Then the conference itself
voted its support by an overwhelming majority- 2 413 000 to 170 000
on a card vote. 34 Attlee and Greenwood thereupon became two of the
members of Churchill's initial five-man War Cabinet; Ernest Bevin
joined the government from outside Parliament as Minister of Labour
and National Service; A. V. Alexander became First Lord of the
Admiralty, Herbert Morrison, Minister of Supply and Hugh Dalton,
Minister for Economic Warfare. In the autumn of 1940, when
Chamberlain was obliged to resign because of ill-health, Churchill
increased the size of the War Cabinet to eight members and included
Bevin among the number; and at the same time he moved Morrison to
the politically sensitive post of Home Secretary and Minister of Home
Churchill was very conscious that he had to give the Labour Party at
least a large minority of offices. He had secured his post only as a result
of Labour's initiative in calling for a vote of'No Confidence' against his
predecessor; and although he assumed the leadership of the Conserva-
12 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

tive Party when Chamberlain's fatal illness precipitated a vacancy, he

remained subject to pressure from the Labour Party on particular
offices. In 1941, for instance, the National Council of Labour sent a
deputation to the Prime Minister to demand the appointment of a
Labour Party representative at the Ministry of Information; and this
resulted in the replacement of Harold Nicolson as the Ministry's
Parliamentary Secretary by Ernest Thurtle, a nonentity, but as a
Labour MP a nominee of Attlee's. 35 Then in the early months of 1942,
when the tide of battle moved strongly against British arms, the
Coalition Government as a whole came under severe criticism and
Churchill felt compelled to make fresh changes at all levels. He
removed Greenwood altogether and put Cripps, who had been
Ambassador to the Soviet Union, directly in the War Cabinet. He also
transferred Dalton to the Board of Trade.
These signs of weakness on the part of the Prime Minister were
accompanied on his part by a readiness to accept radical policies, or at
least the appearance of them. This was partly a reflection of American
influence, partly a result of Russian participation in the war, partly a
consequence of the heavy defeats inflicted upon British arms by the
Japanese. Early in 1942 Attlee, who chaired a committee on Indian
affairs, wrote a paper urging a fresh initiative in order to secure the
collaboration of the Indians with the British authorities in fighting the
war. He said: 'We need a man to do in India what Durham did in
Canada.' 36 Churchill reluctantly gave way on this, and as a result
Cripps was sent out to negotiate on the Cabinet's behalf. But the
Mission foundered upon the rocks of mutual distrust; and the prospect
of self-government for India had to wait until the end of the war.
By the autumn of 1942 the tide of war at last began to change. A
German army was trapped by the Russians at Stalingrad, and Hitler's
Afrika Korps suffered a heavy defeat at the hands ofthe British Eighth
Army at El Alamein. Early in December Allied landings took place in
French North Africa and it became apparent that within a few months
the whole of North Africa would be cleared of the enemy. In
December, also, the former civil servant Sir William Beveridge
presented the Report on the Social Services, which had been commis-
sioned by Greenwood when he had been in charge of the Cabinet's
Reconstruction Committee. Beveridge had chaired a committee of
serving civil servants and his task was supposed to be to make
recommendations for the consolidation of existing services and
benefits. In fact, Beveridge used the opportunity to recommend major
innovations in policy, which he simply assumed as the basis of his
Introduction 13

detailed proposals. The principal innovations were: the introduction of

family allowances; a national health service; and the maintenance of
full employment. 37
The Beveridge Report was important not only for its proposals but
also because of the response to it by the Government and by
Parliament. Churchill, advised by Kingsley Wood, his Conservative
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and by Lord Cherwell, his personal aide,
was doubtful whether the country could afford to make any significant
advance in social security benefits after the war, especially as
American help would be needed for reconstruction, and the Ameri-
cans could hardly be expected to be prepared to finance a social system
in advance of their own. But Labour back-benchers in the Commons
had no doubt about the merits of the proposals and when they were
debated in February 1943 their parliamentary executive put down an
amendment to the Government motion demanding early action to
achieve implementation. In the division, 121 votes were cast against
the Government - 97 Labour, 9 Liberal and 15 independent.
Although the Labour Ministers were obliged to support the Govern-
ment, and although a minority of Conservatives evidently sympathised
with the rebels, the debate proved to be an important milestone on the
path back to the restoration of party politics. 38
In March 1943 Churchill responded to the pressure at least to the
extent of proposing the preparation of a four-year plan for the
post-war period. In the autumn of that year, thinking that an enemy
collapse was possible at any time, he transferred the able and
successful Minister of Food, Lord Wool ton, to the newly-created post
of Minister of Reconstruction. Although Woolton was technically of
no party, his sympathies were more with the Conservatives than with
Labour, and he eventually joined the Conservative Party in the
aftermath of the 1945 general election. On the other hand, four of the
ten members of the Reconstruction Committee of the Cabinet were
Labour Ministers, and three of them - Attlee, Bevin and Morrison -
were members of the War Cabinet. The Committee approved three
important White Papers in 1944, all of them influenced by the
Beveridge proposals. These were on the creation of a national health
service, on employment policy and on social insurance, accepting the
idea of family allowances. In other spheres, Coalition Ministers
master-minded reforms which specially affected their departments:
thus the Conservative R. A. Butler placed a far-sighted Education Act
on the statute book in 1944, and Labour's Hugh Dalton secured the
enactment of a Location of Industry Act in 1945.
14 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

But it should not be supposed that the influence of Labour Ministers

was confined to home affairs. Attlee's interest in Indian affairs has
already been mentioned: he served as Dominions Secretary for
nineteen months in the crucial years of 1942 and 1943. Cripps's
prominence in the counsels of the War Cabinet was short-lived, and
ended in November 1942 when he became Minister of Aircraft
Production. But foreign policy was constantly being discussed by the
War Cabinet as a whole, and Attlee, Bevin and Morrison were all
members of this body in the latter part of the war. Indeed when
Churchill was on his travels- which were increasingly extensive as the
war proceeded- Attlee presided over Cabinets as his deputy and was
thought by some colleagues to be markedly more efficient in ensuring
that business was actually transacted. 39 Attlee was also chairman of the
Armistice and Post-War Committee, and Bevin was also a member. 40
Bevin had ideas of his own about foreign policy, and was prepared to
differ from Churchill on occasion - as for instance when just before
D-Day Churchill told General de Gaulle that if he was forced to choose
between France and the United States, he would always choose the
latter. 41 Attlee's paper, 'Foreign Policy and the Flying Bomb', written
when Britain began to be bombarded by that new weapon, was
particularly far-sighted in its forecast of the problems of defence in the
post-war era and the need for a consolidation of the states of Western
Europe. 42
But little was known in the country about the inner workings of
government at this time. The electoral truce was carefully observed by
all parties, but they could not prevent Independents from challenging
the official candidates at by-elections. It became apparent that there
was a marked swing to the Left in the constituencies, and, for those
who took any notice of opinion polls (and they were few) this was
confirmed by the Gallup surveys of public opinion conducted regularly
in the latter part of the war and published in the News Chronicle. A
new Socialist party, Common Wealth, was founded in June 1942 by
the merger of two earlier groupings. One, 'Forward March', was run by
Sir Richard Acland, who had been elected as a Liberal MP for
Barnstaple in the 1935 general election but who had become a
Socialist. The other was the '1941 Committee', a body of left-wing
opinion mobilised by J. B. Priestley's popular broadcasts. The appeal
of Common Wealth was overwhelmingly to the middle class; in some
constituencies it seemed bound to win more success than the Labour
Party could. But the middle class was not very good at finding the
finance for this new party and, like Cripps's Socialist League, nearly all
Introduction 15

the money had to come from the pockets of the really wealthy- in this
case Acland himself and an industrialist called Alan Good. 43 Common
Wealth fought five by-elections in 1943, two in 1944 and one early in
1945: it invariably polled well, and actually won three Conservative or
National Liberal seats- Eddisbury in April 1943, Skipton in January
1944 and Chelmsford in April 1945. Several other seats previously
held by former National Government supporters were won by
left-wing Independents; but in only one case was a Labour seat lost,
and that was in April 1945- to the first Scottish Nationalist ever to sit
at Westminster. 44
It was hard for the Labour Party to stand aside while these contests
were taking place; and many of its members deserted the party
temporarily to work for Common Wealth or for a Left-wing Indepen-
dent. But the Labour machinery was probably kept in better shape,
relatively speaking, than that of the Conservative Party; and there
were annual Labour Party conferences throughout the war, although
that for 1944 was delayed by the preparations forD-Day. International
policy and war aims were keenly debated, with Hugh Dalton,
supported by William Gillies, the head of the Transport House
International Department, urging a hard line against the Germans,
and Harold Laski and Philip Noel-Baker pleading for a sharp
distinction to be drawn between the Nazis and the 'good Germans'.
After much debate the National Executive accepted a long document,
The International Post-war Settlement, which was then adopted by the
1944 Conference. 45 In the end Dalton was quite pleased with it, and
recorded in his diary 'I have got my way on all essentials.' 46
The stature of Churchill as one of the Big Three who had brought the
war to a successful conclusion was such that few observers could
believe that he would lose a post-war election. Attlee, although deputy
Prime Minister, had played an inconspicuous role throughout the war,
his duties being mostly non-departmental; both Bevin and Morrison
appeared as more prominent figures in the public eye. Dalton was a
shrewd politician with much experience of elections: but as he later
admitted he 'much overestimated the PM's personal influence on
votes', and even after the polling he wrote, 'I still couldn't persuade
myself that we could have won more than 280 seats.' 47 But the general
election deserves a chapter to itself.
2 The 1945 General
It may be thought surprising that one should attempt to reassess the
1945 general election, in view of the attention which has already been
paid to it. The election was, as is well known, the subject of the first of
the Nuffield Election Surveys, which have continued thereafter to the
present day; and although that book, unlike more recent Nuffield
studies, contained no account of the politics of the period preceding
the election, such accounts have appeared in more recent years, most
notably, perhaps, that by Dr Paul Addison entitled The Road to 1945. 1
Addison's work, however, full though it is on the politics of wartime,
stops short at the election itself; and the N uffield study, being the first
of its series, was also, it is fair to say, the crudest and least adequate-
although when it was published it marked an enormous technical
advance on any previous rapid study of a British general election.

* * * *
In fighting the election, it appeared that the main problem for Labour
to overcome was the personal popularity of Winston Churchill, who
from November 1940 was Leader of the Conservative Party. By means
of his broadcast addresses - which usually contained a titbit of
information not previously reported in the newspapers- Churchill was
able to establish a remarkable degree of rapport with popular opinion.
As a London tenant remarked to a housing manager during the Battle
of Britain, he 'takes such an interest in the war doesn't he?' 2 The result
was that from 1942 onwards, whenever the Gallup Poll published its
findings about whether or not people approved of Churchill as Prime
Minister, those affirming their support for him hardly ever fell below
80 per cent. But on the other hand, there was no equally warm support
for the government as a whole, and when there were serious setbacks
overseas, as for instance by the fall of Singapore or the loss of the North
African fortress of Tobruk in 1942, satisfaction with the government

18 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

fell below 50 per cent. 3 The other index of popular feeling was
provided by the results of by-elections: increasingly, Left-wing Inde-
pendents began to challenge government, or at least Conservative,
nominees; and as we have seen Sir Richard Acland's Common Wealth
became an increasingly dangerous threat.
Meanwhile within the Coalition Government ministers of all
persuasions found that they could work quite well together, and party
politics of the old type rarely reared its head at Cabinet meetings.
Richard Casey, the Australian diplomat who had been appointed
British Minister in the Middle East, with the right to attend Cabinet
meetings when he was in England, noticed that 'practically all the
Labour Ministers integrate loyally and helpfully with the Tories,
particularly Bevin.' 4 Ernest Bevin, of course, was a trade-union leader
who had joined the Coalition on Churchill's invitation without ever
previously having been a Member of Parliament, although his Socialist
sympathies were well-known. 5 So far as relations with the Soviet
Union were concerned, it was Beaverbrook, the Conservative news-
paper proprietor, who was keenest upon the early establishment of a
Second Front, and it was Attlee who threatened to resign if the Soviet
annexation of territory at the expense of the pre-war Poland and Baltic
States was officially recognised by Britain. For a time, in the three
months or so after the publication of the Beveridge Report in
December 1942, the problems of post-war reconstruction appeared to
threaten the unity of the government. But a compromise was patched
up within the Cabinet, and not until Germany appeared on the point of
collapse in late 1944 did the prospect of peace revive the conflict of
This was exemplified in October 1944, when there was a debate on
the renewal of the electoral truce for a further year. The existing House
of Commons had been elected no less than nine years previously, in
1935, and it was naturally the minority parties that were most
discontented with the existing state of affairs. Churchill himself was
constrained to make a formal statement to the effect that 'it would be
wrong to continue this Parliament beyond the period of the German
War.' 6 At this time it was assumed that the war against Japan, in view
of the almost fanatical resistance of the Japanese forces, might well last
for another eighteen months.
The 'end of the German War', as Churchill had put it, or, as people
spoke of it more commonly at the time, VE-day, came on 8 May 1945.
It had already been agreed by the Cabinet that there should be no
rushed election- that is to say, that the events of November-December
The 1945 General Election 19

1918 should not be repeated. But Churchill's Conservative advisers

favoured an early election in order, if possible to capitalise upon his
reputation as the architect of victory. This meant June or early July.
The Labour leaders, on the other hand, preferred the lapse of a few
months, for precisely the same reason. Herbert Morrison, who was
Home Secretary, pointed out that by October a new Register of Votes
would be available, which in view of the fact that people were moving
rapidly from place to place, would be far more accurate than the
existing Register. The issue came to a head at Whitsun, 18-21 May
1945, when the Labour Party was meeting at Blackpool for its Annual
Conference, and when Attlee had just returned from attendance at the
San Francisco Conference which had founded the United Nations
Some of the evidence for events at this juncture is to be found in the
Prime Minister's Official Papers, which are in the Public Record
Office. 7 Churchill's Principal Private Secretary, Leslie Rowan, made a
'Note' on the sequence of events. On Friday 18 May Attlee was in
London, but was preparing to leave for Blackpool. At 10 a.m. the
Prime Minister's letter, offering him either an early dissolution or a
continuation of the Coalition until the end of the war against Japan,
was sent to him by hand from No. 10 Downing Street. At 3 p.m. Attlee
called upon Churchill and suggested to him an amendment of the
letter, so as to make the idea of continuing the Coalition more
agreeable to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.
The amendment involved the addition of the sentence:

In the meantime [i.e. during the continued Coalition] we would

together do our utmost to implement the proposals for social
security and full employment contained in the White Papers which
we have laid before Parliament.

At this point, as Dalton's personal diary records 'CRA [Attlee] was in

favour of going on. EB [Bevin] and I were inclined to agree. But we
doubted whether the Conference would take it.'8 At all events, with
the revised version of the letter A ttlee set off for Black pool on 19 May,
which was the Saturday, but the decisive meeting was on Sunday the
20th, in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall.
The minutes of this meeting are very uninformative. (In this they
resemble the minutes of most Cabinet Meetings.) They record:

Mr. Attlee then read the letter received from the Prime Minister and
20 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

indicated his views regarding the proposals contained therein. The

Chairman [Ellen Wilkinson MP] then threw the matter open for
discussion and intimated that she thought it desirable that every
member of the Executive should express his views one way or the
other. After considerable discussion it was RESOLVED:
That Mr. Attlee prepare a draft reply to be sent to the Prime
Minister embodying the views of the National Executive Commit-
tee for submission to a further meeting.
It was also AGREED that the letter should be read to the delegates
on the following day at a private session. 9

We have to piece together what actually happened at the meeting from

diaries and reminiscences. According to George Wigg, Shinwell
repeatedly told him that he (Shinwell) and Bevan had been the first
advocates of an immediate election, but they had been opposed by
Ernest Bevin, who was not a member of the Executive but was
attending by special invitation. Wigg's account continues:

A critical point was reached when Morrison joined Shinwell and

Bevan. The decisive voice, however, was that of the Labour Chief
Whip, Willie Whiteley, who told theN a tiona! Executive ... 'the lads
will not stand for continuing the Coalition', the 'lads' being the rank
and file of the Parliamentary Labour Party. 10

From Dalton's diary we know that in the end Attlee formally proposed
continuation of the Coalition until the end of the Japanese War, but
that only three members of the Executive of twenty-seven- all three
being trade unionists-were willing to support him. Dalton suggested a
compromise: to continue the Coalition until November, but to review
it in October. But, as he says:

this was thought to be too cunning and compromising and I got no

support. It was finally agreed.that Attlee should reply to Churchill
that we could not accept the end of the Japanese War as the limit of
the Coalition, but that we would go on until October. 11

The reply to Churchill was therefore drafted by Attlee and Morrison in

this sense. It was read to the Conference delegates in private session in
the afternoon; it was approved by the entire Conference with only two
dissentients/ 2 and Rowan's Note records that it was telephoned to
Chequers, the Prime Minister's weekend residence, at 8 p.m.
The 1945 General Election 21

It will therefore be seen that Attlee was overruled by his Executive

over the question of continuing the Coalition. The point was missed by
the press and public at the time, except for one very well-informed
article in the Daily Telegraph in mid-June, which pointed out that:

The only explanation which fits the facts is that the Socialist leaders
themselves, or some of them, wanted ammunition to support a fight
for acceptance of Mr. Churchill's offer ... The dog was clearly not
kicked out of the Coalition, but wagged out by its own tail. 13

Meanwhile, within the National Executive of the Labour Party, there

were those who thought that the situation called for the replacement of
Attlee as leader by some more partisan anti-Churchillian. Ellen
Wilkinson, the retiring Chairman of the Executive, favoured Herbert
Morrison as his successor and asked Dalton to persuade Attlee to
retire. But Dalton 'said it was impossible to change now' .14 This did not
deter Professor Harold Laski, the new Executive Chairman, from
drafting what he described as 'a very difficult letter' to Attlee, inviting
him to step down before the election campaign. Laski wrote:

I have been acutely aware for many months, and especially during
the Blackpool Conference, of the strong feeling that the continuance
of your leadership in the party is a grave handicap to our hopes of
victory in the coming election.

As a Professor of Political Science it was not difficult for him to present

a number of historical parallels to justify his argument: Lord John
Russell giving way to Palmerston, Arthur Balfour to Bonar Law,
Asquith to Lloyd George, were some of them. He also cited Churchill
changing General Auchinleck for General Montgomery before the
Battle of El Alamein. Attlee's successor, he argued, could be chosen
by the Parliamentary Party before the dissolution of the existing
Parliament in mid-June. The letter ended:

I am convinced that you are selfless and single-minded enough to put

the party's cause first, and yourself second, in your reflection on the
grave issues we have to face.

An undated holograph of this letter appears in the Laski Correspon-

dence at Transport House. 15 It was obviously prepared after 23 May,
when Churchill announced the termination of the Coalition and the
22 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

arrangements for the dissolution in June and the election in July, and it
had been received by Attlee on the 28th, when he showed it to
Whiteley, who advised him to ignore it. 16 There is no reply to it in the
Laski Correspondence: but Attlee's terseness is well-known, and he
had already been defending himself against charges of 'MacDonald-
ism' made by Laski in the previous year, as Laski's biographer,
Kingsley Martin, has recorded. 17 The subject was not raised at the final
meeting of the retiring Parliamentary Labour Party on 29 May. 18

* * * *
When Churchill resigned as Leader of the Coalition Government on
23 May, he at once took office again as Prime Minister of a Caretaker
Government, consisting mostly of Conservatives, but with a sprinkling
of National Liberals and also non-party men such as the former civil
servants Sir John Anderson and Sir James Grigg and the former
business man Lord Wool ton. The dissolution of Parliament was not to
be until 15 June, and in the meantime and during the election the
affairs of Government, including the arrangements for British rep-
resentation at the Potsdam Conference of the Great Powers, had to be
carried on. On 4 June, that is, eleven days before the dissolution,
Churchill made the first and most famous of his four election
broadcasts, and took the opportunity to assert, to the surprise and
anger of his Labour former colleagues, that a Socialist Government
'would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very
humanely directed in the first instance'. This was an astonishing
accusation, at a time when the horrors of the German concentration
camps had just come to public notice as a result of the forward
movement of the Allied armies. Attlee replied on the following
evening, saying in his broadcast that 'The voice we heard last night was
that of Mr Churchill, but the mind was that of Lord Beaverbrook'.
Although the Labour Party was allotted ten broadcasts during the
campaign, which was the same number as the Conservatives had,
Transport House had arranged for Attlee to give only one, the first,
whereas Churchill gave altogether four. But Attlee was generally
thought to have got the better of his initial exchange with Churchill.
The Parliamentary Labour Party gave him 'quite a stirring ovation'
when he entered the House next day. 19
All the same, these public disagreements did not prevent Churchill
from inviting Attlee to accompany him to the Potsdam Conference as
an observer, in case before the end of this Conference a change of
government took place in Britain.ln this way Churchill and his Foreign
The 1945 General Election 23

Secretary, Anthony Eden, hoped to commit any future Labour

Government to the policy which they were pursuing in their negotia-
tions with Truman and Stalin. On 8 June Attlee accepted the invitation
to join Churchill at Potsdam as an observer. They saw eye-to-eye on
foreign policy; and from Chuter Ede's diary we know that Attlee had
been 'much perturbed by the San Francisco Conference'- presumably,
that is, by what he took to be Russian obduracy over Poland and over
the United Nations Veto- and this was probably one reason why he
did not want an early election. 20 But the commitment aroused Laski's
interest and concern: he was now Chairman of the Party's National
Executive, and he may have thought that he himself should have been
invited to attend, or at least that exponents of a distinct and 'Socialist'
foreign policy should have been sent. At any rate he sought to whittle
down the extent of Attlee's commitment. In a statement on 14 June he

It is of course essential that if Mr. Attlee attends this gathering he

should do so in the role of an observer only ... Labour has a foreign
policy which in many respects will not be continuous with that of a
Tory-dominated Coalition.

Next day, Churchill wrote again to Attlee, seeking clarification, and


Merely to come as a mute observer would, I think, be derogatory to

your position as the Leader of your party, and I should not have a
right to throw this burden upon you in such circumstances. 21

But Attlee replied with much firmness, on the same day:

There seems to be great public advantage in preserving and

presenting to the world at this time, that unity on foreign policy
which was maintained throughout the last five years. I do not
anticipate that we shall differ on the main lines of policy which we
have discussed together so often. 22

Attlee did not, however, attempt publicly to rebuke or to silence Laski;

and the Conservative newspapers naturally enjoyed keeping the issue
alive. An article by the political correspondent of the Daily Telegraph
on 18 June, for instance was headlined: 'Major Crisis in Socialist Party.
Pre-Election Split on Caucus Control. Foreign Policy Issue: Mr
24 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Attlee's Status.' Churchill himself took up the issue in his third election
broadcast, on 21 June: referring to Potsdam, he said:

It was my conception that I should enjoy Mr Attlee's counsels at

every stage of the discussions ... However, a new figure has leaped
into notoriety. The situation has been complicated and darkened by
the repeated intervention of Professor Laski, Chairman of the
Socialist Party Executive. He has reminded all of us, including Mr
Attlee, that the final determination of all questions of foreign policy
rests, so far as the Socialist Party is concerned, with this dominating
Socialist Executive. 23
Now it is true that Churchill always enjoyed the rough-and-tumble
of the hustings, and to some extent he had to reassert his Conservative
credentials after the years of Coalition. But on this occasion his
emphasis upon the peculiarities of the Labour Party Constitution was
more than just an election 'stunt'. First, he knew that the extra-
Parliamentary Party had committed itself to many loose generalities
about foreign policy which were not shared by those who had served
him as colleagues during the Coalition. Second, he knew from several
incidents, of which the last, at the Blackpool Conference, was the most
impressive, that Attlee could be and sometimes was overruled by the
Executive; and he therefore thought, incorrectly as it turned out, that
this might occur if and when he was Prime Minister.
Churchill also thought that this issue was one which would interest
the electorate: but in this he was mistaken. Naturally most of those
who took the trouble to follow the argument assumed that the Labour
leaders knew more about the points concerned than Churchill did; and
the Labour leaders allowed Attlee to act as their spokesman- thereby
strengthening his position as Churchill's obvious rival for the Premier-
ship, which he had hardly appeared to be during the Coalition years.
On 2 July, just three days before Polling Day, Churchill wrote again to
We have learnt a great deal more than we knew before about the
powers vested in the National Executive Committee, of which Mr
Laski is the undisputed Chairman. It certainly appears that they are
very wide in their terms and, from your silence, very real. It would
appear that a Labour or Socialist Government would be subject to
the directions of this Committee and that matters of foreign affairs
and, I presume, if they desired it, military affairs, would have to be
submitted to them. 24
The 1945 General Election 25

Since these letters were clearly for immediate publication, Attlee

made a point of replying the same night, in time for the following day's
newspapers. 25 He wrote, also on 2 July:

The constitutional relationship between the National Executive

Committee of the Labour Party and the Parliamentary Party has
existed unchanged for years and is set out in an appendix to the
reports of the Annual Conference published every year. Neither by
decision of the Annual Party Conference nor by any provision in the
Party constitution is the Parliamentary Labour Party answerable to
or under the direction of the National Executive Committee.

Churchill was not to be put off. Next day, the 3rd, he returned to the

Under your Party's constitution it is provided that 'The work of the

Party shall be under the direction and control of the Party
Conference ... ' and the Executive Committee shall 'subject to the
control and directions of the Party Conference, be the Administra-
tive Authority of the Party'.

The letter continued at some length, but all its contents need not be
repeated here. Attlee replied at once, rather sharply:

I am surprised that you, who are apparently becoming acquainted

with the Constitution of the Labour Party for the first time, should
on the authority of an unnamed informant seek to attach to its
provisions meanings other than those accepted by myself and others
who have spent years of service in the Labour Party. Much of your
trouble is due to your not understanding the distinction between the
Labour Party and the Parliamentary Labour Party.

It should be emphasised here, that Churchill's so-called 'trouble' also

afflicted many of the pioneers of the Party, not to speak of the
trade-union leaders who later attempted to force upon Hugh Gaitskell
the acceptance of Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament at Scarborough in
1960, or the present Left Wing of the Executive who were in rebellion
against the Parliamentary leadership. As for Laski, he was somewhat
distracted by an accusation, across the front page of the Daily Express
on 20 June, that in answering questions after a speech at Newark he
had argued for 'Socialism even if it means violence'. Laski was at once
26 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

persuaded to issue a writ for libel, and this imposed a measure of

restraint upon any discussion of his views, although when the case
came to court in November 1946, after a vigorous cross-examination
by Sir Patrick Hastings, KC, Laski lost the action and found himself
saddled with a debt of 13 000 for costs, which his friends rallied
around to pay. 26

* * * *
Considering that the voting took place on 5 July, and that the plans for
it had been announced on 23 May, the election campaign was quite
prolonged. In spite of the Labour accusations of a 'rushed' election,
Dalton himself wrote in his diary that 'it was very long drawn out' .27 It
certainly lasted twice as long as that of February 1974, which took
place in the minimum period of three weeks. But after the voting on 5
July 1945, the ballot boxes were sealed for three weeks, to allow the
Service votes to be assembled from stations overseas and distributed
by constituency: thus the election count did not take place until 26
The Labour manifesto for the election, entitled Let us Face the
Future, was skilfully drawn up by Herbert Morrison, who was the
Chairman of the Party's Policy Committee. It was designed to draw in
the uncommitted voter: each proposed measure of nationalisation was
justified in terms of practical arguments for efficiency. The pamphlet
made no mention of Attlee, and it might be thought that this was due to
Morrison's jealousy of Attlee's leadership, which was indeed to come
to the fore after the election. But after the crisis of 1931, when the
Party had, as so many of its members felt, been 'betrayed' by its then
leaders, the omission caused no comment. The Conservatives, on the
other hand, naturally felt that they must make what capital they could
out of their own leader's reputation in the country. Consequently, the
Tory manifesto was entitled Mr Churchill's Declaration of Policy to the
Electors. It was this issue of leadership which made contemporary
observers expect an outcome of the election favourable to the
Conservative Party. There was the precedent of Lloyd George's
immense success in 1918; and there were few who noticed that Lloyd
George had won in alliance with the principal opposition party of
1914, which of course bore no responsibility for bringing about the war
or preparing the armed forces for it; whereas Churchill's colleagues
were the men of 'Appeasement' and of reputed military unprepared-
ness. There was still a certain amount of old-fashioned plural voting:
business men had a vote for their business premises as well as a
The 1945 General Election 27

residential vote, if the latter was in a different constituency; and there

were twelve university seats, where polling was by Single Transferable
Vote. Consequently it was not surprising that most political observers
expected that though the result would probably be closer than in 1935,
the Conservatives and their allies would have a lead in the end. They
had had a majority of 250 in the 1935 Parliament, but this had been
somewhat reduced by losses at by-elections.
During the later war years, from 1942 onwards, a series of carefully
constructed Gallup Polls had been appearing in the News Chronicle, a
Liberal paper, and they had always been predicting a heavy swing to
Labour on the part of the electorate. Little attention was paid to them,
even by members of the News Chronicle staff: the period when
political polls were accepted as part of the electoral scene still lay in the
future. In fact, the final Gallup prediction was accurate to about 1 per
cent. Gallup expected Labour to obtain 47 per cent of the total poll,
whereas the figure was actually 47.8; he expected 41 per cent
Conservative whereas the result showed 39.8 per cent; the Liberals
were predicted at 10 per cent, but in the end scored 9 per cent. 28 The
Daily Express, Beaverbrook's paper, as usual was more optimistic for
the Tories: it predicted a Churchillian majority of over sixty; 29 and
Churchill told the King that he expected a majority of 'between thirty
and eighty' .30 Even on the Labour side the expectations were similar:
Dalton foresaw 'either a small Tory majority or a deadlock'. 31 In the
actual result, the Labour Party secured 393 seats, the Conservatives
and their allies 213, the Liberals 12, and there were 22 Independents.
Thus the overall Labour majority, which has never been exceeded
since, was 146.
It had been Churchill's intention to remain in office until the dust
had settled on the battlefield of politics; but as a result of the
overwhelming nature of the Conservative defeat, he went to the Palace
to resign on the evening of the day that brought most of the results, and
before they were complete- that is to say, at 7 p.m. on 26 July. On his
advice, Attlee was immediately summoned by the King and thereupon
undertook to form a Government. The King noted in his diary that
Attlee was 'very surprised that his Party had won'; but he had already
been thinking about the formation of a ministry, and he informed the
King that he would probably appoint Dalton as his Foreign Secretary.
The King, however, demurred at this and recommended Ernest Bevin,
who had found favour with Churchill during the war and who carried
such weight with the trade-union movement. 32
Next day, 27 July, saw two important decisions by the new Prime
28 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Minister. The first was a rejection of an attempt by Herbert Morrison

to delay the formation of a government until the Parliamentary Party
had met, and a new leader had been chosen. Morrison was justified in
making this demand, in accordance with the Constitution of the Party;
but, as Attlee pointed out in his draft memoirs, in a passage removed
from the published edition,

I had ... received the King's commission and had just emerged
successfully as the leader at a general election. The idea was fantastic
and certainly out of keeping with the feeling of the Party. 33

But Attlee acknowledged that Morrison deserved to be 'number two'

in the government, and offered him the post of Lord President of the
Council and Leader of the House of Commons, which after some
hesitation he accepted. The other major decision by Attlee was to
make Bevin his Foreign Secretary and Dalton his Chancellor of the
Exchequer, instead of the other way about. Again in a passage left out
of his published memoirs, he indicated that this was because Morri-
son's relations with Bevin had always been 'strained' and for that
reason they had to be kept in spheres 'where they were not so likely to
clash'. 34 The switch was made well after he had first seen the King, for
on the morning of the 27th he advised Dalton to'pack, and put in a thin
suit' in preparation for the trip to Potsdam. 35 Later that day, though,
and in time for the first announcement of the names of six leading
ministers, Attlee's change of mind took place.
Next morning, 28 July 1945, the six new Ministers went to the
Palace for the formality of 'kissing hands' on appointment, and then
they at once attended a first meeting of the new Parliamentary Party,
which took place not in Westminster but at the Beaver Hall in the City.
A motion of confidence in Attlee as Leader was moved by Bevin and
seconded by Greenwood, and after his apparently almost gladiatorial
success against Churchill there could hardly be any question of
opposition. Bevin emphasised his support for the new Prime Minister,
saying 'The Labour Party is fortunate in its Leader, and he merits our
fullest confidence.' The motion, we are told, 'was received with
unanimity and enthusiasm', and on rising to reply Attlee was greeted
by a 'three-minute ovation'. After his speech he and Bevin left for
Northolt Aerodrome, 'where they boarded separate Berlin-bound
Skymasters as a precautionary measure'. It had been the custom for
Churchill never to travel in the same aircraft as his Foreign Secretary,
for fear of a mishap. Behind the two Labour Ministers, the meeting of
The 1945 General Election 29

the Parliamentary Party continued, and Morrison took the chair as

Attlee's deputy. 36 Chuter Ede thought 'it was perhaps significant that
he had not spoken to the resolution just passed' .37

* * * *
Various reasons have been adduced for the success of the Labour Party
in the General Election. The immediate reactions saw the results in
terms of the immediate campaign. The Times thought that Churchill's
tactics were wrong and that he was to blame for 'emphasising the
narrow animosities of the party fight'. The Manchester Guardian took
a similar view; the mistake was Churchill's 'attempt to turn the election
into a personal plebiscite'. Later on, when Churchill wrote his own
wartime memoirs, these interpretations not surprisingly did not appeal
to him. He thought that the defeat was due to the weakness of
Conservative organisation, for the Tory agents had gone off to serve in
the Forces, whereas the Labour agents went merely into the factories,
where they were readily at hand for political activity:

They all did work on the home front which no one else could have
done, and at the same time they maintained- and who could blame
them?- their party affiliations. 38

There was some truth in this observation, but probably not much. The
Nuffield Survey noted an opinion poll which indicated that 84 per cent
of people had made up their minds how to vote before nomination
day. 39 It was true, however, that the overwhelming bulk of full-time
party agents who were in the Forces were Conservatives. This was to a
large extent because the overwhelming bulk of full-time party agents
were Conservatives anyway; the number of full-time Labour agents
was relatively small and the party depended to a considerable degree
upon the voluntary service of trade-union officials and other part-time
A further possible explanation of the left-wing tide was produced by
the former Conservative Minister of Education, R. A. Butler, in his
memoirs, which were published almost a generation later. His view
was that the Army Bureau of Current Affairs (ABCA) had a 'left-wing
influence', and was responsible for persuading many of the large
number of men serving in the Army to side with Labour. 40 But this is to
place altogether too much emphasis upon the ability of Army officers
to indoctrinate their troops; it would be more likely, if anything, that
the troops would vote against what any of them felt to be a propaganda
30 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

line. In any case, we know that the Forces' vote was comparatively
light, being less than 60 per cent of those qualified, as against a turnout
of 72.7 per cent for the electorate as a whole. 41 But perhaps the most
conclusive piece of evidence against the idea that ABCA was of
importance is provided by the Gallup Poll itself, which was necessarily
conducted entirely among the civilian population and which showed a
marked left-wing lead from as far back as 1942.
It is true that the Service vote was more strongly pro-Labour than
that of the country as a whole. This was observed by several candidates
as the count took place, among them Mrs Leah Manning, who was
elected Labour MP for Epping, part of Churchill's old constituency,
'When the constituency boxes were opened, I was well down ... but
when the soldiers' vote came to be counted, my pile crept up and up.' 42
But the contrast may be explained by the well-established feature of
post-war elections, that Labour supporters have tended to be more
numerous among the young than among the old, and among men than
among women.
Of course all governments have their ups-and-downs; and the fact
that a Party in opposition does well in by-elections does not necessarily
mean that it will win a general election which occurs perhaps many
months later. All the same, the early 1940s seemed to show a steady
strengthening of left-wing feeling, exemplified first in the reaction to
J. B. Priestley's broadcast 'Postscripts', then in the 1941 Committee
which he was largely responsible for founding and finally in Common
Wealth, which has already been mentioned and which was able to win
by-elections in seats that were previously Conservative.
We must, therefore, look for some long-term factors to explain the
sudden and dramatic change of 1945. First of all must come the 'swing
of the pendulum', which indicates the accumulation of discontent
against any government which has been in office for a long time- and
there had been a Parliament with a Conservative majority ever since
November 1931. It was possible to blame 'the Tories' for the failures of
British foreign policy in the 1930s, for the Munich Agreement, for the
lack of effective rearmament, and for the weakness of British
performance in the early years of the war. (In the First World War this
discontent had been at the expense of the Liberals.) It was difficult for
people to appreciate that their country by the late 1930s was no longer
relatively as strong as it had been during the First World War, and that
in peacetime it simply could not afford to keep up with the German
army and air force, as well as to maintain a substantially larger navy.
Linked with this was the fear of a return to the unemployment of the
The 1945 General Election 31

1930s. This should not be over-emphasised, as economic historians

have drawn attention, not only to the substantial recovery of the mid-
and late 1930s, but also to the industries and districts which prospered
amidst the distress around them. 43 Also as we have seen, the
Parliamentary Labour Party managed to secure the credit for making a
stand in favour of the full implementation of the Beveridge Report,
first published in December 1942, which simply 'assumed' the
introduction of several major reforms, notably the maintenance of full
employment, a system of family allowances and a comprehensive
health service.
A third reason for the success of Labour in 1945 was that the
electorate, having been told, day in and day out, about the magnificent
resistance of the Red Army on the Eastern Front, believed that
Socialism must be efficient. The Eastern Front was front-page news in
the British press for months at a time and the Stalingrad victory for the
Red Army was greeted with enormous enthusiasm. It was King
George VI who epitomised popular feeling by presenting to the
Russian people the 'Sword of Stalingrad' in recognition of the victory
which, as he said, 'turned the tide' .44 It was on an altogether different
scale from the previous much smaller success of the British and their
Allies at El Alamein. Although American soldiers arrived in Britain in
increasingly large numbers, or perhaps because they arrived in
increasingly large numbers, they were not popular in Britain, espe-
cially as they were not yet in contact with the enemy. A Gallup Poll in
June 1942 established that 62 per cent of those questioned thought
that Russia was 'more popular with the British' than was the United
It may be asked why, if Russia was so enthusiastically supported, it
was not the Communist Party, rather than the Labour Party, which
won the reflected glory. To a limited extent the Communist Party did
gain credit: from a pre-war maximum of 18 000, its membership rose
to a total of 50 000 in 1944. But many people could maintain that the
Labour Party represented the British form of Socialism, whereas
Communism was the Russian form. And there were naturally other
facts to assist the Labour cause at this time. The 1935 election had
placed the party in the indisputable position of being the main
opposition party - for the Liberals had been reduced to a tiny
fragment. There was the fact that the Labour Party now had a group of
successful Ministers who had proved themselves during the war.
Attlee's achievements were largely behind the scenes and perhaps not
many people knew of his skill as a chairman of Cabinet committees.
32 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

More prominent were Morrison, who was both Home Secretary and
Minister for Home Security - that is, in charge of Air Raid Precau-
tions; and Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour and National Service,
who had had to organise the call-up for the Forces. Hugh Dalton had
been first Minister for Economic Warfare and then President of the
Board of Trade; and Stafford Cripps, who now rejoined the Labour
Party after having been expelled in 1939, had been Ambassador in
Moscow and Minister for Aircraft Production.
Fourthly, the one demonstrable success in legislation by the inter-war
Labour Governments was Wheatley's Housing Act of 1924. Housing
was now for most electors the most important social issue, because of
the cessation of house-building during the war and the damage to the
existing stock caused by air raids. 46 Labour candidates stressed the
importance of this issue, and many of them had served on the housing
committees of their local councils, which dealt directly with the
problem. Churchill organised what he called a 'Housing Squad' of
Ministers during the period of the Caretaker Government, but of
course there could be nothing to show for its activity after a six-week
period. Some of the electors must have recalled Lloyd George's
promise of 'Homes for Heroes' after the First World War- a promise
which appeared never to have been fulfilled. The point was mentioned
in Labour propaganda. 47
Finally, although Churchill could expect to gain something in the
election from his personal role in the military victory, his habit of
visiting the war-fronts in the latter part of the war dressed in military
uniform meant that some politically unsophisticated voters began to
assume that, like the King, he was altogether above the parties and that
it would be safe to vote for some party other than the Conservatives
and their immediate allies, as Churchill would carry on as Prime
Minister despite the results. In his last broadcast speech Churchill had
to put in a disclaimer about this:

Beware that you are not deceived about the workings of our political
system at this Election. There is no truth in stories now being put
about that you can vote for my political opponents at this election,
whether they be Labour or Liberal, without at the same time voting
for my dismissal from power. 48

* * * *
Although the Labour Party did not secure a majority of the total votes
cast in the election- a success which has eluded the party to this day-
The 1945 General Election 33

the result was decisive in terms of seats and also by virtue of the
complete rejection that it indicated of the Conservative Party and its
leaders. As already mentioned, Churchill decided to resign at once
rather than to wait over the weekend, as he had originally been
contemplating in the event of a less considerable setback. The King
described their meeting as 'very sad'. 'I told him I thought the people
were very ungrateful after the way they had been led in the War' .49 Mrs
Churchill, to console her husband, about whose health she was in
doubt, suggested that it was a 'blessing in disguise'. His reply is
well-known: 'At the moment it seems quite effectively disguised.' 50
But on 1 August, when Parliament reassembled, the Conservatives,
realising that if it had not been for Churchill they would have suffered
an even worse defeat, rose when he entered the Chamber and sang
'For he's a Jolly Good Fellow'. To their surprise the massed ranks of
the Labour Party responded by singing 'The Red Flag'. Oliver
Lyttelton, Churchill's close friend and colleague, wrote later: 'My
complacency melted in a minute. I began to fear for my country.' 51 This
was an exaggerated response: with his former colleagues Attlee and
Bevin in charge, Lyttelton soon got over his fears.
3 Prime Minister, Cabinet
and Party
When Attlee came to form his Government he had the advantage of
having served for the five preceding years as a member of the War
Cabinet; and, as we have seen, he had presided as Churchill's deputy
over its deliberations during the Prime Minister's frequent absences
abroad. He had also spent not a little time in consideration of the
problems involved in the machinery of government. As early as 1932
he had sketched out a plan for

a small body of Ministers without heavy departmental work, each

one in general charge of a particular function of state activity. These
Ministers must have leisure to think and a freedom from the
pressure of day-to-day business which will enable them to see things
in proportion. I think the following should form the Cabinet: Prime
Minister and Ministers representing the functions of finance,
economic planning, social provision, external relations, defence, law
and order. 1

This would have made a Cabinet of only seven members, comparable

with Lloyd George's War Cabinet of 1916-18, but smaller than the
number recommended by Haldane's Committee on the Machinery of
Government, which, reporting in 1918, had suggested ten or twelve
members. 2 Later, in his book The Labour Party in Perspective (1937),
written when he had become Leader of the Opposition, Attlee had
been more cautious about the total number of Cabinet Ministers. He
had again emphasised that it was desirable to have Ministers 'in charge
of functions not departments':

Thus the general co-ordination of the social services would fall to

one Minister. Defence would be the care of another, economic
policy of a third, and external relations of a fourth.

36 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

But he also said:

This does not mean the supersession of the Cabinet by a small Junta
and the relegation of departmental Ministers to an inferior status. 3

So presumably, although he did not mention figures, he was contemp-

lating a rather larger Cabinet, if only to satisfy the aspirations of his
The War Cabinet of the Second World War was relatively small,
varying between five and eight members. In 1940 Attlee himself had
taken a prominent part in the reconstruction of the system of Cabinet
committees, particularly of course on the home front. 4 In 1942, when
there was much criticism of the functions of government, he helped to
establish the 'inside' inquiry conducted by a new Machinery of
Government Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir John Ander-
son, himself a prominent member of the Cabinet but previously for
many years a distinguished civil servant. This committee continued its
work in the post-war period after the General Election of 1945, which
led to Anderson himself formally going into Opposition with the
Conservatives. The Committee now came under the suzerainty of
Herbert Morrison, the new Lord President, but its importance
gradually declined as the wartime experience receded; and in any case
it was never intended to present a public report. 5
Morrison, who had challenged Attlee for the post of Prime Minister
in the immediate aftermath of the General Election, found himself
outmanoeuvred by Attlee's ready acceptance of the King's commis-
sion and by the urgent need for the Prime Minister, with his new
Foreign Secretary, to go off to represent the country at the Potsdam
Conference. The first members of the new Government whom Attlee
appointed before leaving for Potsdam were six in number. All of them
had held senior office in the Coalition. Morrison himself, who now,
with Attlee's ready agreement, claimed second place in the Ministry,
became not only Lord President but also Leader of the House of
Commons. He had served in Churchill's Coalition first as Minister of
Supply and then as Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security,
and had been a member of the War Cabinet from November 1942.
Ernest Bevin, rather to his surprise and reluctance, as we have seen,
became Foreign Secretary. He had been Minister of Labour since May
1940, and had much expanded the role of that office; and he had
served in the War Cabinet longer than Morrison, in fact from October
1940. Arthur Greenwood, who had been 'sacked' by Churchill early in
Prime Minister, Cabinet and Party 37

1942 but who was still deputy leader of the party, was brought back by
the new Prime Minister, not for a departmental post- for which Attlee
now considered him unsuitable - but as Lord Privy Seal, where he
could preside over 'social service activities' .6 Hugh Dalton became
Chancellor of the Exchequer: although by profession a lecturer in
economics, for years his main interest had been foreign policy. He had
served in Churchill's Government as Minister for Economic Warfare
and later as President of the Board of Trade. His role in preparing the
party's statement on foreign affairs, The International Post-war
Settlement, has already been mentioned. 7 But he was also obviously
well equipped for the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer and could
hardly complain at receiving one of the traditionally most senior posts
in any peacetime administration. Stafford Cripps, who had been
briefly in the War Cabinet in 1942 but had then become Minister of
Aircraft Production outside the Cabinet, became President of the
Board of Trade; and Sir William Jowitt, who had held a variety of
middle-rank offices under Churchill, went to the Lords as Lord
Chancellor. The Economist declared, not unjustly, that the appoint-
ments of Greenwood and Jowitt could be regarded as 'the routine
rewards of party eminence' .8
The remainder of Attlee's ministerial appointments had to await his
return from Potsdam: and this was not until 2 August. No fewer than
fifteen Labour members had served as under-secretaries in the
Coalition and it was largely to them, and to the few survivors of the
1929-31 Government who had not been in office with Churchill, that
the new Prime Minister looked for the rest of his appointments. On 3
August he announced nineteen new Ministers, though it was not yet
clear how many of these were to be members of the new Cabinet. They
had all been in the old Parliament; and as two of them - Viscount
Addison as Dominions Secretary and Lord Pethick-Lawrence as
Secretary of State for India- were in their seventies, it was obvious, as
The Times noted, that the average age of the Cabinet was going to be
'high'. 9 It was also thought odd that Attlee should have switched
Chuter Ede, who had been a schoolmaster, to the post of Home
Secretary, while Ellen Wilkinson, who had also served well as
Morrison's Under-Secretary at the Home Office, should take over the
Ministry of Education, for which she was not so obviously fitted. 10 An
early list of Attlee's ideas for offices shows that he was thinking of Ede
as Minister of Labour and Miss Wilkinson as Minister of Health. 11 As
he put it in his draft memoirs:
38 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

The obvious choice for Education would have been Chuter Ede but I
wanted a man of great wisdom, judgement and firmness of character
for the Home Office. I wanted a woman in the Cabinet and Ellen
Wilkinson ... was well qualified. 12

The Times thought the 'most interesting of the new appointments'

were 'those to the Ministries of Labour, Fuel and Power, and Health' .13
In the case of the Minister of Labour, George Isaacs, it was not so much
his personality that was noteworthy as the fact that although he had
been in Parliament off and on since 1923 he had never held office
before except as a Parliamentary Private Secretary: he was, however,
the current chairman of the Trades Union Congress's General
Council, from which he now had to resign. This certainly served notice,
if notice was required, that the new Ministry proposed to keep in the
closest touch with the trade union movement. Emanuel Shinwell, who
became Minister of Fuel and Power, had held office under Ramsay
MacDonald from 1929 to 1931, but had refused to serve under
Churchill, apparently thinking that his merits were under-valued by
the offer that was then made to him. 14 At least, as The Times
acknowledged, although he had been a persistent critic of the Churchill
government, he had been a constructive critic. This was to differentiate
him from Aneurin Bevan, who now sprang from the back benches to
become Minister of Health. Bevan had been persistently hostile to the
Coalition Government and had aroused the wrath not only of Churchill
-who described him on one occasion as a 'squalid nuisance' 15 - but also
of Labour leaders including Ernest Bevin.
It was not until 4 August that Attlee indicated that his Cabinet was
to contain a total of twenty Ministers. At the same time, he announced
a list of 42 more senior and junior members of the administration. The
press comment was to the effect that the new pattern of government
looked unexpectedly conservative. The Economist headed an article
on the subject with the title 'Old Wine in Old Bottles', and maintained
that 'the emotion that the list of new appointments arouses is much
more that of anti-climax than of exhilaration' .16 The Labour manifesto
had indicated that there would be a new Ministry of Housing and
Planning, which would take over the housing powers of the Ministry of
Health; but the change, it was thought, would require legislation, and
so it was assumed that Attlee was deferring action for the time being
only. The only real novelty was the amalgamation of the Ministries of
Supply and Aircraft Production. It was evident that the press would
have preferred more radical changes in the structure of government,
Prime Minister, Cabinet and Party 39

with a younger administration and a smaller Cabinet. In fact, Attlee

would now have liked to have a Cabinet of about sixteen members; and
he hoped in due course to reduce its size. For the time being, he had the
three Service Ministers in the Cabinet; but he intended that, at some
point when the war with Japan was over and demobilisation was
proceeding, they should be subordinated to a single Minister of
Defence. 17 For the time being, he himself assumed the portfolio of
Defence as Churchill had done.
The composition of the Cabinet Committees was not, of course,
announced to the public. But Winston Churchill had suggested during
the election campaign that the Defence Committee might be subject to
the influence of the chairman of the National Executive of the Labour
Party, who in 1945-6 was Harold Laski, and it may have been for this
reason that Attlee made a point of spelling out the membership of the
Defence Committee in a White Paper published early in 1946. Apart
from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence, it was to consist
of the Lord President, the Foreign Secretary, the three Service
Ministers, and the Ministers of Labour and Supply, with the Chiefs of
Staff in attendance. 18 There were of course many other committees, of
which the most important were the Lord President's Committee,
dealing with major problems on the home front; the Social Services
Committee, presided over by Greenwood; the Legislation Committee,
also under Morrison in his capacity as Leader of the House; and three
major committees dealing with external affairs: the Overseas Recon-
struction Committee, of which Bevin took the chair when he was in
London, the India and Burma Committee, which Attlee himself
continued to chair, and the Colonial Affairs Committee, which was
normally presided over by Greenwood. 19

* * * *
Attlee courteously allowed Churchill to remain at No. 10 Downing
Street for a few days after the results of the general election and to
spend a final weekend at Chequers. He and his wife Violet decided to
live at No. 10, but they did not move in at once, as they wished to have
the top floor turned into a self-contained flat, and this took some time.
For the most part he took over Churchill's civil service staff: Leslie
Rowan, formerly Churchill's Principal Private Secretary, performed
the same function for Attlee, and was assisted by Lawrence Helsby and
Anthony Bevir. Bevir was responsible for advice on church appoint-
ments and was regarded by the Prime Minister as a 'walking
Crockford' .20 In September Attlee added to his staff two political
40 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

members. One was Douglas Jay, who had been a wartime civil servant
and before that the City Editor of the Daily Herald: he was to be the
Prime Minister's Economic Adviser. The other was Francis Williams, a
former editor of the Herald, who had served in the Ministry of
Information during the war: Williams was to be the No. 10 Press
Officer. As his Parliamentary Private Secretary Attlee chose a
Haileybury man, Geoffrey De Freitas. As he put it in his memoirs,
'There was a wide choice, but other things being equal, I saw no reason
why I should not select someone from my old school.' 21
The Prime Minister's staff was thus a good deal smaller than it has
been in more recent years. Francis Williams has given an agreeable
picture of life at No. 10 in the very early post-war years:

To work in No. 10 was a pleasant affair- a post-graduate course in

politics in delightful surroundings. The fact that the house is the
Prime Minister's home as well as his office and is staffed only by a
small personal staff, the charming walled garden and the view of the
trees in St James's Park from the main windows, all these give the
impression more of a small country house in which the. master is
going through the estate papers in the library than of a great
department of state. 22

Meanwhile Morrison and Dalton shared No. 11 Downing Street

between them; and there was easy communication between them and
No. 10 through an inner connecting door.
Attlee could also use Chequers, the handsome country house in
Buckinghamshire which is made available to successive Prime Minis-
ters as a permanent haven for rest and recreation. Already by the end
of August 1945 the new Prime Minister had decided that he liked the
place very much. As he wrote to his brother Tom, 'We find Chequers a
great resource as everything is done for us there and although it is a
museum it is comfortable and homely to live in.' 23 In his memoirs he
described his recreations at Chequers: 'In the summer we played a lot
of tennis and croquet, while in the winter we took many walks in the
country and fell in love with the Buckinghamshire countryside'. 24 This
later led him to purchase a house at Prestwood, only six miles from
Chequers, where he and his wife could live when he left office. He had
sold his house at Stanmore in the autumn of 1945.
In all the planning of reconstruction, it had been assumed that the
war against Japan would continue for about eighteen months after the
end of the war in Europe. This would allow time for British industry to
Prime Minister, Cabinet and Party 41

undergo a considerable degree of reconversion before the termination

of 'Lend-Lease', the arrangement whereby the United States sup-
ported Britain's contribution to the common struggle with direct
financial assistance. 25 The Far Eastern war was still continuing on 7
August, when Attlee's Cabinet met for the first time. The Chiefs of
Staff attended, and Attlee told them that he did not think that reports
on operations need any longer be given weekly. There would, of
course, be the Defence Committee, which would meet more often; but
'the scale of operations had so greatly diminished' that it did not call for
a full-dress discussion. 26 The Cabinet met again on the 9th, by which
time the first atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. The
King's Speech, which was to be delivered on the 15th, was revised to
take account of this startling new development. It was clear that the
war was rapidly drawing to a close; and the Chief Whip commented
that 'in view of the heavy programme of Government legislation, it
would be impossible to find time for Private Members' Bills during the
current Session'. The Cabinet agreed to this without difficulty, and also
agreed to hold another meeting next day. 27
For the next few days the Cabinet was in almost daily session. On the
lOth, Bevin announced that the Japanese were anxious to surrender,
but wished to retain at least a formal status for the Emperor. He
sympathised with this, and said that 'for himself, he doubted whether it
would be expedient for the Allied Governments to insist on terms of
surrender which would result in the Emperor's losing authority over
the Japanese people.' The Cabinet agreed, and General Sir Alan
Brooke, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, said that 'special
arrangements would have to be made for British troops to be sent to
Hong Kong', which had been in Japanese occupation since the end of
1941. 28 The Japanese surrender, on terms which allowed for the
Emperor to remain as a symbol of Japanese nationhood, took place at
midnight by British time on 14/15 August. It had already been
announced that the two following days would be public holidays. The
State Opening of Parliament took place, as planned, on 15 August;
and the members adjourned, as they had done at the time of the
German surrender, to give thanks at St Margaret's Church,

* * * *
In forming his Government Attlee tried to balance the trade unionist
and the 'intelligentsia' elements of the party in every department. He
explained this to Francis Williams as follows:
42 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

You may have picked a Minister who is awfully good but, although
he doesn't know it, rather weak on certain sides, so you must give
him an Under-Secretary who fills in the gaps. For instance, if you
have a rather obvious member of the intelligentsia, it's quite useful
to give him a Trade Unionist to correct his outlook. In the same way,
it might be useful to a Trade Unionist to have someone who's got a
different background. 29

Since Attlee's Cabinet was drawn up entirely from the old Parliamen-
tary Party, in which the proportion of trade unionists was high, it was
possible to keep some sort of balance between these two major
elements of the party. Of the twenty Cabinet members nine were trade
unionists: they were Bevin, George Hall (Colonial Secretary), J. J.
Lawson (Secretary for War), J. Westwood (Secretary for Scotland),
Isaacs, Ellen Wilkinson, Bevan, Tom Williams (Secretary for Agricul-
ture), and Shinwell. Of these nine, five were miners. In addition, A. V.
Alexander (First Lord of the Admiralty) represented the Co-operative
movement in the Cabinet. In the ministry as a whole, only three
completely new members of the Parliamentary Party were given office
as early as August 1945, the youngest of them being Harold Wilson,
who had proved himself as a civil servant at the Board of Trade during
the war and now became, at the age of 29, Parliamentary Secretary to
the Ministry of Works.
The size of the Government, including whips but excluding Par-
liamentary Private Secretaries (who were unpaid) was eighty-three- a
little smaller than the totals of the Coalition and Caretaker Govern-
ments, although almost all the Ministries of wartime were still in
existence. 30 But this was not a particularly large proportion of the
Parliamentary Labour Party, which now numbered 393, especially as
thirteen members of the government were in the Lords. There was also
a marked contrast between the members of the ministry, almost all of
whom had been in the previous Parliament, and the hordes of
newcomers from the more marginal constituencies. This can be
illustrated by a comparison of the social composition of the new party
with that of its predecessor of 1935.
The proportion of trade-union sponsored members had dropped
from 51 per cent in 1935 (and 76 per cent in 1931) to 31 per cent. 31
Their total was 120; and the remainder, apart from 24 sponsored by
the Co-operative Party, were all put forward by constituency parties.
Of the union-sponsored MPs, no fewer than 34 were miners; and, as we
have seen, five of these were in the Cabinet. A further 17 represented
Prime Minister, Cabinet and Party 43

Bevin's Transport and General Workers Union. The National Union

of Railwaymen had 12 MPs, and the General and Municipal Workers
had ten. These were all large unions; but the Railway Clerks
Association, albeit with only 73 000 members affiliated to the party,
had nine MPs. The Trade Union Group of MPs, although not a
majority, remained an important element in the Parliamentary Party.
Apart from these, there were many new MPs of an indisputaoly
middle-class character. The number of those educated at public
schools had risen from 10 per cent in 1935 to 23 per cent; and the
proportion who had had a university education, which had previously
never been more than one-fifth, now rose to almost a third. 32 Among
these there were many young ex-servicemen and wartime civil servants
of the type Hugh Dalton invited to his 'Young Victors' party at the St
Ermin's Hotel on 30 July. 33 The party consisted, with Dalton, of a
dozen new MPs: Raymond Blackburn, George Brown, George
Chetwynd, Richard Crossman, Evan Durbin, John Freeman, Hugh
Gaitskell, Christopher Mayhew, William Wells, Harold Wilson,
Woodrow Wyatt and Kenneth Younger. All of them were under forty
years old; two or three were under thirty. Seven of them had been army
officers; eleven of them were university graduates (the odd one out
being George Brown), and with only three exceptions they had all
been to public schools.
Nevertheless it was Morrison and not Attlee himself who had the
principal responsibility for controlling this vast body of MPs. Morrison
later admitted to having been 'mildly disturbed' by the singing of the
Red Flag on the day that Parliament reassembled. 34 But he was good at
keeping in touch with the back-benchers, enabling them to grumble to
him, and giving them sage advice. Francis Williams, who did not
particularly warm to him, nevertheless described Morrison as:

a superb politician, shrewd, able, honest and energetic, as well as

being the best party manager in the business until the Tories hit on
his equal in Woolton. 35

As Leader of the House Morrison was anxious to speed up parliamen-

tary procedure, so as to ensure that the government secured as much as
possible of its programme in its term of office. As we have seen, the
Cabinet had agreed that the government should take up all private
members' time at least for the first session; Morrison moved a
resolution to this effect, and it was accepted by the House by 329 votes
to 142.36 The arrangement was in fact repeated for two further
44 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

sessions, and was only abandoned in 1948. He also realised that time
could be saved by revising parliamen"tary procedure and he secured the
establishment of a Select Committee to look into this. When the
committee duly met, he gave evidence to it, urging the greater use of
standing committees rather than committees of the whole House for
the consideration of legislation, and also the introduction of the
guillotine in standing committees to curb filibustering. 37 All these
proposals were recommendations of a committee which had been set
up by the Coalition Government; and so they were accepted without
division. 38 In the upshot, the guillotine was used on only three bills
during the entire life of the government. 39
The Parliamentary Labour Party met in private once a week when
Parliament was in session, normally on Wednesday mornings. In order
to ensure continuous contact between the membership and the
leadership, there was also a Liaison Committee, consisting of an
elected chairman and vice-chairman from the back-benches, together
with Morrison himself and William Whiteley, the Chief Whip, one
back-bench Labour peer and the Secretary of the Parliamentary Party,
Carol Johnson (who was not himself an MP). The first chairman was
Neil Maclean, MP for Govan since 1918 onwards; but he was
succeeded in 1946 by the first vice-chairman, Maurice Webb, who had
been for ten years a Daily Herald journalist, and who was newly
elected in 1945. It was the task of the Liaison Committee to try to
anticipate trouble with the Parliamentary Party: to draw up the agenda
for its meetings and to ensure that Ministers who were being criticised
were warned in advance and made themselves available to answer
their critics. For although the meetings of the Parliamentary Party
were theoretically private, any controversial discussions somehow
found their way into the press.
In order usefully to employ such a vast body of talent as existed in the
Party, it was decided to set up Party Policy Groups, covering the
various departments of state. By the spring of 1946 there were
altogether twenty groups functioning, but it was an accident that this
was the precise number of the members of the Cabinet. 40 In some cases
the groups were chosen in consultation with the Minister most directly
concerned. Dalton wrote of having 'blackballed' two possible mem-
bers of his Finance Group; but he also wrote that Bevin had allowed
the External Affairs Group to 'pick itself, and the result was that

in came all the pacifists, and fellow-travellers, pro-Russians and

anti-Americans, and every sort of freak harboured in our majority. 41
Prime Minister, Cabinet and Party 45

Yet it was difficult to persuade Labour MPs to take any interest in

Empire or Colonial questions (other than Palestine), and it was not
until July 1946 that at Morrison's instigation a 'Commonwealth and
Empire' Group was set up. 42
Of course there were also some other, more long-standing, Groups
in existence in the Party. There was a Scottish Group and a Welsh
Group, and of course the Trade Union Group- the latter consisting of
the sponsored MPs. The Trade Union Group left Morrison's new
Labour Relations Group without any locus standi, so that it was agreed
in April 1946 that it should be allowed to fade away. 43 Finally, there
was a Women's Group, an inter-party body, but dominated by Labour
as 21 out of the 24 women in the House were Labour Members. Of
Morrison's new subject groups, the Civil Aviation Group had a
remarkable success as early as the autumn of 1945 when it persuaded
the Cabinet to alter the Minister's original bill for the industry, which
would have allowed existing railway and shipping interests to have
shares in it: in place of this, full-scale nationalisation was introduced.
Dalton claimed some of the credit for the change of policy:
This group contains a number of keen young airmen - 'a bit highly
strung' as Morrison is in the habit of saying of many of our new
members - and it was only vigorous intervention by Cripps and
myself which got this first proposal rejected and straight-out public
ownership substituted ... This lively new Government can't be
bound by the tentative ideas, never carried into law, of the Coalition
on its deathbed. 44
Another very active group in the early days was that for Defence and
Services, which under the chairmanship of James Callaghan pressed
for more rapid demobilisation - a topic on which all MPs were
receiving heavy postbags from their constituents.

* * * *
Outside Parliament, both Attlee and Morrison took care to attend if
they possibly could the monthly meetings of the National Executive,
which were held at Transport House where the extra-parliamentary
party had its offices. Attlee as Leader of the Parliamentary Party was
automatically a member of the Executive, as was Greenwood, who had
been elected Party Treasurer. Morrison, on the other hand, had to
stand for election each year as one of the seven constituency party
representatives. One of his colleagues for 1945-6, who in fact secured
a slightly higher vote, was Professor Laski, who by virtue of seniority
46 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

was taking his turn as annual chairman. The other constituency party
representatives were all MPs, and they included (as well as Dalton,
James Griffiths and Philip Noel-Baker) two men who were the leading
parliamentary critics of the Coalition, Shinwell and Bevan. By the
autumn, however, both had become Cabinet Ministers. There were
also twelve trade-union officials selected by the vote of the unions.
They were a sort of 'second eleven', because under the Party's
Standing Orders members of the TUC General Council were not
eligible for nomination to the Executive. To make up the total of 27
members of the Executive, there was one representative of affiliated
Socialist and Co-operative Societies- in practice, either a Fabian or a
member of the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society- and five women
elected by the entire Conference, including Ellen Wilkinson, who had
retired from the chair in May. Finally, the General Secretary, Morgan
Phillips, attended all Executive meetings. He had no vote, but as he
controlled the organisation at Transport House he had plenty of
influence. A former Welsh miner, he had been elected to the post in
1944 after serving some seven years as Secretary of the Party's
Research Department.
Although the Parliamentary Leader was entitled to serve on any of
the National Executive's sub-committees, the only one which Attlee
made a point of attending after he became Prime Minister was the
Elections Sub-Committee. This body was responsible for vetting
candidates for by-elections and for the next general election: it was
consequently of considerable importance for the future composition of
the Party in Parliament. Morrison was chairman of two sub-
committees, the Campaign Sub-Committee and the Policy Committee,
but the former of these went into desuetude after the general election.
Dalton was, to begin with, chairman of the International Sub-
Committee. The Policy Committee and the International Sub-
Committee were the two most important bodies so far as the shaping of
the Party's programme was concerned, and each controlled a depart-
ment at Transport House whose secretaries were able young men
appointed for the first time in 1945. The secretary of the Research
Department, which answered to the Policy Committee, was Michael
Young, a thirty-year-old London graduate who had already served for
four years as Director of the independent research association,
Political and Economic Planning; the secretary of the International
Department was two years younger, an Oxford man who had served
with distinction in the war and who had been narrowly defeated in a
Yorkshire constituency in the general election- Denis Healey.
Prime Minister, Cabinet and Party 47

Laski, whose attempt to change the parliamentary leadership on the

eve of the election had been ignored, had no compunction about
offering his services as a suitable Ambassador to the United States in
place of Lord Halifax. He wrote to Attlee on the latter's return from

I hope ... that you will find a way of using me at the Embassy in
Washington ... I think I could do, at least with ordinary people, the
kind of job of interpreting Great Britain to the United States which
Bryce did in his day. 45

Attlee's response was cool; and a fortnight later, after Laski had told a
French newspaper that Labour would bring 'economic pressure' to
bear on Spain, Attlee wrote:

The constant flow of speeches from and interviews with you are
embarrassing ... Foreign Affairs are in the capable hands of Ernest
Bevin ... A period of silence on your part would be welcome. 46

Laski replied rather tartly to this. He had been away on a trip to

Scandinavia: foreign trips were to be a feature of his year as Chairman
of the Executive. As Attlee had suggested a meeting, Laski wrote

If we talk, I hope it may be on the assumption that your Government

has broken with the MacDonald precedent of always accepting your
friends at the valuation of your enemies. 47

In October Laski took over from Dalton the chairmanship of the

International Sub-Committee of the Executive. One of his first tasks
was to interview representatives of Paole Zion, the Jewish Socialist
organisation, which was far from happy with British policy in Palestine.
Laski largely shared their views, and accompanied some of the leaders
to a private meeting with Attlee, Bevin and George Hall, the Colonial
Secretary, at which little satisfaction was obtained as to a redirection of
policy. 48 A day earlier he had written to his American friend, Felix

Tomorrow I take six of my colleagues to have it out with them. It is

terribly difficult, for on the Executive Committee are seven
Ministers of Cabinet rank, and if you add to them the Under-
Secretaries and the MPs there is a majority with a vested interest in
keeping the Government out of trouble. 49
48 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Thus Laski was trying hard to do what Churchill had accused him of
intending during the election, namely, to subordinate the Government
to the Party Executive. But in those days he did not even have the
Executive on his side- in his view, because so many of them had taken
office in Attlee's Government.
Laski's frustration led him to advocate a weakening of the link
between the Government and the Executive. He maintained that too
many members of the Executive were Ministers. He made this point at
the Bournemouth Party Conference in June 1946, in its closing
moments, when he was handing over the chairmanship to Philip

I hope that in this next year the National Executive will examine the
relationship between the Conference and the Executive, and
between the Executive and the Cabinet, in order that in the future
there may be no division of persons and no confusion of the
substance. 50

One Minister who at once took the hint was Morrison, who offered to
resign from the Policy Committee, of which he was the chairman. He
indicated that he wished to stay on the International Sub-Committee,
however, and was also prepared to serve on the Elections Sub-
Committee. His reasons for cutting down his commitments were as

I take this view not only because I am very heavily occupied with the
Government behind the scenes, of which, in the nature of the case,
little can be publicly known, but for another and more important
reason: Mr Laski indicated at the Party Conference that there was a
problem on the relationship between the Government and the Party
organisation, and he has expressed the view in the Executive, and I
think others have expressed the view in the Executive, that the
Ministerial influence in the Executive is too strong. 51

In spite of this, Morrison was induced to withdraw his resignation from

the Policy Committee and Laski's proposal to appoint a special
committee to examine the relationship of the Executive and the
Government when the Party was in power was rejected by ten votes to
seven. There were evidently some abstentions, probably on the part of
Ministers; but even so the majority were happy to leave things as they
Prime Minister, Cabinet and Party 49

were. 52 It was apparent that, so far as the Executive was concerned, the
'honeymoon' phase of Government was not yet over.
As for the Conference itself, Ministers had been principally worried
about the possibility of the massive card vote of the unions committing
the Party to accept the affiliation of the Communist Party. This had
been a perennial issue of the 1930s, when the party leadership had had
difficulty in staving off the demands for a 'united' or a 'popular' front
on the Left. Now that the Party had won power by itself, there seemed
little case for it to accept the support of the tiny minority of
Communists; but during the later stages of the war members of the
Communist Party had entrenched themselves in the hierarchy of
several of the more important trade unions, and were able to commit
the block vote of these unions on the side of Communist affiliation.
The Engineers and the Railwaymen were the unions most firmly
committed at this time, and it was thought that the Distributive and
Allied Workers, with some 200 000 members affiliated to the Party,
would probably vote the same way. But at an annual Conference in the
early spring the Distributive Workers fell into line with the leader-
ship's thinking and when the vote took place it seemed that Commun-
ist affiliation had very few supporters outside the Engineers, the
Railwaymen and the Fire Brigades Union. The vote was 468 000 for;
2 678 000 against. Morrison seized the opportunity to make an
alteration in the Constitution to prevent the issue recurring at every
Conference. 53
The 1946 Conference was held at Bournemouth at Whitsun. It was
described by Dalton as a 'Victory Parade' .54 (It did, in fact, follow the
national victory parade by only a few days.) The only Minister who had
to suffer severe criticism was Tom Williams, the Minister of
Agriculture, for not doing enough for the 'farm-worker'. 55 The others,
including Bevin, were received in a friendly fashion, and although
there were critical motions on foreign policy, none was taken to a card
vote. As the Observer correspondent put it, 'Ministers ... can return to
their desks feeling that they have the movement behind them.' 56
At the Conference a note of particular warmth was struck by the
fraternal delegate of the Trades Union Congress, Charles Dukes, who
was now the Chairman of its General Council. Referring to the repeal
of the Trade Disputes Act of 192 7, which had just been undertaken by
Parliament, he gave 'the Prime Minister and his colleagues our
warmest thanks for this liberating act' .57 The 1927 legislation was
really a penal measure, which followed the defeat of the unions in the
General Strike of the previous year. It illegalised sympathetic strikes,
50 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

forbade the 'closed shop', limited peaceful picketing, prevented the

Civil Service unions from joining either the TUC or the Labour Party,
and (most serious of all for the Labour Party) substituted 'contracting
in' for 'contracting out' in the case of the political levy, thus depriving
the party of about a third of its income owing to the fact that it lost the
subscriptions of those who could not bother to contract out.
The bill to repeal the 1927 Act had been introduced in February
1946 by the new Labour Attorney-General, Sir Hartley Shawcross. It
was, he said, 'quite a modest little bill', but designed 'to remove from
the Statute Book an Act of Parliament, the perpetuation of which, in
existing circumstances, is an undoubted and historical injustice' .58 The
Opposition, although deprived of Churchill's leadership for the time
being, as he was on holiday in the United States, threw themselves
vigorously into an attack upon the new measure, and Quintin Hogg,
the son of the Conservative Attorney-General who had proposed the
1927 Act, commented unkindly but not altogether inaccurately upon
the differences between voting in the Commons and at the TUC:

When the Right Honourable Gentleman the Foreign Secretary loses

[?faces] a division in that Congress, of course, he puts all his cards on
the table, face upwards. They are all aces, five in a pack, and he wins
by sheer weight of the cards which are revealed from various
portions of his ample person. 59

When the debate continued next day Bevin himself entered the fray
and provided a fiercely partisan account of the General Strike and its
antecedents: he told the House 'I have been waiting twenty years to do
this.' As for the introduction of contracting-in, he commented:

The only deduction I can draw is that everybody said in 1927 'We
are afraid of the Labour Party arising. We are afraid of its funds. We
are afraid of its candidates. Here is a God-given opportunity to
hamstring it.' 60

The bill, being a constitutional measure, was taken in Committee of

the whole House, and the repeated divisions against its several clauses
kept the House up on the second and closing day (2 April) until 5.25
a.m. The Third Reading was then taken at once the following
afternoon. Clement Davies, the Liberal leader, announced that after
supporting the Second Reading he was now changing sides: but the
Prime Minister, Cabinet and Party 51

Government's large majority easily saw it through; and Royal Assent

was accorded on 22 May. 61
When the Trades Union Congress itself met in October at Brighton,
the four main Civil Service unions- the Union of Post Office Workers,
the Civil Service Clerical Association, the Post Office Engineering
Union and the Inland Revenue Staffs Association - were again
represented. 5 2 As Professor Martin Harrison has shown in an exhaus-
tive study, it is difficult to work out exactly how far the return of
contracting-in benefited the Labour Party, but his conclusion, written
at the end of the 1950s, was that 'about 2 000 000 trade unionists pay
the political levy purely as the result of the return of contracting-out'.
He added 'they are an inglorious acquisition' .63 But of course, even
with their involuntary contributions added in, the Labour Party was
still very much poorer than the Conservative Party.
4 Problems of Post-war
Reconstruction, 1945-6
Douglas Jay, the Prime Minister's Economic Adviser from 1945 to
1946, has described in his memoirs his impression of the nature of the
Prime Minister's problems in his first months of office: so far from
there being a 'great man, sitting down in his office, pulling great levers,
issuing edicts and shaping events', Attlee was

hemmed in by relentless economic or physical forces, and faced with

problems which had to be solved, but which could not be solved ...
The position of the PM [was] more that of a cornered animal, or a
climber on a rock face unable to go up or down, than that of a general
ordering his troops wherever he wished around the landscape. 1

Jay picks out three major economic strains that beset No. 10 in these
early months: the dollar crisis, precipitated by the rapid termination of
Lend-Lease in August 1945, the world food shortage which followed
the war and the fuel shortage in Great Britain. The fuel shortage did
not become acute until early 194 7 and so this chapter discusses the
financial and food problems of 1945-6, and also the pressures for early
demobilisation, which had an important indirect bearing on the dollar

* * * *
An acute dollar famine had only been averted in 1941, before the
United States entered the war, by Roosevelt's imaginative scheme of
Lend-Lease, whereby assistance of all kinds was freely afforded by the
United States to her allies for the period of the struggle against the
Axis Powers and later against Japan. In 1942 a Mutual Aid Agreement
was drawn up between Britain and the United States to govern the
scheme, and this involved a rather controversial commitment on
Britain's part, under Article VII, to work for the 'elimination' of

54 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

'discriminatory practices', which meant imperial preference. 2 Even

before the end of the war with Japan Keynes, who was an Economic
Adviser to the Treasury, sounded a note of alarm to the Chancellor of
the Exchequer about the extent of British overseas commitments. He

How vividly do Departments and Ministers realise that the gay and
successful fashion in which we undertake liabilities all over the world
and slop money out to the importunate represents an overplaying of
our hand, the possibility of which will come to an end quite suddenly
and in the near future unless we obtain a new source of assistance?
... What happens on the morrow of VJ-day? We are led to expect
Lend-Lease and Mutual Aid (amounting this year to 1350 millions
altogether) will cease immediately.

Keynes went on to write of the 'large and lavish establishments' which

existed at the end of the war for the purposes of communications and
policing, and then spoke of the danger of the country encountering a
'financial Dunkirk'. To escape such a calamity, there were three

(a) an intense concentration on the expansion of exports,

(b) drastic and immediate economies in our overseas expenditure,
(c) substantial aid from the United States on terms which we can
accept. 3

The formal termination of Lend-Lease came on 21 August when

President Truman announced that he had 'directed the Foreign
Economic Administrator to take steps immediately to discontinue all
Lend-Lease operations'. Four days earlier the Cabinet, to whom
Keynes's paper had been circulated, decided on Dalton's advice to
seek talks in Washington aimed at the resumption of American
economic assistance. The British delegation was to be led by Halifax,
the Ambassador, and Keynes was to be his principal economic adviser;
somewhat later Lionel Robbins, who had been head of the Economic
Section of the Cabinet Office during the war, was sent to help. 4
Keynes's initial brief, which he had of course himself prepared, drew
attention to the relatively greater sacrifices of the United Kingdom in
the common struggle and proposed a grant-in-aid of some six billion
Unfortunately for Halifax and Keynes, the reaction that they now
Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945-6 55

encountered in Washington was far from generous. After Roosevelt's

death, there had been many changes in the American administration.
There was a new Secretary of the Treasury, Fred Vinson, a former
Congressman who has been described as a 'conscientious, conservative
border-state Democrat'. 5 He was well aware that any agreement that
he reached with the British Government would have to be approved by
Congress, at a time when Congress was far from friendly to the
President. Vinson's principal colleague was Will Clayton, Under-
Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. Clayton was keen to see the
restoration of international trade and recognised that a deal with
Britain would be important for this object, but he wished to renew the
British commitment to work for the end of forms of fiscal discrimina-
tion which had already been expressed in Article VII of the Mutual
Aid Agreement. This seemed all the more essential after the election
of a Labour Government pursuing Socialist policies.
It soon became apparent that a grant-in-aid was out of the question,
and that the aid would have to take the form of an interest-bearing
loan. As early as mid-October James Byrnes, the Secretary of State,
warned Halifax that 'he did not think the atmosphere on Capitol Hill
was going to be too easy for our business, even if we get agreement with
the administration.' 6 The two American negotiators' assessment of
Britain's needs was considerably less than Keynes's, and finally
amounted to 3. 75 billion dollars. Fortunately for Britain, though, the
Canadian Government expressed willingness in March 1946 to
supplement the loan on the same terms as the United States, and this
brought the total to five billion dollars. The interest was set at 2 per
cent, but the payments were not to start until the end of 1951 and it was
agreed that the charge could be waived at times when Britain failed to
earn an adequate amount of foreign exchange. The United Kingdom
was also expected to ratify before the end of 1945 the agreements
made at Bretton Woods in 1944 for the establishment of the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
There were two features of the agreement which met with much
disapproval in Whitehall. One was the American insistence that Britain
should make efforts to reduce her sterling balances. These were
adverse balances accruing principally to India, to Egypt and to the
Dominions for services rendered during the war; and it was humiliat-
ing to the British to have the Americans insisting on their behalf that
these debts, in the case of India and Egypt at least, incurred to very
poor countries, should not be paid in full. More serious still was the
commitment that had to be made to abandon the restrictions on the
56 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

convertibility of sterling into dollars for current transaction within a

year from the effective enactment of the loan. It seemed unlikely to the
British negotiators that the European recovery could be so swift as to
make this a success.
The negotiations were followed in Britain with a mixture of
indignation and despair. An ad hoc committee of Attlee, Morrison,
Bevin, Dalton and Cripps met 'virtually every weekday evening' to
consider the latest telegrams. 7 In attendance were Edward Bridges, the
Cabinet Secretary, Wilfrid Eady of the Treasury Overseas Finance
Section and Douglas Jay. There was a good deal of misunderstanding
between this group and the British negotiators in Washington, as
Halifax recorded in his diary. 8 Keynes and he recognised that the
problem they were facing was quite different from that which they
thought they were facing when they set out from Britain in September.
As Keynes later put it:

We soon discovered ... that it was not our past performance or our
present weakness but our future prospects of recovery and our
intention to face the world boldly that we had to demonstrate. Our
American friends were interested not in our wounds, though
incurred in the common cause, but in our convalescence. 9

When the full Cabinet first discussed the terms early in November,
Shinwell and Bevan both objected to what they saw as an American
attempt to break up the Sterling area, but Bevin firmly argued that
these were the best terms that could be obtained, and as the ad hoc
committee was all for continuing the negotiations, the Cabinet
reluctantly agreed. 10 The same two Ministers voiced their objections
when the terms were again discussed by the Cabinet at the end of the
month. Shinwell made the somewhat different point that they were, in
his view, 'incompatible with the successful operation of a planned
economy in this country and would ruin our export trade'. He added,
rather unrealistically, that it was 'wrong to assume that all the
advantage lay with the United States Government, since their need to
export would place them in an impossible position if we refused to
come to terms with them on their terms'. Bevan's standpoint was
similar. In his view, it was a mistake that we should approach the
United States as suppliants, since their need to find markets was just as
great as our need for assistance. But the Whitehall negotiators were
solid in their view that it was necessary to agree, and Morrison
declared that he did 'not believe that this country would face the
Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945-6 57

privations which it would be necessary to undergo if we failed to obtain

assistance from the United States' .11
By this time a conclusion of the negotiations was urgent if the
agreement was to be debated by both Houses of Parliament and
accepted before the end of the year. The Cabinet would have liked to
summon Keynes home for consultation, but he was not fit to travel by
air; instead Bridges was sent out to see if any concessions could be
obtained in the American terms. Bridges told Halifax that

London was pretty fed up both with the Americans and, unjustly,
with Keynes. As he put it, they felt that they were negotiating with
Keynes rather than with the Americans! He admitted that it had
been difficult to get Dalton and other Ministers to read our
telegrams. 12

Bridges tried to extend the period before convertibility was imposed

upon current transactions. But virtually no change could be made at
this late stage, although some misunderstandings were cleared up. On
5 December the Cabinet accepted the agreement. It was signed on the
following day. It had the advantage of incorporating a settlement of the
wartime Lend-Lease arrangement on terms favourable to Britain,
including goods 'in the pipe-line' at the time of the ending of the
scheme, and it transferred to British ownership considerable stocks of
American-owned goods which had been built up in the United
Kingdom. Dalton valued this part of the agreement as worth an extra
650 million dollars.
When the terms of the agreement were debated in the Commons in
mid-December, it became apparent at once that there was opposition
from both sides of the House. Halifax was distressed to learn that the
Conservative Party, of which of course he was a long-standing
member, was proposing to abstain: he wrote to Eden complaining
about this. 13 But in fact abstention had been chosen by the leadership
of the party as a means of preventing a large vote against the Loan,
particularly in the Lords. 14 The first day of the debate coincided with a
fierce denunciation of the terms in a letter to The Times, written by Sir
Hubert Henderson, who had served as an Economic Adviser to the
Treasury during the war. The letter started as follows:

The financial agreement with the United States is for a loan upon
conditions which are calculated to ensure default. Though the sum
we are entitled to borrow may seem large, it will not last long unless
58 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

we can bring our balance of external payments quickly back to

equilibrium. Yet the conditions attached may serve to prevent our
doing this. 15

Dalton's introductory speech was, as he admitted, 'long, boring, but

lucid'. Privately, he acknowledged that 'The terms of the Loan will not
stand long unaltered.' 16 A very hostile speech came from the Conser-
vative back-bencher Robert Boothby, who had lunched that day with
the left-wing economist Nicholas Kaldor. He concluded his speech

But there is one mandate which His Majesty's Government never

got from the people of this country, and that was to sell the British
Empire for a packet of cigarettes. 17

Churchill himself, although adhering to the policy of abstention,

remarked that he was 'astonished' that the United States had insisted
on a loan rather than a gift; but he argued that the 'harsh terms' were
partly due to the outcome of the general election. In the lobbies, the
agreement was carried by the Government's great majority: excluding
tellers, the voting was Ayes 345, Noes 98. Most of the opponents were
Conservatives, but they also included several Labour newcomers to
the House, among them James Callaghan, Mrs Barbara Castle and
Michael Foot.
The Lords' debate followed a few days later. The principal feature of
the occasion was a remarkable speech by Keynes, who had now had
time to return to Britain. After emphasising the contrast between
British public opinion and feeling in the United States, he also pointed
out that the Americans were concerned about other nations making
calls upon their generosity:

The United States Treasury cannot overlook the possible reaction of

what they do for us on the expectations of others. 18

After this, Beaverbrook's attempt to rally the opposition fell rather

flat, and the motion to approve the Loan was carried by 90 votes to 8.
But as Vinson and Clayton had foreseen, the most serious hurdle for
the Loan was to secure Congressional approval in Washington. Large
sections of the American people were now not merely isolationist but
positively anti-British, usually because of Zionist sympathies- for the
sake of European Jews who were attempting to enter Palestine - or
Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945-6 59

because of hostility to the new Socialist Government. This situation

began to change in early 1946, when fears of Russian expansionism
began to alter Congressional views about the importance of seeking
allies in Europe. In mid-February a Russian spy ring was revealed
among atomic scientists in Canada; and in March the failure of Soviet
troops to evacuate Persian territory in accordance with their interna-
tional agreement led to the lodging of a complaint at the United
Nations. In late February the British Embassy in Washington reported
to the Foreign Office that

As always invariably happens when fear or suspicion of the Soviets

grows in this country, anti-British talk and feeling here correspond-
ingly abated. 19

Churchill's speech at Fulton, Missouri, early in March, in which he

spoke of an 'iron curtain' which had 'descended across the continent'
also helped to transform American opinion; and Churchill also made a
point of supporting the loan in a press conference that he held in
Washington a few days later - a gesture which won him a warm
message of gratitude from Attlee. 20 The Embassy reported on 16
March that

the main propulsive force behind the loan is felt to be none other
than Stalin, whose tactics have created a greater volume of
sentiment in favour of support for Britain than our own unaided
efforts could probably ever have achieved. 21

Although very little of Truman's programme of legislation secured

Congressional approval, with this new turn of international affairs the
loan gradually made progress. By the end of March Dalton, after
discussing American opinion with Keynes, felt that he was now saved
from 'the humiliating suggestion ... that HMG should ask De Valera
to make a public statement in favour of our getting the Loan' .22 It was
approved by the Senate Banking and Currency Committee on 10 April
by 14 votes to 5, and by the full Senate on 10 May by 46 to 34. Senator
Alben W. Barkley, the Majority Leader, announced his personal
unwillingness 'to drive our Ally into arms into which we do not want
her to be folded'. 23 Then on 13 June the House of Representatives
Banking and Currency Committee voted for the loan by 20 to 5. But
there still remained the hurdle of the full House; and this was subject
to rather contradictory influences emanating from, of all places,
60 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Bournemouth, where the Labour Party had been having its first
post-war annual conference.
On the one hand, it was a matter of satisfaction to many anti-
Socialists in the House that Bevin had triumphed over his foreign
policy critics at the Conference, without even the need for a card vote;
and also that Laski had now been replaced as Chairman ofthe National
Executive by a much more moderate figure, Philip Noel-Baker. But on
the other hand, Bevin's speech contained some comments that
infuriated American Zionists. One such comment was that:

There has been the agitation in the United States, and particularly in
New York, for 100 000 Jews to be put into Palestine. I hope I will
not be misunderstood in America if I say that this was not proposed
with the purest of motives. They do not want too many Jews in New
York. 24

As it happened, this was shortly followed by a tightening of security

measures in Palestine, directed against the Jews, and including a raid
on the Jewish Agency. The result was that the drive-way of the British
Embassy in Washington was whitewashed with the slogan 'British
Nazis in Palestine', and there was picketing at British consulates
throughout the country. 25 It was remarkable that, in spite of these
adverse factors, speaker after speaker in the House of Representatives
announced his support for the loan as a measure 'connected with the
problem combating the spread of Soviet ideology'; and on 13 July the
House backed it by 219 votes to 155. The Bill was signed into law on 15
July, in the presence of the new British Ambassador, Lord Inver-
chapel, who had now taken Lord Halifax's place. 26 The London
Observer commented:

The loan should mean new machine tools and equipment for British
industry, and especially for the mining industry; some variety in our
diet; more petrol; more and larger newspapers; and imports of
timber for the building trade. 27

* * * *
Keynes's warning to the Chancellor of 13 August 1945 had empha-
sised, not only the need for renewed American financial assistance, but
also the urgency of a rapid reduction of British overseas commitments.
This meant speedy demobilisation, and in pressing for this against the
Foreign Secretary and the Service chiefs, Dalton had the aid of the
Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945-6 61

back-bench MPs, who were constantly receiving complaints from

constituents about delays in their release from the Forces. By early
August the British troops in Germany and Austria were still in control
of well over a million German prisoners of war and over a million
'displaced persons', mainly Russians and Poles; and in one or two
places, notably at Trieste, which was disputed between the Italians and
the Yugoslavs, 'substantial forces' had to be retained 'on an opera-
tional, not an occupational, basis.' There were still two divisions in
Greece, and the position there, both internally and on the frontiers,
was very unstable. In the Far East, the war was continuing: there was a
considerable naval and RAF contribution to joint Allied forces
attacking Japan; and British troops were preparing for the invasion of
Malaysia. 28 On the morrow of VJ-day it was recognised that demobil-
isation could and should be speeded up; but the government's view was
at first very conservative. Attlee declared in the Commons on 16

Although the actual fighting is over, we have not come to the time of
full demobilisation. We have to keep the strength of our Armed
Forces at a high level to meet our military commitments. Japan's
surrender will not affect our commitments in Europe, and, in the
East, we shall still need substantial forces to make our contribution
to the occupation of Japan and the recovery of our Colonial
possessions and to help in restoring order. 29

A week later the new Minister of Labour repeated Attlee's statement

to the effect that 'the time for full demobilisation' had not yet come. He
agreed, however, that it would be possible to accelerate the rate of
release so as to ensure that over a million men and women would be
able to leave the Forces by the end of the year. The system of release was
to be based upon that drawn up by Bevin when he was Minister of
Labour during the Coalition Government: both age and length of
service were to be taken into account. A number of key personnel were
to be released early - bricklayers, miners and university students of
scholarship level- but their proportion of the total released was to be
limited to 10 per cent. He added that 'a further review of military
requirements is now taking place' .30
When the subject was discussed by the Cabinet at the end of the
month, it was at once evident that Bevin was not keen to see any
drastic alterations made to the existing scheme. This was partly
because as Foreign Secretary he was anxious to retain the weight of
62 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

substantial armed forces at his elbow in the peace negotiations. Also,

of course, he realised the dangers of departing from the principles of
the existing scheme, which had been widely publicised already. As he
said, the scheme had been 'the subject of long and careful considera-
tion in the light of lessons learnt in 1918--19' .31 (Indeed, it was Churchill
who had recounted the difficulties of 1919, when he himself had been
Minister of War, in his semi-autobiographical study of those years, The
Aftermath .)3 2
A few days later Attlee delivered a broadcast address on the subject.
He again referred to the extent of British commitments overseas; but
he did at least emphasise that Bevin's scheme was 'flexible and capable
of being speeded up to any extent that might be decided upon' .33 The
Times found this statement 'disappointing', and pointed out that the
Minister of Labour was proposing to increase the releases by the end of
the year only to the extent of a quarter of a million above those already
planned by his predecessor in the Caretaker Government. 34 Sir Hubert
Henderson helped to stir up what was now to become a campaign for
faster demobilisation by describing the retention of so many service-
men as 'concealed unemployment on an unprecedented scale' .35
The acting chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party's Defence
and Services Group was a young former naval officer called James
Callaghan, MP for Cardiff South. At the end of August he wrote to
Attlee on behalf of his colleagues to urge more rapid demobilisation:

Our mailbags are full of letters because it hasn't been made clear to
the men that the Minister's statement on 23rd August was purely
interim ... Do add 10 per cent to every Service estimate of what
they can spare - we all know the wastage of manpower in the
Forces. 36

On 13 September Callaghan organised a meeting of MPs from the

Services; it was attended by about thirty of them. They apparently
nearly all felt that 'even if the Government had a good case [for delay]
it had not clearly presented it to the country'. They did not see why the
Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth, the big transatlantic liners,
should not be used for bringing men back from South-East Asia.
Callaghan asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister, but Attlee
arranged instead for them to call upon the Minister of Labour. Isaacs
told Attlee afterwards that the MPs seemed to think that demobilisa-
tion 'should be treated as another Dunkirk' .37
But Attlee and his colleagues did react to the popular pressure. On 2
Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945-6 63

October Isaacs announced a considerable acceleration in the rate of

release. He now reckoned that 1 500 000, instead of a little over a
million, could be discharged by the end of the year; and by mid-
summer 1946 the total released would be three million. By that time
those remaining in the armed forces (not however including the new
intake of 1945 and 1946) would be 2 232 800. He emphasised that
transport was the key-factor delaying still more rapid demobilisation.
But he agreed after all to a virtual 'Dunkirk' in the use of transport,
declaring that 'Every naval ship - even fighting ships - will carry
home-coming men, and aircraft carriers are bringing back liberated
prisoners of war. ' 38 The Times expressed itself satisfied, and Callaghan
wrote to De Freitas asking him to tell the Prime Minister that he
thought 'a first-rate job has been made of the Demobilisation
statement'. 39
All the same, the issue remained a live one as long as the Forces and
the munition industries continued to absorb a large proportion of the
national manpower. When the subject was debated in the Commons
on 28 October, Winston Churchill in his role as Leader of the
Opposition took up the cudgels on behalf of more rapid demobilisa-
tion. With his knowledge of military matters, he could match the
Service chiefs at their own game. He did not see why there should be
more men in the Navy than there were when he became First Lord of
the Admiralty in September 1939- that is to say, allowing for a few
extra for naval aviation, 150 000; the Army, he thought, might come
down to a ceiling of one million men, and an expanded RAF might
retain some 400 000. All this should be achieved by March 1946,
which would be very much better than the existing target. 40 The Times
sympathised with this viewpoint, and commented:
Mr Isaacs did not supply information to dispose of the criticism that
the rate of demobilisation can be quickened and that the industrial
interests of the country require that it shall be. 41

Six weeks later the Opposition returned to the attack with a motion of
censure, demanding the 'speedy release of men and women from the
Forces'. This motion was almost certainly due to the fact that
Conservative as well as Labour Members were receiving many fetters
of protest from men awaiting release. But The Times felt that some at
least of the Opposition criticism was too severe:

What is clear ... is that the performance of the Government in

demobilisation is proving to be better than their rather cautious
64 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

promise of the autumn ... Opposition spokesman drew too dark a

picture of the slowness and confusion of the process of industrial
conversion, a process which, compared with Britain in 1919 or the
United States today, is at least developing with a notable absence of
domestic dislocations or bitter labour disputes. The fact remains,
nevertheless, that after Christmas there will still be more than one
worker in four withheld from useful civil employment. 42

This figure included something like two millions still employed in the
manufacture of munitions.
One emerging difficulty affecting morale was that the separate
Services were releasing men and women at very different rates. One
Labour MP who had visited RAF bases in Southern Italy told the
Commons in October:

The Air Force points to the fact that in June of next year it will be
seventeen groups behind the Royal Navy in demobilisation, and is
uneasy on this matter. 43

John Strachey, the Under-Secretary for Air, at once indicated the two
obvious reasons for this: first, that the Chiefs of Staff wished to retain a
relatively large air force in peacetime; and secondly, that the airmen
were required at far-flung bases in order to ensure the transport home
of other servicemen. 44 These very sensible reasons were not likely to
reduce the impatience of the air-crews and ground-staff who were
In January 1946 the discontent in the Royal Air Force took the form
of 'strikes', which in accordance with military discipline were really
mutinies, although the Government chose not to regard them as such.
The trouble began at Karachi, but the bases at Colombo in Ceylon, at
Calcutta in India, at Lydda in Palestine and at Almaza in Egypt were
all affected in this way. 45 At Calcutta's Dum-Dum airport the
recently-elected Labour MP Major Woodrow Wyatt, who happened
to be in the city on a goodwill mission to the Indian political leaders,
was able to help to reduce the tension by explaining the release

For an hour and a half in the broiling sun I answered questions about
delays in demobilisation ... On my agreeing to cable a list of their
grievances to John Strachey, then Under-Secretary for Air, they
calmed down. 46
Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945-6 65

Very much the same sort of thing had been happening among
American servicemen around the globe at about the same time. 47 But
the British 'strikes' in India were of special importance because in
February they led to mutinies in the Indian Air Force and Navy. The
latter were called mutinies because there was also a nationalist element
involved; and they in turn triggered off civil disturbances, which in
Bombay led to 223 people being killed. 48
The most serious British 'mutiny' was still to come: in May 1946
men of the 13th Parachute Battalion, which had been on service in
Java helping to restore order in that island, found themselves living in a
most disagreeable transit camp at Kuala Lumpur in Malaya, where the
jungle rain and the absence of electricity combined to turn their
thoughts to disobedience to military discipline. Altogether 258 men
were placed under arrest for failing to turn out on parade, and were
tried for mutiny. All but three were convicted in a trial which only
concluded in mid-September; the sentences were in some cases very
severe, but they were commuted by the Army Command to two years'
imprisonment with hard labour and discharge with ignominy. This was
not the end of the matter: there was an immediate outcry in Britain,
and when the War Office discovered that there had been irregularities
in the proceedings- for instance, there was only one defending officer
for the whole party- the Secretary of State, on the advice of the Judge
Advocate-General, thankfully quashed the convictions and released
all the men. 49
Churchill was inclined to blame the Ministers involved for not being
at their desks sufficiently when these events were taking place. Lord
Stansgate, the Secretary for Air, had been despatched to Egypt to try
and negotiate a new treaty to replace the alliance of 1936 - a task in
which, through no fault of his own, he failed; and Jack Lawson, the
War Minister, though not unpopular with the troops, was not really
capable of dealing with the immense complexities of his department.
Both Ministers retired from the government in Attlee's reconstruction
of the defence system early in October. As Churchill put it,
There is great importance in having a political Minister constantly
making his influence felt in each of the Service Departments ... Left
to themselves, the Service chiefs will not be able to produce
solutions of many of the difficulties which occur, and they would be
the first to say how much they stand in need of political guidance. 50
So far as the medium-term policy about manpower was concerned,
the Labour Party had made it clear before the election that conscrip-
66 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

tion could not at once be abandoned and that, as Ernest Bevin said at
the Blackpool Conference in May 1945, 'We must introduce ...
another National Service Act for a limited period until we know
exactly what is going to happen' .51 This was to be a task for 1946-7; in
the meantime the Chancellor of the Exchequer and some of his
colleagues struggled against the Service Ministers and the Chiefs of
Staff to hasten the pace of demobilisation. In January 1946 the Lord
President presented to the Cabinet an 'Economic Survey' for 1946.
This indicated a 'manpower shortage' of 1 300 000 at the end of the
year, and therefore recommended faster releases from the Forces and
from Supply, so as to bring the combined total down from the forecast
2 600 000 to 1 850 000 by the year's end. 52 This proposal was
accepted by the Cabinet, principally by cutting Supply, and the
prospective manpower gap was thereby 'with other assumptions
unchanged reduced to about 600 000'. 53 But the Chancellor of the
Exchequer was still not satisfied. He circulated a paper by Keynes on
'The Overseas Deficit' which urged drastic cuts in British commit-
ments, including the reconsideration of policy towards Germany, the
withdrawal of troops from Greece, the disbandment of the Polish army
in Italy and the imposition upon Holland of a charge for the temporary
service of British forces in Indonesia. 5 4 Keynes's view of what should
be done was, as usual, shrewd: but it did not appeal to the Service
chiefs. Field-Marshal Lord Alan brooke (the former Sir Alan Brooke),
who had been persuaded by Jack Lawson to stay on after the end of the
war for a further period as Chief of the Imperial General Staff, wrote in
his diary in mid-February that he and his colleagues

had produced a paper showing that cuts must seriously affect the
efficiency of the three Fighting Services, would necessitate serious
risks in Germany and could only be achieved on the assumption that
both Italy and Greece would be evacuated before the end of the
year. Apparently Defence Committee was prepared to accept these
conditions. 55

Unhappily Keynes was not to live to see his necessary economies put
into force: he died suddenly of a heart attack in April 1946.56
In October of that year the Cabinet agreed on a 'permanent scheme
of compulsory military service for men', the term to be eighteen
months as a maximum, with an additional five and a half years in the
Reserve. 57 This was a politically sensitive issue, not so much between
the parties, as within the Labour Party itself, which had always
Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945-6 67

contained a pacifist element. In November 45 Labour MPs voted for

an amendment to the Address demanding the early termination of
conscription. 58 When the Government's bill for an eighteen months'
maximum service was introduced to Parliament in March 194 7, it had
been again discussed and approved in the Cabinet; but this time the
opposition of Labour MPs rose to a total of 72 on the Second
Reading. 59 The strength of feeling led the Government to make a
somewhat humiliating compromise, to the effect that the length of
service should be only twelve months. Montgomery, who had now
succeeded Alanbrooke as CIGS, accepted this on the understanding
that British commitments in Palestine and India 'were liquidated by
1949 or 1950' .60 Even so, there were still 37 MPs who voted against it
on the Third Reading. 61 Later, as we shall see, when the threat of war
appeared more imminent, the period of service was again increased in
spite of the pacifists.

* * * *
The immediate post-war period was marked by an acute food shortage
in most countries outside the United States. Britain ended the war with
a substantial amount of food rationing, because so much of her
consumption depended upon imports. Meat, cheese, tea, sugar,
preserves and fats were limited in this way. Many other items of diet
were obtainable only on 'points' - a flexible system which allowed
some freedom of choice. Nevertheless throughout the war bread had
never been rationed, although the extraction rate for flour had been
raised, thus darkening the loaf. 62
With the end of the war and the termination of Lend-Lease, new
problems arose. On the one hand there was a shortage of dollars to pay
for some imports; on the other hand, the Government had fresh
obligations, for it was now responsible for the feeding of the British
Zone of Germany. In addition, a serious crisis arose in India owing to
the loss of the rice harvest from Burma, so that India also became a
claimant for supplies of wheat. Although the Germans were ex-
enemies, in some respects their problems appeared to be more
immediate than those of India. Victor Gollancz, the prominent
Left-wing publisher, formed an organisation called 'Save Europe
Now', which was dedicated to assisting European countries, including
Germany, to survive the winter of 1945-6 without starvation. 63 But it
was not until November 1946 that a scheme was set up whereby people
in Britain could voluntarily forego some of their own rations so as to
send food parcels to the continent. 64
68 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

As in other spheres of supply, it was the United States which was in

the position to make good the deficiencies. During the war there had
been a Combined Food Board, based in Washington, which had
controlled the allocation of resources; and the Allies also formed a
Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to supply a number of
countries formerly under enemy domination. But in the immediate
aftermath of the war the Truman Administration became unduly
optimistic about harvest prospects and took wheat off the list of
commodities to be allocated by the Combined Food Board. American
farmers used it as fodder for cattle, and the US Department of
Agriculture thought for a time of subsidising this. 65
Sir Ben Smith as Food Minister faced a difficult task, and he was not
well-equipped to provide the kind of leadership that was required. A
former Transport Union official, he was already 65 when he took
office and he found difficulty in mastering briefs, which made him
unpopular in Parliament. The parliamentary correspondent of Tribune
described him as 'like an obsolete battleship, aggressive but cumber-
some and slow. Apparently he does not always study his answers
carefully before he reads them out' .66 Early in 1946 his Ministry, to
save dollars, abruptly terminated the supply of dried eggs, which were
widely used by housewives for making cakes and Yorkshire pudding.
As a result of the criticism that ensued Sir Ben thought of resigning his
post. 67 More serious than this, however, was the world shortage of
cereals. Early in March the Cabinet decided as an emergency measure
to send 75 000 tons of grain to Germany from the British reserve and
Sir Ben was sent to Washington to a meeting of the Combined Food
Board to assist the Indian delegation in the presentation of their case. 68
Unfortunately the Americans seemed to think that India and the
British Zone of Germany really ought to be supplied from the British
allocation; and they suspected the British Government of hoarding
supplies in the form of 'stocks'.
In April the Cabinet approved the despatch of a telegram to

instructing the United Kingdom representative to state, at the

meeting of the Combined Food Board, that His Majesty's Govern-
ment would be prepared to introduce bread rationing in the United
Kingdom if it were also introduced in the United States. 69

But this could not be more than an empty gesture, as the Americans
had plenty of wheat and not the slightest intention of going short to the
Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945--6 69

extent of rationing themselves. Bevin did not want to make a special

trip to the United States while the loan was still under discussion; and
so, in order to put the issue on a higher level, Herbert Morrison was
sent to take up with the President and his colleagues the question of
supply for India, the British Zone of Germany and South-East Asia. 70
Even so, Morrison found himself obliged to agree to a reduction of the
British allocation for the summer months of 200 000 tons of wheat,
though he did secure substantial amounts for the British Zone of
Germany and for India. 71
At this point the prospect of bread rationing became a very real one,
and the Ministry of Food had to prepare a scheme for its early
introduction. Ben Smith announced that the extraction rate was to go
up from 85 per cent to 90 per cent, which meant a still darker loaf.
Although nutritionists agreed that this could be done without detri-
ment to health - indeed, as the distinguished physician Lord Horder
pointed out, it actually improved the nutritional quality of the bread72 -
it was an unpopular move, and for that reason was hotly opposed by
Bevin, who was a member of the Cabinet's Food Committee. 73 Attlee
now made his first reshuffle of Ministers, and replaced Ben Smith (who
had already offered to retire in April) by John Strachey, who was
generally regarded as the most successful of the Under-Secretaries. 74
Attlee had told Dalton in February that he regarded Strachey as due
for promotion because of his evident parliamentary skill. 75
Strachey was plunged at once into controversy because of the early
prospect of bread rationing. In June he went to Canada to negotiate a
long-term contract for wheat supplies, and then he visited Washington
to attend the first meeting of the International Emergency Food
Council, which had been set up to deal with the world-wide crisis. He
told reporters in the American capital that the introduction of bread
rationing in Britain was 'highly probable' and said that one reason for it
was 'because we want to play our part in the prevention of world
famine, and the British could give no bigger proof of international
good faith' .76 A few days later, after his return to London he placed
before the Commons an Order introducing bread rationing from 21
July. His proposals were at once attacked by the National Association
of Master Bakers, who argued that it was unnecessary and pledged
themselves to fight for its abolition. 77
On 9 July he reaffirmed his decision to go ahead with the scheme,
saying that:

the master bakers' view was that rationing should be achieved by

70 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

raising the price of bread. That would be one way of doing it, but the
Government would not dream of considering that. They would think
it a wholly undesirable way of rationing in this country. 78

But then there came a hesitation which was disconcerting to Attlee and
to the majority of the Cabinet. On Friday 19 July, at the end of the last
week before rationing was due to begin, he recommended a last-
minute suspension of the scheme, because Canadian wheat prospects
were better than he had expected. 79 Attlee and several other Cabinet
Ministers had gone to Durham for the annual miners' gala; and so
Morrison summoned a Cabinet meeting for the Saturday to consider,
and almost certainly endorse, Strachey's view. Morrison sent a note to
Attlee by special messenger:

I take into account the political disadvantages [i.e. of last-minute

cancellation] ... if it was subsequently ascertained, and it might be,
that we need not have imposed bread rationing, we would have a
rough time, which, added to the headaches of the housewives, would
take longer to get over. 80

Over the telephone, Attlee agreed to an emergency Cabinet meeting,

but secured its postponement to the Sunday morning, by which time he
could get back to take the chair. The meeting, which was held at
9.30 a.m., lasted two hours and re-affirmed the original decision to
ration, although Morrison, Bevin and Cripps were all in favour of
suspending it. 81
For some time after it was introduced, bread rationing was thought
likely to be only a temporary expedient; but in the end it lasted for two
full years, until 25 July 1948. By that time, the assistance of Marshall
Aid enabled the Government to dispense with the restriction.
Throughout the two years of its operation, the necessity for it had been
questioned by the Conservative Opposition, who shared the doubts of
the Master Bakers about whether in fact any real savings were being
effected. The official historian of the Ministry of Food, who for the
most part confined his research to the years of war, published an
appendix to his work about bread rationing. He concluded:

The most that could be said was that consumption had not, over the
long term, gone up, as with a rising post-war civilian population it
might have been expected to do.
Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945-6 71

and he added that its justification

must be sought in terms of its psychological effects on the public, on

the Allies, and on the administrators' peace of mind. 82

This really confirms what the opponents of the scheme had thought all
Strachey had realised from the outset that he would have to incur the
odium for the unpopular decision to ration bread; and he not
unreasonably thought that a Minister so much in the forefront of
Parliamentary debate and popular criticism should be a full member of
the Cabinet. As things stood, he was only a Minister of Cabinet Rank,
outside the Cabinet - that is to say, without a vote, and without
opportunity to hear the Cabinet's discussions on topics outside his own
direct sphere. As early as July 1946, he wrote to the Prime Minister to
complain about this:

I cannot believe that you can really doubt that the Minister of Food
must be a member of the Cabinet at this time. If, therefore, you feel
that you cannot include me, I cannot help feeling that you should
find someone else who you do feel that you could put in the Cabinet,
for the job. 83

But Attlee refused to enlarge his Cabinet even to this extent, and
Strachey had to soldier on in his more humble capacity. He tried to
solve the problem by simply continuing to attend Cabinet meetings
after the business for which he had been summoned had been
concluded: but this tactic was detected, and he was obliged to desist. 84

* * * *
In spite of the increasingly factitious opposition that the Government
had to face from the Opposition, now led by an invigorated Winston
Churchill, it retained a considerable degree of its popularity with the
electorate. This is confirmed by both by-elections and opinion polls.
To take the by-elections first: in the first few months after the 1945
general election there was a slight further swing towards the new
Government. Three contests in October showed this sort of trend; and
so did two out of three by-elections in November and two more in
February 1946.85 This confirms the view, already expressed in the
discussion of the general election, that the result cannot be attributed
to any very short-term or accidental factor.
By July 1946, when three more by-elections took place, the
72 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Government was somewhat more vulnerable. All the same there were
no serious swings against its candidates, not even at Battersea North,
which was fought for Labour by Douglas Jay (until then the Prime
Minister's personal economic adviser) and which took place three days
after the introduction of bread rationing. The swing towards the
Conservatives was 4 per cent, a figure which did not disconcert the
Labour candidate, who was to write later in his memoirs that the new
rationing 'had no perceptible effect on the result' .86 The Observer
commented on these three elections that they

have shown a slight cooling of the enthusiasm which swept Labour

into office a year ago. But although the Labour vote declined,
the Conservative vote failed to grow. There is little here to shake
the Labour Party's cheerful complacency, so evident at the
Bournemouth Conference. 87

The Government could also take comfort from the opinion polls. In
late March 1946 the Gallup Poll asked a sample of respondents: 'In
general, is the Labour Government doing better or worse than you
expected at the time they were elected?' Of the replies, 18 per cent
thought they were doing better, 29 per cent worse, and 46 per cent 'as
expected' .88 This was not too severe a judgement upon Attlee and his
colleagues after their first eight months. A still better test came in
August, after the Government had had a full year of office. The
question was: 'In general, do you approve or disapprove of the
Government's record to date?' At this point 46 per cent approved, 41
per cent disapproved, and 13 per cent did not know. 89
The view of a Liberal journalist, who viewed the Government from a
friendly but detached standpoint, may also be cited. A. J. Cummings of
the News Chronicle set himself the task of considering the same
question. His view was that:

Mr. Attlee's team has done much better than friends or foes
expected. It has had to deal with situations both unprecedented and
unforeseen and it has made no major errors. It has shown a capacity
to handle Parliament and has taken the measure of the Tory
Opposition, which remains utterly at a loss.

The failure, he thought, was really in public relations:

Mr. Attlee's Administration is deficient in the finer arts of govern-

Problems of Post-war Reconstruction, 1945--6 73

ment. It is apt to be gauche in its approach to the common people

and in its handling of our day-to-day affairs. Mr Morrison is the only
member of the Cabinet who appears to have any psychological
insight ... Think how Mr Lloyd George, for instance, would have
disposed of the Master Bakers. Instead of leaving them to find out
from the newspapers what was coming to them he would have called
them beforehand to 10, Downing Street, told them the facts,
appealed for their co-operation, made it seem that the rationing
proposal came from them, and sent them home to their wives with
their heads in the air and determined to play their part like heroes. 90

There was an implied personal criticism of Attlee in this, of course: a

criticism which was to become more marked in the acute difficulties of
5 Morrison and
N ationalisation
We have seen that Morrison's claims to the party leadership were
thwarted both in 1935 and in 1945. Nevertheless his work for the party
was such as to give him a strong claim to be given a place in the
Government second only to that of the Prime Minister. He was not
obviously suited to be either Chancellor of the Exchequer or Foreign
Secretary, and Attlee was wise in making him Lord President of the
Council- a post the importance of which had developed rapidly during
the war. The Lord President's Committee in 1940--45 had been the
most important of the Cabinet Committees, responsible for controlling
the allocation of manpower between the Services and industry. The
Civil Service head of the Lord President's Office was Max Nicholson,
who before the war had been the secretary of PEP (Political and
Economic Planning, an unofficial body set up by some of those who
believed in planning rather more than the National Government did,
and which has now been absorbed into the Policy Studies Institute). 1
Morrison was also to be Leader of the House of Commons, and in that
capacity he took charge of the legislative programme - a very
substantial commitment in the new, reforming Government. In
addition, he retained close links with the extra-parliamentary party,
being an elected member of the National Executive (on the consti-
tuency side), and Chairman of its Policy Committee.
Morrison's skills as a politician were tested as never before in
dealing with the large Labour majority in the Commons, but he had
learnt by experience how to manage his colleagues and also his
opponents and still secure the speedy passing of a great deal of
legislation. Woodrow Wyatt, one of the new Labour intake of this
election, later wrote:

If a strong sense of grievance had grown up in any quarter of the

House, whether on his own benches or among the Opposition, he

76 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

would deal with it at exactly the right moment. A little joke, a small
compromise, a conciliatory speech and the grievance would vanish. 2

It was he who established the Liaison Committee between the

leadership and the Labour back benches; who organised the back-
bench subject groups; and who relaxed Standing Orders so as to allow
the Labour MPs more freedom to criticise if they wished. He wrote in
his Autobiography:

Considering the varied views held by Labour Members and their

right to voice them, the times when differences became so acute that
reprimand or even withdrawal of the whip or expulsion was
necessary were very few. 3

Morrison's administrative capacity had been proved both before

and during the war - first in his years as Secretary of the London
Labour Party, then as Minister of Transport in Ramsay MacDonald's
Cabinet of 1929-31, again as the pioneer of plans for nationalisation
within the party in the 1930s, and more conspicuously as Leader of the
London County Council, where Labour secured a majority in 1934
and retained it throughout the war and beyond. As Home Secretary
and Minister of Home Security during the war from October 1940
onwards until the breakup of the Coalition he served in a politically
sensitive post; but he had throughout acted courageously and con-
spicuously as a symbol of London's resistance to Hitler. He was one of
the first Ministers, as Harold Macmillan recalled, to employ a public
relations adviser: 4 but he was prepared to take unpopular measures if
necessary, such as the release of Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the
British Union of Fascists, from prison in November 1943 on grounds
of ill-health. 5 He had been promoted to full membership of the War
Cabinet in November 1942, after Cripps had proved incapable of
controlling the House of Commons and had moved to a more junior
It was unfortunate for Morrison that he incurred the constant enmity
of Bevin, who was senior to him as a member of the War Cabinet. They
had first crossed swords in the 1920s over the planning of the future of
London Transport. When Morrison became Minister of Transport, he
put forward a bill which proposed the establishment of a public
authority to run London Transport, but he rejected the idea of direct
trade-union representation on the board. Morrison's bill, which was
passing through Parliament in 1931, was a victim of the economic crisis
Morrison and Nationalisation 77

of August, which brought a change of Government. But a new bill on

very similar lines was carried by MacDonald's National Government-
the London Passenger Transport Act of 1933. Morrison published a
book in that year, based on his plans for London transport, but also
developing his views about the public corporation as the most effective
system of nationalisation. The work was entitled Socialisation and
Morrison had to fight hard within the Labour Party to get his views
accepted. He was insistent that the trade unions in the industries
concerned should not directly nominate members of the boards. He
met strong opposition on this at the 1932 annual conference of the
party, and his principal opponent was an official of Bevin's union, the
Transport and General Workers. 6 But in 1944, in its 'Interim Report
on Reconstruction', the TUC General Council fully came round to
Morrison's standpoint:

It will be essential, not only for the maintenance and improvement

of the standards and conditions of the workpeople, but because of
the power of independent criticism that they can exert, that the trade
unions shall maintain their complete independence. They can hardly
do so if they are compromised in regard to Board decisions which are
not considered to be in their members' interests by the fact of their
representatives' participation in them. 7

It was a feature of Let Us Face the Future, the 1945 manifesto which
Morrison drafted with the assistance of Michael Young, the Labour
Party's newly appointed Research Secretary- and, incidentally, like
Max Nicholson a former secretary of PEP - that each case for
nationalisation was argued empirically, and that the term 'public
ownership' was used more often than 'nationalisation'. The Bank of
England was to be 'taken over' so as to ensure full employment. 'Public
ownership of the fuel and power industries' would 'bring great
economies in operation and make it possible to modernise production
methods and to raise safety standards in every colliery'. The same sort
of advantages would flow from 'public ownership of gas and electricity
undertakings': it 'will lower charges, prevent competitive waste, open
the way for co-ordinated research and development, and lead to the
reforming of uneconomic areas of distribution.' The manifesto
recommended 'public ownership of iron and steel' on similar grounds
of increased efficiency; and on inland transport, it was even more
78 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Co-ordination of transport services by rail, road, air and canal

cannot be achieved without unification. And unification without
public ownership means a steady struggle with sectional interests or
the enthronement of a private monopoly, which would be a menace
to the rest of industry.

The tone of the manifesto showed that Morrison was capable of

looking outside the Labour movement and appealing to the uncommit-
ted voters of all social classes. In the election itself he deliberately
stood for a 'white-collar' constituency, East Lewisham, which was still
Conservative-held, rather than again fighting South Hackney, where
he had a safe seat. 8 Although he did not expect an outright Labour
victory, Morrison was one of the few Labour leaders who fought the
election with the expectation of making substantial gains.

* * * *
As it happened, the first measure of nationalisation undertaken by the
new Government was the one for which Morrison was personally least
responsible. This was the transfer to public ownership of the Bank of
England: and the measure was carried with little controversy and only
a token display of opposition from the Conservative Party. Churchill
himself said in the Debate on the Address that it 'does not, in my
opinion, raise any issue of principle': 9 this reflected the fact that when
he had been Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s he would have
liked to have had control of the then Governor of the Bank, Montagu
Norman. On vesting day, all Bank stock was to pass to the Government
and was to be replaced by Treasury stock bearing an equivalent value.
Thenceforth the Governor and the Directors were to be appointed by
the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Treasury was empowered to
give such directions to the Bank 'as ... necessary in the public
interest'. The Bank was also required, 'if so authorised by the
Treasury', to 'issue directions' to other bankers- that is to say, to
control the policy of the commercial banks.
Dalton moved the second reading of this Bill in October 1945 in a
speech which, as he later wrote, was 'designed to cheer up the troops
behind me and ... to poke up the Tories' .10 He began by waving a copy
of Let Us Face the Future in the Chamber of the House. The second
reading of the bill was carried after a debate in which the Conservatives
appeared to be in difficulty about deciding whether nationalisation of
the Bank was 'an enormity', as Anderson described it, or really a
harmless measure. The voting was 348 to 153, with Churchill absent
Morrison and Nationalisation 79

and his Parliamentary Private Secretary of the 1920s, Robert

Boothby, actually voting in favour. 11 Before the vesting date (1 March
1946) Dalton re-appointed both the retiring Governor, Lord Catto,
and the retiring Deputy Governor, Cameron Cobbold, but he reduced
the number of Directors and introduced among them men of more
varied experience including one trade unionist, George Gibson, the
Secretary of the Health Service Employees and for many years a
member of the General Council of the TUC. On vesting day itself
Dalton invited Catto and Cobbold to No. 11 Downing Street to make
formal declarations of loyalty to the Crown, and thereafter offered a
glass of sherry to all in attendance .12

* * * *
The nationalisation of the basic industries which followed naturally
required more careful preparation. As early as the end of August 1945
James Meade, the head of the Economic Section of the Cabinet Office,
was turning his mind to the object of persuading Morrison that the
process of nationalising industries should be co-ordinated by the
Ministers concerned on questions such as 'Compensation, Capital
Structure, Administrative Structure, Price Policy, Import and Export
Policy, Capital Development Policy etc.' 13 In September Morrison
circulated a letter in the light of this proposal; and by early October
Shinwell, the Minister of Fuel and Power, had submitted to the Lord
President's Committee a paper on the broad principles of nationalising
the coal mines, which had already been chosen as the first major
industry to be taken over. It was not, however, until the New Year that
the Prime Minister formally constituted a new Cabinet Committee,
under Morrison's chairmanship, to be called the Socialisation of
Industries Committee. 14
The Coal Mines Nationalisation Bill was prepared somewhat
hurriedly in late 1945. Shinwell had certainly not paid sufficient regard
to the problems that were involved. He later wrote:

I had believed, as other members had, that in the Party archives a

blueprint was ready. Now, as Minister of Fuel and Power, I found
that nothing practical and tangible existed. There were some
pamphlets, some memoranda produced for private circulation, and
nothing else. I had to start on a clear desk. 15

Considering that Shinwell had been Minister of Mines in 1924 and

again from 1929 to 1931, that he had represented a mining constitu-
80 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

ency since 1935 and that he had been the Chaiman of the party's
Reconstruction Committee in the latter part of the war, it is fairly easy
to see where the responsibility for this state of affairs lay. In any case,
the main outlines of the measure could safely follow the pattern which
Morrison had already suggested. The new executive to control the
industry, to be called the National Coal Board, was not to include any
direct representatives of the interests involved. It was to be a
substantially independent body, subject only to directions from the
Minister. Full compensation was to be paid to the shareholders, in the
form of Treasury stock; and the value of the property was to be
assessed by an Arbitration Tribunal at its current value, 'a global sum'
being arrived at, which was then to be carefully divided among the
separate undertakings. 16 In practice this procedure proved to be
unduly prolonged: the valuation was not completed for ten years. 17
The debate on the Second Reading took place on two days at the end
of January 1946. Shinwell introduced the debate, and Dalton spoke
about the terms of compensation and about the need for fresh
investment: he said that it was a 'dilapidated, out-of-date, down-at-
heel industry under private enterprise' .18 Morrison wound up on
behalf of the Government. The vote was more fully on party lines than
in the case of the Bank of England bill; but the Liberals supported
Labour on the main principle, and the second reading was carried by
359 to 182. 19 As this was the first major industrial nationalisation,
there was a good deal of amendment of the bill by the Government at
the Standing Committee stage, but its progress was not seriously
delayed; Royal Assent was secured in July, and vesting day was fixed
for 1 January 194 7.
Many of the miners were on holiday or were voluntary absentees on
vesting day. In some places, though, there were banners, bands and
singing; and in London a rather quaint ceremony took place at
Lansdowne House, the new Coal Board's temporary headquarters:
Shinwell presented a bound copy of the Coal Mines Nationalisation
Act to Lord Hyndley, a widely respected mining company director,
who had been appointed as the first chairman of the Board. A number
of civil servants, trade union officials and colliery representatives were
present at the ceremony as well as members of the Cabinet including
Attlee himself, who said: 'the Coal Board is a fine team going in to bat
on a sticky wicket, but I believe it will score a great many sixes.' 20 The
Board included among its first full-time members Sir Walter Citrine,
the general secretary of the TUC, who now resigned from this post
which he had held for twenty years; and Ebby Edwards, the general
Morrison and Nationalisation 81

secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, who also left his

union position.
The bills for nationalising civil aviation and cable and wireless were
also taken in the first session of the 1945 Parliament. As we have seen,
Lord Winster's original plan for civil aviation allowed the railway and
shipping companies to have shares in it, but after strong criticism from
the Parliamentary Party and from some members of the Cabinet, this
was changed to outright nationalisation. 2 ' The stages of the Civil
Aviation Bill were completed rapidly and it took immediate effect, on
1 August 1946. There were, after all, virtually no 'assets' to be valued
and taken over: the British Overseas Airways Corporation was already
a public body, and the task of rebuilding it and the two new
corporations- British European and British South American- had to
start from scratch. Only charter work was left free for private
enterprise. Cable and wireless nationalisation followed rapidly, by
agreement with the Dominion governments, but it came into force
only on 1 January 194 7 - the same vesting date as for coal.

* * * *
The measure of public ownership that interested Morrison most of all
was the Transport Bill. This was because of his earlier experience as a
Minister of Transport and because of his special interest in London
Transport. The bill, which was to nationalise the railways, the canals,
and most of road transport (but not shipping) had its second reading in
December 1946. In accordance with Labour Party policy accepted in
1944, there was to be an overall authority embracing all forms of
inland transport, other than air transport: this was to be called the
National Transport Commission. Beneath it there were to be five
separate Executives- one each for the Railways, the Docks and Inland
Waterways, Road Transport, London Transport and Hotels. Later
there was to be a sixth Executive, to run Road Passenger Transport.
The bill was still before Parliament when, in January 194 7, Morrison
suffered a thrombosis and was obliged to enter hospital and stay there
for two months. He was very frail when he emerged and departed for
three weeks' convalescence in the South of France. 22 A political storm
had already grown up about the future of long-distance road haulage,
in particular the holders of 'C' licences, that it, vehicle owners carrying
their own goods. Morrison had not wished to nationalise the 'small
local haulier', but he thought that the big firms should come under
public ownership so as to secure effective co-ordination of freight
movement both by road and by rail. Some of the large fleets of vehicles
82 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

belonged to co-operative societies, but Alfred Barnes, the Minister of

Transport, although himself a Co-operative MP, was not at first willing
to yield. But when the bill reached the Standing Committee stage, two
of the Labour members of the Committee, Douglas Jay and Tom
Macpherson - the latter being MP for Romford - moved an amend-
ment to exempt from public ownership all holders of 'C' Iicences. 23
This was carried; and the result, as the Transport Group of the
Parliamentary Labour Party foresaw, was substantially to reduce the
possibility of any effective overall planning of the industry. 24 And to
Morrison's annoyance the Standing Committee's decision was
accepted by the Cabinet_25 Morrison thus paid the penalty for having
insisted on sending major bills to Standing Committee rather than to a
Committee of the whole House.
The progress of the Transport Bill to the Statute Book was very
similar to that of the Coal Bill, except that it was a year later.
Consequently, vesting date for the industry was 1 January 1948. The
other measure of public ownership for the 1946-7 session was
Electricity - another commitment for Shinwell, the Minister of Fuel
and Power. From May 1946 he had as his Parliamentary Secretary an
able newcomer to the House, Hugh Gaitskell: and although there was
little love lost between them - Shinwell having rather a contempt for
intellectuals- they formed a powerful debating team. 26 Having already
encountered some difficulties as a result of the system of compensation
in the case of the coal industry - which led to prolonged litigation -
Shin well preferred a different method of assessment for the Electricity
undertakings, and so he used the method of the Transport Bill, namely,
the use of market quotations of existing stock. This was contrary to the
recommendations of the McGowan Committee on Electricity Dis-
tribution, which, reporting in 1936, had favoured using capital cost less
depreciation, with an addition for loss of future earnings. 27 There was
to be a central authority, to which the Minister could if necessary give
directions; but there were also to be Area Boards, which in their turn
were subject to directions from the central authority. The North of
Scotland Hydro-Electric Board- already in existence as a public body
-was to be preserved as one of the Area Boards; there were to be two
other Scottish Area Boards; but Wales- to the distress of the Welsh
Ministers, Aneurin Bevan and James Griffiths, who both expressed
their opposition in Cabinet - was divided between a South Wales
Board and a Merseyside and North Wales Board. 28 The first Chairman
of the British Electricity Authority was Citrine, now elevated to the
* * * *
Morrison and Nationalisation 83

The Cabinet was for some time undecided about Iron and Steel
nationalisation. Public ownership of this industry had been included in
the election manifesto as a result of a resolution at the 1944
conference, which had been carried against the Executive. In
November 1945, while announcing other plans, the Government had
stated that it was deferring a final decision on this issue pending the
report of the British Iron and Steel Federation, the employers'
organisation, about its plans for the industry. But in March 1946 the
Minister of Supply, John Wilmot, in a paper to the Cabinet, recom-
mended early nationalisation, writing: 'it is in my view fundamentally
wrong to divorce control from ownership' .29 The Cabinet accepted
Wilmot's view, but realising that the bill would be highly complicated,
owing to the difficulty of separating out the manufacture of iron and
steel from the other activities of the companies concerned, it agreed
that the bill should not be introduced before the 194 7-8 session. In the
meantime the Prime Minister appointed a small but powerful commit-
tee, with the Foreign Secretary in the chair, to consider the compe-
tence and functions of an interim Control Board. 30 In May it was
agreed to hold a day's Commons debate on a motion to approve the
transfer of 'appropriate sections' of the industry to 'the ownership of
the nation'. 31
The debate revealed a hardening of attitude on the part of the
Opposition to this particular measure. For one thing, the industry,
unlike coal or the railways, was profitable; for another, it had a
tradition of good public relations, and its trade union leaders were
themselves understood to be lukewarm about public ownership. In
August 1946 Wilmot had to tell the Cabinet that the members of the
Iron and Steel Federation were unwilling to help in running the
industry if it were nationalised. He had therefore asked Dr Van Der
Bijl, who was head of the nationalised industry in South Africa, to step
in, but he too was reluctant. Wilmot therefore suggested a compromise
solution - that the Government should obtain voting control by
acquiring the equity, and thereby retain 'the structure and identity of at
least the leading companies in the industry'. The Cabinet agreed to this
proposal as a basis for legislation. 32
As it proved, 194 7 was a year of acute economic crisis, and the
opponents of early nationalisation began to gain strength. In April the
Cabinet debated the question of whether to include iron and steel or
the rather simpler gas industry as a candidate for nationalisation in the
programme for the following session. It was pointed out that the Iron
and Steel Bill 'broke new ground and raised difficult and complex
84 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

issues; it would be keenly opposed by the industry; and it would arouse

bitter controversy in Parliament. In particular, it might become an
issue between the two Houses of Parliament'. Some Ministers, on the
other hand, thought that a fierce conflict of this character might be no
bad idea to rally the Government's supporters, and also that if there
had to be recourse to the Parliament Act of 1911, this would be a
'conclusive argument in favour of introducing the Bill at the opening of
the third Session of the present Parliament', because under that Act a
bill could not be held up by the Lords for more than two years. Attlee
accepted that the 'preponderant view of the Cabinet' was in favour of
including the bill in the programme for 194 7-8. 33 The form of the bill
was discussed later in the month, and Shinwell protested against the
proposal to attempt to solve the problem by a simple acquisition of
company shares: but the Cabinet accepted Wilmot's plan. 34 Owing to
an early leakage to the press, Wilmot was authorised to communicate
the decision officially to Sir Andrew Duncan, the Conservative MP
and ex-Minister who was Chairman of the Iron and Steel Federation.
Duncan for his part made a counter-proposal; that in order to 'retain
the willing co-operation of the industry', the Government should not
nationalise but should impose a 'permanent statutory control'. He and
Ellis Hunter, who was the President of the Iron and Steel Federation,
saw the Prime Minister and the Minister of Supply on 21 May. Duncan

Do let us see whether it is not possible to satisfy the primary

objective of effective Government policy control by a method that
would harness enthusiasm in the industry, which believes fundamen-
tally in national planning ... We have always accepted the view that
if you are going to have a Steel Board it should be a permanent
control board and its powers should be thorough.

Duncan even approved the idea that the board should have compul-
sory powers of acquisition. The upshot of this was that the issue again
went to the Cabinet, and Attlee was authorised to pursue negotiations,
which, not unnaturally, he chose to do through Herbert Morrison, the
Minister in general charge of nationalisation. 35
In July Morrison reported on his conversations with Duncan and
other representatives of the Iron and Steel Federation. Both he and
Wilmot favoured the proposed compromise. Attlee sympathised to the
extent of saying that 'in the present economic situation it would be
inexpedient to proceed with legislation' - the American Loan was
Morrison and Nationalisation 85

running out with alarming rapidity- but Bevin said that a final decision
should be postponed to the autumn 'to avoid giving the impression that
this change has taken place as a result of pressure from the United
States'. Bevan hotly opposed the idea of any compromise, pointing out
that it would be difficult for the Government to insist on nationalising
the industry of the Ruhr while retreating from the same policy inside
Britain. Morrison's only warm supporters, apart from Wilmot, were
Alexander, Isaacs and the peers, Addison, Jowitt and Listowel.
Morrison was mortified that Attlee now played only a chairman's role;
and Bevin thought that the arguments were evenly balanced, and that
the trade unions should be consulted. 36 This was the course immedi-
ately followed: but 'a fairly representative group of members of the
TUC' was not able to provide a clear and decisive opinion. The
Cabinet, under the impact of a worsening economic crisis in overseas
payments, came to the conclusion that the problem should be
postponed, at least for the time being. 37
This Cabinet meeting was followed by what Dalton called a 'rather
troublesome' meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on 8 August,
when a resolution demanding full nationalisation in the succeeding
session of Parliament was avoided only when 'the previous question'
was moved and narrowly carried by 81 votes to 77, with perhaps 90
abstentions. 38 And the Prime Minister was faced with threats of
resignation from both sides of the Cabinet. Bevan threatened to go
unless it was clear that iron and steel would be nationalised within the
term of the existing Parliament; and on the other side Jowitt, the Lord
Chancellor, wrote to say that he would retire if the proposal of
immediate nationalisation was carried. Jowitt wrote to Addison, who
had gone abroad on a visit to various Commonwealth countries, to say
that he had consulted Morrison about this, and that they were in

His argument is this: next to coal, steel is the greatest bottleneck. If

at the moment of time when we want maximum production we
proceed with this scheme, even though there will be no sabotage, yet
the attention of the management will inevitably be drawn off from
their immediate job of production to fighting the bil1. 39

In October Attlee suggested to the Cabinet a route of escape from

the dilemma. This was to include in the 194 7-8 session a bill to limit
the Lords' delaying power to one year instead of two. In that case, gas
nationalisation could be undertaken in that session instead of iron and
86 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

steel, but the prospect of completing the nationalisation of iron and

steel before the end of the Parliament would not be lost. The Cabinet
accepted this solution, and it was again the Minister of Fuel and Power
who had to take the initiative in introducing a bill for public
ownership. 40 Shinwell had been transferred from this post to take over
the War Office in October 194 7- a distinct rebuff, as it meant leaving
the Cabinet- and Hugh Gaitskell, his Parliamentary Secretary, took
over from him.
Gaitskell had already shown his ability in rapidly mastering his brief
on the Electricity Bill.41 His speech in February 1948 introducing the
second reading of the Gas Bill drew compliments from the Opposition.
The Heyworth Committee, which reported in 1945, had called for
larger units in the industry, and Gaitskell cited this as one of his major
arguments for nationalisation. But he also favoured a high degree of
decentralisation; and he secured this by setting up twelve Area Boards,
whose chairmen were to form twelve of the fourteen members of the
Gas Council. The Areas were to correspond as closely as possible to
those of the Electricity Area Boards; but this principle was sacrificed
to convenience in some places: for instance, the large area north of the
Thames covered by the Gas, Light and Coke Company could best be
transformed into a new North Thames Gas Board, and this cut across
the Electricity boundaries. 42 Furthermore, Scotland and Wales each
became a separate single area. Morrison had decided against imposing
any guillotine on the bill when it went to Standing Committee,
regarding it as relatively uncontroversial: but the Conservatives hoped
to hold it up there sufficiently long to cause it to be reintroduced in the
1948-9 session, thereby possibly displacing a bill for the nationalisa-
tion of iron and steel. Gaitskell was not prepared to accept the delay,
and with his colleagues on the Standing Committee he forced a
fifty-hour sitting in order to complete the bill's consideration just
before Whitsun. 43 The Gas Bill was thus enacted in July 1948 and
vesting day was 1 April 1949.

* * * *
Meanwhile Morrison was pushing a new Parliament Bill through in the
same session, so as to ensure that the delaying power of the Lords was
reduced from two years to one. There were negotiations with the
Conservative leadership about reform of the Lords - both Addison
and Jowitt were keen on this - but they foundered, as Morrison had
expected, on the specific point of the length of the delaying power. 44
The result was that the Lords vetoed the Parliament Bill in June 1948,
Morrison and Nationalisation 87

and the Cabinet responded by calling a special session of Parliament in

September in order to secure its early passage. 45
Late in May, Attlee, in conversation with Dalton (who was then out
of office) said 'rather grimly, that, "We must go through with iron and
steel now"' but that he did not think it was a good choice. It had too
ragged an edge.' Dalton did not comment. 46 At much the same time the
Prime Minister received through civil service channels more discour-
agement about this particular nationalisation proposal: for instance,
he was shown a letter from Sir Edwin Plowden, the Chief Planning
Officer, to Cripps describing it as 'an act of economic irresponsibility'
owing to the danger of damage to output and the risk to Anglo-
American relations when the country was 'dependent upon United
States charity'. 47 And two Labour MPs, lvor Thomas and Alfred
Edwards - the latter representing the steelmaking town of Middles-
brough- made speeches condemning the idea. Edwards was expelled
from the party by the National Executive in May 1948, and Ivor
Thomas resigned shortly afterwards. 48 But the bill was now in the
charge of a new Minister of Supply, George Strauss, an old protege of
Cripps since the pre-war Tribune days. Strauss, who had replaced
Wilmot in October 194 7, realised that the refusal of the Iron and Steel
Federation to co-operate in helping the Government with technical
assistance meant that although the bill could be passed before the next
General Election, it would not be possible to put the measure into
effective operation by that time. He proposed a scheme for taking over
the stock of selected firms, rather than reorganising the entire industry
at once. 49
Morrison naturally complained that there was not much difference
between this and the proposals that he had already put before the
Cabinet, and which had been rejected. Addison agreed with him, but
Cripps said that under Morrison's proposals nationalisation would be
postponed for ten or even fifteen years. Bevin took up the point made
by Bevan in the earlier discussion, to the effect that if nationalisation
was not undertaken it would be 'inconsistent with the policy of seeking
to promote the socialisation of the Ruhr steel industry'. The Prime
Minister commented that 'at the present critical time' a good case for
nationalisation would have to be made out, and he asked Strauss to set
out the arguments in a memorandum. 50 Strauss's paper, which was
quickly produced, pointed to the key position of the industry in the
economy, argued that between the wars it had led to 'cartel arrange-
ments, restrictive practices and similar measures', and asserted that
88 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Under single public ownership there will be infinitely better

prospects of effecting rationalisation, elimination of wasteful com-
petition, and proper industrial planning than under the present
diversified private ownership. 51

The paper went to the Socialisation of Industries Committee, presided

over by Morrison, and then back to the Cabinet. Both bodies were
emphatic that certain arguments in favour of nationalisation should
not be stressed: for instance,

in making accusations of domination by financial interests, it should

be borne in mind that those interests had in fact been largely
responsible for such modernisation of the industry as took place in
the inter-war years.

and Ministers also agreed that

from the point of view of our relations with the United States and
Western European countries, it would be preferable not to use the
argument that socialisation of the United Kingdom iron and steel
industry was desirable in the interests of the European Recovery
Programme and Western Union. 52

The bill was introduced to the Commons in the autumn and was
unique among the nationalisation bills in having a three-day debate on
second reading. Strauss, introducing the debate in mid-November
1948, explained that the Government could not 'exercise a sufficiently
positive influence' over the industry if control and ownership remained
separated. It had been decided, however, to retain the corporate
identity of the firms which were to be taken over: they would in total
number 107, though this included 24 which were 'wholly-owned
subsidiaries'. The criterion for nationalisation was the number of tons
of iron ore, of pig iron, or of steel that they produced: and the only
exception was the Ford Motor Company, whose large blast furnace
was used solely for the purposes of motor manufacture. Compensation
was to be by stock exchange quotation, and vesting day was to be 1
May 1950 or later. The Minister's hopes for the bill were pitched high:

It will enable our steel industry, which through its key position could
do so much to lessen the severity of trade depressions, to become an
effective national instrument for planning full employment. It will
Morrison and Nationalisation 89

offer greater security to those who work in it.lt will enable our home
consumers to get the steel they require at low cost. 53

Oliver Lyttelton was the principal spokesman against the bill on the
first day, but next day Churchill took up the cudgels on behalf of the
Opposition, emphasising the industry's good record of labour relations
under private enterprise:

It has been one of the few islands of peace and progress in the wrack
and ruin of our times. Yet this same steel industry is the one which
the Socialist Government has selected for the utmost exercise of its
malice, and in complete disregard of national prosperity. 54

Cripps provided a well-argued defence of the use of Stock Exchange

quotations for the purpose of compensation; and Morrison concluded
the debate on the third day by stressing that the Opposition was not
defending free enterprise but a close cartel. Nevertheless on this
occasion the Liberals rallied to the Opposition side, as did the two
Labour defectors, lvor Thomas and Alfred Edwards. Although the
second reading was carried by a large majority, 373 to 211, the size of
the majority was distinctly less than for nationalising the Bank of
England or the coal industry. 55
In Standing Committee the guillotine was again used, but it was clear
that the Opposition was not inclined to use the substantial time that
was available for discussion in any constructive way: it remained their
object to hinder and delay the bill rather than to improve it. 56 The
principal Lords amendment was to ensure that it would not come into
operation until after the Government had been forced to hold a
general election; in place of the original vesting date of 1 May 1950, a
new date of 1 July 1951 was substituted. This latter date would be
more than five years after the preceding general election of 1945, and
hence the bill would be subject to alteration, if desired, in the period of
a new Parliament. When the bill returned to the Commons in the late
summer of 1949, the Government was on the point of securing the
passing of the Parliament Bill; but as the Cabinet had already realised
that the Steel Bill could not come into effective operation before the
coming election, it agreed to compromise: Addison and Jowitt met
Salisbury and Swinton in secret, it being emphasised by the Opposition
leaders that 'The fact that conversations had taken place was not to be
disclosed.' It was then agreed between the parties to postpone vesting
day to 1 January 1951- a date also bound to be after the next general

TABLE 5.1 Nationalisation Measures, 1945-51

Second Reading Numbers employed

Industry of Bill Royal Assent Vesting Day in 1951

Bank of England 29 Oct 1945 14 Feb 1946 1 Mar 1946 6 700

Coal 29 Jan 1946 12 July 1946 1 Jan 1947 765 000
Civil Aviation 6 May 1946 1 Aug 1946 1 Aug 1946 23 300
Cable & Wireless 21 May 1946 6 Nov 1946 1 Jan 1947 9 500
Transport 16 Dec 1946 6 Aug 1947 1 Jan 1948 888 000
Electricity 3 Feb 1947 13 Aug 1947 1 Apr 1948 176 000
Gas 10 Feb 1948 30 July 1948 1 Apr 1949 143 000
Iron and Steel 15 Nov 1948 24 Nov 1949 15 Feb 1951 292 000
TOTAL 2 304 200

NoTES: 1. British Overseas Airways Corporation, employing some 16 000, and London Passenger Transport Board,
employing 100 000, were already in public ownership, but they are included in the above figures. The North of
Scotland Hydro Electric Board, employing 2700, is not included.
2. The total number of workers employed in both the private and public sectors in 1951 was 22.3 million.
SouRcE: D. N. Chester, Nationalisation of British Industry, 1945-51 (1975), pp. 38ff.
Morrison and Nationalisation 91

election. 5 7 So in the upshot the new Parliament Act, which came into
operation before the end of 1949, did not need to be used. In the event,
vesting day was even later- 15 February 1951.

* * * *
Already by the spring of 1948 - by which time, of the major
industries, only coal had been in public ownership for more than a few
months- there were signs of discontent with the working of the public
corporations expressed within the labour movement itself. At the
Party Conference at Scarborough in May Shin well, who was chairman,
acknowledged rather defensively that 'we dare not acquiesce in the
view that nationalisation in its present form is adequate for our
purpose'. 58 He was aware of a resolution shortly to be moved by a
delegate of the Engineers, declaring the Conference 'gravely disturbed
at the system of administration which has been adopted in these
industries', and calling for the administrators and technicians to be
drawn from those already expert in the industry concerned, and for a
measure of workers' participation. The argument was that the persons
appointed to the Boards were often either ignorant of their new tasks,
or opposed to the whole idea of nationalisation, or both: 'Surely it is
the negation first of all of Socialism and secondly of sanity itself to
nationalise an industry and then leave the control of it in the hands of
the Tories. That has happened in too many instances.' 59
The resolution received support from a delegate of the Post Office
Workers- reappearing at a Labour Party Conference for the first time
since the repeal of the Trade Disputes Act of 1927- who expressed
himself 'cynical' about 'the idea of some organised sections of the
workers that nationalisation itself will bring freedom from exploita-
tion'. And J. B. Figgins, the Secretary of the National Union of
Railwaymen, after expressing satisfaction at the achievement of
railway nationalisation, which he said created 'a great wave of
enthusiasm ... throughout the length and breadth of our entire
membership', nevertheless also reported a sharp reaction into 'com-
plete disillusionment', owing to the nature of the appointments to the
Transport Commission and its Executives. He concluded:

Something more than consultation must be given to the men. They

should have the opportunity of appointment to managerial and
supervisory positions. Only in that way are we going to get
co-operation between the managerial and supervisory side and
those who are supervised. 60
92 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

There was, however, some robust opposition to the resolution. Will

Lawther, the President of the National Union of Mineworkers, and
Arthur Deakin, the acting Secretary of the Transport Workers, were
too loyal to the Government to agree with the critics. Deakin said:

We have had eighteen months' experience of the running of

socialised industry ... With the ultimate purpose of the resolution I
am in full sympathy and full support, but you have to walk before
you can run. 61

Replying for the Executive- and for the Government- James Griffiths
warned against any 'political tests' in making appointments to the
Boards. He said it was bound to take time to 'create a new generation
of administrators and technicians brought up in the atmosphere of
public service rather than private gain'. He agreed that there was a
need for fuller participation by the workers, especially through the
trade unions, and that there should be better facilities for technical
education. He asked the movers of the resolution to remit it to the
Executive for 'further consultation with the Trades Union Congress',
and this was agreed. 62 Herbert Morrison himself, the architect of
post-war nationalisation, had already observed, in discussing the
programme for the next general election, that there was a need 'not
merely for considering further public ownership but for allowing
Ministers adequate time to consolidate, to develop, to make efficient
or more efficient the industries which have been socialised in the
present Parliament' .63
In his speech Morrison also mentioned the need to allow Parliament
'to debate the conduct of these great public socialised economic
undertakings'. Attlee had invited Morrison to provide a written
answer late in 194 7 to indicate to Parliament the extent to which
Ministers were to be expected to answer questions about the public
corporations under their suzerainty. 64 Morrison had declared that,
since the Government was not responsible for the 'day-to-day'
administration of nationalised industry, a Minister was only to answer
questions related to 'any directions he [gives] in the national interest,
and for the action which he [takes] on proposals which a Board [is]
required by Statute to lay before him'. But there would be oppor-
tunities to discuss the work of the socialised industries on the basis of
the 'annual reports and accounts which are to be laid before
Parliament' .65 MPs did not find this satisfactory; and a debate took
place on the subject early in March 1948, when both Opposition
Morrison and Nationalisation 93

leaders and back-bench Labour MPs joined in criticising the existing

arrangements. A Manchester Labour MP, John Diamond, who was a
chartered accountant, suggested an 'Efficiency Auditor-General' for
the nationalised industries; and Captain Crookshank, in opening the
debate for the Conservatives, mentioned the possibility of having a
'permanent standing committee' to examine the accounts and business
of all the public corporations."" The Conservative Industrial Charter of
194 7 had already said of the coal industry:

We must make sure that Parliament watches over this industry and
probes every detail of its work regularly so that the people know
what is going on. The Board must be the servant and not the master
of the people. 67

Several matters of urgent public concern occurred within the

nationalised industries in the spring of 1948. In mid-May Sir Charles
Reid, the chief production member of the Coal Board, resigned, saying
that he believed that its present organisation was 'cumbersome and
uninspired': he favoured 'a strong policy board whose members are
divorced from functional duties' .68 The British Electricity Authority
was set up on 1 April, and on 23 May there was a serious breakdown of
electricity supply in South-East England, about which MPs would
dearly have wished at once to question the Minister of Fuel and
Power. 69 The Speaker promised to re-examine the extent to which
questions could be asked on matters such as these, and in early June
announced a change in the rules which Morrison had no hesitation in

I am prepared, if it is generally approved, to exercise my discretion

to direct the acceptance of Questions asking for a statement to be
made on matters about which information has been previously
refused, provided that, in my opinion, the matters are of sufficient
public importance to justify this concession. 70

It was against this background of concern about the public corpora-

tions that Morrison urged the Socialisation of Industries Committee to
consider 'taking stock' of progress so far. As early as January 1948 he
circulated to the members of the committee a proposal that

The Boards of socialised industries should be invited to establish a

unit common to them all, which would examine problems of efficient
and economical organisation in those industries. 71
94 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

The Prime Minister, who saw this paper, promptly commented that it
might be a good idea to have a 'Department of Socialised Industries'
with divisions for research, efficiency, audit, statistics and develop-
ment. It would then be possible to dispense with the Ministries of Fuel
and Power, Civil Aviation and Transport. 72 Morrison was, however,
wary of any solution as drastic as this: the idea, he acknowledged
politely, would have 'substantial advantages', but there would be
'awkward residual problems'. He thought the Machinery of Govern-
ment Committee would be a better place to consider the Prime
Minister's proposals: in the event nothing came of them. 73
As for the members of the Socialisation of Industries Committee,
they were more cautious than Morrison himself. Criticising the idea of
a joint efficiency unit, Lord Nathan, the Minister of Civil Aviation,
wrote that 'Frequent lifting of the young plant to examine the roots
inevitably stultifies its growth' .74 Gaitskell, now Minister of Fuel and
Power, agreed with many of the criticisms of the National Coal Board
which had been expressed by Sir Charles Reid: but he argued to
Morrison that its faults were due to 'decentralisation and not over-
centralisation'. The idea of a common efficiency unit did not appear to
appeal to him. 75
It was, however, only a slightly altered draft that Morrison sent out
to the Chairmen of the nationalised industries' Boards: they met the
Socialisation of Industries Committee over dinner at the Bank of
England on 3 May. The Chairmen did not like the idea of the common
efficiency unit, because if its reports were published - and they
assumed that there would be strong pressure for this - it would
'seriously detract from the responsibility of the Boards for the running
of their industries' .76 Morrison was unhappy about this reaction, in
view of the Parliamentary pressure, which he realised would only
grow, for some sort of check upon the industries concerned. In
November he received another note from the Prime Minister, who had
been talking to General Slim on the latter's appointment as Chief of
the Imperial General Staff. Slim had served for a few months as
Deputy Chairman of the Railway Executive and had formed the view
that the nationalised industries lacked the personal contact of officers
and men which was important in the Army. He stressed that there was
a danger in industry of divorcing the management from the workers.
Attlee wrote:

I think this IS a matter which deserves the attention of the

Socialisation of Industries Committee. In socialised industries the
Morrison and Nationalisation 95

Board is a long way away from the rank and file, yet really efficient
working depends on the creation of a team spirit and personal
leadership. There is need in industry of the kind of spirit and
leadership which obtains in a good regiment, an esprit de corps not
only of the regiment, but of the company and the platoon. I am sure
that this is necessary in, for instance, the coal industry, where you
want the esprit de corps of the pit. 77

Morrison probably did not much welcome the military analogy- he

himself had been a conscientous objector in the First World War- but
he circulated the Prime Minister's letter to his colleagues and discussed
it at a meeting of his committee. Isaacs, the Minister of Labour,
suggested that the question should be discussed with the TUC General
Council, and this was agreed. 78 Morrison also pressed ahead with the
arrangements for another meeting of his committee with the Chairmen
of the public corporations. He wished to make it a more formal
occasion, and arranged for it to be held in the Cabinet Offices at Great
George Street at 4 p.m. in late January 1949. In his circular inviting the
Chairmen to the meeting, he suggested that the 'machinery for
consultation between public corporations' might be the main topic; but
he also indicated that he would reopen the question of a common
efficiency unit. 79 Hyndley replied on behalf of his colleagues accepting
the invitation to a meeting, and saying that the Chairmen would be
happy to put their informal monthly meetings 'on a rather more formal
basis without delay': minutes would be kept and circulated. They
would also welcome 'information of a general economic character'
from the Government; but

We none of us feel that we could agree to the suggestion that a

common efficiency unit should be set up. Our views on this subject
are very definite and, quite frankly, I think they are likely to remain
permanently so. 80

This was a strong statement; but when the meeting took place on 28
January Morrison set about pointing out the political problems
involved. He pointed to Conservative demands for a select committee
or committees, as proposed by Hugh Molson, MP, in the Spectator in
the previous February, and warned that the Parliamentary Labour
Party also sympathised with the idea. He also drew attention to similar
comments made in the Conservative Industrial Charter. In the face of
this onslaught, Hyndley admitted that the proposal for a common
96 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

efficiency unit deserved 'further consideration'; but Citrine, never a

man to give way readily once he had made up his mind, stuck to the
Chairmen's original position, saying that the proposal was 'most
undesiraole' as it 'would distract them from more urgent problems'
and would 'appear to reflect upon their competence to do the very
thing for which they had been appointed'. Sir Cyril H urcomb, the
Chairman of the Transport Commission, agreed with Citrine; but
Cripps and Strauss, the Minister of Supply, rallied to Morrison's aid by
stressing that 'the Boards must expect a growing and insistent demand
in Parliament for evidence that they were alive to the necessity of
adequate outside checks on efficiency' .81
There was thus something of a deadlock between the Chairmen and
the politicians at this juncture. In 1949, also, the Cabinet became
aware for the first time that although Ministers had powers to give
certain instructions to the nationalised industries, there were no
powers to oblige the Boards to accept financial deficits as a deliberate
policy in the event of an economic depression. The Boards were
obliged to break even 'taking one year with another'; and this
obligation could not be gainsaid. Asked to give an opinion on this
point, the Attorney-General, Sir Hartley Shawcross, agreed with the
Minister of Transport that

'The policy of the nationalisation Acts does not seem to have been
expressed in such a way as to enable the nationalised industries to be
used as instruments for promoting economic results outside their
own immediate fields.' The power of direction had to be considered
in the light of the general obligation placed on the Boards to make
revenue balance over a period. 82

Morrison must have felt a little bit like the sorcerer's apprentice who
conjured up spirits which he soon found were beyond his control.
6 The Making of the
Welfare State
The Labour Government's work in the development of the social
services was largely in line with the proposals of the Coalition
Government- upon which left-wing influences during the war had had
a marked impact. As we have seen, the wartime Beveridge Report was
seized upon by the Labour Party in Parliament as a litmus-test of the
Government's sincerity in the pursuit of social reconstruction. 1 The
party's parliamentary executive, for the first and only time during the
Coalition period, put down an amendment expressing dissatisfaction
with the Government's apparently lukewarm attitude. This amend-
ment, though easily defeated by the Conservative majority, attracted
121 supporters, the overwhelming majority of whom were members of
the Labour Party. 2 But the Coalition Government's commitment to
the details of the Beveridge Plan, though hesitant, was substantial: Sir
John Anderson, the Lord President, had accepted all three of
Beveridge's basic assumptions- family allowances, a national health
service, and the maintenance of full employment.
The final collapse of the Nazi regime was so long delayed that
Ministers and civil servants had time to work out many of the
implications of Beveridge's ideas - and, indeed, to formulate other
reforms as well. Hitler's obstinacy not only destroyed the German
state; it helped to create the Welfare State in Britain. Early in 1944
H. U. Willink, the Conservative Minister of Health, published a White
Paper outlining a scheme for a comprehensive health service. 3 The
scheme envisaged that medical services should be run by a government
department, and that health centres would be set up in which general
practitioners would work in groups and on a fully salaried basis. Then
in May of the same year the White Paper on Employment Policy was
published, which reflected the influence of Keynes's concepts of
demand management, declaring as it did that 'the maintenance of a
high and stable level of employment' should be a primary object of

98 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Government policy. 4 Furthermore, R. A. Butler hammered out his

Education Act after much discussion with the religious bodies: more
aid was to be given to the voluntary schools; all schools were to have
some religious education, but the entire system was to be reorganised,
with a division between primary and secondary education at the age of
'11 plus'. Provision was also made in the Act for the raising of the
school-leaving age from fourteen to fifteen or sixteen, and there was to
be compulsory part-time education in county colleges between the
school-leaving age and the age of eighteen. Then in November 1944
an Act was passed to set up a Ministry of National Insurance to put
Beveridge's main social insurance schemes into effect: Sir William
Jowitt, later Attlee's Lord Chancellor, was appointed as the first
Minister. Finally, in June 1945, a Family Allowances Act was passed by
the Caretaker Government. 5
On taking office Attlee appointed Arthur Greenwood to the post of
Lord Privy Seal, with the responsibility of supervising the extensions of
the social services to which the party was committed in its manifesto.
Greenwood had not earned a high reputation during the war as a
leading Minister- otherwise Churchill would not have dispensed with
his services early in 1942 - but he had great experience in the field of
social administration, having been Ramsay MacDonald's Minister of
Health in the Government of 1929-31 and having served for many
years as head of the Transport House research department. He
became chairman of the Attlee Cabinet's Social Services Committee,
which also included Jowitt, the Lord Chancellor; Isaacs, the Minister
of Labour; Ellen Wilkinson, the Minister of Education; Bevan, the
Minister of Health, Griffiths, the Minister of National Insurance and
Paling, the Minister of Pensions. 6 Griffiths and Paling were not
members of the Cabinet, but were of course summoned to attend on
occasion. If Griffiths had accepted the office which Attlee offered him
in the first instance- the Commonwealth Office- he would have been
in the Cabinet: 7 but he was quite content to undertake the task for
which he had been preparing during the Coalition years, and on which
he was already an expert. Ellen Wilkinson, on the other hand, although
she had no major legislative responsibilities, was summoned to
Cabinet by Attlee because he wished to have at least one woman
member. 8

* * * *
The main burden both of legislation and of administration of the social
services fell upon Griffiths. It was his task to prepare draft bills as soon
The Making of the Welfare State 99

as possible for the new Parliament to enact, and also to bring into
operation the machinery for paying the benefits. In October 1945 he
told the Commons that the payment of family allowances would begin
in August 1946;9 and at much the same time he introduced the Second
Reading of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill, which in
accordance with Beveridge's proposals was to replace the old Work-
men's Compensation Acts with an insurance scheme, funded by both
employers and workpeople. It was proposed initially that the benefits
should be related solely to the degree of disability, not to loss of
earning power; and Griffiths told the Social Services Committee that if
additional payments were made to persons obliged to leave their
regular employment 'any such proposal would open the way for a flood
of claims for special consideration.' 10 But Griffiths soon found that the
pressure from the TUC General Council and from his old colleagues
among the miner MPs was too strong for him. They demanded an
increase in the benefits that were to be paid-partly on the grounds that
an employee's contribution was a novelty in the field of Workmen's
Compensation, but also in recognition of the special cases of disability
which prevented a man pursuing his existing occupation. He was
warned that 'if there were no improvements, they would oppose the
Bill' .11
Jowitt thought that the existing rates of compensation (with a
maximum of 4Qs. per week) were 'reasonable', and Paling at once
warned about the danger of repercussions upon the rates for war
pensions. But the main opposition to change came not unnaturally
from the Chancellor of the Exchequer who was said to be 'strongly
opposed to any increase in the benefit rates'. Greenwood promised to
meet a TUC deputation and 'explain to them the position'. When he
did so, however, he was bluntly told that 'if the Bill were not to meet
substantial opposition from the Government side, some concessions
would have to be made' .12 He persuaded them to compromise on the
basis of an increase of the maximum to 45s. per week, instead of the
55s. which they had been demanding. Greenwood was also obliged to
recognise the need for special concessions for the 'partially incapaci-
tated persons whose injuries made it impossible for them to resume
their former employment'. Here the extreme case was that of the
'compositor's finger', which would prevent a printer from following his
accustomed occupation. It was agreed that a concession should be
made to the extent of 25 per cent of the flat rate, that is, to begin with,
11s. 3d. Greenwood referred to these two changes in his speech
winding up the Second Reading debate on 11 October. 13 The Bill was
100 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

readily accepted by the Opposition and reached the Statute Book in

July 1946, but its operation had to await the completion of the benefit
structure with the enactment of the main National Insurance Act, the
National Assistance Act and the National Health Act and the build-up
of the appropriate administration under Griffiths' Ministry.
Meanwhile Griffiths had introduced the Second Reading of his
principal measure, the National Insurance Bill, in February 1946. This
also, as he pointed out at the outset, was based upon the Beveridge
proposals which the Coalition Government had accepted. His new
Ministry would take over several major responsibilities: sickness
benefit from the Ministry of Health and unemployment insurance
from the Ministry of Labour, as well as Workmen's Compensation
from the Home Office. Beveridge had wished to provide for a uniform
level of benefit for sickness, unemployment and old age, roughly at the
subsistence rate, and had suggested 24s. for a single person and 40s. for
a couple. These figures allowed for a 25 per cent increase in the cost of
living since 1938. But since then, Griffiths pointed out, the cost of
living had risen to about 31 per cent above the 1938 level; and so he
proposed payments of 26s. for a single person and 42s. for a couple.
The cost of living would very likely continue to rise, and there would be
a case for introducing a sliding scale: but as the benefits were to be
funded by insurance contributions, there would be difficulties in
making frequent adjustments. Griffiths therefore proposed that the
figures should be reviewed at quinquennial intervals. The worker's
weekly contribution would already be quite high - 5s. 9d. for the
self-employed and 4s. 7d. for the employed- and of this 1Od. would
help to pay for the National Health Service. Griffiths also warned the
House that the return of mass unemployment would 'break this Fund':
it was predicated on the success of the policy of full employment. 14
A three-day debate ensued, in which the Conservative Opposition,
led by R. A. Butler, not unreasonably claimed a share of credit for the
bill, it having been largely shaped before the Coalition fell. The Liberal
leader, Clement Davies, pleaded for the retention of a role for the
Friendly Societies, and pointed out that many MPs, including many of
those on the Government side, had promised this during the general
election. Indeed, The Times later reckoned that 315 MPs, including
199 Labour members, were pledged to support the Friendly
Societies. 15 But the battle on this issue was postponed to the committee
stage, and the Second Reading was passed without a formal division,
only two Opposition MPs standing up to indicate their hostility to it! 6
The proposed retention of a role for the Friendly Societies was
The Making of the Welfare State 101

discussed at the committee stage, but rejected; and on Third Reading

in late May two Labour MPs moved an amendment calling for their
reinstatement. But hardly any of their colleagues on the Government
side supported them in the lobby, and the proposal was voted down by
279 to 184. 17 A more serious revolt took place when Sydney
Silverman, a left-wing member, moved an amendment for the
omission of a clause cutting off benefit after the lapse of six months and
requiring claimants to 'requalify' before a tribunal. Griffiths assured
him that the tribunals would be 'generous'; but this was not good
enough for Silverman, who pointed out that the clause was meant to
emphasise that the scheme was based upon insurance contributions,
and was thus 'regressive': he argued that it would be better to have 'as
in New Zealand, a graduated social Income Tax, in order to provide
the fund' .18 Griffiths declared that there would be no element of the
means test in the work of the tribunals; and Silverman's amendment
was defeated by 246 votes to 44, the Conservative Opposition
But even in conditions of full employment there were bound to be
some cases of special hardship which would not be covered by the main
National Insurance Act. To deal with this, Griffiths had Bevan's aid in
the introduction of an additional measure, the National Assistance
Bill, in the autumn of 194 7. Bevan said that it would cater for people in
'peculiar and special circumstances':

There will be a number of persons who will not be eligible for

insurance benefit. There will be some who will not be eligible for
unemployment benefit, and there will be persons who will be the
object of special affliction, like fires and floods and circumstances of
that kind.

The bill would also cater for those with chronic illnesses, for the blind,
and for the deaf. It would help vagrants.

It is, I should have thought, a very agreeable thing that, despite all
our difficulties, hardships and the diminution of our resources, we
are able to turn our attention to this work at this time. 19

The bill was approved without a division. The payments were to be

made through local offices of the Ministry of National Insurance; and
with this enactment the old Poor Law had finally been abolished.
* * * *
102 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Bevan's main legislative task as Minister of Health was to enact the

long-awaited National Health Service Bill. The need for this had
become accepted during the war. The existing health services were
patchy and by no means comprehensive. 20 The old National Health
Insurance scheme catered for wage-earners, enabling them to secure
the assistance of a medical practitioner if ill; but it did not look after
dependants, or the self-employed. The hospitals were run by a jumble
of authorities, some purely voluntary and dependent upon charity for
their maintenance, some run by local authorities. Many of them were
small 'cottage hospitals' unable to cope with the problems of major
surgery. It was only just before the outbreak of war, in 1938, that for
the first time a full census of hospital beds was made; and this was
because of the expectation of heavy air raids in the event of war, which
were thought likely to occasion heavy civilian casualties. The wartime
Emergency Medical Service was, fortunately, never called upon to
provide for as many casualties as had been thought probable: but
during the war it became virtually a 'national service', involving the
Ministry of Health closely in the supervision of its work. 21
By the end of the war, consequently, planning for a new comprehen-
sive health service had reached an advanced stage. The British Medical
Association itself had set up in 1941 a Medical Planning Commission
which in the following year produced a report recommending control
of health services by regional authorities -larger in most cases than the
existing units of local government - and 'group practice from health
centres' replacing the old system of general practice. These proposals
were given extra weight when in his report on the reconstruction of the
social services Beveridge simply took it for granted ('Assumption B')
that there would be a comprehensive national health service after the
war. As has been mentioned, early in 1943 the Coalition Government
accepted this as a firm commitment.
In the course of the following year Ernest Brown as Minister of
Health and his successor, Henry Willink, negotiated a plan with the
three principal parties involved - the doctors, represented by the
British Medical Association and the colleges of consultants; the
voluntary hospitals; and the local authorities. A White Paper, written
by John Hawton, an official of the Ministry, was published in February
1944, outlining the agreed proposals. 22 The plan would have estab-
lished new regional authorities for controlling local government
hospitals, but the independence of the voluntary hospitals would have
been safeguarded by an elaborate system of fees and grants. As for
general practitioners, some group practices were to be formed, but
The Making of the Welfare State 103

there would also be separate private practices, though the local

distribution of practitioners would have to be regulated. This White
Paper formed the basis for public debate, and for further negotiations
with the interests involved.
At this stage the British Medical Association began to develop cold
feet about some aspects of the proposals. A referendum of its members
found 53 per cent of its members 'unfavourable', although this was not
decisive as the response rate was only 48 per cent. The doctors showed
a small majority (52 per cent) in favour of a major proposal affecting
themselves, the abolition of the sale of practices. The further
negotiations conducted by Willink resulted in so many concessions
that, according to one observer inside the Ministry, the result would
have been 'a planning and administrative system of almost unworkable
complexity' .23 No further public statements were made before the
Coalition broke up and the general election took place; but all the
political parties understood that the new Parliament of whatever
complexion would proceed with legislation for the establishment of a
comprehensive health service.
In April 1943 the Labour Party had published a pamphlet called A
National Service for Health. Although it demanded a 'national,
full-time, salaried, pensionable service' for general practitioners, it did
not go so far as to advocate nationalisation of the hospitals. Instead, it
urged the planning of hospital services, with 'wide powers ... left to
local authorities'. The party's victory at the polls was, therefore, bound
to cause misgivings among doctors, who were mostly hostile to the idea
of a full-time salaried service, and who much disliked the prospect of
control by the local authorities. That the new Minister of Health
should be Aneurin Bevan, who had been one of Churchill's most
persistent wartime critics, only made things worse.
By the autumn of 1945 Bevan was beginning to meet representa-
tives of the BMA, and they began to get to know him. Rather to their
surprise, he turned out to be, as one report in the British Medical
Journal put it, 'obviously clever and charming, with the cherubic
outlook and manner of a boy' .24 But although Bevan listened to what
the doctors had to say, he did not negotiate with them, arguing that it
was now time for the Ministry to present its plans to the Cabinet and to
the Commons. He had been engaged in consultations with his officials,
and John Hawton, who had drafted the earlier White Paper, now
encouraged him to cut the Gordian knot of the hospitals problem by
out-and-out nationalisation. 25 It was somewhat ironic that a Labour
Minister, and one as radical as Bevan, should be prompted by a civil
104 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

servant into an important measure of na tionalisation which was not on

the party programme.
Early in October, therefore, Bevan submitted a Cabinet Paper
urging the nationalisation of the hospitals. He pointed out that 'the
moneys which would have to flow into the voluntary hospitals from
public funds, local or central, would certainly amount to 70 per cent or
more, and would often amount to 80 or 90 per cent, of the individual
hospital's income'. He also argued that the 'great majority' of local
authorities were 'not suited to run a hospital system under modern
conditions'. His conclusion was:

The right course, I am sure, is to nationalise the hospital services

entirely and to take them out of the field of local government
altogether. 26

These proposals did not win immediate acceptance in the Labour

Cabinet, for all the general commitment to similar policies in other
sectors of the polity. Herbert Morrison was upset, because he felt that
the nationalisation schemes to which the Government was already
committed would deprive the local authorities of a great many of their
functions; and as a keen enthusiast for local government himself, he
was anxious to preserve major areas of activity for them. His own
experience had been with the London County Council, and he rightly
regarded the LCC's hospitals as highly efficient.
Just a few days after Bevan's Cabinet Paper was circulated,
therefore, there came another from Morrison, in which he wrote:

I read with admiration what I thought was the brilliant and

imaginative paper of the Minister of Health on the future of the
hospital services. I was attracted by the order and simplicity of the
solution which he offered for a complex and difficult administrative
problem. But then I began to have doubts about some of its wider

He pointed out that there was an equally strong case for nationalising
the police, 'on grounds of administrative convenience and technical
efficiency'. But

We should ... be cautious before taking any step that will weaken
local government ... As to the public, there is a great deal of pride in
the hospitals both public and voluntary ... We cannot claim a
The Making of the Welfare State 105

mandate for the proposal: there is nothing in Let Us Face the Future
to suggest that we intended to do this. 27

The issue was resolved in Bevan's favour at a Cabinet meeting on 18

October 1945. Bevan's standpoint was supported by Lord Addison,
himself a doctor and a former Minister of Health, and by Tom
Williams, Ellen Wilkinson and Jack Lawson, all of them representing
the standpoint of the provinces rather than of the metropolis. The
Prime Minister summed up in Bevan's favour, and Morrison was
defeated. 28
While the bill to accomplish this was still in gestation, the Cabinet
approved with little disagreement a proposal for 'terminating the
custom of buying and selling medical practices'; and Bevan announced
this in the Commons on 6 December. 29 It was recognised that
'appropriate compensation' must be paid to doctors who would
otherwise be out of pocket. The National Health Service Bill went to
the Cabinet for final approval in March 1946. Bevan admitted that
government supporters might dislike some features of the bill, notably
his concession on the provision of pay-beds in hospitals for private
patients, and also the method of payment for doctors, which did not
achieve, as the party's policy statement had demanded in 1943, a
'full-time salaried service'. 30 He told the Cabinet that 'as regards the
remuneration of doctors, he was satisfied that under a full-time
salaried service, which was advocated by some Government suppor-
ters, it would not be possible to give freedom in the choice of a
doctor.' 31 If in these respects Bevan's policy was conciliatory, his
solution of the hospital problem was sufficiently radical to provoke a
cry of anguish from the Chairman of the British Hospitals Association,
Sir Bernard Docker, to the effect that this was a 'mass murder of the
hospitals' .32 But Lancet, the independent medical journal, expressed
approval of Bevan's policy, and The Times described his solution of
the hospital problem as being 'as good as any alternative yet pro-
pounded' .33
Bevan introduced the Second Reading debate on his bill on 30 April
1946. He pointed first to the unsatisfactory nature of medical
treatment under the existing system. The hospitals presented a chaotic
picture, and they were often too small to supply proper treatment:

Although I am not a devotee of bigness for bigness' sake, I would

rather be kept alive in the efficient if cold altruism of a large hospital
than expire in a gush of warm sympathy in a small one.
106 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

As for the voluntary system, it was a sorry business that hospitals

should depend on private charity:

I have always felt a shudder of repulsion when I have seen nurses and
sisters who ought to be at their work, and students who ought to be at
their work, going about the streets collecting money for the

In any case, if up to 90 per cent of their revenues came directly or

indirectly from the State it was inappropriate to call them 'voluntary'. 34
Bevan said that he could sympathise with the medical profession's
unwillingness to be subordinated to local authorities. Under his
scheme, doctors would be able to receive a basic salary, and in addition
have capitation fees and also fees paid by private patients. In private,
he had told his colleagues on the Cabinet's Social Services Committee
that he 'looked towards the establishment of a full-time medical
service in due course'. 35 He was not so frank in public: in the Second
Reading speech he said that the profession was 'not ripe' for a full-time
salaried service; but suspicions were aroused among the doctors when
in reply to a Conservative questioner he said, 'There is all the difference
in the world between plucking fruit when it is ripe and plucking it when
it is green.' and when Greenwood, in summing up, said of the 1943
pamphlet: 'What was published by my party in 1943 ... we of course
stand by. ' 36 There was no difficulty in passing the bill through the
Commons; and even in the Lords opposition was very limited,
especially as both Beveridge and Moran were there to support the
government peers. The bill reached the Statute Book on 6 November
Thenceforward any difficulties in bringing the measure into opera-
tion were likely to be with the doctors, who in their fear of a 'full-time
salaried service' might refuse to join. A new plebiscite held by the
BMA resulted in a majority of 8 per cent against joining the scheme.
Deadlock persisted for a while, to be broken only by an initiative from
the Presidents of the specialist Royal Colleges. Three of them wrote a
letter to Bevan on 2 January 1947, urging fresh negotiations, and
Bevan replied in friendly terms on 6 January. He agreed to discuss
safeguards for the independence of the practitioners, and declared that
he did not propose to engage in any direction of doctors except in so far
as those seeking to start a practice would have to secure the approval of
a central committee, itself largely composed of doctors:
The Making of the Welfare State 107

There is no power to direct a doctor to go anywhere ... There is a

provision the sole object of which is to avoid an undue concentration
of doctors in any one area. 37

The scheme was not to come into force until 1948, along with the
National Insurance Act. The two need not necessarily have been
linked, but the Government found it convenient to allow some time for
the preparations. The date finally chosen was 5 July, and the BMA's
rearguard battles were fought in the early months of 1948. Bevan
reported to the Cabinet in January about the BMA secretary, Dr
Charles Hill, well-known during the war as 'the Radio Doctor':

Dr Hill is the accepted Conservative candidate for Luton and it

would be a feather in his cap to try to enter Parliament as the
Conservative who stopped a major social measure of this Govern-

The BMA was taking another plebiscite; and late in January the
Cabinet decided on the unusual expedient of arranging a special
debate in the Commons, designed to explain the Act to the doctors
once more and to press them to accept it. The debate took place on 9
February, when Bevan moved a resolution welcoming the National
Health Service and declaring that the House was 'satisfied that the
conditions under which all the professions are invited to participate are
generous and fully in accord with their traditional freedom and
dignity. ' 39
In spite of this, the results of the BMA plebiscite, announced on 18
February, still showed strong disapproval of the Act in its existing
form. The voting was 40 814 against the Act and 4735 for it. This was
enough to cause Bevan to make a further effort to reconcile the
doctors. On 7 April he told the Commons that he realised that their
fear was of a full-time salaried service; and he now agreed that a
commitment not to introduce one should be incorporated in an
amending statute. This undertaking was followed by a further plebis-
cite of BMA members, the result of which was announced on 5 May.
Although this still showed the doctors as a whole opposed to the
scheme by a substantial majority- 25 842 to 14 620- a major shift of
opinion had taken place; and among general practitioners there were
8639 for accepting the service as against 9588 intransigent opponents.
Bevan agreed to modify still further the conditions of the basic salary
for doctors, and on the strength of this the BMA Council finally
108 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

recommended doctors to take part in the scheme. An Amending Act

was passed in 1949, incorporating the safeguards that had been
extracted from the Minister. 40
In his memoirs Dr Hill - later Lord Hill of Luton - stressed the
principal achievement of the BMA:

What, above all else, it had fought to avoid was a State salaried
service for general practitioners, and in this it succeeded. 41

But as the Association's secretary he had recognised the danger of the

officers losing touch with the rank and file, perhaps precipitating the
collapse of the Association itself as had happened in the contest with
Lloyd George before the First World War. The danger signal that Hill
had noticed was the unwillingness of doctors to contribute to the
BMA's fighting fund, the response to which, as he recorded, was 'very
discouraging' .42 He acknowledged the merits of Bevan's reorganisa-
tion of the hospitals, 'Whatever the flaws in the Service today, nothing
can detract from the greatness of the unified hospital service plan.' 43

* * * *
Bevan was also the principal Minister in charge of housing- a key issue
during the general election. The Labour Party had pledged itself to
establish a 'Ministry of Housing and Planning combining the Housing
powers of the Ministry of Health with the planning powers of the
Ministry of Town and Country Planning'; 44 but Greenwood told the
Commons shortly after the formation of the Government:

surveying the situation now, it is quite clear that if that policy were
carried into effect it would entail legislation, and that would mean
more inter-departmental confusion and delay ... In the meantime,
the most that can be said is that the Ministry of Housing and
Planning is in cold storage. 45

And Bevan, although also involved with the legislation to establish the
Health Service, was apparently happy that his Ministry should deal
with Housing as well, since this was the department through which the
Government kept in touch with the local authorities, and they were to
have the principal role in the planning, building, and letting of houses.
It was true, as Attlee explained to the Commons in July 1946, that
there was a large number of other departments also concerned with
Housing: in the first place, the Secretary of State for Scotland
The Making of the Welfare State 109

supervised the Scottish housing programme; then, the Minister of

Works had a 'general responsibility for the organisation and efficiency
of the building industry', and was in charge of the temporary housing
programme which the Coalition Government had begun. The Minister
of Supply was to see to the provision of 'materials and components
falling within the scope of the general engineering industry'; and the
President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Transport also had
to secure other materials that were required. For some reason Attlee
did not mention the Minister of Town and Country Planning, who had
to decide where the houses were to be built. But he concluded that
'Co-ordination is secured by regular meetings of the Ministers
concerned under the chairmanship of the Minister of Health.' 46 He did
not reveal that meetings of Ministers concerned with Housing had
been taking place regularly under his own chairmanship, on the
analogy, as he told his colleagues, of the wartime meetings 'on such
matters as the progress of the battle of the Atlantic' .47
The temporary housebuilding programme, begun under an Act of
1944 - the Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act - was by no
means without value, but it had its drawbacks. One type, the Portal
House, had to be discontinued at an early stage because it was made of
sheet steel, and threatened to take up the entire British manufacture of
this material, which was urgently needed for industrial purposes.
Nevertheless over 150 000 temporary houses, or 'prefabs' as they
were called, were completed in the years 1945-8, the peak year being
1946 when over 83 000 were built. 48 Although only designed to last
ten years many of them were still in use even in the 1960s. Many
families were also housed in camps previously used by the Services and
other government departments, which had been transferred to the
local authorities. A powerful incentive in securing the transfer was
'squatting' by homeless families, which took place spontaneously in
the summer of 1946. 49 A further important contribution to the easing
of the housing shortage was made by the repair of war-damaged
property and by the conversion of existing large houses to accommo-
date more families than before.
But Bevan was likely to be judged, and was willing to be judged, by
his contribution to the building of new permanent houses. He had
himself criticised Willink's target for the immediate post-war period:

in the first year after the war 100 000 houses will be built and
200 000 houses would be put in hand - not finished, mark you- in
the second year. That promise is what the Prime Minister in his
110 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

broadcast of March 1944 described as the first line of attack on the

problem. Not much of a blitzkrieg, is it? It has taken five years of
governmental labouring to give birth to that mouse. 50

Once in office Bevan wisely decided to announce no targets, but he

undertook to provide monthly progress reports. He relied very largely
upon the local authorities, and indeed restricted private building for
sale to a proportion of one-fifth of the total. He insisted that the local
authorities should plan for houses large enough to 'provide a water
closet at ground level in houses of three or more bedrooms.' This
meant a size of 900-950 square feet excluding outbuildings, compared
to the 800-900 square feet proposed by the Coalition Government. 5 1

TABLE 6.1 Permanent Houses Completed in Great Britain, 1945-51

For local For private

authorities owners Others*
%of %of %of
Year Number total Number total Number total TOTAL

1945 1 936 64 1 078 36 3 014

1946 25 013 45 30 219 55 168 55 400
1947 97 340 70 40 980 29 1 370 1 139 690
1948 190 368 84 32 751 14 4497 2 227 616
1949 165 946 84 25 790 13 5 891 3 197 627
1950 163 670 82 27 358 14 7 143 4 198171
1951 162 584 83 22 551 12 9 696 5 194 831
TOTALS 806 857 79 180 727 18 28 765 3 1 016 349

* Housing associations and houses provided for Government Departments.

SouRcE: Herbert Ashworth, Housing in Great Britain (1957) p. 41, quoting
MHLG returns.

It will be seen from Table 6.1 that Bevan's achievement fell far short
of expectation; and the Conservative Opposition showed no hesitation
in drawing attention to this fact. It was argued in successive Commons
debates that if the speculative builder had been free to build, the
number of houses completed would soon have returned to the pre-war
level of over 350 000 houses a year. But Bevan was quite capable of
defending himself in public. He pointed out that Willink, his predeces-
sor as Minister of Health, had acknowledged that the 'vast majority' of
post-war houses would have to be the responsibility of the local
authorities. 52 Bevan was also faced by shortages of building materials
throughout his term of office.
The Making of the Welfare State 111

In 1946 the Housing Committee minutes record a catalogue of

deficiencies which beset the programme. In January Bevan reported a
'serious shortage of timber', and George Tomlinson, the Minister of
Works, said that the 'present rate of brick production is ... about
one-fifth of the pre-war rate'. The Scottish Ministers complained of
'questions of demarcation' among the building workers, and deplored
the bricklayers' adoption of the total of 320 bricks a day as 'a normal,
instead of a minimum, rate' .53 Isaacs was instructed to talk to the
officers of the Federation of Building Trade Operatives, and he did so
in March, apparently securing their promise to co-operate: but the
problem still remained at the local level, as Buchanan, the Scottish
Under-Secretary, indicated at a meeting of Ministers in December. 54
Meanwhile, to cope with the shortage of bricks, Bevan had tried to
persuade the Cabinet to oblige brickworkers still in uniform to work at
their trade pending release. He was thwarted, however, by the Foreign
Secretary, who remained Chairman of the Manpower Committee and
defended with vigour the details of the demobilisation scheme for
which as Coalition Minister of Labour he had been personally
responsible, declaring:

As regards the objections raised by the Minister of Health ... it had

always been his view that it would be highly dangerous to attempt to
apply military penalties to Servicemen who refused to undertake
civilian work, and this had not in fact been attempted during the

As for the timber shortage, that was something that could only be
remedied by imports from abroad, notably from Sweden; but the
Swedes would not supply timber unless they could obtain coal in
exchange, and this was not available for export in the early post-war
In a debate in the Commons in October 1946 Bevan pointed to the
success of the building industry in repairing damaged houses and in
dividing large houses into smaller units of accommodation. He pointed
to the amount of effort devoted to the temporary house-building
programme, and also to its limitations, which were partly due to the
Coalition Government underestimating the cost of the components.
As for the slow completion of permanent houses, he argued paradoxi-
cally that this was due to 'the very success of the local authorities,
because a larger number of houses was actually put into contract than
the industry was able to handJe'. He had now given instructions that
112 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

houses that were up to eaves' level at the end of August were to be

given priority. He argued, somewhat naively:

If the Whitehall machine and the regional machine between them,

and the local authorities, have put under contract far more houses
than the building industry can in fact begin to erect, how can the
delay be a defect of that machine? 56

The Economic Survey for 194 7 committed Bevan, rather against his
will, to a target for permanent house-building of 240 000. 57 But this
figure soon turned out to be unattainable: the harsh winter saw to that.
As he told the Commons:

It was not merely that site work stopped; the production of basic
materials, such as cement, bricks and pipes, stopped. What is much
more important ... was the diversion of a large number of building
workers from the finishing stages of homes to the repair of houses
damaged by floods and frost. 58

Further deliberate restrictions were to come, as a result of the dollar

crisis of the summer. At a Cabinet meeting on 1 August, Bevan was
forced to agree to 'some reduction' in housing. 5 9 This was one of many
other cuts in capital expenditure, but was also partly dictated by the
need to save the 'hard' currency that was needed for timber imports. In
October, when the need for economy became still more urgent, it was
decided that the level of timber imports should suffice for an annual
programme of 140 000 houses only. Bevan accepted this in
emergency, because he knew that timber was already on site for some
100 000 houses already under construction: but he asked that the
ration should be reconsidered in June 1948.60
Already in February 1948 Cripps as Chancellor felt able to afford
some relaxation: enough timber for an extra 30 000 houses was
proposed, and the Cabinet accepted this, it being understood that
otherwise 'there would be an embarrassing surplus of bricks and other
building materials and heavy unemployment among building crafts-
men in certain areas'. 81 In fact well over 200 000 houses were built in
1948, and the figures for 1949 and 1950 were little short of 200 000
each, in spite of a further cut in capital investment in late 1949.
Nevertheless the housing shortage remained acute. Bevan explained
this by reference to full employment, compared with pre-war unem-
ployment: people in the old days 'did not apply for houses because they
The Making of the Welfare State 113

could not afford them'. 62 But Bevan's explanations could not ward off
the force of public criticism on this matter. In October 1950, at the
Conservative Party Conference at Blackpool, a resolution was carried
against the platform committing the party to a programme of 300 000
houses a year. 63 The commitment was accepted by the leadership and
played its part in Labour's final defeat in the election of 1951.
The development of Town and Country Planning would appear, at
first sight, a natural issue for conflict between the Labour Government
and the Conservative Opposition. But in practice the Government's
legislation stemmed from the work of civil servants in wartime; the
Ministry had been set up by an Act of 1943; and, as J. B. Cullingworth
says in his official history, 'the ending of the war and the return of
single-party government appears to have had remarkably little
effect'. 64 Lewis Silkin's Town and Country Planning Act of 1947
reduced the number of planning authorities in the case of England and
Wales from 1441 to 145 - they were county and county borough
councils- and also divorced land use from land ownership, a change in
the former requiring the approval of a planning authority. Increase in
value resulting from such change was to be the property of the State:
but the loss of development rights was compensated by a sum of 300
million divisible between landowners who established a claim. These
financial provisions did not work well, and only briefly outlasted the
Labour Government.
The planning administration set up by the 194 7 Act was more
effective. In conjunction with the new towns, authorised under an Act
of 1946, it did much to ensure the orderly development of both old and
new communities. By the end of 1950, 'corporations' had been
established for the construction of fifteen new towns, eight of them in
the Home Counties. 65 A further measure introduced by Silkin, the
National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949, enabled a
National Parks Commission to choose 'extensive areas of beautiful and
relatively wild country' for designation: the first three were in the Peak
District, the Lake District, and Snowdonia. When Dalton succeeded
Silkin as Minister of Town and Country Planning in 1950, he took a
special interest in this aspect of his work. 66

* * * *
One major social service, education, involved no major legislation for
the Labour Government, because, as we have seen, an agreed Act
which embodied a considerable advance, the Butler Act, had been
placed upon the Statute Book in 1944. Attlee's first Minister of
114 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Education, Ellen Wilkinson, was afforded membership of the Cabinet,

as was her successor, George Tomlinson. Miss Wilkinson, born in
1891, had gone right through the State education system at Manches-
ter, eventually securing a university degree. She had served as a trade
union organiser for the Shopworkers, and as MP for Jarrow from 1935
had led the famous march of the unemployed shipyard workers to
Westminster in 1936- a march commemorated in her book The Town
that was Murdered. 67 During the war she had been Herbert Morrison's
Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Home Security; and at the
end of the war she was among those who sought to make Morrison
Leader of the Party in place of Attlee. 68
Her first task was to secure the raising of the school-leaving age to 15
-a reform which had been impending in 1939, and which was only put
off owing to the outbreak of war. On the 23 August 1945 the Cabinet
authorised in principle the appointment of 1 April194 7 as the date for
the change, and then set up a committee to investigate its feasibility. 69
As the Ministry of Education under Butler during the Coalition had
already established an Emergency Training Scheme for teachers, and
as the Ministry of Works undertook to put into effect a hutting
operation to provide much of the extra accommodation required, the
committee reported back in the affirmative, and so the Cabinet's
decision was confirmed on 4 September. 70 The decision to go ahead at
a time of such acute labour shortage was a brave one. Braver still,
though, was its re-affirmation in January 194 7, when a postponement
of five months, until September, was proposed to the Cabinet by the
Lord President. Miss Wilkinson told her colleagues:

It would deprive 150 000 children of a whole year's education, and

the children to suffer would be precisely those whose education had
been most seriously interrupted by the war . . . The additional
teachers and accommodation would be ready. 71

Unhappily, Miss Wilkinson did not herself live to see the change, for
she died of an overdose of drugs on 6 February. She had been taking
medication for asthma and insomnia, and the Coroner concluded that
there was 'no shred of evidence' that she had deliberately taken her
own life. 72
Attlee replaced her as Minister with George Tomlinson, a former
Lancashire half-timer in the cotton industry who had been Minister of
Works since the formation of the Government. His qualifications for
the post were stronger than might at first be supposed for a man who
The Making of the Welfare State 115

had himself left school at twelve. He had been active on the Lancashire
Education Committee and had served as chairman of the Association
of Education Committees. Further, as Minister of Works he had been
in charge of the emergency school-building programme HORSA
(Hutting Operation for the Raising of the School Age ). 73 It was
reckoned that by the autumn of 1948 an extra 400 000 children would
require school places. 74 In addition to this, there was a post-war bulge
in the birthrate which by 1953 was expected to increase the school-age
population by about one-fifth, or roughly one million. 75
The most controversial issue affecting education in these years was
one which arose within the ranks of the Labour Party itself. In the
Coalition days, the Ministry had begun to encourage the establishment
of three types of secondary school, namely, grammar, modern and
technical, and the segregation of the three groups of children by
examination at the age of eleven. The proposals were embodied in a
Ministry pamphlet entitled The Nation's Schools, which was not
withdrawn when Labour took office. 76 Ellen Wilkinson did not think
there was anything wrong with this: she wanted to defend the grammar
schools, and argued at the 1946 Labour Party Conference:

If the teachers get the same salary, if the holidays are the same and if,
as far as possible, the buildings are as good in each case, then you get
in practice the parity for which the teachers are quite rightly
asking. 77

But she was vigorously attacked by W. G. Cove, MP, who, speaking on

behalf of the National Association of Labour Teachers, described this
policy as 'reactionary'; and his resolution of criticism was carried
against the wishes of the National Executive of the Party. Cove's
alternative was the multilateral or comprehensive school, in which
there was no attempt to segregate children by aptitude at so early an
On this issue Tomlinson was at one with Ellen Wilkinson. He gave
no Ministerial support to the development of comprehensive schools;
and in January 1950, as he told the Commons in a written answer,
there were in fact only eight in existence: four in London, three in
Middlesex, and one at WalsalJ.1 9 But by this time the comprehensive
school idea was gaining ground, and Alice Bacon, MP, who was a
member of the Party's National Executive, asked Tomlinson in the
116 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

WiJI my Right Honourable Friend do everything he can to

encourage these schools and so abolish the dreadful system of
deciding, when a child is ten years old, what its future shall be?

Tomlinson's reply was not very reassuring, as he simply said that he

was 'encouraging all types of school, including these' .80
Alice Bacon continued her battle within the Party's National
Executive, of which she was Chairman in 1950-51. After the Dorking
Conference on Future Policy in May 1950 it was agreed that the
Education Minister, George Tomlinson, his Parliamentary Secretary,
David Hardman and the Secretary of State for Scotland, Hector
McNeil, should meet the National Executive's Policy Committee to
discuss educational policy. 81 This meeting, which was held on 19 June,
led to the appointment of a sub-committee to report back. After a long
delay a paper was prepared by the Party's Research Department,
emphasising that in the process of selecting children at the age of
eleven 'the margin of error is considerable' .82 But when Tomlinson and
Hardman again met the sub-committee in April 1951, it was apparent
that they had not changed their minds:

Mr Tomlinson reiterated his support for comprehensive schools,

although he pointed out theory as advanced in statements of policy
may sometimes be ahead of practicability ... One factor was that
now, due to the 1944 Act ... a vested interest in the retention of the
grammar schools had in some places become evident in working-
class parents ... Mr David Hardman suggested that proof was
required before any claims could be put forward for the comprehen-
sive schools. 83

Not long after this Tomlinson fell ill, and was in hospital at the time of
the 1951 election. 84 The Labour manifesto declared rather ambigu-

We shall extend our policy of glVlng all young people equal

opportunities in education. We shall encourage a spirit of hope and
adventure in the young. 85

A substantial move forward to extend the comprehensive system had

to wait until the 1960s.

* * * *
The Making of the Welfare State 117

In the case of education, the Labour Government's contribution had

been one of putting into operating a scheme already enacted by the
Coalition Government; elsewhere, the social services had been
transformed by Labour legislation, but also often upon agreed lines,
largely recommended by William Beveridge, himself a member of the
Liberal Party. This meant that comprehensive insurance, much of it in
the form of regressive taxation, had been substituted for a patchy
paternalism. Broadcasting on the eve of the introduction of the new
system on 4 July 1948, Attlee said:

The four Acts which come into force tomorrow- National Insur-
ance, Industrial Injuries, National Assistance and the National
Health Service - represent the main body of the army of social
security ... They are comprehensive and available to every citizen.
They give security to all members of the family. 86

Nobody as yet used the term 'Welfare State' to describe the new
system; and Beveridge himself always disliked the term, which he
thought implied rights without duties. 87
The history of the term 'Welfare State' is in fact a curious one.
Before the war the term had first been used in Britain by the Oxford
Professor of International Relations, Alfred Zimmern, to describe the
type of democratic state then in existence, such as Britain, the
Dominions, the United States and some other European nations, as
contrasted with the 'Power State', in which the state 'becomes an
object in itself to which human beings are subservient' .88 Zimmern's
terminology was taken up by Sir George Schuster, the economist, who
in lecturing on Anglo-American relations in 1937 said that

The best way for what I term 'welfare' States to undermine the
influence of dictators in 'power' States is to show that they
themselves produce welfare for their people. 89

Archbishop William Temple used the expression in the same sense in

1941 when he wrote 'In place of the conception of the Power-State we
are led to that of the Welfare-State.' 90
The term was hardly used again until President Truman launched a
programme of social reform for Congressional approval in 1948 - his
so-called 'Fair Deal'- which the Republicans criticised as offering the
country a 'Welfare State'- by which they meant a state in which a high
proportion of the population would be in receipt of doles. 91 In the
118 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

autumn of 1949 the criticism of the 'Welfare State' in America reached

its climax at a Senatorial by-election in New York State, where John
Foster Dulles, the Republican candidate, made it an issue of his
campaign. He was defeated by Herbert H. Lehman, a liberal Demo-
crat, who was not afraid to defend the concept. 92 The liberal Democrats'
journal ADA World defended the British National Health Service
against attack by its American opponents, among whom the American
Medical Association was prominent. In an attempt to imply that the
NHS's treatment of doctors was harsh and mechanical, they had
reported that 'Doctor 2108' had just 'quit the NHS'. 93
Meanwhile the term 'Welfare State' had spread back to Britain, and
there too it was first used pejoratively, by Conservative spokesmen. In
a Commons debate in July 1949 Oliver Lyttelton, from the Opposition
front bench, warned that 'the people can have a welfare state with full
employment and today's rations and the present financial policy, only
for a very short time' .94 But Ernest Bevin, replying to the debate,
wished to avoid the implication that Britain was markedly more lavish
in its social services than the United States:

From the point of view of what is called the welfare State and social
services, I beg the House not to drag this business into a kind of
partisan warfare ... This so-called welfare State has developed
everywhere. The United States is as much a welfare State as we are
only in a different form. 95

Bevin was perhaps especially conscious of the American Congres-

sional criticisms of Britain's social advances at a time when the United
States was obliged to find support for her in the form of Marshall Aid;
but it was not long before the term became accepted by the Labour
Party as a matter for self-congratulation; and by 1950 the Prime
Minister, in his letter of encouragement to successive Labour by-
election candidates, was saying with pride of his first administration
that 'During this period the foundations of the Welfare State have
been well and truly laid.' 96
7 Bevin and Labour Foreign
In placing Bevin at the Foreign Office, Attlee made what turned out to
be his most important single appointment, and almost the most
permanent. 1 As the most influential trade-union leader of his time,
Bevin had naturally interested himself primarily in domestic affairs.
He had served as a member of the Macmillan Committee on Finance
and Industry, formed in 1929, and had shown himself eager to learn
from Keynes and other economists. During his wartime service as
Minister of Labour he worked out a demobilisation scheme, which he
continued to oversee as Chairman of the Manpower Committee of
Attlee's Cabinet from 1945 to 194 7. But, as we have seen, he also
showed interest in foreign policy questions when they came before the
Cabinet during the War; and on occasion he had not hesitated to
disagree with Churchill on major issues. He had also made two major
speeches on foreign policy to the Labour Party Conferences of 1944
and 1945, the former defending Coalition policy in Greece, which was
then under attack from a wide spectrum of opponents, and the latter in
more general terms, emphasising the importance of economic factors.
By the end of the war Bevin was sixty-four. His importance within
the Labour Party derived from the fact that his union, the Transport
and General Workers, was now the largest in the party and indeed in
the country; and that it was firmly under the control of a former
colleague, Arthur Deakin, who was completely loyal to Bevin's ideas.
Bevin's role in the politics of the party in the 1930s has already been
outlined. When he joined the wartime Coalition he forsook his direct
union responsibilities, but as Minister of Labour and National Service
he was much in the public eye- more so, indeed, than Attlee himself.
His heavy build and ungrammatical speech seemed typical of the rank
and file of the workers whom he represented. But his Cabinet
colleagues, both Labour and Conservative, had no doubt about his
ability: in 1942 Beaverbrook may actually have urged him to make a

120 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

bid for the Premiership- a suggestion of which he took no notice. 2 By

the end of the war he had been a member of the War Cabinet for over
four years, and had thus served in it longer than any other Labour
leader except Attlee himself.
Bevin's first trip by air was his flight to Potsdam on 27 July 1945-
the very day on which he had kissed hands at Buckingham Palace. Sir
Alexander Cadogan, the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign
Office, soon noticed that although Attlee had previously been present
at the talks and knew more about what was being discussed, Bevin
soon took charge. In a letter to his wife Cadogan wrote:

Bevin effaces Attlee, and at Big Three meetings he does all the
talking while Attlee nods his head convulsively and smokes his
pipe. 3

Pierson Dixon, Bevin's Principal Private Secretary - inherited from

Anthony Eden - thought that he had detected two peculiarities:

a perhaps too pronounced slant towards Russia and against

America, and a wholly delightful assumption that, of the three, we
were still the biggest.

The first of these impressions was incorrect. Like Attlee, Bevin had
few illusions about the Soviet Union. Like Attlee, he had already done
his best to warn the Labour Party about the danger of supposing that it
would be easy to associate with the Russian regime after the war. At
the Party Conference of 1944 he had warned the delegates that 'we
cannot govern this world by emotionalism' ,5 and at the Blackpool
Conference in May 1945, just before the General Election, he had

Revolutions do not change geography ... I say this to my Russian

friends ... Round the table we must get, but do not present us with
faits accomplis when we get there. 6

What Dixon noticed later was more a matter of style than of policy:

Strangely Hanoverian atmosphere at Potsdam, contrasting with the

gay regime of the Stuarts. They are very business-like and imper-
turbable, these new people, and give confidence to all around them.
Bevin does not fuss in the slightest, takes every problem in his stride,
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 121

and relaxes comfortably in the evening over whiskies and anec-


Another Foreign Office man at Potsdam, William Hayter, recorded in

his memoirs that 'this heavy, ugly man had extraordinary charm: all the
FO delegation were captured before they knew what was happening' .8
Hugh Dalton tells us in his autobiography that as Parliamentary
Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office in 1929 he persuaded the new
Labour Foreign Secretary, Arthur Henderson, to give each of his
senior officials a copy of the Labour policy statement prepared before
the immediately preceding General Election, so that they should all
know what the party view was. 9 Such a course was not adopted by
Bevin. He probably felt that, whereas he and the members of the War
Cabinet had been grappling with the real problems for years, Labour's
National Executive, who drew up the party's foreign policy statement,
were subject to domestic pressures of a partisan nature which had little
relevance to the real world. Bevin continued to consult his Conserva-
tive predecessor, Anthony Eden, whose ability he respected: his
channel of direct communication was his Private Secretary, Dixon. 10
After the first parliamentary debate on foreign affairs in August 1945
one Labour MP was reported to have commented, 'How fat Anthony
has grown.' 11 It was in his speech on this occasion that Bevin said that in
Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary 'the impression we get from recent
developments is that one kind of totalitarianism is being replaced by
another'. 12
The following month, the Council of Foreign Ministers met in
London, and Molotov, the Russian Foreign Minister, made a bid to
secure the former Italian colony of Tripolitania for the Soviet Union.
Attlee had been inclined to take the view that Britain should withdraw
from the area as being an unnecessary commitment; but Bevin,
marshalling in his support the Chiefs of Staff and also Field-Marshal
Smuts, the South African Premier, persuaded the Cabinet to agree to
hold on at least to Cyrenaica and to keep the Russians away from
Tripoli.' 3 At the end of the month, in conflict with Molotov, Bevin
went so far as to say that the Russian foreign minister's attitude was
'reminiscent of Hitler' .' 4 This comment almost caused a complete
breakdown and the Conference ended without agreement on 2
October. Then in January 1946 occurred the incident in London when,
after a complaint to the Secretary-General of the United Nations by
Iran that Russian troops were encouraging a separatist movement
within its borders, Vyshinsky, the Soviet delegate, with a colleague in
122 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

the Ukrainian delegation accused Britain of interfering in the internal

affairs of Greece and Indonesia. Ernest Bevin in his vigorous reply
went so far as to say that 'the danger to the peace of the world has been
the incessant propaganda from Moscow against the British Common-
wealth'.15 It is clear, therefore, that from the early months of holding
office Bevin was prepared for trouble in Anglo-Soviet relations.

* * * *
But whatever the difficulties with the Soviet Union, her other major
wartime ally was also at odds with Britain. The abrupt termination of
Lend-Lease, one month after the end of the war against Japan, forced
Britain to go cap in hand to the United States for a loan to assist her
post-war recovery, and the terms of the loan, which was slowly
negotiated in the winter of 1945-6 and then approved by Congress in
the spring and summer of 1946, were, as we have seen, not such as to
convince people in Britain of continued generosity from across the
Atlantic. 16 The British attitude to the United States mingled respect
with distrust: the Americans had emerged from the war stronger and
more prosperous than ever before; but the rapid reduction of
American forces in Europe was accompanied by an assertion of
American control over insular outposts, as if there was to be a revival
of the 'Fortress America' concept. Just within the European periphery,
the State Department sought to retain its special position in Iceland
and the Azores, which gave Bevin concern in case the Russians should
demand compensating rights in Denmark and Norway; 17 and in the
Pacific, where the settlement with Japan was controlled almost
exclusively by the United States, James Byrnes, Truman's Secretary of
State, privately invited the British Government to cede one of the
Gilbert and Ellice Islands to form an American base. This demand was
refused by the British Cabinet. 18
The prospect of an alliance between Britain and the United States in
the post-war world seemed at first quite remote. But of course the
Russians were aware of the wartime collaboration of the two
Anglo-Saxon powers and were inclined to exaggerate its survival
afterwards. Adam Watson, the First Secretary of the British Embassy
in Moscow, in a review of the Soviet Press in 1945, emphasised

In setting themselves to split the Anglo-Saxon partnership ... the

Soviet Government naturally began by attacking Britain ... South-
ward expansion, which stood high on the list of Soviet priorities,
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 123

came into collision with British rather than American strategic

interests. 19

The Embassy's Quarterly Report for January to March 1946 was in the
same vein:

After the UNO meeting in London Soviet bitterness developed in

the form of a constant press and radio campaign, which spread to a
general attack on Britain and British interests everywhere, but
usually with special reference to the Middle East. 20

The United States, on the other hand, was able at first to take a
rather distant view of this Soviet challenge in the Middle East. A
corresponding summary of political opinion sent to the Foreign Office
from the Washington Embassy in early February 1946 said that

There is a recrudescence of the tendency to view the difficulties in

the Middle East in terms of a clash between rival Imperialisms for oil
and power in which the United States has no immediate interest ...
Several commentators, including Lippmann, have taken the line
that a reorientation of British foreign policy in the Middle East is the
only solution. 21

At this time the American Administration was boasting of the speed of

its military demobilisation: Robert P. Patterson, the Secretary of War,
announced that of 8 300 000 men in uniform in May 1945, no fewer
than 7 750 000 would have been released by the end of June 1946. It
was planned to bring the size of the Army - excluding Air Force
elements- down to 600 000 by the same time of the following year. 22
Winston Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' speech at Fulton, Missouri, in
March 1946 came- according to the Embassy- as the 'sharpest jolt to
American thinking of any utterance since the end of the war'.
Although Truman and his principal aide, Admiral Leahy, both
congratulated the Opposition Leader on his speech, press and
Congressional opinion were generally hostile. 23 In the second quarter
of 1946, however, the Soviet press broadened its attack: according to
the British Embassy in Moscow, there was a

switch-over to the United States as the principal target for attack,

which did not, however, result in any abandonment of the anti-
British campaign: indeed, we came to be regarded as the junior and
more vulnerable partner in 'an Anglo-Saxon atomic bloc'. 24
124 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

As we shall see, the 'atomic bloc' was largely a figment of the Russian
The growing Soviet hostility to the United States, which was duly
reciprocated, was for Britain, as we have seen, a useful factor in
persuading Congress to pass the Loan legislation, which was signed by
President Truman on 15 July 1946. But the Foreign Office could
hardly conclude that the increasing warmth of Anglo-American
relations was anything more than a reflection of coolness in Soviet-
American relations. As Halifax put it as early as November 1945,
there was a 'well-established principle that our stocks appreciate as
those of the Soviet Union decline and vice versa'. 25
In the spring of 1946 Halifax was succeeded at the Washington
Embassy by Lord Inverchapel, a professional diplomat who while in
Moscow had succeeded in securing the personal friendship of Stalin.
This did not mean that he was in any sense pro-Soviet; and after some
months in his new post he wrote to the Prime Minister in some concern
to express his view that many Americans, though now worried about
the aggrandisement of the Soviet Union, had lost faith in Britain's
capacity to resist the encroachment of Communism in Europe. 26
Attlee replied to the effect that Britain was not by any means happy
with the attitude of the United States; 27 and Bevin, who also saw
Inverchapel's letter, replied that

There are very many great friends of mine in the Labour Party who
are not by any means fellow travellers, who are influenced in their
attitude on Anglo-American relations because they feel the United
States Administration has given us a pretty raw deal.

He thought that the American attitude was 'ungenerous' when 'it gets
to business and not talk'. 28 As it happened, this was less than three
months before the Marshall offer was made, and after that he took a
different view.

* * * *
Although it was only a very select few who knew about it, the
Americans were felt to be especially ungenerous to Britain in the
sphere of atomic energy. 29 The whole American atomic programme
during the war had received its inspiration from the fundamental work
undertaken in Britain, which was conveyed to the United States in
1941 in the form of the 'Maud' Report. It was agreed by the two
governments during the war that while the development of the bomb
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 125

should take place in the United States, British scientists should assist in
the work and Britain should help to provide the necessary raw
materials. By a secret agreement between Churchill and Roosevelt at
Quebec in 1943, Britain was to have a veto on the use of the bomb and
to participate equally in the oversight of the entire project, through a
Combined Policy Committee. After the use of the bomb at Hiroshima
and Nagasaki in August 1945, and the revelation of its devastating
power, Attlee established an Advisory Committee on Atomic Energy,
the chairman of which until December 194 7 was his former Coalition
colleague Sir John Anderson, now a member of the Opposition Front
Bench, but qualified for the task by reason of his wartime role in charge
of the British side of the atomic project. Policy discussions on atomic
matters were not discussed by the full Cabinet: they were reserved for
a small group of not more than six Ministers, with the Minister of
Supply in attendance.
In September 1945 Attlee wrote to Truman to invite him to discuss
the future of the atomic bomb and atomic energy in general, which
promised valuable industrial uses. 30 The meeting took place in
Washington in November, and was also attended by Mackenzie King,
Prime Minister of Canada, whose country had played a part in the
wartime work. The three leaders undertook to make recommenda-
tions to the United Nations for a UN Commission on Atomic Energy,
which it was hoped might formulate proposals for its control; and
secretly among themselves they agreed to maintain 'full and effective
co-operation in the field of atomic energy'. But the American anxiety
to retain all their atomic secrets was heightened by the discovery in
Canada in February 1946 of a Russian espionage ring involving a
British atomic scientist, Dr N unn May. General Eisenhower, as United
States Chief of Staff, opposed the establishment of any production
plants in Britain; and Truman, despite a complaint from Attlee,
refused to give instructions for the interchange of information. 31 The
American Administration made no attempt to prevent Congress from
passing an extremely restrictive measure, the McMahon Act. In June
1946, while it was still before Congress, Attlee made a further plea to
Truman for technical collaboration, but received no reply. 32 Some
information was however gleaned through the subordinate Canadian
project; and six British scientists were still with the American atomic
authority when it conducted its first post-war tests at Bikini in the
Pacific in July.
Meanwhile an atomic research establishment had been set up in
England at Harwell near Oxford and the question soon arose as to
126 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

whether Britain was to manufacture her own bombs. In these early

days only one voice in the inner circle - that of Professor P. M. S.
Blackett, who had been on the Maud Committee- was raised against
the proposal, and initially he did not rule out the idea of Britain
obtaining a stockpile of bombs from the United States. Attlee sent his
memorandum to toe Chiefs of Staff, who rejected it out of hand; and
Bevin commented, 'he should stick to science'. The general assump-
tion was that Britain, having played such a large part in the initiation of
the project, could and should make her own bombs. Moreover, there
were the peaceful uses of atomic energy to be borne in mind as well.
The manufacture of bombs was decided upon at a meeting of the inner
group of Ministers in January 194 7. The deciding voice was probably
that of Bevin, who declared 'We could not acquiesce in an American
monopoly on this development.' He felt that Britain should have her
independence guaranteed by these means against the resurgence of
Germany; there was no commitment at that time on the part of the
United States to come to Britain's aid in any fresh international
The strictest secrecy surrounded the British atomic project; as we
have seen, only half a dozen members of the Cabinet knew what was
going on. But rather over a year later G. R. Strauss, who was now
Minister of Supply, persuaded his colleagues that some publicity was
essential. Even then, the announcement to Parliament was covered by
a 'D' notice, which ensured that the press would not comment upon the
news. A question was asked in the Commons by a Government
back-bencher about whether the Minister of Defence was satisfied
with progress in 'the development of the most modern types of
weapons', and Alexander replied:

Yes, Sir. As was made clear in the Statement relating to Defence

{Command 7327), research and development continues to receive
the highest priority in the defence field, and all types of weapons,
including atomic weapons, are being developed. 33

Nevertheless, the work took time, and was still far from complete when
news of the first Russian atomic explosion was announced by the
United States in August 1949. Sir Henry Tizard, the Chief Scientific
Adviser to the Minister of Defence, who had hitherto been left out of
most of the discussions of atomic weapons, had doubts about the
desirability of continuing the British programme. He wrote:
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 127

We are not a Great Power and never will be again ... Let us take
warning from the fate of the Great Powers of the past and not burst
ourselves with pride (see Aesop's fable of the frog).

In July 1950, at a time of fresh concern about the dangers of war in the
near future, the Defence Committee discussed the relative priorities of
different types of research, but both Attlee and Bevin opposed making
any change in the priority for atomic weapons. But a new area of
research, that on guided weapons, was given equal priority. 34 Finally,
in December 1950 the first production order was placed for
V-bombers, which were designed to deliver atomic bombs; and the
first British test explosion took place off the coast of Australia at
Monte Bello in October 1952.

* * * *
There was another sphere of policy in which Britain and the United
States failed to see eye to eye in the post-war period, and that was the
future of Palestine. In 1917 the Balfour Declaration had promised to
permit the establishment of 'a national home for the Jewish people' in
Palestine, and Britain had become the mandatory power under the
settlement at the end of the First World War. But the Declaration
added that 'the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish
communities' must not be prejudiced, and the Arabs bitterly resented
the growing Jewish immigration- so much so that in the years 1937 to
1939 there was an Arab revolt against the British colonial regime. At
the end of the Second World War, the Jews had high hopes that
immigration, which had been sternly limited, would proceed with more
rapidity. This was because of the commitment in the Labour Party's
International Post- War Settlement statement of 1944 that the Jews
should be allowed to become the majority in Palestine: 'Let the Arabs
be encouraged to move out as the Jews move in.' 35
After the 1945 General Election, however, it soon became clear that
the new Labour Government was not going to adhere to this
undertaking. Truman wrote to Attlee at the end of August asking him
to provide for the immediate admission of 100 000 Jews to Palestine as
a contribution to the solution of the refugee problem; but acting on the
advice of a Palestine Committee of the Cabinet (chaired by Morrison)
Attlee replied in September that Britain could not so easily ignore the
feelings of the Arabs, nor those of the 'ninety million Moslems [in
India], who are easily inflamed' .36 In November, however, taking into
account the American interest in the problem, the Government
128 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

accepted a proposal to set up an Anglo-American Commission to

examine the issues involved. 37 Meanwhile Jewish immigration to
Palestine was limited to 1500 a month; and Bevin, for one, believed
that, now that the war was over and the Nazis defeated, many Jews
should be able to settle down again in Germany and elsewhere in
Europe. 'Should we accept the view', he wrote to Halifax, 'that all the
Jews or the bulk of them must leave Germany? I do not accept that
view.' 38
The Anglo-American Commission reported in April1946, support-
ing the suggestion that there should be an immediate admission of
100 000 Jews. But it was unanimous in agreeing that Palestine could
be neither a Jewish nor an Arab State. Truman at once welcomed the
immigration proposal; but Attlee told the Commons that disarmament
of both Jewish and Arab forces in the country must be a precondition. 39
At the Labour Party Conference at Bournemouth in June, Bevin made
his well-known comment about the American attitude that 'they do
not want too many Jews in New York' ;40 and Inverchapel, commenting
as tactfully as he could from Washington, said 'Your criticism of New
York has, of course, not only hit the nail on the head but driven it
woundingly deep.' 41 Coming when it did, Bevin's remark might easily
have led to the defeat of the British loan in Congress; as it was, there
were many anti-British demonstrations in New York and elsewhere,
and much violence in Palestine, culminating in the attack by the Jewish
terrorist group Irgun, led by Menachem Begin, on the King David
Hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 people were killed, 28 of them
British. 42 The Jewish Agency was encouraging migrants to move to
Palestine illegally, mostly by sea; but the British Government decided
to intercept the immigrant ships and divert them to Cyprus or
elsewhere. 43 This led to harrowing scenes as the ships were boarded by
British naval detachments and forced away from the Palestine coast.
In September Jews and Arabs were invited to attend a conference in
London on the future of their country, but it opened with neither Jews
nor Palestine Arabs in attendance; only some representatives of other
Arab states were present. Bevin proposed a scheme of provincial
autonomy, but this was at once rejected by the Arabs present, who
demanded a complete halt on Jewish immigration. Meanwhile the
Congressional elections of 1946 in the United States were approach-
ing, and Truman renewed his call for the immediate admission of
100 000 immigrants. Bevin, on Foreign Office advice, believed that
the option of partition was ruled out by the impossibility of persuading
the United Nations to accept it: he thought that the Soviet bloc of
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 129

nations, together with the Arab states, would muster enough votes to
defeat it. 44 His solution was, therefore, a cantonal arrangement, with a
central Government as well. His views were discussed at two Cabinet
meetings in mid-January 1947, and he was backed by Attlee and by
Alexander, but opposed by Dalton, Bevan, Shinwell and Creech
Jones, the new Colonial Secretary, who all favoured partition. 45 Bevin
sought to meet the views of his opponents, and, with Creech Jones,
produced another proposal expanding the safeguards for the Jewish
minority and allowing the immigration of the 100 000 over a two-year
period. 46 When this plan was also rejected by both Jews and Arabs,
Bevin was authorised by the Cabinet to turn the mandate over to the
United Nations, and he announced this to the Commons on 18
February 194 7. 47
In May 194 7 a United Nations Special Committee on Palestine was
established; but meanwhile tension mounted in Palestine and illegal
immigrant ships sought to break the naval blockade- the most notable
example being the aptly-named Exodus in July. The ship had originally
sailed from France; when the refugees were sent back there they
refused to disembark and the French authorities would make no effort
to force them to do so. The result was that they were ferried on still
further, through the Bay of Biscay to Hamburg. Meanwhile the United
Nations Special Committee had recommended partition of Palestine,
leaving Jerusalem however under direct UN administration. The
proposed boundaries left a very large minority of Arabs in the chiefly
Jewish state; and this naturally aroused the deepest resentment in the
Arab world. The Cabinet decided to withdraw all British troops from
Palestine and to take no responsibility for the enforcement of the
settlement.48 But the General Assembly, which voted on the plan on
29 November, accepted it by a very substantial majority: for once, the
Soviet Union and the United States voted on the same side, among the
33 nations in favour; Britain, with nine others, abstained; and there
were thirteen states in opposition, nearly all of them Arab. 49
Although Britain was to retain the mandate until 15 May 1948, and
withdraw her troops finally by 1 August of that year, as soon as the
General Assembly's decision was known British authority began to
wither away, and Jew fought Arab for possession of vital strong points.
The British High Commissioner, General Sir Alan Cunningham, left
Jerusalem on 14 May, and on 15 May the United Nations appointed a
Mediator, with special responsibility for the holy places: Count
Bernadotte of Sweden agreed to assume this task. In September he was
shot and killed; and a full-scale war ensued, in which (to the surprise of
130 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

British military experts) the Jews not only held their own but gained
ground, occupying the Negev and thus reaching the Gulf of Akaba.
Armistices were agreed on the various fronts in 1949, but a substantial
Arab refugee problem remained, in place of the Jewish refugee
problem. 50
In view of the time and care devoted by Bevin to the Palestine issue,
it is absurd to accuse him of anti-semitism, unless that term is to be
applied to all who see limitations in the Zionist creed. But the policy
that he and the Cabinet followed throughout the conflict, with the
support of all the experts in the Foreign Office, was based on three
mistaken assumptions. The first was that many of those Jews who
survived the Nazi holocaust would be happy to remain in Europe
thereafter. The second was that the United Nations would never
approve of partition, because of the opposition of both the Soviet and
the Arab blocs. The third was that if it came to civil war the Jews would
not be able to hold their own against the Arabs, aided as the latter were
by armies from outside Palestine. As it turned out, they more than held
their own, and Bevin was belatedly forced to recognise the State of
Israel de facto on 29 January 1949.51

* * * *
In Europe the key problem was the future of Germany. It was, as Bevin
said, 'the touchstone of the relations between the four powers'. 52 But
here, at least in 1946, one of the main difficulties was the refusal of the
French to support the idea of a central government. They had not been
represented at Potsdam, and were thus uncommitted to the decisions
entered into there. They wished not only to annex the Saar, but also to
separate the Ruhr and the Rhineland from the rest of Germany.
Meanwhile the Russians took as much as they could in the way of
reparations from their own zone, but failed to supply, as they had been
expected to do, any food for the western zones, thus almost precipitat-
ing famine throughout Germany in the early months of 1946.
Keynes was concerned about the impact of the German problem on
the British overseas deficit. 'Our present policy towards Germany,' he
wrote, 'by which we have become involved in paying her large
reparations, might rank as the craziest ever- if one did not remember
last time. ' 53 And Dalton re-emphasised the point, telling the Cabinet in
June 1946 'The Potsdam Agreement is not being carried out, except
one-sidedly by us to our own great disadvantage.' 54 This was just after
General Lucius Clay, the Commander-in-Chief of the American Zone,
had decided to suspend the flow of reparations from his command; 55
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 131

but in June, Bevin counselled the British Cabinet against following

suit, lest it caused 'a complete break with Russia' .56 Bevin also
complained that the Government in Britain had never properly
dissociated itself from Winston Churchill's speech at Fulton, Missouri,
in March, which had emphasised the 'iron curtain' which stretched
'from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic', and which had
called for the maintenance of Anglo-American co-operation in the
post-war world. 57
Yet for financial reasons Britain was forced more and more to side
with the United States. First of all, in July the American Secretary of
State offered to form a joint economic union of the American Zone
with any other Zone in Germany; and as Molotov declared himself
hostile to treating Germany as an economic unit, Bevin realised that
the best course for Britain would be to accept the American proposal
for her own zone, with the aim of making both zones self-supporting as
soon as possible. Negotiations to this end were approved by the
Cabinet on 25 July and resulted in a formal merger on 1 January
194 7. 58 In the meantime Dalton on a visit to the United States had
tried to persuade the American Under-Secretary of State, Will
Clayton, to agree to a sharing of costs on the UN Relief basis, namely,
in proportion to the two Allies' respective national incomes. He did
not succeed in this, and had to settle for a fifty-fifty division. 59
It now became clear that the Americans were not going to make any
rapid withdrawal from their occupation commitment in Europe. This
was spelt out by the Secretary of State, James Byrnes, in a speech at
Stuttgart in September, when he declared:

We are not withdrawing. We are staying here. As long as there is an

occupation army in Germany, American armed forces will be part of
that occupation army. 60

Although there was to be no formal merger of the two zones in their

political aspect, nevertheless the impression was increasingly given of
an Anglo-American alliance against the Soviet Union. The impression
was strengthened still further when early in 194 7 the British Cabinet
agreed to inform the United States that it could no longer supply
financial assistance to Greece and Turkey. Without any prior notice to
the United Nations, this commitment was assumed by the United
States, President Truman declaring, in what became known as 'the
Truman Doctrine', that:
132 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples

who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by
outside pressures. 61

The willingness of Congress to support Truman in this initiative

marked an important turning-point in American policy. Evidently the
United States was now prepared to fill the vacuum left by the defeat of
Germany and the post-war economic weakness of the rest of Europe.
But Bevin had not quite given up hope of an Anglo-Soviet rapproche-
ment. He took up the idea of the renewal of the Anglo-Soviet Alliance,
signed originally in the dark days of the war, but the negotiations
foundered on the Russian insistence that it should be directed against
other countries than Germany. 62 And in the spring the Foreign
Secretary still hoped for a joint four-power treaty when the Council of
Foreign Ministers met in the autumn. 63 By June he was worried about
the behaviour of the French Communists in 'actively fomenting'
labour disputes and complained of the treatment of the Socialist
Parties of Eastern Europe at the hands of their Communist col-
Meanwhile the rapid evolution of American policy continued.
Byrnes had been succeeded as Secretary of State by the almost
Olympian figure of General George C. Marshall, the architect of
American victory in the Second World War; and Marshall took the
opportunity of the Harvard Commencement in early June 194 7 to
make a speech offering financial aid for Europe, provided that the
European powers themselves would formulate a joint plan for
reconstruction. 65 This historic speech launched the Marshall Plan,
which with the prompt aid of Bevin and Bidault for Britain and France
respectively transformed the attitude of Western European countries
to the United States for at least the ensuing four years and set their
various economies on the path of economic recovery. 66 After a brief
interval of dalliance with the Plan, the Soviet Government devoted
itself to active opposition - by creating the Communist Information
Bureau or 'Cominform' linking the major European Communist
Parties as a counterpart to the old Comintern, by attacking the
Western social-democratic leaders such as Attlee and Leon Blum as
'fascists', and by reinforcing the political strikes in France and
elsewhere. Bevin became more pessimistic about the prospects of the
November meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, due to be held
in London. In a paper for the Cabinet on 'Extinction of Human Rights
in Eastern Europe' he warned that even in Czechoslovakia 'the omens'
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 133

were 'not good' ;67 and by mid- December he was despairing of the
prospects of the Council of Foreign Ministers in London, 'unless there
was a radical change in the present attitude of the Soviet Govern-
ment' .68 The breakdown of this conference just before Christmas 194 7
was nevertheless a significant turning-point for Bevin, who wrote
shortly afterwards:

I wish to emphasise ... that my mind was very far from being closed,
and that till the last few minutes I waited hopefully for any sign of a
change of heart by M. Molotov or any indication that the Soviet
Delegation were genuinely anxious to reach an agreement which
was not designed to communise Germany and destroy the Marshall
Plan. 69

In Western Europe interest re-awoke in the desirability of mutual

defence against the Eastern threat. As a result of the brief premiership
in France of the Socialist Anglophile Leon Blum, Britain and France
had signed a mutual defence treaty at Dunkirk in March 194 7, but this
- as was indicated by the location of the formalities - was primarily
directed against the resurgence of German aggression. 70 Now the need
was to protect the countries of Western Europe, including Western
Germany, against the danger of Russian attack. The movement to
bring about such a consolidation was much encouraged by Bevin's
Commons speech of 22 January 1948, in which he called for 'Western
Union'; 71 but it was then speeded up by the dramatic Communist
takeover in Czechoslovakia in February, when shortly after the arrival
of a senior Soviet emissary non-Communist ministers were expelled
from the government and the Foreign Minister, Jan Masaryk, commit-
ted suicide. Pierson Dixon was now the British Ambassador, and
Bevin wrote to him privately:

Living through a Communist revolution, as you have done, is

unequalled as an education in the utter ruthlessness and perfidy of
Communism, which is difficult, if not impossible, to grasp fully if one
has not seen it at work. 72

There followed the rapid conclusion of a military treaty between

Britain, France and the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands,
and Luxemburg). This was known as the Treaty of Brussels, and the
British Cabinet approved the draft in March 1948.73
Of course this was not enough to protect Western Europe unless the
134 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

United States was also willing to enter the military system; and Bevin
at once began to seek the construction of a wider agreement to include
all the Atlantic Powers. As early as 17 April Bevin and Bidault wrote
jointly to Marshall to say that they were going to set the Brussels
Treaty machinery in motion, but that 'simultaneously we shall require
the assistance of the United States in order to organise the effective
defence of Western Europe' .74 The doubts of the State Department
about securing Congressional approval for such a radical departure
from American policy in peacetime were alleviated to some degree by
a resolution of the Senate sponsored by Senator Arthur H. Vanden-
berg, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in
June, which recommended 'association of the United States, by
constitutional process, with such regional and collective arrangements
as are based on continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, and
as affect its national security' .75
Since 1948 was a presidential election year in the United States,
Marshall had to warn Bevin that the Administration could not make
rapid commitments to associate itself with the Brussels Powers.
Indeed, before Vandenberg's resolution was passed, he spoke of
'explorations and conversations' which might fill in the period between
the summer of 1948 and the inauguration in January 1949.76 But these
conversations, beginning in July and involving the United States,
Canada and the Brussels Powers, were given fresh urgency by the
Russian blockade of West Berlin, which came into effect in June 1948,
apparently in response to a decision ofthe Western Powers to initiate a
currency reform in their zones of the capital. 77 When the use of rail and
road access was denied, the Western Powers began to supply Berlin by
the use of an air-lift; and gradually this determined, but not provoca-
tive, response to the blockade, which proved astonishingly successful,
gave the German people an indication of where their true interests
lay. 78 The air-lift continued until mid-1949, by which time through
contacts at the United Nations in New York it became clear that the
Soviet Union was willing to re-open the routes by road and rail. 79 In the
meantime British Ministers had agreed promptly to an American
request for the stationing of three groups of B-29 bombers in the
United Kingdom. 80 In September 1949 Konrad Adenauer, a Christian
Democrat, became the first Chancellor of a new Federal Republic of
West Germany.
What was important for Bevin was to further the negotiations in
Washington for a military treaty embracing the United States and
Canada as well as the Brussels Powers. These talks went ahead in
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 135

Washington in July and August 1948, and revealed a good deal of

disagreement about the terms of such a treaty, particularly on the part
of France, which was anxious for an early guarantee of her frontiers,
prompt military assistance, the movement of American troops to
France, and the early establishment of a joint military command in
Western Europe. The State Department negotiators were slow to
move ahead, realising that little real progress could be made until after
the elections in November, and not all of them being fully committed
to the idea of such a treaty in any case. But the groundwork of an
agreement had been laid as early as March in discussions between
British, American and Canadian representatives at the Pentagon, the
new American military headquarters in Washington. These 'Pentagon
proposals', arrived at by a committee under the chairmanship of Lewis
Douglas, the American Ambassador to London, and with Inverchapel
and Gladwyn Jebb leading the British delegation, outlined the heads of
an agreement between the participating countries together with
Scandinavia, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. Spain, still the 'pariah' of the
West owing to its fascist government, was not included. 81
Truman's re-election in November enabled the discussion on the
Treaty to go ahead once more, and Bevin sent Oliver Franks, who was
now the Ambassador in Washington, a message to the effect that 'he
regarded this as probably the most important task of your Ambas-
sadorship; and he relied on you to push this through with the same
resolution as you showed over ERP'. 82 Franks was able to reply at the
year's end that:

Now ... with the election over and Congress due back in a week or
two, and public opinion apparently strongly in favour of a pact, the
State Department's mood has quite changed and they are anxious to
get on with the job of drawing up a pact as quickly as possible. 83

There were still snags; when the text was put to Congressional leaders
some Senators expressed concern about accepting a formal commit-
ment by treaty for their country to go to war, and as Sir Nicholas
Henderson has put it in his account of the negotiations, Acheson, who
succeeded Marshall as Secretary of State in the new administration,
'found himself in the awkward position of having to mediate between
the European governments on the one side and the US Senate on the
other'. 84 But agreement was reached without much further delay, and
the final text was published in March 1949. Ireland was not invited to
join, as it was discovered that her government wished to raise the issue
136 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

of partition as an instance of aggression. With this one exception and

with the omission also of Sweden, all the countries which were
considered potential participants agreed to join; and their Foreign
Ministers and heads of Mission were all present in Washington for the
signature of the Treaty in Washington on 4 April 1949. This was
Bevin's greatest achievement as Foreign Secretary, for the initiative
had been his all along.

* * * *
But keen as Bevin was to inaugurate a military alliance of the Atlantic
Powers, he was most unwilling to see any attempt to make a European
federation such as Churchill appeared to be advocating in these years.
Churchill's 'United Europe' campaign led to a meeting of parliamen-
tarians of all hues and of many countries at The Hague in May 1948.
Bevin indirectly discouraged Labour MPs from attending, and the
reason given to them, by Morgan Phillips on behalf of the Party's
National Executive, was as follows:

Mr Churchill ... explicitly excludes Russia from the 'United

Europe' which he envisages. This fact, coupled with Mr Churchill's
record and known opinions regarding Russia, means that the
Committee's policy will be interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as aiming
at the elimination of Russian influence from Europe. 85

This warning caused several Labour MPs who had been intending to go
to The Hague to withdraw; but others did go in spite of the Executive's
disapproval. Prominent among them was R. W. G. Mackay, an
Australian by origin and a solicitor by profession, who was a keen
federalist and was prepared to devote himself almost exclusively to this
one cause. When in June Attlee and Bevin agreed to receive a
deputation from the 'British Section of the International Committee of
the Movements for European Unity', it was Churchill who led the
delegation and who had doubtless persuaded the Labour Ministers to
receive it; but it was Mackay who spoke after Churchill and described
the conclusions of the Congress. Attlee and Bevin were distinctly
discouraging in their replies: Bevin said that 'he doubted whether the
establishment of a European Assembly would help to achieve the
objectives which the Deputation had in view' .86
Unfortunately for Bevin, the federal idea had distinct attractions for
some of the continental countries. The French and Belgian Govern-
ments formally took up the idea and proposed the creation of a
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 137

European Assembly at one of the regular meetings of the Foreign

Ministers of the Brussels Powers in October 1948. Bevin's view
remained as he had expressed it within the Foreign Office, as one of his
Permanent Under-Secretaries has recounted:

I don't like it. I don't like it. When you open that Pandora's box, you
will find it full of Trojan horses. 87

But he decided to make concessions on this subject, partly to satisfy the

French and Belgians and partly to impress the United States Congress,
which was about to vote on the appropriations for another year of
Marshall Aid; as he told the Cabinet:

We cannot ignore the possibility that if no further advance is made,

the effect on the credits which are to be voted next February may be
considerable. 88

On 25 October he proposed to his colleagues of the Brussels Treaty

Powers that there should be a 'Council of Ministers of Western Europe
which would meet at stated intervals, perhaps twice a year, and be
composed of governmental delegations with advisers from each of the
countries concerned'. The Brussels Powers agreed to set up a
committee to study the proposal, and this met in Paris in November
with Dalton as leader of the British delegation. The French and
Belgians wanted a stronger body than Bevin's proposed biennial
meeting of governments, in fact a European Parliament; but the
British delegation could not be persuaded to go much further. In the
end, a form of agreement was reached at a Foreign Ministers' meeting
in London at the end of January 1949. Bevin secured his objects: the
new organisation was not to be empowered to discuss defence; there
was to be a Council of Foreign Ministers, whose deliberations would be
secret, and in addition a Consultative Assembly of a purely advisory
character. The latter was to meet at Strasbourg, on the suggestion of
Gladwyn Jebb of the Foreign Office, who thought that a German-
speaking city just inside France would symbolise the end of old
enmities. 89 Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Italy, Greece and
Turkey joined the Brussels Powers in accepting the 'Statute of the
Council of Europe' which was signed on 5 May 1949- just one month
after the formalities of the North Atlantic Treaty, to which not all of
these signatories belonged.
The first meeting of the Strasbourg Assembly was held in August
138 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

1949. The British delegation consisted entirely of parliamentarians,

with a Labour majority. Herbert Morrison led the British delegation,
but Churchill led the Conservative element within it, and he of course
as Dalton (who was also there) reported 'had an overwhelming
prestige at Strasbourg ... and he made the most of it' .90 The Assembly
could not decide anything, but it could debate vigorously: it set up a
number of committees to report to its next meeting a year later.
Continental delegates were rather shocked by an unseemly public
dispute between Morrison and Churchill about the payment of
expenses for alternate delegates. Perhaps fortunately, both left
Strasbourg early, leaving their next senior colleagues, Dalton and
Macmillan, in charge. Dalton led the British delegation in 1950,
Morrison this time deciding not to attend; Churchill was again present,
and urged the formation of a European Army with a European
Minister of Defence. The resolution carried, although as Dalton
pointed out, defence was not within the compass of the Assembly's
deliberations. 91 The unwillingness of the Labour leaders to endorse
any limitation of their national independence- except in so far as it was
limited by the North Atlantic Treaty - was also paralleled by their
resistance to American pressure to build up the authority of the
Marshall Plan organisation and by their hostility to the Schuman Plan
of 1950 for a European Coal and Steel Community. Both aspects of
policy will be dealt with in later chapters.

* * * *
Bevin was slow to make up his mind that all chance of an accommoda-
tion with the Soviet Union was impossible. He shared the view widely
held among members of the trade union movement that Russia was a
'workers' state', and a Socialist state, and for that reason specially
deserving of support from British labour. When he first met Molotov,
the Russian Foreign Minister, he emphasised his own part in 1920 in
preventing the Jolly George from leaving the London docks to supply
munitions to the Poles, when they were at war with the Bolsheviks. 92
But his experience of Soviet diplomacy during the Second World War
had made him somewhat more wary than before of the 'workers' state'
as it had developed under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. By 1945,
therefore, he was not still a victim of the 'Russia complex', shrewdly
analysed by Richard Crossman in an article in the New Statesman of
January 1948, which involved 'the fixation of Russia as Utopia' .93
Some people may have thought that his views were still as they had
been in the 1920s when he said in his speech at the 1945 Labour Party
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 139

Conference that 'Left understands Left'; but this was a reference to

Anglo-French and not to Anglo-Soviet relations. 94
It could not be said that Bevin failed to consult his Cabinet
colleagues about foreign affairs, because the major issues were all
brought forward by him in Cabinet Papers and discussed, often at
length, in full Cabinet meetings. Bevin's views met little opposition,
although as we have seen Attlee thought there was a stronger case than
Bevin would consider for making a complete withdrawal from the
Middle East; Shinwell felt at times that Bevin was being too
pro-American; 95 and Dalton had his doubts about the way in which the
Foreign Secretary was dealing with the Russians, though he took care
not to criticise the Foreign Secretary when others were present, and
only did so tete-a-tete or in his diary .96
As for the extra-parliamentary party, Bevin's position was of course
very strong. The great bulk of the National Executive supported him
loyally, and if there were any opponents, they were conscious that it
was not worthwhile calling for a vote at Conference on motions
criticising Labour foreign policy. The full-time secretary of the party's
International Sub-Committee, Denis Healey, a young ex-army officer
engaged late in 1945, though appointed with Laski's support, turned
out to be warmly sympathetic to Bevin. 97 In a Discussion Pamphlet
which he wrote for the Party late in 1946, he argued that there had to
be some continuity of foreign policy from government to government,
and in support of this view he quoted the reply of the Russian Deputy
Foreign Minister, Vyshinsky, to those who rebuked him for following a
Tsarist policy about warm-water ports:

The class struggle does not alter geography. It is still the case that a
ship travelling from the Aegean to the Black Sea must pass through
the Dardanelles. 98

Healey's views of policy at this time -late 1946- are well illustrated in
a letter which he wrote in reply to a query from a party member. He
said that Bevin had had to face an attack from Russia on 'the weakest
points in the British security structure':

This attack has failed completely owing to Bevin's steadfast courage

and because Bevin has succeeded in involving an America which was
violently unsympathetic to Labour Britain, in the defence of British
140 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

He added, optimistically, that he expected the next few months to see

'an increased independence in British foreign policy, and greatly
improved relations between Britain and Soviet Russia' .99
It was just at this time that a number of Labour back-benchers in
Parliament were supporting the Amendment to the King's Speech
expressing the hope that the Government would

so review and recast its conduct of International Affairs as to afford

the utmost encouragement to, and collaboration with, all Nations
striving to secure full Socialist planning and control of the world's
resources and thus provide a democratic and constructive Socialist
attitude to an otherwise inevitable conflict between American
Capitalism and Soviet Communism ... 100

The mover of the Amendment was none other than Richard

Crossman, who had not yet fully turned his own back on the 'Russia
complex'. In his speech he said 'we get the impression ... that not only
is there a complete and exclusive Anglo-American tie-up, but a tie-up
between the two front benches'. 101 He apparently spoke for a large
proportion of the Parliamentary Party, for 58 Labour MPs signed the
Order Paper, including five Parliamentary Private Secretaries. At the
end of the debate Attlee rebutted the main thrust of Crossman's
argument, and pointed out, much as Healey was to do in his pamphlet,

Not very much will be found to distinguish the policy of pre-

revolution Russia and that of post-revolution Russia. I am not saying
whether they are right or wrong but I am saying that these things are
dictated by the geographical position in which a nation finds itself. 102

He asked for the Amendment to be withdrawn, and so far as the

Labour MPs were concerned, this was done; but two ILP members,
John McGovern and Campbell Stephen, insisted on taking it over and
pressing it to a division. It was defeated by 353-0; but as the
Conservatives were voting with the Government, it is clear that there
were many Labour abstentions - perhaps even as many as 100. 103
According to Dixon, Bevin, who was in New York at the time, found
the result 'upsetting'. 104
At the first meeting of the Parliamentary Party after the debate, on
28 November, Ministers were present in force at the request of the
Prime Minister, so as to overawe the rebels when they received a
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 141

suitable rebuke. Some MPs, especially from the trade-union side,

urged the reintroduction of Standing Orders, which would have
strengthened the powers of the Whips. 105 This was not done, though a
vote of censure on the rebels was carried by the National Executive. 106
As for Bevin, he got his revenge at the next Party Conference at
Margate in May 194 7, when he complained of being 'stabbed in the
back', adding pointedly 'I grew up in the trade union, you see, and I
have not been used to this kind of thing." 07 This reminded the
Conference that the rebels were almost all from the party's 'intellec-
tual' wing. Once again, as at the 1946 Conference, there were
resolutions hostile to Bevin's policy, but they were all swept away
without any call for a card vote. The Foreign Secretary had the
continuing confidence of the trade unions, who provide the big
battalions on these occasions. Shortly afterwards, he was able to tell
the American Ambassador in Paris that his 'position with the Labour
Party' was 'happily strong'. 108

* * * *
By 1949 Bevin was no longer in good health. As is common with the
corpulent, his troubles mostly related to his heart- 'the old ticker' as he
called it- and he was subject to quite frequent attacks of angina. When
Roderick Barclay became his Principal Private Secretary in March he
was told by the King's Private Secretary, Sir Alan Lascelles, that he
must do his best to see that his master 'did not work himself to
death.' 109 He was unable to climb steps without risking the onset of an
attack, and was advised not to fly above 5000 feet. The latter
restriction had its advantages for him, as he was a good sailor and
enjoyed sea travel. He nevertheless visited Berlin by air in the latter
days of the air-lift; this was in order to congratulate the air- and
ground-crews on their achievement. He went by sea to America twice
in the course of 1949, first for the signature of the North Atlantic
Treaty, and then in the late summer for the financial discussions and
for a visit to the United Nations Assembly. While on board ship his
health benefited from the relative absence of Foreign Office business,
and he usually arrived in better health than when he set out. 110
In the course of this last year of the 1945 Government Bevin turned
his attention more and more to the problems of Asia and the Far East.
This was partly in response to the feeling of the governments of
Australia, New Zealand and the newly independent Commonwealth
states of South Asia that their affairs were being neglected while the
economic reconstruction and defence of western Europe were being
142 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

given special priority. The year 1949 saw the emergence of another
major Communist power in the East, with the success of the Chinese
Red Army against the Nationalist troops of Chiang Kai-shek. This was
brought home to people in Britain when in April a British gunboat,
HMSAmethyst, was shelled by Communist troops on the Yangtze with
heavy casualties and trapped there for three months. All British
trading interests in China, which were considerable, came under
threat; the Colony of Hong Kong had to prepare for some form of
incursion; and it was difficult not to link the guerrilla movement among
the Chinese settlers of Malaya with the same revolutionary cause.
Creech Jones, the Colonial Secretary, reported to the Cabinet that the
Governor on Hong Kong was afraid of a 'large-scale influx of refugees'
and 'external aggression by guerrilla bands, probably Communist-
inspired'; and the Malayan High Commissioner spoke of the threat to
'planters and miners' of rubber and tin respectively, to which the
Government attached great importance for the sake of their contribu-
tion to the Sterling Area's dollar balance, from a 'bandit force'
consisting of some hundreds of 'hard-core Communists' and some
thousands of 'armed auxiliaries' .1 u
Bevin, who felt that all external policy came within his compass, had
already had one of his most senior officials, Sir William Strang,
undertake a tour of South-East Asia and the Far East, and Bevin
submitted his report to the Cabinet in mid-March. Strang had talked to
Malcolm MacDonald, who was Commissioner-General in South-East
Asia, and accepted the latter's view that Britain should accept all
genuine nationalist movements and dissociate herself from the attempt
being made by the Netherlands to resume her colonial authority in
Indonesia. Strang was impressed by the recovery of Singapore, Hong
Kong and Japan, and noted the 'buoyancy of rice production in Siam
and of tin and rubber production in Malaya'. He thought that
throughout the 'periphery, which runs round from Oslo to Tokyo',
there should 'not only be a United Kingdom policy, but if possible a
Commonwealth policy (in spite of divergences of outlook); and that
policy should, if possible, be concerted with the United States, since
American resources would be indispensable' .112
Attlee decided, for the sake of co-ordination, to appoint a China and
South-East Asia Committee of the Cabinet, consisting of himself, the
Chancellor and the Minister of Defence, together with three external
affairs Ministers, Bevin, Creech Jones for the Colonies and Noel-
Baker's Commonwealth Office deputy, Gordon Walker. 113 In April it
was decided to send military reinforcements consisting of a 'brigade
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 143

group' to Hong Kong. 114 Alexander visited Hong Kong in June to

examine the defences, and came back convinced that 'a military
defence can be successfully made' .115 At the same time, the policy was
to try to establish friendly relations with the new Communist regime in
China, so that normal trade could continue. Bevin reported to the
Cabinet in August his feeling that American policy towards the new
China was 'to allow it to relapse into complete chaos, which will
encourage the Chinese people to overthrow the Communist regime.
This is diametrically opposite to our own view ... that if we are not to
drive China into the arms of Moscow we must do our utmost to
maintain Western contacts.' 116
The complete rout of the Nationalist forces led Bevin to recommend
to the Cabinet the recognition of the new regime in China. He wrote

They have trade to offer and we have an immovable stake in their

territory which can only be maintained by trade. Too long delay in
according them recognition cannot fail to make them ill-disposed
towards us. We may thereby gratuitously vitiate our future relations
... It is possible that in due course friction may develop between the
Russians and the Chinese, but we cannot take advantage of this
unless we are in relations with the Communist Government. 117

The Cabinet agreed to the recognition, to take place after consultation

with other countries. The decision was not likely to be popular in the
United States, but members of the Cabinet were reported as expres-
sing the hope that

it should not be impracticable to maintain the political influence of

the United Kingdom in South-East Asia while arranging for the
United States to provide much of the capital investment that was
required. 118

The question of recognition came back to the Cabinet again after the
reaction of friendly governments had been secured. The Americans
were reported to regard it as 'a stab in the back'; and the French and
Dutch, thinking of their remaining colonial commitments in the Far
East, urged delay. But the Scandinavian powers and India were for
immediate action. Bevin himself accepted the latter viewpoint. 119 The
Cabinet agreed, and recognition was accorded on 6 January 1950. 120
Meanwhile arrangements had been proceeding for a conference of
144 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Commonwealth Foreign Ministers at Colombo. The idea of such a

meeting - the first such meeting to take place, and the first to be held
outside Britain- had been first mooted in 1948. Bevin, who proposed
to attend in person, wrote to Attlee in April 1949 to suggest that the
first thing to do was to show some willingness to assist the economic
development of the less-developed countries of the Commonwealth
and of the region:

It seems desirable ... to approach the problem more from the

economic angle, since in the economic field there is a good deal
which the West has to offer to the East, thus providing a solid basis
for co-operation ... Later possibly this might lead to some kind of
regional security arrangement. 121

The meeting was arranged for January 1950, and Bevin left London
immediately after Christmas for the long journey out.
He was not in very good health as he began the journey, and the
early stages, which involved some flying, did not improve his condi-
tion. But at Suez he embarked on the cruiser HMS Kenya, and as his
private secretary reported 'a few days in bed and plenty of sea and sun
worked wonders' on him. 122 To judge by the Conference record he did
most of the talking for the British delegation and Noel-Baker, the
Commonwealth Secretary, who was also there, very Iittle. 123 The
Australian Government had taken the initiative with a positive offer of
financial help, and the result was that a Committee was set up which
met later in the year in Sydney to draw up a billion-pound plan for
investment over six years. The British Government offered to
contribute partly by direct financial aid and partly by the early release
of blocked sterling balances. 124 It was also hoped that other countries
in the region would join the scheme, and that the United States would
help under 'Point Four' of President Truman's inaugural address of
January 1949, which promised assistance for the poorer countries of
the world.

* * * *
During Bevin's years at the Foreign Office the morale of the members
of the Service was high. Their fears that a Labour Foreign Secretary
might insist on making political appointments were soon dissipated;
and in Bevin the diplomats knew that they had a Minister who carried
great authority in the Cabinet. There was a singular rapport between
the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, dissimilar though they
Bevin and Labour Foreign Policy 145

appeared on the surface: it enabled foreign affairs to be conducted by

the two Ministers with a degree of harmony that had not existed since
the days of Grey and Asquith. It was partly a matter of mutual loyalty
and respect, for Bevin was as loyal to Attlee - the 'little man' as he
called him - as Attlee was to him. If he failed to achieve the world
peace and amity with all other countries for which he had been seeking,
it was not for want of trying. He sought to keep the door open for a
rapprochement with the Soviet Union until the Russian reaction to the
Marshall Plan made it clear that this was impossible. Even then, he
recognised France's fear of a resurgent Germany and to a large extent
shared it himself. His greatest achievement was the North Atlantic
Treaty, which helped to preserve the peace of Europe for at least a
generation after his death in 1951.
8 Labour and the Empire
Churchill's emphatic statement, made in the flush of victory in
November 1942 after the Battle of El Alamein, that 'I have not
become the King's first Minister in order to preside over the
liquidation of the British Empire' 1 may not give a true impression of
the extent of wartime attempts at constitutional progress both in India
and in the Colonies. Oliver Stanley, the Colonial Secretary from that
month onwards, was notably liberal in encouraging advance, particu-
larly in Ceylon, which was regarded as the most 'mature' of the
colonies; and even in India the Viceroy whom Churchill himself
appointed in 1943, Field-Marshal Lord Wavell, turned out to have
distinctly progressive ideas and early in 1945 managed to revive
constitutional discussions with the major Indian parties. He was,
however, thwarted by the deadlock between Congress, the major party
pressing for independence, and the Muslim League, which claimed to
represent the enormous minority of Muslims- perhaps 90 million out
of the total Indian population of about 400 million. The Muslim
League, by this time led by the cold and uncompromising lawyer M. A.
Jinnah, demanded complete separation for the Muslim-dominated
provinces in the North- West and North-East and the creation of a
separate state, to be called 'Pakistan'.
The Viceroy received the news of the Labour victory in July 1945
with some misgivings. He had no cause to be grateful to Churchill, who
he knew had slighted him on several occasions during the war; but that
did not make him enthusiastic for Attlee and his colleagues of the
Labour Party, who he thought were far too friendly to Congress alone.
He did not trust politicians as a whole and commented in his diary that
he had hoped for 'something like a balance between the two main
parties, with a revived Liberal party holding the scales'. He was not
pleased when Attlee appointed as his Secretary of State F. W.
Pethick-Lawrence- at 73 an elderly member of the new Cabinet, albeit
two years younger than the guru of the Indian Congress Party,
Mahatma Gandhi, whom he had met in the past. Wavell wrote 'Labour

148 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

is likely to take more interest in and be more sympathetic to India, but

they will have some weird ideas about it'; and he feared that
Pethick-Lawrence would have 'fixed and old-fashioned ideas derived
mainly from Congress contacts' .2 As a soldier, Wave II could not forget
that Congress had tried to sabotage the Allied war effort in 1942.
But the real controlling body of the British Cabinet was the India
Committee, of which Attlee and Cripps had been members for most of
the war. Attlee now presided over this body, and treated Indian
independence as a matter of special urgency. He had been a member of
the Simon Statutory Commission, which visited India for some months
in the course of its work in the late 1920s. Both he and Cripps, who also
continued to serve on the Committee despite his new post as President
of the Board of Trade, were anxious for an early settlement. The
Committee summoned Wavell home for consultations as early as
August 1945; and it was decided to call elections for the Central and
Provincial Legislatures as soon as possible in accordance with the
Government of India Act, 1935, and then to convene a 'constitution-
making body' .3 Wavell's comment on his new role in relation to the
Government was:

Compared to last time, I have had to raise my right foot- the one on
the accelerator pedal- and put down my left foot- the brake pedal-
gently and firmly. 4

To emphasise to Indian opinion the importance that Attlee and his

colleagues attached to early constitutional progress, they decided early
in 1946 to send out a delegation of three Cabinet Ministers to
negotiate a settlement. 5 This was an idea suggested not only by the
Cripps Mission of 1942, which had proved abortive, but by the earlier
and more successful mission by Lord Durham to Canada in 1838 (to
which Attlee had made reference in 1942). Those who were chosen to
go were Pethick-Lawrence, Cripps and- presumably to safeguard the
interests of the armed forces- A. V. Alexander, the First Lord of the
Admiralty. It was agreed that the Viceroy was also to be a party to the
discussions on an equal basis- a point which he clarified in an exchange
of letters with Pethick-Lawrence in late February. 6 Meanwhile Wavell
had to cope with a mutiny of ratings of the Royal Indian Navy at
Bombay and Karachi, the men probably taking their cue from the
current discontent among British servicemen overseas. The provincial
and central elections led to a strengthening of both the Congress Party
and the Muslim League, to the exclusion of smaller parties, and largely
Labour and the Empire 149

on a sectional basis: Muslim ministries were installed in Bengal and

Sind; elsewhere, except in the Punjab, where there was a Coalition,
Congress ministries took office.
The Cabinet Mission on its arrival in March 1946 at once plunged
into a series of interviews with Indian leaders, partly to learn their
views but also to try to convince them of the British Government's
anxiety to find a solution. In spite of the Muslim League's opposition,
the Mission persisted in the idea of all-India unity within a federal
framework. A conference in the fresher air of Simla in early May
proved abortive, and so the Mission announced an 'award'- a plan for
a three-tier constitution, embracing two separate federations, Hindu
and Muslim, surmounted by an All-India Union. 7 Wavell was rather
contemptuous of Pethick-Lawrence as a negotiator:

He is a charming old gentleman but no man to negotiate with these

tough Hindu politicians. However, perhaps his naive benevolence
makes an impression.

Wavell was shocked, too, at the deference shown to Gandhi:

When he expressed a wish for a glass of water, the Secretary was sent
to fetch it himself ... ; and when it didn't come at once Cripps
hustled off himself to see about it. 8

Pethick-Lawrence's own assessment of his associates in a letter to his

wife was more friendly:

All my colleagues are delightful and so different. Cripps the brilliant

rapier-witted improviser with strong left tendencies, vegetarian,
teetotaller. Alexander the Britisher, who likes to breakfast in bed
and get up at 8 or 8.30, wants Cheddar cheese and English food, and
is so proud of the British navy ... The Viceroy the soldier sparing of
speech, suspicious of new-fangled ideas and I imagine of all foreign
ways of thought and action, straightforward, blunt but with his own
sense of humour.

Somewhat complacently he regarded himself as 'more judicious than

any of them' .9
The Indian parties toyed with the Mission's proposals and the
Ministers were kept waiting in Delhi, where the heat was growing
intolerable to those unused to it. In late May, Cripps went to hospital
150 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

with an attack of dysentery, and Alexander went off to Ceylon to

inspect the Fleet. Early in June, Alexander was back in Delhi and
wrote to Bevin expressing agreement with the latter's strong line in the
negotiations of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris, and

Matters have unfortunately dragged on here but we are doing our

best to secure an agreed settlement. It would in my view be fatal to
all your other great tasks if we were to give way to a policy of scuttle
and humiliation in India after the generous offer of settlement made
by His Majesty's Government. 10

The Mission stayed on for most of June before returning to Britain,

after the two main parties had failed to agree even on an interim
government. Pethick-Lawrence summed up the attitude of the Indian
leaders in a letter to his wife: 'It is Alice's croquet party all over
again'/ 1 and the Viceroy elaborated a 'Breakdown Plan' for the
termination of British rule by the summer of 1948, beginning with the
withdrawal of British forces from the four southern provinces.
The Cabinet India Committee received this plan in September 1946,
and had no hesitation in rejecting it as a possible solution. 12 The
Viceroy and the principal Indian leaders were summoned to London
for meetings with the India Committee towards the end of the year.
Wavell also met Bevin at Alexander's flat at the Admiralty. 'Both he
and Alexander are in reality imperialists and dislike any idea ofleaving
India', he wrote in his diary; 13 and Bevin thought that Wavell was a
'defeatist' and complained to Attlee of the proposed withdrawal
policy. 14 In other matters, Attlee was quick to defer to Bevin; but he
recognised that there had to be some sort of withdrawal:

I agree with you that Wavell has a defeatist mood and I am

contemplating replacing him ... You say we are knuckling under at
the first blow, but this entirely ignores the history of the past
twenty-five years. I must ask if you are prepared to take the strong
hand in India, to announce that we intend to stay there and to put in
enough troops to enforce our rule? That is to go back on pledges that
have been given by Governments of every political colour ... If you
disagree with what is proposed, you must offer a practical alterna-
tive. I fail to find one in your letter. 15

Attlee's choice of replacement for Wavell was Viscount Mountbat-

ten of Burma, a cousin of the King, who had served with great
Labour and the Empire 151

distinction in the war, and had ended it as Supreme Commander of

Allied Forces in South-East Asia. Still only in his mid-forties,
Mountbatten had first been suggested to Attlee by Pethick-Lawrence
in January 1946, and Cripps was also thinking along the same lines in
June of that year. 16 Mountbatten was known to sympathise with the
Labour policy of decolonisation, and with the aid of his vivacious wife
Edwina he was uniquely equipped to win the friendship of the Indian
leaders and to effect the transfer of power. Attlee apparently first
asked Mountbatten to take over as Viceroy on 18 December/ 7 but
there was quite an interval before Mountbatten confirmed his
acceptance, and Attlee's dismissal of Wavell was not received by the
latter until 4 February, to take effect' at the end of February or early in
March'. 18 Although the Prime Minister softened the blow by offering
the retiring Viceroy an earldom- which he accepted readily enough-
Wavell felt that it was 'not very courteously done' .19 But he later
acknowledged that the appointment of Mountbatten was 'a clever
one', and that 'Dickie's personality may perhaps accomplish what I
have failed to do.' 20 The new appointment was announced on 20
February 194 7, and with it came a declaration that the British
Government would hand over the powers of the Indian Central
Government not later than June 1948. 21
The new Viceroy was sworn in a little later than Attlee intended- 24
March - but he acted with great rapidity and made up his mind to
abandon the Cabinet Mission plan in favour of partition between the
Hindu majority and the Muslim minority on a territorial basis. This
involved the partition of two provinces, the Punjab and Bengal, and
left what Jinnah himself described as a 'moth-eaten' Pakistan rather
than the grand empire that Jinnah had foreseen extending right across
from Baluchistan to Assam. 22 In May Mountbatten sent his Chief of
Staff, General Sir Hastings Ismay, to London to outline the plan to the
Cabinet; but changes had to be made before a final announcement was
made, and this involved a brief trip to London at the end of the month
by Mountbatten himself. The announcement of the decision was made
on 3 June by Attlee in Parliament at Westminster and by Mountbatten
in a broadcast from Delhi. 23 Attlee listened to Mountbatten's broad-
cast on the radio. He wrote to his brother Tom:

I have hopes that something has really been brought to fruition at

last. He has done a wonderful work and so has Edwina in getting on
personal terms with Indians of every point of view including people
who have never had contact with Government, being regarded as
152 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

wild extremists. I was glad to hear on the wireless the tributes paid to
him by Nehru and Jinnah. It is curious that the Royal Family should
provide a Viceroy who is completely in agreement with Labour
policy and that his wife who fully shares his views should be the
daughter of Wilfred Ashley. 24

It seems that Pakistan was accepted by the Congress leaders in part

at least because they thought it could not last: the new state was to
consist of two separate areas, one to the north-west of the old Empire,
and the other to the north-east; but they were separated by eight
hundred miles of Indian territory. (The north-eastern section se-
ceded in 1971 to become an independent state by itself- Banglad-
esh). Mountbatten, sensing the imminent collapse of administration,
had decided to bring forward the date of British withdrawal from June
1948 to August 1947; and so the Indian Independence Bill was rushed
through both Houses of Parliament in July 194 7, with the consent of
the Conservative Opposition and the approval of King George VI,
who now gave up his title of King-Emperor. 25 There was for a time a
threat of trouble in the House of Lords, where former Secretaries of
State, ex-Viceroys and quondam Provincial Governors abounded: but
after a rather pessimistic speech by Lord Templewood, who had been
Secretary of State in the 1930s, warm support for the bill was offered
by a distinguished former Viceroy, Lord Halifax, now returned from
the United States. 26
That the demise of the Indian Empire was effected not only with
such despatch but also with such goodwill, at least on the part of the
overwhelming majority of those involved, was the special achievement
of the Mountbattens. Attlee told his brother:

at least we have come out with honour instead of, as at one time
seemed likely, being pushed out ignominiously with the whole
country in a state of confusion. 27

Mountbatten was invited to become the first Governor-General of the

newly independent India, and Jinnah, while himself taking the post of
Governor-General of Pakistan, accepted Mountbatten as the first
chairman of the Joint Defence Council of the two countries.
At the same time, there is no gainsaying the fact that the process of
partition was accompanied by much bloodshed and disorder, and
forced migration, particularly in the Punjab. It is difficult to estimate
how many lost their lives in this period of transition- probably about
1 Churchill on the Hustings, 1945 General Election. By David Low
(London Express News and Feature Service)

2 Morrison courts the Left: dancing with Barbara Castle at the Blackpool Conference,
May 1945
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
3 The Labour Victors, August 1945: Bevin, Attlee and Morrison
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)

4 Attlee in the Cabinet Room, with his Press Officer, Francis Williams, July 1946
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
5 Shinwell, Minister of Fuel and Power, with young miners, early 1947
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)

6 Morrison tries to hold back wage-led inflation, June 1947. By David Low
(London Express News and Feature Service)
7 Attlee and the Economic Crisis of 1947. By David Low
(London Express News and Feature Service)

8 Planning the Welfare State: Bevan at a Committee Meeting, late 1945. Next but one
to him is Griffiths
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
9 The Cabinet mission to India, 1946. Two of the three Ministers (Cripps is not
present) talking to Indian leaders. Left, Pethick-Lawrence with Nehru; next, A . V.
(BBC Hulton Picture

10 Lord Mountbatten as Governor General of India, speaking at his inauguration

ceremony at Government House, New Delhi, 1947
11 Dalton, undeterred by his misfortunes, holds forth to the press again in 1948
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)

12 Architects of the Marshall Plan, 1948: Left to right: President Truman, General
Marshall (Secretary of State), Paul Hoffman (Administrator), Averell Harriman
(Special Representative)
(US National Archives)
lllllto ST~ OF ~


13 John Strachey, Minister of Food, poses with a US aid cargo, February 1949
(US National Archives)
14 Two ministers leave Downing Street, January 1950. Cripps (right) with Harold
(BBC Hulton Picture Library)
Labour and the Empire 153

two hundred thousand. 28 Edwina Mountbatten threw herself into

relief work, and helped to save the lives of many who would otherwise
have perished. And Gandhi, by undertaking a hunger strike in
Calcutta against the rioting, did much to bring the trouble in Bengal to
a close. Relations between the two successor states began to improve
with the completion of the partition; but there remained one vexed
problem- whether Kashmir, a large princely state on the boundaries of
the new nations, should accede to Pakistan or to India. The Maharaja
delayed a decision until after 15 August, and only committed himself
and his state to India in late October, after an incursion of tribesmen
from the North-west Frontier. In response to his appeal, Indian troops
were flown in to occupy his capital city, Srinagar, and it was with
difficulty that Jinnah was restrained from retaliating with an immedi-
ate military counter-invasion. The issue of Kashmir was a major source
of conflict between the two new nations in subsequent years.
In April 1947 Pethick-Lawrence had retired from the post of
Secretary of State for India and Burma at his own request: he wrote to
Attlee 'I have come to the end of my tether' .29 Attlee put in as his
temporary successor the Earl of Listowel, who had served briefly as
Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the India Office in 1944-5. Lis-
towel in August 194 7 lost the responsibility for Indian affairs to
Addison, whose department, until July 194 7 known as the Dominions
Office, had now been renamed the Commonwealth Relations Office.
Listowel was left as Secretary of State for Burma for a few more
months; but Burma too was set on the path to independence, though in
her case outside the Commonwealth. Elections were held there in June
1947 for a Constituent Assembly, and these were won by Aung San's
Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League, which had helped to defeat the
Japanese, and which now declared for an 'independent sovereign
republic'. The possibility that Burma, like India, might stay in the
Commonwealth was hardly explored at the time. Aung San and several
of his colleagues were assassinated a month later, but the course that
they had charted was followed, and a complete transfer of power took
place with the enactment at Westminster in the late autumn of 194 7 of
the Burma Independence Bill. 30 Listowel ceased to be Secretary of
State for Burma on 4 January 1948 and moved instead to become
Minister of State at the Colonial Office, where Creech Jones was in
need of assistance.

* * * *
154 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

The Colonial Office as a separate Department of State dated from

1854; its location at the corner of Whitehall and Downing Street went
some way to indicate its importance in the late nineteenth century. But
the Dominions Office grew up within it like a cuckoo in the nest, and,
as Lord Garner, who served in the Dominions Office from 1930
onwards, put it in his study of the development of that department, in
1946 'the lusty child ejected its mother from the home', and the
Colonial Office moved to Church House, Great Smith Street -
temporary accommodation pending the construction of a new build-
ing.31 According to Creech Jones, whom Attlee appointed as Parlia-
mentary Under-Secretary in August 1945, the first post-war Colonial
Secretary, George Hall, who had been the Parliamentary Under-
Secretary for some nineteen months in the early stages of the Coalition
Government, when Secretary of State 'was ill most of the time and
preoccupied with Palestine. He left the Colonies largely to myself .32

As we have seen, Oliver Stanley, the Colonial Secretary who

preceded Hall, recognised that Ceylon was ripe for constitutional
development; and the island secured adult suffrage during the war. A
Commission chaired by Lord Soul bury visited Ceylon in late 1944 and
early 1945 and recommended that the final steps to Dominion status
should be taken as soon as the war was over, subject to safeguards for
minority communities. But the Labour Government's Colonial Affairs
Committee, under the chairmanship of Arthur Greenwood, stipulated
that full independence should not be given to Ceylon ahead of India
and Burma. 33 So the official historian of Ceylon is not unjustified in
arguing that 'The defeat of the Conservatives postponed rather than
hastened the grant of Dominion status to Ceylon.' 34 A constitution
embodying the Soul bury Commission's safeguards was briefly brought
into operation in May 1946; but the new State Council, irrespective of
communal links - Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim or European - was
virtually unanimous in supporting the movement to full Dominion
status, although they recognised the need for mutual defence
arrangements with Britain for the time being. Fresh negotiations took
place in London, and the announcement of their success was made in
June 194 7. In November of that year Lis towel introduced the Ceylon
Independence Bill in the House of Lords. Upon its enactment at the
end of the year Ceylon became the first non-white territory adminis-
tered by the Colonial Office to become a full member of the
Commonwealth, and on 4 February 1948 the British link with the
island was formally transferred to the Commonwealth Relations
Labour and the Empire 155

Office. Sir Henry Moore, Ceylon's last Governor, became its first
Governor-General. 35
George Hall lasted as Colonial Secretary for little more than a year;
in October 1946 Attlee transferred him to the post of First Lord of the
Admiralty in succession to A. V. Alexander, who became Minister of
Defence; and this left the way open for the promotion of Creech
Jones, who although formerly a trade union official - he served in
Bevin's Transport and General Workers Union- had made a special
study of colonial questions and from 1940 for five years was chairman
of the Fabian Colonial Bureau. Oliver Stanley, the Conservative
front-bench spokesman on colonial affairs and himself a man of
progressive views, as he had shown during his term of office as Colonial
Secretary, wrote to Creech Jones to congratulate him on his appoint-
ment and commented: 'No doubt we shall have our differences but
there is a great deal of common ground.' 36 Stanley told the Conserva-
tive Party conference in the autumn of 194 7:

I have done everything I could to keep the Empire out of party

politics. There is no hope of a consistent Imperial policy if that policy
is put upon a partisan basis. 37

This attitude was in some respects reassuring for Creech Jones, but it
meant that Labour MPs rather lost interest in the subject: he himself
had to ask the Parliamentary Party's Liaison Committee to make
arrangements for him to address the Parliamentary Party on the
subject, while other Ministers found that back-benchers demanded
private debates which they themselves did not want. 38
Another reason for lack of interest in colonial affairs was that there
were thought to be no other colonies where the movement for
independence was strong, or where the economic base for indepen-
dence appeared to be secure. In his Colonial Office Annual Report for
1947, Creech Jones wrote that the central purpose of his policy was

to guide the colonial territories to responsible self-government

within the Commonwealth, in conditions that ensure to the people
concerned both a fair standard of living and freedom from oppres-
sion from any quarter.

But the improvement of colonial standards of living was bound to be a

long and difficult task, especially in view of the acute problems of the
British economy. The Colonial Office invited the colonies to frame
schemes of development in accordance with the two Colonial
156 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Development and Welfare Acts, both of which had been passed before
Labour took office: by mid-1948 seventeen schemes had been
approved, involving a total of 59 million from the British Excheq-
uer.39 But a considerable proportion of the investment required was
to be raised locally, and another large proportion was to be raised in
loans from the London money market. A further limiting factor was
the low priority given to colonial orders for such vital necessities as
steel and railway equipment. In practice, as Creech Jones told the
Commons, up to the end of March 1949 the 'actual issues from the vote
totalled only 25 million'. 40 In August 1947 he had been prevailed
upon by the Treasury to send out a circular to all Colonial Govern-
ments describing the British economic crisis and requesting the
Governments to limit their imports to what they could pay for from
current production. 41 A further memorandum on the same theme was
criticised within the Office by Sir Charles Jeffries, an Assistant
Under-Secretary of State, on the grounds that it did

not explain (because it can't) how the Colonial people can be

convinced that the United Kingdom is in a serious plight when the
standard of living of the mass of the people here is so immensely
superior to that of the Colonial populations.42

In the case ofthe Gold Coast (later to be renamed Ghana), disorders in

Accra in February 1948 were, on investigation, attributed in some part
to 'the shortage and high prices of consumer goods'. 43 As a result,
special arrangements were made later that year to improve the supply
of such goods to West Africa; and an inter-departmental Committee
on Colonial Development 're-established the principle that Colonial
requirements were to be considered on a par with those of the United
Kingdom' .44
Meanwhile the Managing Director of the United Africa Company,
Frank Samuel, had proposed that in order to relieve the world shortage
of oils and fats a scheme should be initiated in East Africa for the rapid
expansion of groundnut production by mechanical means. The scheme
attracted the interest of both the Colonial Office and the Ministry of
Food. John Strachey, the Minister of Food, was especially enthusiastic;
and it was decided that, as the benefits of the scheme to the people of
East Africa would be merely 'a by-product', it was logical that he,
rather than the Colonial Secretary, should take charge. 45 Authority
was provided at a Cabinet Meeting on 31 October 1946 for the
expenditure of 3 million on initial work in 'Tanganyika, Northern
Labour and the Empire 157

Rhodesia and Kenya' .46 Not all those involved approved the project:
the Ministry of Food's own Under-Secretary for Finance, Dr E. E.
Bailey, was sceptical, and largely converted to his viewpoint the
Permanent Secretary, Sir Percivale Liesching. In the Colonial Office,
too, the agricultural experts had their doubts about the climate and
soil. 47 But, as Dr Bailey later wrote, the technical experts were 'the
objects of Ministerial pressure of the severest kind' .48
The Minister of Food, in particular, pushed the plans forward and
prepared for the establishment of a public corporation to take over
from the United Africa Company. As the Colonial Office also wished
to raise money for development projects in the Colonial Empire, it was
decided to pass legislation to establish two corporations, an Overseas
Food Corporation, to run the groundnut scheme under the direction of
the Ministry of Food, and also a Colonial Development Corporation,
to finance other projects directly related to the needs of the colonial
people under the aegis of the Colonial Office. Both bodies were
established by the Overseas Resources Development Act, which was
passed in February 1948. 49 Leslie Plummer, a personal friend of
Strachey, was appointed chairman of the Overseas Food Corporation:
he had no colonial experience, but had a reputation as a successful
newspaper manager. Lord Trefgarne, a former Labour MP who had
held junior office during the war, took the chairmanship of the
Colonial Development Corporation. The comparatively minor losses
of the CDC in ventures such as Gambia chicken-farming were largely
overlooked because they were put in the shade by the spectacular
failure of the groundnuts scheme. It was already apparent in 194 7,
before the OFC formally took over, that the scheme was running into
difficulties. The progress of the clearing work was slow, and many of
the tractors being used were defective. Later it appeared that much of
the terrain was unsuitable and the climate unreliable. 5 By the autumn
of 1949 it was obvious that the entire project was running into serious
difficulties. An article in Picture Post on 'the Groundnut Scandal'
called for the sacking of Leslie Plummer. 51 Strachey had visited East
Africa in June of that year, and he told the Commons during a debate
on the subject in November that

I was very careful to interview, privately and alone, all the senior
members of the executive out there and to ask them their opinion
and attitude, because these allegations have been made about the
Chairman and the leadership of the Corporation, and their replies
were that the allegations ... were not in fact true. 52
158 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Plummer had been criticised for his lack of knowledge of tropical

agriculture and of engineering: 'allegations' which were hard to
gainsay. The Opposition demand for a 'full enquiry' was defeated by
315 votes to 161- the Government's usual majority- but there were
protests and threats of resignation in Tanganyika as a result of
Strachey's statement, and he had again to visit Africa in mid-
December to meet the disgruntled managers. 53 In 1950 the scheme
was abandoned by Strachey's successor at the Ministry of Food,
Maurice Webb: some of the improvements made, but only some, were
of permanent value to the Tanganyika Government. 54 The loss of
public money on this project, amounting to over 30 million, was made
an issue by the Conservatives in both the 1950 and 1951 general
elections. 55
Creech Jones no doubt felt relieved that he had not had the
responsibility for the groundnuts scheme as well as for the CDC,
especially as the most difficult of his tasks, as it had been of George
Hall's, was that of coping with the Palestine problem, which has been
dealt with elsewhere. 56 So far as political advance was concerned, the
old policy of 'indirect rule' was replaced by one of encouraging elected
local government; in this Creech Jones found an enthusiastic col-
laborator in Andrew Cohen, the Head of the Africa Division of the
Office. 57 There was also some extension of the degree of autonomy in
the African colonies, notably the Gold Coast; 58 but Labour's main
contribution to Colonial constitutional development was in a form
already initiated by Oliver Stanley before the 1945 General Election:
that is to say, the encouragement of regional groupings. A Federation
of Malaya came into existence, to bring together the small states on the
peninsula; and there was an increased degree of co-ordination among
the African territories- although the East African High Commission,
which was composed of the Governors of Kenya, Uganda and
Tanganyika, ran foul of the United Nations Trusteeship Council,
because Tanganyika was a trust territory. In the West Indies Creech
Jones presided over a conference of delegates from local legislatures to
discuss the desirability of a British Caribbean Federation. The
Conference was held at Montego Bay, Jamaica, in September 1947,
but owing to mutual suspicion progress thereafter was agonisingly
The Colonial Office remained, so far as its administrative staff was
concerned, one of the six largest Ministries in Whitehall; and in fact its
size had more than doubled since before the war. 5 9 Its failure to assist
the colonies with economic aid from Britain should not conceal the
Labour and the Empire 159

remarkable advances that were made in certain directions - for

instance, the virtual elimination of malaria in many of the territories,
which was a by-product of recent medical discoveries; and the
considerable extension of education, with the formation of several
Universities or University Colleges. An increasing number of students
from the Colonies came to Britain: there were about 3000 in 194 7 and
about 4000 a year later. In 1949, after some prodding from the Fabian
Colonial Bureau, Transport House appointed to its International
Department a Colonial Assistant whose task it was to prevent these
potential national leaders from falling into the hands of the Commun-
ist Party. By 1949 the Fabian Colonial Bureau had reached the point of
deciding that the title of its journal, Empire, was obsolete: the
alternative that was chosen, however, did not sound very inspiring.
The name was changed to Venture, which tended to remind readers of

* * * *
While the Colonial Office retained a large staff, and was expected to do
so for the foreseeable future, the Commonwealth Relations Office was
relatively small. All the same, it was charged with increasing respon-
sibilities as the diplomatic centre of a multi-racial society. In a Cabinet
reshuffle of October 194 7 Attlee abruptly removed Addison and
Arthur Bottomley, his Parliamentary Under-Secretary, and replaced
them respectively with Philip Noel-Baker and Patrick Gordon Walker.
This was part of a general reshuffle and did not mean that either
Addison or Bottomley were leaving the Government: on the contrary,
so far as Addison was concerned, he was still Leader of the House of
Lords and Attlee wanted him to join the powerful Economic Policy
Committee which he was establishing at this time. It seems that Attlee,
who had been Dominions Secretary himself during the war for a time,
did not regard the office as a major responsibility. Noel-Baker, a
member of the intellectual left, was not a powerful figure in the Labour
movement; nor was he good at administration. One of his principal
civil servants at the Commonwealth Relations Office said of him 'The
very sweetness of his nature prevented him from showing the
ruthlessness that politics sometimes demanded. ' 60 He also spent much
of his time at the United Nations, trying to settle the Kashmir dispute;
and when he returned home he had to have an operation, which put
him out of action for four months. Some of his principal problems were
again referred to Addison. 61 As for Gordon Walker, he was entering
office for the first time, and he was told by Attlee to continue the
160 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

publicity work which he was already doing for Herbert Morrison, as

'there won't be much to do in Parliament' in connection with his new
office. 62 All the same, the integration of India, Pakistan, and Ceylon
into the old 'white man's club' of the old Commonwealth did present
major problems, and Attlee himself, having been chairman of the
India Committee of the Cabinet, wisely now took over the Common-
wealth Affairs Committee.
Noel-Baker, despite his supposed 'lack of ruthlessness', was one of
the few Ministers who succeeded in removing his Permanent Under-
Secretary. He had inherited Sir Eric Machtig, who had made no effort
to treat India and Pakistan as on a par with the old white dominions,
and kept them separated into Divisions B and A respectively. At the
end of 1948, after discussions with Sir Edward Bridges, the Head of
the Civil Service, and with the Prime Minister, Noel-Baker secured
Machtig's removal and replacement by Sir Percivale Liesching, who
after earlier service in the Dominions Office had become Permanent
Secretary to the Ministry of Food. Liesching united the Divisions of the
Office and thus disposed of the problem that had worried Noel-Baker
most of all; but he also upset the latter by supporting the proposals for
a Central African Federation, which would of course be dominated by
the white-ruled and semi-independent territory of Southern Rhodesia.
Liesching, for his part, regarded Noel-Baker as an 'intellectual
mosquito' .63 But the Minister could not remove his Permanent
Secretary twice over; and in the reshuffle that followed the 1950
General Election it was Noel-Baker who was moved- to be replaced
by his very able Parliamentary Secretary, Gordon Walker.
Attlee's prediction to Gordon Walker that 'there won't be much to
do in Parliament' hardly turned out to be true. Legislation was
necessary about citizenship owing to a Canadian initiative - the
Canadian Citizenship Act, 1946, which for the first time defined the
citizenship of Canada and decreed that all its citizens should be British
subjects. A conference of 'experts' under Sir Alexander Maxwell of
the Home Office recommended in 194 7 that each Member of the
Commonwealth should define its own citizens, but that all should be
regarded as Commonwealth citizens, or British subjects. 64 By the
British Nationality Act, 1948, therefore, the Government established
a 'citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies', from which
membership of the Commonwealth was derived. This replaced the old
definition of 'British subject' which covered all persons born within
'the King's dominions'. There was also a provision that British subjects
abroad who did not acquire the citizenship of a Commonwealth
Labour and the Empire 161

country under its law, had the right to be regarded as 'citizens of the
United Kingdom and Colonies'. This was to cause unexpected
problems of immigration to Britain in later years, when East African
ex-colonies refused to give citizenship to their Asian inhabitants.
When in 1948 the government of Eire decided to enact a Republic of
Ireland Bill, in order to break the ties of external association with the
Crown which had previously persisted, it became necessary for Britain
and the 'old dominions' - all of which were lands with substantial
immigrant Irish populations - to consider their relationship with the
new Republic. There was a discussion among Commonwealth Minis-
ters attending the United Nations General Assembly in Paris in
November 1948, and it was agreed that the citizens of the Republic
should continue to be treated as if they were members of a Common-
wealth country, and not as aliens. 65 This was confirmed in Britain's
case by the Ireland Act, 1949, which was opposed by some Labour
MPs because it reaffirmed the fully British status of Northern
Ireland. 66
It was ironical, though, that just as the Republic of Ireland was
leaving the Commonwealth, efforts were being made to ensure that
India could remain within the Commonwealth although her new
government was determined to establish a republic. It was not a
foregone conclusion that the Commonwealth could be adapted in this
way; but the critical decisions were taken as a result of India's adoption
of a republican constitution in late 1948. There was doubt on the
Indian side about whether a republic could belong to the Common-
wealth, but Sir B. N. Rau, who acted as constitutional adviser to the
Indian Government, argued in January 1948 that the constitution of
the Commonwealth was 'never static' and quoted the British constitu-
tional expert, Professor A. B. Keith, writing before the war, to the
effect that

If no place can be found in a British Commonwealth for Republics,

then the enduring character of the Commonwealth may well be
doubted. 67

Mountbatten, who was still Governor-General of India at that time,

was also keen that India should remain in the fold; and Attlee, after
seeing correspondence between Mountbatten and Gordon Walker,
wrote to Nehru that the Commonwealth was 'a very elastic concern' .68
Meanwhile Noel-Baker's activities at the United Nations had
threatened the prospects of keeping India in the Commonwealth.
162 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

India had raised the question of Kashmir at the Security Council, and
Noel-Baker sponsored a resolution calling on both India and Pakistan
to agree to a referendum of the people of the state. This was acceptable
to both parties: but there was no mention in Noel-Baker's draft
resolution of the need for the prior withdrawal of the raiders from the
North-West Frontier. The Commonwealth Affairs Committee real-
ised the dangers of this: Cripps even thought it would cause India to
leave the Commonwealth at once. Attlee himself was annoyed that the
resolution was being put forward without the Whitehall committee
being consulted; he spoke sharply to Noel-Baker on the transatlantic
telephone in order to get its terms altered. As Gordon Walker put it in
his diary, Noel-Baker's 'desire to execute an exercise in abstract
peace-making came near to wrecking the Commonwealth'. 69
To be sure, not all the members of the Commonwealth Affairs
Committee were equally enthusiastic about the desirability of keeping
the association in existence. At a meeting of the committee in January
1949 Bevin, in Gordon Walker's view under the influence of his
Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Orme Sargent, actually proposed
that the Commonwealth should be dissolved. The lawyers present,
Jowitt, the Lord Chancellor, and Hartley Shawcross, the Attorney-
General, were both doubtful if a formula could be found to preserve
the connection. 70 But the key had already been found by Gordon
Walker: in a letter to Mountbatten in July 1948 he suggested use of the
term 'Head of the Commonwealth' to express the King's status in
India; and he elaborated this to Attlee in a minute of January 1949.71 It
was he also who put forward suggestions to persuade the other
Commonwealth Prime Ministers to agree: emissaries should be sent to
visit the existing Commonwealth countries to explain the new propos-
als; and then the arrangements could be confirmed by an early meeting
of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. 72 Attlee put it to the King in a
letter of 17 February 1949:

If India, against her will, is obliged to leave the Commonwealth, it

would encourage Russia in her efforts to disrupt South-East Asia,
while India, as the most important national state in that area, would
tend to become the leader of an anti-European Asiatic movement.
On the other hand, if she remains a member of the Commonwealth,
there is a great possibility of building up in South-East Asia
something analogous to Western Union. 73

The Cabinet agreed to the plan on 3 March, and the emissaries,

Labour and the Empire 163

including Gordon Walker himself, Norman Brook, the Cabinet

Secretary, and Liesching, were despatched to Commonwealth capitals
to prepare the way for the Prime Ministers' Conference. 74 When the
Conference was held in April it soon completed its business; its final
communique stated that India accepted the King 'as the symbol of the
free association of its [the Commonwealth's] independent member
nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth' .75 The new title
'Head of the Commonwealth' was incorporated in the proclamation of
Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 after the death of King George Vl. 76
After the successful outcome of this Commonwealth Prime Minis-
ters' Conference, Attlee received many congratulations from all sides.
Leo Amery, who had been Churchill's Secretary of State for India,

You have pulled off a big thing and I congratulate you most sincerely
... I am only too glad to see my fears proved mistaken. 77

Gordon Walker also wrote to say that he admired the Prime Minister's
conduct of the negotiations, and Attlee replied:

The world gives me the credit, but you know how much the success
achieved is due to others, notably to yourself.1 8

Gordon Walker was no doubt delighted to receive this holograph

letter, but he might have been a little disappointed if he had known that
on the same day Cripps had received a similar epistle from the Prime
Minister saying 'inevitably I am given credit which should properly be
shared by others most notably by yourself' .79 But this was the sphere of
policy which most clearly bore the personal imprint of Attlee himself.
9 1947: Year of Crises
The year 194 7 opened with the Labour Government in reasonably
cheerful mood. 'Industrially', according to a leader in the News

the year has been marked by steady progress. Unemployment (apart

from a few areas in Scotland and Wales) has been almost negligible.
Britain, too, is almost the only democratic country in the world
which has survived 1946 without a major industrial dispute. 1

This afforded a satisfactory contrast with 1919, the first full year after
the First World War, when the country had been rent by major
industrial disputes. 2 Politically, too, the Government's programme
was proceeding according to plan: the coal mines were taken over as
the new year began, the Transport Bill had just passed its Second
Reading, and within the first two weeks of January two more major
bills were published- the Town and Country Planning Bill to control
land usage and the bill for the nationalisation of electricity. A Gallup
Poll reported that a bare majority of people (52 per cent) were still
'satisfied' with Attlee as Prime Minister. 3 Being so markedly
uncharismatic, he would not have expected to have rated higher; and
the poll indicated little change within the preceding two months. A
slightly larger majority (54 per cent) thought that Ernest Bevin was
'doing a good job as Foreign Secretary' .4
Very soon, though, the predominant issue in most people's minds
was the harshness of the weather. The winter of early 194 7 was, as the
Annual Register recorded, the 'most severe since 1880-1'.5 Heavy
snow fell on 27 January, and this was followed by electricity cuts in
many areas. The sea froze at Folkestone harbour; colliers were
stranded at the Tyne owing to the stormy weather, and coal could not
be transported by rail or road; consequently factories began to close
owing to lack of fuel. On 7 February Shinwell, the Minister of Fuel and
Power, suddenly announced in the middle of a Commons debate that

166 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

fuel for industry in the South-East, the Midlands and the North-West
of England could not be supplied for the time being; and that the use of
domestic electricity was also to be banned in the same areas between 9
and 12 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. 6 As the bad weather continued, it was
decided, among other economies, to close all weekly periodicals for
two weeks from 11 February. Many trains were cancelled and the
'down' elevators on the London Underground were halted. Soon the
domestic electricity cuts were extended over the whole country. On 12
February the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a
Cabinet Committee of Nine to fight the crisis: it included himself,
Dalton, Cripps, Shinwell, Barnes (the Minister of Transport) and
Isaacs (the Minister of Labour), together with Lord Hyndley, the new
Chairman of the Coal Board, Harold Hobson, the Chairman of the
Central Electricity Board, and Sir James Milne, the Deputy Chairman
of the Railway Executive Committee. 7 On the 15th it was reported that
unemployment, owing to the closure of factories, was at the level of
2 319 400.
The movement of coal was gradually resumed in late February, and
some pits were voluntarily worked on Sundays to increase the supply.
Most Midland factories were able to recall workers in the last week of
the month, but in the North- West, factories remained silent until the
beginning of March. Troops were brought in to help clear snow from
the roads and the rails. By the middle of March, because of a thaw in
the south of England, a new disaster overcame the country: rivers
overflowed their banks, and the Fens were submerged. The hazards of
the winter thus occasioned heavy losses of sheep, cattle and potatoes.
In order to build up stocks of coal, space-heating in industry was
banned from May until the end of October, and the use of gas and
electricity for heating in the home was also forbidden until the end of
It was inevitable that scapegoats should be sought for what was
primarily a natural disaster. When the House of Lords debated the fuel
crisis, Lord Swinton, for the Opposition, described the cause as 'not an
act of God, but the inactivity of Emanuel'; and other peers called for
Shin well's removal as 'a Minister who had lost the public confidence' .8
Privately, too, many members of the Government were blaming
Shinwell for the disaster, because of his failure to make plans to
anticipate the crisis. The essential thing would have been to speed up
the recruitment of miners in 1946: one obvious supply would have
been provided by the Polish ex-servicemen who wished to settle in
Britain. But Shinwell failed to make the National Union of Minewor-
1947: Year of Crises 167

kers accept the idea in return for the concession of the five-day week,
which was introduced in May 194 7. Shin well was also ambiguous in his
public utterances about the danger of coal shortage; even as late as 24
October 1946 he remarked 'Everybody knows there is going to be a
serious crisis in the coal industry except the Minister of Fuel and
Power. ' 9 This is not to say that the Minister was entirely to blame: it was
a long time before he obtained the highest priority for the transport of
coal, as compared with passenger transport; and even Dalton, who was
bitterly hostile to Shinwell as a Cabinet colleague because of his
volubility over a wide field, acknowledged that 'he had to face, from
the start, almost insoluble departmental problems' .10
Meanwhile the Government was suffering casualties in its own
ranks. Ellen Wilkinson, the Minister of Education, having secured the
Cabinet reaffirmation of the raising of the school-leaving age in April
from fourteen to fifteen, died in February from an overdose of sleeping
pills. 11 The Cabinet thus lost its only woman member, as in her place
Attlee appointed George Tomlinson, for many years a Lancashire
cotton weaver and at the time the Minister of Works. A more serious
casualty for the Government, in view of the pressure upon Ministers in
Parliament, was the fact that Herbert Morrison suffered a thrombosis
in mid-January and was out of action in Hammersmith Hospital until
late March. 12 In April he went to recuperate for several weeks at
Menton on the French Riviera. While he was away, Arthur Green-
wood took his place, somewhat inadequately, as Leader of the House,
and Dalton and Cripps shared his committee chairmanships.
While Morrison was in France, Attlee was contemplating some
Cabinet changes. The Prime Minister's mind had been largely
absorbed by external problems, apart from the fuel crisis; and he now
wished to make some changes to improve administration both for
India and for the British Zone of Germany. As we have seen, he had
arranged for Mountbatten, who had lately given up his command in
South-East Asia, to take over as Viceroy of India from Wavell; and
Mountbatten deserved a Secretary of State rather closer to his own
age. 13 The fact was that Pethick-Lawrence was over 75, and becoming
senile: he slept through many of the meetings of the India Committee
of the Cabinet. Attlee, who consulted Morrison on the proposed
changes when the latter was in France, reported that Pethick-
Lawrence had 'told me he has come to the end of his tether and can no
more carry on'. Attlee intended to replace him with the Earl of
Listowel, who at the time was Postmaster-General. It would only be a
temporary promotion for Listowel because the India Office would be
168 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

abolished within a few months. But Listowel had the advantage of

being young: in fact, at 40, he was five years younger than the new
Attlee also proposed that Lord Pakenham (later the Earl of
Longford) should take charge of the British Zone of Germany in place
of J. B. Hynd, who had not been a great success; and that this post
should be subordinated to the Foreign Office, instead of to the War
Office, as previously. This was partly occasioned by the increasing
interdependence of the British Zone with the American. But on
balance these changes meant that the Government would be weaker in
the Lords than before, and, as Attlee told Morrison, 'Addison really
needs more help as the burden of major debates falls on him and Jowitt
almost entirely .' 14 The Prime Minister's attempted solution to the
difficulty was to promote W. T. Paling, who was at Pensions, to be an
additional Lords spokesman as Postmaster-General. But Paling,
although already 64, was reluctant to leave the Commons. Attlee told
Morrison, 'I tried to get Paling to go upstairs, but he would not.'
Morrison replied rather impatiently. He had no comments on the
appointment of Listowel, but he thought there were dangers in
Attlee's plans for the British Zone:

By the way the FO is not good at administration in Germany -

Germany is administration on a big and tricky scale; by the way I
doubt if an RC should go to the FO.

Morrison suggested that the changes could wait for a fortnight, so that
he could consult with both Attlee and Whiteley, the Chief Whip, on his
return to Whitehall. He also wanted more far-reaching changes:

We are carrying a fair amount of dead wood. The back-benchers

know it and they are unhappy about it, though it is difficult for the
most decent to raise their voices. They are not going to be satisfied
with moving the draughts round the board - they want the dead
wood moved off the board, and they are right. We should scour the
back-benches for bright and promising people. 15

Nevertheless Attlee went ahead with his rather limited reshuffle. He

argued that India and Germany could not wait:

The reorganisation of our position in Germany is pressing and Ernie

wants to get the new set-up going. It just doesn't work at present.
Also Pethick is anxious to retire this week. 16
1947: Year of Crises 169

So the Prime Minister went ahead with the changes. His solution to the
problem of the Lords was far from satisfactory, for he made the
mistake of choosing a new Cabinet Minister from outside the ranks of
the politicians - Lord Inman, a business man and hospital adminis-
trator known to Cripps ('Stafford has a high opinion of his ability).m
Inman became Lord Privy Seal with no specific functions, and found,
rather absurdly, that the subjects on which he was supposed to speak in
the Lords did not correspond at all with the committees on which he
was placed. 18 After a few months he pressed Attlee to give him a
departmental post. Upon receiving no positive response he asked to be
allowed to resign; this at least was permitted to him in October. As the
Economist commented:

Lord Inman's brief flight through the higher Cabinet levels- in itself
one of the unsolved political mysteries of the decade- is now over. 19

* * * *
Attlee's concern with overseas problems was of course natural in the
period of post-war reconstruction, but Ministers who were primarily
involved in economic matters attached more importance to increased
production and the balance of payments. Of course, if servicemen
could be released from the Forces, they would be available for
domestic industry: but in early 194 7 the strength of the Forces had to
be considered in terms of the substantial remaining British commit-
ments, including Germany, India, Palestine and Greece. In mid-
January the Cabinet discussed the need for Forces reductions, but
those who were for greater economy were weakened by the absence of
Morrison. Attlee rather blandly assured Dalton that a 'manpower gap'
of 630 000 would be made up by a 'higher level of productivity' .20 But,
as Dalton pointed out in a tart reply embodied in a paper which he
prepared a few days later, this 'higher level' could not so easily be
effected without new capital equipment. Dalton's own view was that
immediate cuts in the size of the Services were essential:

What shall it profit Britain to have over 1 500 000 men in the Forces
and Supply, and to be spending nearly 1000 million a year on them,
if we come an economic and financial cropper two years hence?

He added, in an informal note, 'I was astonished at the blank wall I

met, both from you and Albert [Alexander]. I wish Ernie had been
there.' 21 A week later Alexander offered to reduce the size of the
170 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Defence estimates by 5 per cent, and Dalton accepted this 'as a

payment on account'. 22
The difficulty with the idea of cutting the Forces was that, although
plans were being made for a withdrawal from India, they were not then
thought likely to come to fruition in 194 7; and because of the tense
situation in Palestine there were many more troops in the Middle East
than in India. There was also a division still in Greece; but on this the
Treasury secured an unexpected success over the Foreign Office when
Bevin agreed that Lord lnverchapel, the Ambassador in Washington,
should be told to advise the State Department that Britain would have
to terminate her financial and military assistance to Greece at the end
of March. This caused a major revolution in American policy: in
mid-March President Truman recognised the importance of sustaining
the existing regimes in both Greece and Turkey against any encroach-
ment from the Soviet Union, and embodied this in the so-called
'Truman Doctrine' .23
Nevertheless on the advice of the Chiefs of Staff the Defence
Committee had recommended, and the Cabinet approved, the intro-
duction of a permanent peace-time system of National Service on the
basis of an eighteen-month term. The proposal was embodied in a bill
which was vigorously argued by Alexander on the basis of Britain's
military commitments; but it met much hostility, not from the
Conservative Opposition, which supported the measure, but from a
large minority of Labour MPs. On 1 April, when the vote on the
Second Reading took place, there was a hostile vote of 85, including
some 72 Labour members; and another 30 Labour members were
reckoned to have abstained. 24 Attlee, in writing to Morrison shortly
afterwards, remarked rather blandly:

We had rather a large adverse vote on National Service due to a

large proportion of the Welsh going wrong, but I do not think that
we need be too worried. It was after all a fence which we were bound
to take sooner or later.

But he then promptly admitted in the same letter:

We have decided to reduce the period to a year which will ease

matters. The Chiefs of Staff found themselves able to agree. 25

In fact, this retreat was a humiliation for the Government, and

especially for Alexander, the Minister of Defence, who now had to
1947: Year of Crises 171

swallow his arguments for the eighteen-month term. The revolt had
spread well beyond the usual pacifist group of members and had
attracted many who were thinking along the same lines as Dalton. But
Churchill's scathing comments at the committee stage of the bill upon
Alexander's 'sudden volte-face, change and scuttle' were not unjus-
All the same, surveying the immediate prospects, Dalton had good
reason to remain seriously concerned about the overseas deficit. In
presenting his third Budget on 15 April he displayed his customary
ebullience, boasting of the success of his cheap-money policy, which
had brought 'relief to the taxpayer, on whom falls the brunt of servicing
the National Debt ... It is our intention resolutely to adhere to it.' But
he warned that the American Loan was running out too fast, partly
because dollar prices had risen by some 40 per cent since the Loan
Agreement had been made. After making some tax reductions,
therefore, he announced a heavy increase in tobacco duty, pointing out
that four-fifths of British consumption was derived from the United
States: 'It is hardly to be believed, but the whole total of our exports to
the United States at this time barely exceeds, in value, our own
consumption of American tobacco.' 27 In practice, the increased
taxation made little difference to total consumption especially as
Dalton felt obliged to make a concession to Old Age Pensioners (as he
called them in his diary, 'those wretched old people, who are our most
troublesome Pressure Group'). 28

* * * *
The alternative to cutting overseas commitments- or perhaps rather,
its complement - was to increase production. This necessitated a
planned transfer of manpower and raw materials to key industries: it
involved a wages policy, and perhaps a power of direction of labour. In
the Economic Survey for 1947, which was published in late February,
while the fuel crisis was still at its height, there was remarkably little
planning indeed. 29 It announced an export target of 140 per cent ofthe
1938 level and a target of coal production of 200 million tons for the
calendar year, and it urged the recruitment of foreign labour; it was
stated that underground miners would be exempt from call-up to the
Forces, but there was no suggestion of a wages policy. Furthermore,
the target of 200 million tons allowed virtually no coal for export,
although the demand for it in the rest of Europe was acute. The bolder
proposals of the Committee on Ministerial Planning had been cut out
by the full Cabinet: for instance, it had been suggested that there
172 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

should be direction of labour, including that of women; but Bevin had

objected strongly to this, saying that during the war it had raised
'extremely awkward questions ... over the application of sanctions to
women who had refused to comply with directions' .30 When the Survey
was published, The Times's comment was very apposite:

The account which it gives of this country's plight is frank and grave.
The continued reluctance of the Government to insist outright upon
the root and branch remedies which should follow inexorably from
their analysis is at least as alarming ... The White Paper's bark is
worse than its bite ... The trade unions may not have had the last
word this time, but they have prevented the Government from
having it. There is no last word. 31

This viewpoint was echoed by the editor of the New Statesman,

Kingsley Martin, writing - during the temporary demise of his own
journal- in the Evening Standard:

As an 'appreciation', to use a military term, the White Paper is

excellent. As a directive of operations, it is quite inadequate. Part of
the trouble is that the Caretaker Government got rid of the Ministry
of Production, whose job it would be to decide what priorities to give
to the various demands of Ministers. 32

The Survey was debated in the Commons in mid-March, and Cripps,

in the continued absence of Morrison, was the principal Cabinet
spokesman. He said that the Government was in fact going to set up a
Joint Planning Staff, rather like the Joint War Production Staff of
wartime. 33 Late in the month it was announced that Sir Edwin
Plowden, a successful business man and temporary civil servant, would
become the Chief Planning Officer. He would be assisted by a Planning
Board which would be recruited from both sides of industry. Plowden
was to work under the overall supervision of the Lord President,
Herbert Morrison. 34 A publicity campaign was set on foot to try to
acquaint the general public with the critical nature of Britain's
economic problem; and posters appeared with the far from inspiring
slogan- taken from a speech by Cripps- 'We Work or Want'.
Morrison did not very effectively assume his new powers, and Cripps
wanted Bevin to return to the home front, as he could 'really talk to the
trade unions like an uncle'. Dalton noted at the end of April that
Cripps had made this suggestion to the Prime Minister. 35 But although
1947: Year of Crises 173

Bevin could sweep all before him at the Party Conference- as indeed
he proceeded to do at Margate in late May - it was evident that his
appointment as economic overlord, or indeed as Prime Minister,
would cause grave disturbance in his relations both with Morrison and
with the Parliamentary Party as a whole. Time was running out: under
the terms of the American Loan, convertibility of current transactions
in sterling into dollars was restored on 15 July. Yet Morrison was still
in that month trying to settle the hierarchy of authority in economic
matters, and resisting Bridges' idea that 'Plowden and his planners'
should be in the Cabinet Secretariat rather than in the Lord President's
Office. 36
At the end of July Morrison, Bevin, and Dalton all went up to the
Durham Miners' Gala, and Bevin made a powerful speech calling upon
the miners for more production:

Your Labour Government is carrying on in foreign affairs without

the tools to do the job, and I must be helped out ... Give me the
weapons so that I can carry on not only to help in your prosperity but
to try and complete a decent peace for the world of the future. 37

Dalton drove back to London with Bevin in the latter's car, and they
discussed the shortcomings of the Prime Minister. Bevin, according to
Dalton, said that Attlee 'had made an awful hash of some of his
appointments, especially Inman'; and Dalton told him that his
Parliamentary Private Secretary, George Brown- a young member of
Bevin's own union - 'has been telling me that a large number of
members want EB to be PM'. But Bevin demurred at this, saying that
he 'doesn't want to do anyone out of his job' - a good expression of
trade union principle. 38 As soon as Dalton got back to London he
discovered from George Brown that 'the movement to make EB PM
has petered out ... It is one of the ever-recurrent Parliamentary miracles
how great waves of opinion disperse themselves in broken spray!' 39 By
29 July it was clear that the dollar loan was evaporating far too quickly,
and the country faced a serious balance of payments crisis. Dalton had
put up a paper recommending import cuts, but in face of opposition
from Bevin he altered his line to one of 'stop buying dollar foods' .40 On
the 30th, Attlee addressed a meeting of the Parliamentary Party and
outlined emergency proposals, already accepted by the Cabinet, to
deal with the crisis: the production of coal, steel, textiles and other
export goods would be boosted, more food would be grown at home
and there would be certain unspecified import cuts. Dalton wound up
174 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

the meeting with his proposal to 'stop buying', which he thought would
'bring prices down and also contribute to what - and it was not my
phrase- had been called "the education of America about England". ' 41
The meeting broke up with the members in reasonably good heart: but
no doubt many of the MPs present would have been shocked by the
immediate sequel among their leaders. The 'Big Five' - Attlee,
Morrison, Bevin, Dalton and Cripps- met that evening with Bridges
and Eady of the Treasury to discuss the cuts that were to be
recommended to the Cabinet next day. Bevin was unusually voluble as
a result of having entertained the Afghan Minister; and Morrison,
after an hour of his bullying, departed, saying that he had 'had enough
of this drunken monologue'. The discussion continued, in Dalton's
view, in 'inconclusive' fashion until half past midnight. He commiser-
ated with the officials afterwards, saying, 'Anyhow it was often worse
with Winston.' 42
At this time the Cabinet was also discussing the nationalisation of
iron and steel, on the urgency of which they were deeply divided. But
on 1 August the greater part of the day was spent at two special
meetings to decide how to cope with the emergency. After a great deal
of wrangling, Dalton and Cripps were authorised to prepare detailed
schemes to save dollars on imported films and luxury foods. There was
no agreement, however, on cutting dollar expenditure in Germany;
and the question of further defence cuts was referred to the Defence
Committee. No cut was to be made in the import of tobacco. Morrison
and Isaacs were at once to discuss with the TUC the working of longer
hours and 'the question of facilitating the employment of Poles and
other European voluntary workers in undermanned industries'. There
were to be cuts in the basic petrol ration and in the amount of foreign
exchange available for foreign travel. 43 The details of the new
proposals were confirmed at a further Cabinet meeting on the 5th, and
were announced to the Commons by Attlee the following day. 44
The reaction of informed opinion was not quite what Ministers
expected: they were taken to task for not going far enough in dealing
with the crisis. The Economist wrote:

That any speech of Mr Attlee's would be arid and uninspiring is,

unfortunately, to be taken for granted; he touches nothing that he
does not dehydrate. But there was room for hoping that the
substance of what he had to say would overcome the defects of the
manner and jolt the country into a sense of reality. The measure of
his failure lies in the almost audible sigh of relief that went through
1947: Year of Crises 175

the country on Wednesday evening. 'Not so bad, after all' is the

general comment; and there could hardly be a more disastrous
reaction to have provoked.

The Economist leader, in a surprising moment of agreement with

Hugh Dalton's private thoughts, described the proposed reduction in
the armed forces by 80 000 by the end of the year as 'derisory', and

People were expecting the total withdrawal of the basic petrol

ration; but it is only to be cut by one-third. On travel allowances and
film remittances, something much more drastic had been expected.
And lastly, in the matter of food, there had been a dismal
expectation of a halving of the ration and a cut in the fats rations. But
all that the Prime Minister said was that some items would be
'up-pointed', that there would be restrictions (unspecified) on meals
in hotels and restaurants and that there might be further cuts (still
less specified) later on. This is a dereliction of duty .45

In fact, Dalton's speech in the debate next day was much interrupted
by Labour back-benchers demanding larger defence cuts. 46 But the
best speech of the debate was made by Cripps in winding up. Dalton,
who sometimes found Cripps's speeches to be devoid of 'style, charm
or elegance', nevertheless on this occasion acknowledged that he had

made a fine winding-up speech. I have never heard him better. He

showed great vigour and energy and restored to our own ranks a
much greater sense of confidence. 47

Ministers now began to look forward keenly to some relaxation, as

Parliament was shortly to adjourn until late October- except for the
House of Lords, which decided, against the Government's wishes, to
reassemble on 9 September. Meanwhile Attlee had to face one more
hurdle: another private meeting of the Parliamentary Party, which was
exercised about the possible postponement of the nationalisation of
iron and steel. A motion had been put down demanding that the
measure be definitely included in the programme for the next Session,
but the commitment was narrowly avoided when 'the previous
question', as we have seen (p. 85 above), was carried by 81 to 77. 48 Two
days later the Ministers dispersed to their respective holidays: Attlee
176 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

went off to rural Wales and Dalton to his house called West Leaze on the
Wiltshire Downs.
But for Dalton in particular the respite was very brief. After only
two days, he was disturbed by the arrival at West Leaze of Bridges and
Eady: they had grave news about the rapidity of the dollar drain. 49 The
suspension of convertibility now became essential, but it had to be
effected with the approval of the American Treasury. Eady was
therefore at once despatched to Washington, the Prime Minister was
contacted and a Cabinet meeting was arranged at No. 10 Downing
Street two days later, 17 August (a Sunday afternoon). After three
days of frantic negotiations with the US Treasury, in the course of
which it became apparent that the Americans would insist on freezing
the remainder of the Loan, Dalton was able to broadcast on the
evening of the 20th an announcement of the suspension of convertibil-
ity.50 A further Cabinet meeting had to be held on the 25th, this time to
make more effective cuts in imports: the basic petrol ration was now
stopped altogether, as the Economist had recommended; foreign
exchange for holidays abroad was banned; and a cut in the meat ration
was announced. 51 Cabinet Ministers were able to depart on holiday
once more, this time for a rather longer break.

* * * *
Morrison was acting Premier while Attlee resumed his holiday in late
August and early September; then on Monday 8 September they
'changed guard' and two days later Morrison went off to Guernsey in
the Channel Isles. Meanwhile Dalton had returned to Whitehall a few
days earlier, and on the 5th he received a visit from Cripps, who had
become convinced that it was now essential to replace Attlee with
Bevin. There was no question of Morrison being an alternative to
Attlee: according to Dalton's diary entry, 'Plowden has seen SC
[Stafford Cripps] and told him he is in despair and thinking of
resigning.' 52 So Cripps urged that all three of them- Morrison, Dalton
and Cripps - should call upon Attlee and ask him to make way for
Bevin. Cripps declared that he himself, in a Bevin Ministry, would be
willing to serve as Lord President and thus act as Chief of Staff in the
production drive; Dalton could take Bevin's place at the Foreign
Office and Attlee could become Chancellor. 'To move from one
official home to another next door would not be too bad a fate.' 53
Meanwhile Morrison could continue as Deputy Premier and Leader of
the Commons. Dalton's reply to all this was cautious: he agreed that if
Morrison was prepared to join the movement against Attlee it would
1947: Year of Crises 177

make a decisive group, and under such circumstances he himself would

join in; but first Cripps would have to recruit Morrison. Cripps had
already arranged to see Morrison at dinner that evening: he promised
to report back on the degree of his success.
At 10 p.m. Cripps called upon Dalton to say that he had failed to
obtain Morrison's agreement. Although Morrison agreed about the
faults of the Prime Minister, he felt that the person to replace him
should be himself and not Bevin. This was confirmed when Dalton
called on Morrison to see if he still adhered to this view. Morrison, who
according to Dalton was 'almost in tears' to begin with, spoke bitterly
of Attlee, but repeated his own willingness to take on the Premiership.
He also pointed out that the Parliamentary Party would expect to have
a vote on the succession: 'they must not be faced with a fait accompli' .54
Morrison's opposition meant, as Dalton reported to Cripps by
telephone, that the conspiracy would have to be abandoned. Cripps
had suggested that if he did not get his way he would simply offer his
own resignation: but Dalton pointed out that resignations were better
effected on points of policy than on personalities. Meanwhile Morrison
put his views on paper in a letter dated 8 September reminding Cripps
of the constitutional procedure whereby the Parliamentary Party
elected the Leader 'if a vacancy arises' .55 Morrison apparently had the
impression that Cripps had already con~ulted Bevin and obtained his
consent; and Cripps at once replied to say that this was not the case and
that Bevin was so far 'not prepared to stand as PM against Attlee' .56
But he (Cripps) was still willing to go to see Attlee by himself and to
urge him to give way; and if Attlee refused, he would offer his own
Cripps then went to see Attlee on the evening of the 9th, Attlee's
first full day back after his return from holiday. Cripps made his
proposals for changes at the top, with Bevin taking Attlee's place,
Attlee taking Dalton's, and Dalton taking Bevin's. 57 Attlee, who
always regarded Cripps as in some ways naive ('He's no judge of
politics', he later told Jay) 58 took no offence but countered by asking
the Chief Whip to see Bevin, who at once 'said he wanted no change
and would serve under the PM'. Cripps was said to have been
'disconcerted' by this news; 59 but Attlee responded to Cripps's concern
about economic planning by urging him to take on the task as Minister
of Production. There had been criticism in various quarters to the
effect that the Cabinet was too large for emergency decision-making; 60
and so Attlee suggested that the 'Big Five' gatherings should be
formalised into an Economic Policy Committee, so as to relieve the full
178 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Cabinet of much of the detail. Cripps was somewhat taken aback by

these proposals, and asked for time so as to consult others, including
Dalton. Dalton urged him to accept, and later confirmed this in a letter
to Attlee, saying

He knows, as you know, that I will work with him, from the personal
side and on the Treasury official level, with complete confidence and
harmony. Herbert just can't do it. 61

But before making the announcement Attlee had first to persuade

Morrison to relinquish his responsibilities for economic affairs.
Morrison, who was still on holiday, had been informed by the Chief
Whip about the developments and was naturally concerned about
them. As he replied to Whiteley 'there may be real difficulties which
have occurred to me when considering such ideas'. He was also
worried about the form of the announcement, lest it should imply that
he was no longer fit to serve as a senior Minister:

Should the announcement of a special Planning Minister (that's

what it really is) prosper I should certainly wish to be consulted and
the announcement would have to take care of my position and clear
up the persistent fairy-tales about my health- I should have been
stone dead in recent months if true! 62

Attlee, who almost certainly saw this letter, wrote fully and tactfully on
the 15th.63 He gave Morrison some general political news, told him
that an autumn Budget would be necessary, and then explained that he
could not delay the changes until Morrison's return in October as
'there is much undesirable speculation and rum our'. He said he would
like to reduce the size of the Cabinet, but

I cannot do much at present as, although there are Departmental

Ministers who in theory should not be in the Cabinet, the impor-
tance of their subjects at the present time, the need for adequate
representation in the Cabinet of the TU element and of the younger
generation make any drastic cutting down of numbers undesirable.

He then indicated his intention of altering the committee system:

Addison would become Lord Privy Seal instead of Dominions
Secretary, but would preside over a new Committee on Common-
wealth Relations; 64 and a new Economic Committee, over which he
(Attlee) would preside, would be composed of the 'Big Five', with
1947: Year of Crises 179

Addison and Isaacs. 65 Greenwood would be retiring, and if Morrison

took over most of Greenwood's committees 'there is too much for one
man, however efficient, especially which [sic] is the second man in the
Cabinet who, like the Prime Minister, must have time to think of
matters of major policy'.
Attlee then listed all Morrison's existing tasks and pointed out that if
he took over Greenwood's chairmanships of the Legislation Commit-
tee and of the Social Services Committee, it would be reasonable for
him to relinquish his economic functions. Cripps would have only a
'small picked staff', but would be able to give directions 'to the
Production Ministers and to other Ministers where the economic plan
impinges on their activities'. For the rest, Attlee was proposing to
move Bevan from Health to Supply, to promote Harold Wilson to the
Board of Trade in Cripps's place, to move Shinwell from the Ministry of
Fuel and Power to the War Office- a demotion, as the War Office was
now outside the Cabinet - and to promote Shinwell's Parliamentary
Secretary, Hugh Gaitskell, to succeed his ertswhile chief. These
changes clearly showed the influence of Dalton and Cripps who
had both been agitating for the removal of the voluble Shinwell from
the Cabinet. 66 More or less as a footnote, Attlee added in his letter that
he thought that the solution to the 'Iron and Steel position' was to leave
it over until 1948-9 'provided that we legislate on the lines suggested
to prevent the Lords killing it in the next session'.
Morrison replied on the 19th, thanking Attlee for the 'fullness' of his
letter - which was certainly unusual for so taciturn a man - but
regretting that the changes again had to be made 'while I am away'.
Morrison also objected to the idea of Bevan taking Supply. He wrote:

Private industry has got to be brought along over the wide field and
whatever happens the iron and steel people have to be handled with
decision and care if we are to get the output which is vital. In any
case, I think it is essential that socialisation should not go forward
next Session (an autumn Budget rules it out anyway, unless some
other bills go)- I earnestly trust you will be firm about this. 67

Morrison suggested Strauss for Supply, and Shinwell for Common-

wealth Relations (to keep the latter in the Cabinet), but approved the
promotion of Wilson and Gaitskell. He offered to handle the
Parliament Bill in the Commons. As for economic affairs, it was
evident that he was reconciled to the change and only anxious about its
presentation so far as his own status was concerned:
180 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

I don't want to be bumped by the Press and should like the

announcement to make clear (1) that I have recommended this
course and (2) that there is a change in that my own responsibility
was that of a Cabinet Committee chairman and that present
circumstances require something more in the nature of a full-time
executive Minister ... I would ask that the Press announcement
(could I see?) should make clear that my status as deputy Prime
Minister is preserved ...

Morrison concluded: 'This letter touches on delicate personal matters

and, apart from the Chief Whip, I trust you will regard it as personal to
Attlee replied on the 23rd, thanking Morrison for his 'full and
helpful statement', and reassuring him about his doubts and misgiv-
ings.68 But when Cripps's appointment - as Minister for Economic
Affairs- became public knowledge on the 29th (together with several
other changes including Greenwood's retirement and Harold Wilson's
promotion), the press reacted very much as Morrison had feared, and
his close friend Maurice Webb, who was Chairman of the Parliamen-
tary Party, wrote to say

I fear the terms of the announcement will be commonly interpreted

as notice of your withdrawal from the highest places. Indeed, from
talks I have already had, I must tell you that that is how it is being
generally regarded. 'I suppose this means the end of Morrison' is a
typical comment made to me. 69

Attlee, however, wrote in reassuring tones two days later:

The reception of the first changes was excellent and there was no
attempt in any quarter to represent this as in any way derogating
from your position. 70

Meanwhile on 20 September the Cabinet made the vital decision to

withdraw from Palestine, inviting the United Nations to deal with the
problem as soon as possible. The decision made Dalton, as he told
Attlee, 'very happy'; and having also obtained some dollars at the
London meeting of the IMF he went off for another couple of weeks'
holiday before the beginning of the new Parliamentary Session. He
took the opportunity of his departure to tell Attlee not merely of his
approval of the Cripps appointment but also of his warm support for
1947: Year of Crises 181

'the removal of Shinwell, both from the MF and P and from the

His performance in Cabinet this morning was characteristic - ...

Gabbling incoherence, conceit, administrative incompetence, dis-
loyalty to colleagues! Once there was a decent Minister in that job-
Gaitskell or any other - I could talk to him, as I can to my other
colleagues, frankly and constructively ... If you offer him the WO
and he refuses, you are, I am sure, fully entitled to drop him - and
that would be the overwhelming view of the Party and, even more, of
the Country.

Dalton also asked for Jay as Financial Secretary instead of W. Glenvil

Hall, for whom he suggested 'a moderate promotion- for example, to
Pensions'; and also some promotion for his PPS, George Brown. 71
Attlee was a little slow in completing his Government changes. It
was partly to enable him to consult Morrison on the latter's return
from holiday, and partly because some of his Ministers were very
self-assertive. Cripps wrote to Dalton on the 24th to say that he was
'surprised at Herbert's compliance- I only hope he understands what
the position is!' and he added:

I saw Aneurin yesterday and Clem had offered him M of Supply orB
ofT but in such a way that he turned it down and was going to stay on
as M of H ... The trouble is he puts things to people so indecisively
that they think it doesn't matterF 2

Cripps had already impressed upon Attlee his view that Shinwell
should leave the Ministry of Fuel and Power, but had emphasised that
the Dominions would not be a suitable post for him: 'to put a person of
that race into that position at this moment would I think be most
unfortunate especially as regards South Africa' .73 In the end, Shin well
agreed to take the War Office if he was also invited to Cabinet
meetings when questions of particular interest to himself were
discussed. Attlee wrote to Morrison, 'I don't care much for this but it
has softened the blow'. 74
The final changes were not announced until 7 October, after
Morrison had returned from holiday. The size of the Cabinet was
reduced by one, because Gaitskell, as Minister of Fuel and Power, was
not included. The new Secretary for Commonwealth Relations was
Philip Noel-Baker, who for a year had been in the uncongenial post of
182 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Air Minister- uncongenial at least to one who had devoted so much of

his life to the cause of disarmament. George Brown became Par-
liamentary Secretary for Agriculture, but Glenvil Hall remained as
Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Jay had to be content with the
post of PPS to Dalton. There were also changes at the Scottish Office,
where Woodburn succeeded Westwood - neither of them distin-
guished figures, but of course there had to be a Scottish Secretary of
State in the Cabinet. Outside the Cabinet, the Minister of Air, to
succeed Noel-Baker, was Arthur Henderson, son and namesake of one
of the party's founding fathers; and, as Morrison had recommended,
Strauss succeeded John Wilmot, a protege of Dalton, as Minister of
Supply. Fresh appointments among junior Ministers included Alfred
Robens and James Callaghan. The team was now ready to face the new
session of Parliament, where of course they had to meet an even more
hostile Opposition.

* * * *
There was a Cabinet meeting on 2 October which Dalton attended on a
day trip to Whitehall from West Leaze. He was pleased to hear that
Alexander and the Defence Chiefs had accepted a total of 713 000 for
uniformed manpower by March 1949, but 'disappointed that the
reduction in strength ... could not be accelerated'. But Bevin growled
that 'foreign policy ... must be backed by adequate armed forces' .75
Dalton had now to prepare an autumn Budget making cuts in
expenditure and increasing taxes, because the country was no longer
able to rely upon a flow of dollars to ease the inflationary pressure.
Preparations for the presentation of the Marshall Plan to the American
Congress had now been virtually completed, but it was not to be
expected that Congress, which was strongly Republican and distinctly
hostile to the Administration, would enact it very readily. William
Gorell Barnes, the Prime Minister's personal assistant (seconded from
the Treasury) who was responsible for briefing Attlee before Cabinet
meetings, wrote that month that Britain could not be sure of

American aid under the Marshall Plan being made available soon or
on conditions which we can honourably accept. In any case we are
much more likely to obtain aid from these sources [that is, dollar
sources] on acceptable conditions if we show by our own actions that
we are determined, if necessary, to get through without. 76

At a Mansion House dinner on Thursday 9 October Dalton was

1947: Year of Crises 183

able to announce that the South African Government had provided

Britain with a loan of 80 million in gold. 77 Next day a conference of
miners' delegates accepted a six-month emergency plan for raising the
output of coal by working longer hours: each pit was to decide for itself
whether to work on Saturdays or to add extra time to the daily stint. 78
These were both measures of significance in helping to improve the
balance of payments. But Dalton was still not feeling happy:

I am still a bit below my optimum. But I hope it will all come back! I
hate selling gold. Our reserves are very thin for their task ... I am
haunted by the thought of a people starving, unemployed and in
revolt! And of the end of our Socialist experiment, and of all our
dreamsF 9

On 14 October the Cabinet finally agreed to the Attlee compromise

about iron and steel- not to nationalise it in the forthcoming session,
but to postpone it until 1948-9; and in the meantime to pass a new
Parliament Bill to reduce the delaying power of the Lords to only one
year instead of two. 80
A few days later Attlee held a short weekend meeting of the 'Big
Five' and their wives- if available- at Chequers. Dalton noted that:

Chequers is a very cold and uncomfortable house in winter and the

present occupants do not make the most of it in any respect.

But his colleagues were 'good-humoured and sensible' as he put to

them the outlines of his forthcoming Budget. On food cuts, although
Bevin was as always 'difficult' and Attlee 'very nervous' they decided
to agree on a 'united front at tomorrow's Cabinet'. 81 It had already
been agreed to halt for the time being all purchases of American
tobacco, and to cut the capital investment programme by 200 million.
Dalton also urged his colleagues to agree that the United States
Treasury should be urgently requested to provide the dollars to feed
the British Zone of Germany and to release the remaining 400 million
dollars of the old American loan. 82 His pressure was successful: in
mid-November the American Government added the dollar cost ofthe
British Zone to its package of aid for occupied areas; 83 and the rest of
the loan was released early in December.84
Meanwhile the cuts which had been agreed at the Cabinet on the
20th October were announced by Cripps in the Commons on the 23rd.
At least one observer noticed that Strachey, who had put up a
184 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

rearguard fight against the food cuts at the Cabinet, rather pointedly
sat on a back-bench during the speech by the Minister for Economic
Affairs. 85 But Cripps received high praise for his tone of determination
and courage. The Times's Westminster correspondent reported:

The tale of further cuts and stringencies facing the nation which Sir
Stafford Cripps unfolded to the House of Commons today ... was
long and grim. It became grimmer as it grew longer, and so did the
faces of members, but before he had ended his 100-minute speech
Sir Stafford Cripps had sounded a note which stirred the pulses of
the House, and brought it sharply to face issues which transcended
the purely material. 86

Dalton's own fourth Budget followed on 12 November. He

increased taxation by about 200 million in a full year, by putting an
extra one penny on the price of beer and increasing the duty on spirits
and putting up purchase tax on a wide range of items, including, rather
belatedly, electric fires. But he did not alter income tax or tobacco
duty, or cut food subsidies, though he warned that the latter would not
be further increased in monetary terms. The Times leader next day was
headed 'Half Measures' and commented:

It is the failure to face reductions in civil expenditure which gives the

Budget its light-hearted appearance and threatens to leave open the
inflationary gap ... When Mr Dalton himself expresses the belief
that his proposals 'impose no serious hardship on any citizen', at
once it seems that something must be wrong.

The Times's own solution to closing 'the inflationary gap' was to

suggest cutting food subsidies by a quarter, which would have been the
best way of inciting the unions to press for more wages. 87

* * * *
On the morning of the day after the Budget speech a Private Notice
question was put down by a Conservative MP to the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, drawing his attention to a premature disclosure of its
contents which had appeared in one of the London evening news-
papers, the Star. 88 As soon as he heard of this Dalton at once recalled
that he had had a few words with John Carvel, the Star's lobby
correspondent, on his way in to the House at about 3.10 p.m. Carvel
had been able to telephone the gist of the contents of the Budget to his
1947: Year of Crises 185

editor at 3.15 p.m., although they were not announced by Dalton until
shortly after 4 p.m. The revelations made no difference to the Stock
Exchange, which had closed at 3 p.m., and only very few copies of the
Star, with the so-called 'forecast' in its stop-press column, were on the
streets before 4 p.m. Nevertheless, as soon as he realised what had
happened, Dalton at once offered his resignation to the Prime Minister.
That afternoon, in answer to the Parliamentary question, Dalton
admitted that he had had a brief conversation with a lobby correspon-
dent, and he offered his 'deep apologies' for the 'grave indiscretion'
that he had made. There was not the slightest hint that any person
could have obtained any pecuniary advantage from what had hap-
pened; but it was a measure of the strict interpretation that both Attlee
and Dalton placed upon the responsibilities of office that Dalton
should have offered his resignation, and that Attlee should have felt
obliged to accept it. Only after they had agreed upon a public exchange
of letters to this effect did Dalton receive a letter from Churchill
warning him that the Opposition would demand a Select Committee of
Enquiry. Dalton had nothing to hide and he told Attlee that he hoped
Labour members would not oppose such a move. The Select Commit-
tee was duly appointed, under the Chairmanship of Jack Lawson, the
former Secretary for War: it confirmed that Dalton's indiscretion was
'unpremeditated' and had had no serious consequences, except for
Dalton himself. Attlee had already replaced Dalton with Cripps,
whose embryo Ministry of Economic Affairs now disappeared into the
Treasury; and Dalton, amidst a wave of sympathy from Labour
colleagues and MPs, retired for the time being to the back benches.
The resignation of Dalton from the Exchequer had no damaging
effects for the Government: on the contrary, it improved its standing
both in the country and abroad. In the United States the high standard
of probity which had caused the Chancellor to leave office was
remarked upon with special appreciation. Within Britain also, no harm
was done, for although Dalton was popular with the constituency
parties he was regarded by the Opposition as an especially bitter
partisan, whereas Cripps, with his appeal to Christian values and his
personal austerity, was now seen as more statesmanlike. (This was a
curious reversal of roles, for before 1939 Cripps had had the
appearance of left-wing fanaticism, while Dalton had seemed to be the
sober advocate of rearmament.) The absorption of the nascent
Ministry of Economic Affairs into the Treasury was also administra-
tively convenient, as was the formation of the new Economic Policy
Committee, which put Attlee's inner group of Ministers on a slightly
186 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

more formal basis. The lead that Cripps had given in the Commons
debate of October 194 7 was the one that the Government followed
throughout 1948; and at the end of that year the Economist felt able to
say: 'There can be no doubt that on the major issues of economic
policy, the nation has been travelling on the right road.' Of Cripps
himself the journal commented: 'Not only has he shaped the policies
and tenaciously defended them; he has also provided the essential
moral foundation.' 89
10 Britain and Marshall
Aid, 194 7-50
General Marshall's speech at the Harvard Commencement in early
June 194 7, in which he invited the European nations to prepare a plan
for their own rehabilitation which the United States would finance,
was not unexpected by the British Government. Sir John Balfour, who
was serving in the British Embassy at Washington, reported to the
Foreign Office on 29th May that

the thoughts of responsible Administration experts seem to be

turning in the direction of viewing the problems of foreign aid,
beginning with aid to western Europe, in continental rather than in
national terms.'

The implication was that the special needs of Britain, in spite of her
acute economic crisis in early 194 7, would be subsumed in the larger
problem of the revival of Europe as a whole. Although it may be an
exaggeration to suggest that the economic recovery of Germany was
the major American concern at the time - as has been suggested by
Professor John Gimbel- it is clear that the need to ensure that German
reconstruction took place pari passu with that of the rest of western
Europe was an important consideration for the American Department
of War and for the US Office of Military Government in Germany. 2
James Forrestal, the Secretary of the US Navy, told Marshall early in
March- just before the latter left for the meeting of the Council of
Foreign Ministers in Moscow- that he thought that both Germany and
Japan were vital to post-war reconstruction; 3 and Marshall instructed a
State-War-Navy Co-ordinating Committee to investigate the matter.
Still more influential was the newly-formed Policy Planning Staff of the
State Department under George Kennan, who in preliminary recom-
mendations urged that:

188 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

The program should be designed to encourage and contribute to

some form of regional political association of western European
states. Our occupational policies in Germany and Austria must be
shaped towards enabling the western zones of those countries to
make the maximum contribution ... 4

A week later, in a more studied memorandum, Kennan wrote that

although there was a need for a short-term programme of relief for
certain countries, there was also a long-term problem, and that:

the formal initiative for drawing up a program for its solution and the
general responsibility for such a program must come jointly from
European nations and . . . the formal role of this Government
should be to support that program at joint European request. 5

Will Clayton, the Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, who

had just paid a visit to Europe, added his support in another

Only until the end of this year can England and France meet the
balance of payment deficits out of their dwindling reserves of gold
and dollars. Italy can't go that long ... Our resources and productive
capacity are ample to provide all the help necessary.

Clayton proposed a three-year plan which 'the principal European

nations, headed by the UK, France and Italy, should work out' .6
In order to ensure a rapid British response to Marshall's speech at
Harvard, Dean Acheson, who was at that point Under-Secretary of
State, lunched with three British correspondents in Washington to
emphasise its importance and to persuade them to alert their media at
once. He later wrote in his memoirs:

Getting hold of my British friends [Leonard] Miall [BBC], [Rene]

MacColl [Express] and [Malcolm] Muggeridge [Telegraph] ... I
explained the full import of the Harvard [speech], asking that they
cable or telephone the full text and have their editors send a copy to
Ernest Bevin with my estimate of its importance. This they did while
Miall broadcast the story to Britain from Washington. 7

Bevin later said that when he heard the broadcast he 'grabbed' at the
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 189

offer 'with both hands' .8 He visited the French Foreign Minister,

Georges Bidault, in Paris to discuss how to take the initiative, and after
Marshall had made it clear that he was willing to include all European
nations 'west of Asia', they jointly invited Molotov of the Soviet Union
to Paris to take the discussion further. 9 The negotiations with Molotov
began on 27 June but broke down within a few days, as the Russians
were not prepared to enter any scheme which involved the disclosure
of information about their production plans. As Molotov put it, 'No
outside interference in these matters would be acceptable to sovereign
states.' 10
On 3 July Bevin and Bidault invited all the countries of Europe west
of Russia, except Germany and Spain, to join them in formulating a
response to General Marshall. The Eastern Europe 'satellites' were
prevented from participating by emphatic 'advice' from the Soviet
Union, although both Poland and Czechoslovakia had initially ex-
pressed interest; but fourteen other countries did accept the invitation,
including the traditionally neutral Sweden and Switzerland. Their
representatives met in Paris on 12 July under Bevin's chairmanship,
and set up a Committee of European Economic Co-operation to draw
up plans to present to the American Government. This Committee
also met in Paris; but by an Anglo-French compromise it was arranged
that its Chairman should be British- in the event, Sir Oliver Franks, an
Oxford don turned civil servant during the war who had made a great
reputation for himself by his skill in establishing wartime production
priorities. 11 The first month of the Committee's work was spent in
collecting information; and after further discussion, a cumulative
report was ready to go to the United States by early September. But
State Department officials in Paris were unhappy that the report made
no proper arrangements for incorporating the German Bi-zone; and
they felt that the national plans had not been sufficiently integrated. 12
Amendments were made; and it was agreed that after the report of the
Paris Committee was signed on 22 September, Franks and several
colleagues should go to Washington to continue the discussions. Bevin
did not like this: he told Lewis Douglas, the US Ambassador in
London, that further alterations would 'impair national sovereignty'-
a comment that Molotov would have rejoiced to hear. 13 The Paris
report requested assistance in the form of 2 9 billion dollars for a period
of four and a quarter years, that is, to the end of the American fiscal
year 1951-2 on 30 June 1952.
Meanwhile the American Government itself had been undertaking
a careful survey, not only of European needs, but also of the 'limits
190 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

within which the United States may safely and wisely plan' without
overstraining its own economy. The European claim for assistance
was cut from 29 billion dollars to 22.4 billion and then to 17 billion. 14
But a special session of US Congress in the late autumn of 194 7 voted
522 million dollars for emergency aid to France, Italy and Austria,
where the position was deemed especially critical. 15 Since Congress
was controlled by the Republican Party, President Truman's oppo-
nents on most issues, the utmost care had to be taken to ensure that
bi-partisan support for the aid bill was forthcoming; and Truman's
principal ally in securing the enactment of the legislation was Senator
Arthur H. Vandenberg, a Republican and former isolationist but now
a fervent supporter of the aid programme. 16 He held the key post of
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and in January
1948 he held hearings about the proposed European Recovery
Programme. It was decided that the money should be voted annually,
beginning with a total of 5300 million dollars for the first year (1000
million dollars of which was to be in the form of loans) and on a
decreasing scale thereafter, the continuity of assistance being 'depen-
dent upon the continuity of co-operation among the nations
involved' .17 The Brookings Institution, an independent advisory body
in the field of economics, was called upon to recommend the form of
the organisation to administer the funds on the American side: it
proposed a new agency, under Presidential control but separate from
the Department of State. 18
Events in Europe conspired to hasten the passing of the legislation,
for the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia in February was followed
in March by the suicide of Jan Masaryk, the popular Czech Foreign
Minister. On 14 March 1948 the Foreign Assistance Bill passed the
Senate by a substantial majority and after approval by the House of
Representatives it was signed into law by the President on 3 April. The
President invited Dean Acheson to head the new Economic Co-opera-
tion Administration (ECA); but Acheson demurred, feeling that an
old State Department hand would be unacceptable to the Republi-
cans.19 Truman soon discovered that this was indeed the case; and
Senator Vandenberg's nominee was appointed - Paul Hoffman,
President of the Studebaker Corporation and a captain of the
automobile industry. It was arranged to continue the Committee in
Paris on a more permanent basis, and it was now renamed the
Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC); and
Truman appointed Averell Harriman, hitherto his Secretary of
Commerce and a prominent figure in the wartime foreign policy of
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 191

Franklin Roosevelt, as his Special Representative in Paris to liaise with

this body.

* * * *
Although aid began as soon as the European countries had signed
'Letters of Intent', each participating country had to agree a bilateral
treaty with the United States to ensure the continuity of the assistance
after the end of the first quarter (April to June 1948). The draft treaty,
which was circulated to all countries a few weeks later, considerably
disconcerted governments because it contained obligations for them
not mentioned in the Act as passed by Congress. Leslie Rowan, who
was Chairman of the London Committee on European Economic
Co-operation, a body of Whitehall officials closely involved, reported
to the Economic Policy Committee that

Apart from provisions which are definitely unacceptable, the draft

presented to us contains wording which it is likely would in practice
give rise to differences of interpretation between the United States
and ourselves. The tone of the draft is unfortunate and may
prejudice United Kingdom opinion against it.

He pointed out that one article required that recipient countries should
balance their budgets in every year that they received aid; another
would limit British tariffs without restricting those of the United
States; and 'most favoured nation' treatment was to be given to all
American-occupied territories, that is to say, Western Germany,
Japan and South Korea. The draft also seemed to invite the United
States Government to 'put special pressure on us to alter our exchange
rates', and to realise still more of the remaining British assets in the
United States. It even provided

that at the instance of the United States Government certain cases of

alleged injury to US citizens should be referred to the International
Court of Justice. This would be unprecedented and undesirable in
that it does not provide for reciprocity. 20

When officials in Paris complained that the terms were stiffer than
seemed to be envisaged by the Economic Co-operation Act, Harriman
pointed to the 'legislative history' that had taken place- by which he
meant the promises given by members of the Administration during
the Congressional hearings. 21
192 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Negotiations took place in Washington to soften the terms of the

bilateral treaties, all the countries involved being agreed that some
changes were required. So far as Britain was concerned, the difficulties
were more serious than in the case of other countries, partly because of
Britain's greater role in world trade. But Cripps warned the Cabinet
that if no agreement for the receipt of aid was achieved, it would mean
no Virginia tobacco, no standard petrol ration, cuts in food rations and
perhaps one and a half million unemployed in industry owing to
shortage of raw materials. 22 On 24 June the Cabinet was thinking of
despatching a Minister to Washington to sort things out; 23 but next day
it was reported that Douglas had secured substantial concessions,
though one sticking point still remained - 'most favoured nation
treatment' for Japan, which both Britain and many of the Common-
wealth countries were very unwilling to accept. 24 Hoffman decided
that this was not a matter that should hold up the treaty, and on 26 June
he appealed to Truman to overrule the Department of the Army on the
issue. 25 Truman agreed, and the bilateral treaty was accepted by
Britain subject to affirmative resolutions in both Houses of Parlia-
ment. Britain for her part agreed to 'most favoured nation' treatment
for West Germany, which was of course partly a British responsibil-
ity. 26
The revised treaty was the subject of a two-day Commons debate at
the beginning of July. 27 Cripps introduced the discussion with a long
speech which was largely an explanatory lecture, though he did say of
the Marshall initiative that 'It is an act of great immediate generosity
and enlightenment to undertake such a programme.' The main
Opposition spokesman, Oliver Lyttelton, accepted the Agreement
'reluctantly ... and with some sense of humiliation'. Two 'fellow-
traveller' MPs, Platts-Mills and Pritt, suggested that the Marshall Plan
was a self-centred attempt by the United States to escape an 'economic
slump'; and several MPs expressed concern about remarks made by
Hoffman before the Senate Appropriations Committee about limiting
trade with Eastern Europe and not necessarily permitting support for a
nationalised steel industry in Britain. But when the House divided, the
vote in favour belied any fears that might have been aroused by the
debate: it was approved by 409 votes to 12. Half the opponents were
Communists and 'fellow-travellers'; the other half the remnants of the
'die-hard' imperialists who had opposed the American loan in 1945.
In the early months of 1948 Britain and other countries of western
Europe were becoming more conscious not merely of their need for
mutual support against any threat from Russia, but also of their need
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 193

for military assistance from the United States, whose monopoly of the
atomic bomb was as yet unbroken. In March 1948 Britain, France,
Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg joined in the Brussels Treaty for
mutual aid in the event of outside aggression; and even before this
treaty was signed Bevin, alarmed by an apparent Soviet threat to
Norway, approached Marshall to suggest enlarging this into an
Atlantic Pact, to bring in Scandinavia, and in addition Canada and
the United States. Marshall responded favourably, and this led to the
'Pentagon proposals' which outlined plans for a military agreement
between the Atlantic Powers. 28

* * * *
On the political side, therefore, relations between Britain and the
United States were very close- except for their differences, discussed
elsewhere, about the future of Palestine and about atomic energy. But
by August 1948 the British Government was under criticism in the
State Department, the Economic Co-operation Administration, and the
American press for 'dragging their feet' on the question of European
integration. 29 There were two main reasons why Americans should
have become disillusioned about the British attitude. The first was that
many of them had taken very keenly to the idea that Europe, or at least
western Europe, should form a federal union just as the American
colonies had done in the late eighteenth century: hence the emphasis
on 'integration' and the appointment of an officer as senior as
Harriman to the post of Special Representative to OEEC in Paris.
Secondly, both Churchill and Bevin had made speeches suggesting
some movement towards what Bevin called 'Western Union'.
Churchill's principal pronouncement was made in Zurich as early as
September 1946, when he spoke in rather vague terms about the need
for a 'United States of Europe'. 30 It was largely in response to his
initiative that an international United Europe movement was formed
early in 194 7: but just because Churchill, the Opposition leader, was
its sponsor, Labour MPs were discouraged by their National Execu-
tive from associating themselves with it. 31 As we have ~een,
one Labour MP, R. W. G. Mackay, defied his colleagues and
worked devotedly for the federal idea; but in reality he was far ahead
both of his own party and of the main body of the Conservatives.
Bevin's own most apparently promising pronouncement was made in a
speech in the Commons on 22 January 1948, when he said 'ihe time is
ripe for a consolidation of Western Europe' and 'Britain cannot stand
outside Europe and regard her problems as quite separate from those
194 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

of her European neighbours'. His international audience did not

perhaps notice that he also said that progress towards unity would be a
slow task and 'would have to be done a step at a time' .32
The limitations of the Labour Government's approach to the
question became clearer in the spring of 1948. The National Executive
discouraged attendance of Labour MPs at the Congress of the
European Movement in May at The Hague, where, although Churchill
was the most important figure, large numbers of Socialists from other
countries were also present. 33 Then at the Labour Party annual
conference in June, the National Executive accepted a motion calling
for a United States of Europe, but Dalton, speaking for the Executive,
hedged acceptance with criticisms of Mackay's ideas and declared
sardonically: 'You should begin, not with conclaves of chatterboxes,
but with functional advances by Governments who have the power to
make their decisions operative.' 34 This cautious approach was paral-
leled by the Government's behaviour in dealing with the OEEC.
British representatives opposed any 'premature conclusions' by the
International Customs Union Study Group: the very title of the body
had been a concession to British reluctance. In February Otto Clarke
had advised Sir Wilfrid Eady, his superior in the Treasury, that:

The hard fact is that a customs union would do nothing whatever by

itself to contribute to the major European problem. Indeed, its
effects would be more likely to be damaging to the main objective
than helpful. It would encourage manufacturers in all these coun-
tries to produce for the European market instead of seeking to earn
dollars and would actually impede the reconversion of the European
economy to dollar saving and dollar earning. For example, it would
permit the Belgian azalea growers to grow more azaleas for the UK
market and it would permit our chocolate biscuit manufacturers to
produce more chocolate biscuits for the Belgian market. Actually of
course, this productive capacity in both countries should be em-
ployed to build up exports to the dollar area. 35

In Paris Harriman, the Special Representative, felt himself to be

frustrated in his task by the British failure to appoint an officer of
roughly equivalent rank to himself to assist in the 'integration' of
Europe. The United Kingdom spokesman was now Sir Edmund
Hall-Patch, a Treasury civil servant seconded to the Foreign Office,
whose personality was far from ebullient. If Bevin occasionally found
an optimist about some problem in the Foreign Office, he would say
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 195

'Optimist, is he? Send for 'all-Patch. 'E'll chill 'is bones.' 36 Certainly
both Hoffman and Harriman found him 'unsympathetic' .37 But
whatever the personal difficulties involved, there was a clear differ-
ence of policy which was explained by Roger Makins of the Foreign
Office to the first meeting of the Commonwealth Liaison Committee
on the Marshall Plan at the Treasury in May 1948:

In view of the decisions which the OEEC would have to make in the
field of the participating countries' economies, the United Kingdom
were strongly of the opinion that authority shall be in the hands of
governmental delegations, rather than in the hands of the Inter-
national Secretariat. The latter should have no policy-making
functions. 38

Douglas, the American Ambassador, found Bevin very touchy about

these matters:

On several occasions, when I have gone to Bevin with other

Americans, he has shown a tendency to react adversely, as though he
felt we were trying to put pressure on him, and there is a danger that
he might take a position in such circumstances which might become
frozen ... The problem is one of great delicacy, which should be
approached cautiously .39

Richard Bissell of the ECA's Washington staff prepared a

memorandum for Hoffman in September which explained to him some
of Britain's difficulties: she had ties with 'the Dominions, the US, the
independent sterling countries, and other overseas countries with
complementary economies (such as the Latin American countries)'
and the British Government saw these ties as 'highly competitive' with
any 'decisive continental orientation'. Bissell himself did not think that
the two areas of commitment were in fact highly competitive, but in so
far as they were, 'we should not wish to ask the British to prejudice
their overseas political and economic connections in favour of close
integration with the Continent'. But he listed a number of points of
'friction in our relation with the British' which included British
insistence on maintaining full control of Sterling Area finances, and
their reluctance to join in any automatic intra-European payments
plan. And then there was the question of representation at the OEEC:

In spite of personal appeals from Mr Hoffman, Mr Harriman, and

196 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Mr Douglas, the British representative at Paris is far below the rank

and status we believe to be necessary if the UK is to exercise
effective leadership in the OEEC. Moreover, the British have
consistently opposed a really strong OEEC Secretariat which would,
in some measure, be a substitute for vigorous direct leadership by
the British. 40

* * * *
Within a month, however, Britain had accepted a compromise
Intra-European Payments Agreement which certainly went some way
to ease the situation and to provide an earnest of her willingness to
collaborate. In relation to the other recipients of Marshall Aid,
Belgium and Sterling Area countries were the two main creditor
nations; and between them they provided most of the 'drawing rights'
for the other nations in the scheme. This meant that Britain was
exporting much more to continental countries than they were taking
from her; and these 'unrequited exports' were to be reckoned in
hundreds of millions of dollars per annum. The effect of 'drawing
rights' on the overall balance of Marshall Aid was considerable, as may
be seen from Table 10.1. Although Belgium passed on a very large
proportion of her dollar aid, Britain was by far the largest contributor
to the pool; and France, which was the largest recipient, thus became
the largest net beneficiary from Marshall Aid. But the agreement did
not make the drawing rights transferable from country to country after

TABLE 10.1 Effect of Drawing Rights on Distribution of Marshall Aid

(millions of dollars), 1948-9 (major powers only)

Gain or Loss
from Drawing
Net Rights in
Contribution of Percentage of
Dollar Drawing Net Dollar
Aid Rights Aid Aid

United Kingdom 1239.0 - 304.0 935.0 -25

Belgium 247.9 - 207.5 40.4 - 84
France 980.9 + 300.0 1280.9 + 31
Germany 509.8 + 16.8 526.6 + 3
Italy 555.5 - 20.3 535.2 - 4
Netherlands 469.6 + 71.7 541.3 + 15
SouRcE: William Diebold, Trade and Payments in Western Europe (New York,
1952) p. 45.
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 197

the initial allocation, largely because the British Treasury feared that
many of the sterling 'drawing rights' would end up in the hands of
Belgium and would thus become dollar or gold liabilities for Britain.
In May 1948 Cripps had attempted to persuade Harriman to
understand the complexities of the Sterling Area. He gave him a note
on the subject, prepared in the Treasury, and Harriman
was sympathetic but did not underestimate the very real danger
from American uninstructed opinion, especially in this year of
Presidential elections when no-one is likely to come out on our side
for fear of being accused of being a British Stooge! 41
In September-October, during his visit to Canada and the United
States, Cripps had to attempt a similar persuasion of Paul Hoffman
himself. Hoffman eventually agreed that 'at this stage' automatic
transferability of drawing rights was 'unacceptable' .42 Meanwhile,
Harriman was attempting to obtain a more exalted status for OEEC
itself by pressing Paul-Henri Spaak, the Belgian Prime Minister, to
accept the post of Director-General. Spaak was already the Chairman
of the OEEC Council, and the proposal was discouraged by Bevin who
in any case valued Spaak's work in preparing his own country and
others for the Atlantic alliance. 43 In February 1949 a compromise was
reached whereby a Consultative Council of Ministers from the
countries represented on the OEEC Executive was set up to meet
whenever the Chairman of the Council should request their atten-
In mid-1949 the British Government also made what Harriman
called 'significant contributions' to a new Intra-European Payments
Agreement by accepting a degree of transferability of drawing rights. 45
The new arrangement was that debtors were permitted to transfer 25
per cent of their drawing rights from one country to another. Special
provisions were made to finance Belgium's expected surplus with
other countries. During the discussions, it was not only the British who
discouraged movement towards transferability; they were backed by
the Scandinavian countries. Agreement was reached on 2 July, and
Hoffman declared that it represented 'a significant step toward the
re-establishment of European trade on a sound basis' .46
But it was very shortly after this that OEEC was disturbed to hear of
the British Government's dollar crisis, and of the discussion of their
problems directly with the American and Canadian Governments. As
Milton Katz, who had temporarily taken Harriman's place at Paris,
reported with some concern to Hoffman in Washington:
198 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

They [that is, OEEC] were troubled by the fact that, when faced by
crisis, UK turned not to its associates in western Europe but
bilaterally to the US. 47

Hoffman agreed, but indicated that his own view was that British
goods were 'increasingly overpriced'. He urged the OEEC to examine
the 'underlying UK problems' .48 Later in the summer Dean Acheson,
who had replaced General Marshall as Secretary of State on the latter's
retirement, discussed with Robert Schuman, the new French Foreign
Minister, the idea of securing Spaak as Director-General of the
OEEC; and Schuman expressed willingness to support the idea and to
put it forward inside the organisation. 49 Meanwhile Bevin and Cripps
had been negotiating with the Americans and Canadians in Washing-
ton, and on 18 September, virtually without warning even to France,
the devaluation of the pound by 30 per cent took place. 50 An American
delegate at the UN inquired of Couve de Murville, who was
representing France, if there had been any progress in the efforts to
make Spaak the head of the OEEC organisation, but Couve's reply

What is the use of this now? Why should his talent!> be wasted on this
Organisation now? You have killed it by your tripartite financial
talks in Washington. 51

The effect of sterling devaluation on the OEEC countries was to force

nearly all of them into devaluation of their own currencies. The Dutch
guilder and the Scandinavian currencies were devalued as much as the
pound, the French franc went down by 22 per cent, the Belgian franc
by 12 per cent, and the Italian lira by 8 per cent. 5 2 The result was that
the allocations of aid for 1949-50 had to be worked out afresh, in an
atmosphere of tension generated by what the Economist called 'a
crippling psychological blow'. 53
In spite of this Acheson continued to press Spaak's candidature for
the post of leadership in the OEEC. He asked Douglas to press this on
Bevin, but Bevin replied firmly:

He said that the Labour Government could not under American

pressure accept the appointment of Spaak or any other continental
to a position of control in the OEEC. He was fearful that an attempt
would be made to clothe the OEEC with political powers, that he
had struggled against this, having been very definite in his instruc-
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 199

tions to Hall-Patch that the function of OEEC was economic and

factual and should not drift into the political sphere. 54

A conference of United States Ambassadors, meeting in Paris in

October, urged that Douglas should be authorised to press Bevin and
Cripps still further, on the ground that lack of action 'would not only
seriously jeopardise possibility of Congress voting funds for adequate
program for 1951 but would mean passage of crippling amendments
and stringent conditions' .55 The result was that Douglas had another
less formal discussion of the subject with Bevin on 26 October, again
without achieving any satisfactory outcome. 56
On 31 October Hoffman addressed the OEEC Council in Paris and
called for early movement towards the 'integration of the Western
European economy'. He called for budgetary action to prevent
inflation; the freeing of intra-European trade from its existing
restrictions; co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policies and
exchange rates; and the elimination of trade barriers within the
organisation. He condemned 'dual pricing', which was undertaken by
some countries (including Britain) when exporting to other countries
of the community. 57 It was true that British coal and steel were more
expensive for foreign countries to buy than for domestic consumers,
but, as the Economist pointed out, as far as coal was concerned the
alternative for Britain would be to refuse all exports and let the
'uneconomic' collieries go out of existence. 5 8 But the OEEC Council
on 2 November endorsed Hoffman's speech and undertook to make
rapid progress in giving effect to it. It agreed 'wholeheartedly' to
implement his proposals, and to aim to remove quantitative restric-
tions on at least half the total imports on private account within the
participating countries by 15 December. 59
In mid-January 1950 Spaak visited the United States and made a
speech at the University of Pennsylvania in which he openly attacked
Britain for failing to move towards European integration: 'In the
OEEC, as in the Council of Europe, it is no secret that in recent months
the British have rather dragged their feet than taken the lead.' 60 So far
as Bevin and Cripps were concerned, this finally ruied Spaak out of
consideration for the post of Director-General of OEEC. It was just
about this time that Cripps met John Kenney, who had succeeded
Thomas Finletter as head of the ECA Mission in London, and told him
that he resented Hoffman's 'schoolboy lecture' to the OEEC Council:

Cripps felt that the Hoffman visit and attendance of Hoffman and
200 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Harriman gave note of US dictation to OEEC deliberations and

stressed unfortunate aspect from advantage this accorded Soviet
propaganda line. He particularly resented any possible statement of
Hoffman detailing in (a), (b), (c), (d) manner what OEEC nations
should do. He indicated that no major decisions would be made
before 23 February [the General Election) on basic issues. Particu-
larly he could not see a change in British position on dual pricing
which would entail increased domestic prices, in view of British
internal political situation. He opposed appointment of Spaak,
particularly in view of recent speeches against British attitude.

Harriman was much upset by the report of this interview, and thought
that the United States Government should announce publicly that 'the
Marshall Plan is breaking down because of the British opposition' .61
But it was by no means Britain alone which opposed the appoint-
ment of a 'Director-General' for OEEC who, like Spaak, would be
keen on the 'integration' of Europe. The Scandinavian countries and
the Portuguese all sympathised with the British attitude; and in
January the Norwegians made an approach to Dr Dirk Stikker, the
Dutch Foreign Minister, to suggest that he should become Chairman
of the OEEC Council and 'Political Conciliator', a rather more limited
designation for the post than had earlier been suggested. 62 Early in
April this compromise was agreed, and simultaneously the earlier
arrangement whereby there had been a Consultative Group of
Ministers was dropped. 63
Meanwhile Cripps had written personally to Hoffman to say that the
Treasury had been 'working very hard on the Payment Scheme'. He

I am submitting what I regard as a good and workable scheme to my

colleagues today after which I hope we may be able to discuss it with
your people in Paris and with Stikker.

Cripps asked for sympathy for the British attitude:

What I want you and your people to do is to realise that we as

'Bankers' for the Sterling Area have a great responsibility to others
besides ourselves, and that we cannot rush headlong into a scheme
which may depreciate the value of Sterling to the rest of the Sterling
Area and to the whole Trading Community of the World. 64
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 201

Hoffman replied cordially, emphasising however that he was very

anxious for the sake of American public opinion to secure the
implementation of 'the decisions taken at the OEEC Council meeting
on November 2, 1949' 0 He explained the American background:

Prior to the adoption of the [2 Nov.] program, ECA was under

continuing and mounting pressure to bring about the 'unification of
Western Europe'. There was no agreement as to what was meant by
this phrase, although the notion was gaining momentum that there
should almost overnight be brought into being a United States of
Europe. This being so, it seemed to me imperative that the OEEC
adopt a program more practical in concept, and that once adopted
we exploit that program in order to bring US expectations down to a
realisable goal . 0 If a courageous effort is made on the part of the
United Kingdom and other countries to carry out the November 2nd
program, I believe that it will be quite easy to change US sentiment
from one of growing scepticism about Europe to one of enthusiastic

Cripps sent copies of this letter, marked 'Top Secret', to the Prime
Minister and to Ernest Bevin only, and authorised three or four civil
servants in the Treasury also to read ito 65
In order to ease the way for Britain to join a payments system for the
OEEC countries which involved acceptance of multilateral obliga-
tions, in May 1950 Acheson sent Bevin an undertaking to the
following effect:

In the event that EPU [European Payments Union] operations

should unexpectedly result in British dollar payment obligations
beyond some agreed danger point, ECA would be prepared to
consider the allotment of special dollar aid to the United Kingdom
from the funds expected to be appropriated specifically for EPU
purposes. 66

With this guarantee, and with the discovery that Britain's dollar
account was moving unexpectedly rapidly into credit, the British
delegation to the EPU negotiations, led by Gaitskell, accepted full
membership of a multilateral scheme. 67
On another issue, however, the British Government proved more
obdurate. This was the vexed question of dual pricing. As we have
seen, Hoffman in his speech to the OEEC Council on 31 October 1949
202 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

had called for an end to dual pricing, and the OEEC Council had duly
included this in its unanimous resolution passed on 2 November.
Kenney, on behalf of the ECA, approached the British Treasury on the
matter, and on 12 December Alan Hitchman of the Treasury gave a
considered reply at one of the regular meetings between members of
the ECA Mission and Whitehall officials. Hitchman pointed out that
only 25 million was involved and of this but half was exported to
OEEC countries. It was 'made up of 10 million in respect of coal and
3 million in respect of steel'. It was not illegal under international
trade agreements and it represented free market prices.
Kenney argued in reply that, although dual pricing was not illegal
under international trade agreements, its elimination had been agreed
by the OEEC and its continuity was 'imposing an unwarranted charge
on other European users of British coal which it [the UK Government]
then used to subsidise domestic users of coal'. He went on to suggest
that 'the attitude of the United Kingdom involved a risk that ECA
would impose a cut in their allocation of ECA Aid to Britain' .68
Kenney reported this meeting to Harriman in Paris and recommended
that either Hoffman or Harriman should announce the withholding of
a dollar sum equivalent to the differential mentioned by Hitchman
from the 1949/50 allotment of Aid. He acknowledged, though, that
one factor in the 'most discouraging' British attitude was their fear that
an adjustment of prices would lead to domestic inflation. Indeed, after
the meeting an official of the Ministry of Fuel and Power told him that
an increase in domestic prices for coal at this time (that is, just before
the general election) 'would be "political suicide" '. 69 However even
after the election, when Harriman met Bevin in London in March
1950, he found that the latter could 'give no assurance that anything
could be done about dual pricing for the time being' .70

* * * *
The relationship between a borrower and a lender is never likely to be
an entirely easy one, but it would give a very false impression of
Anglo-American relations in the period of the Marshall Plan if it were
suggested that the friction that existed on some issues had the effect of
damaging the recognition of American generosity which was wide-
spread in Britain. The hostility to the United States which had been
common on the left wing of the Labour Party was virtually extin-
guished, except for those who followed the Communist line that its
object was solely to benefit the American capitalist. 71 Paul Hoffman,
the Administrator of Marshall Aid, and his colleagues did their best to
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 203

ensure that the scheme operated smoothly, and they sought to

maintain friendly relations with the Governments of the countries
which were recipients of aid; but he and they were conscious all the
time of the members of Congress looking over their shoulders,
especially as the aid had to be voted annually and not just once and for
all. Roy Bridge, an official of the Bank of England, found individual
officials of ECA, when he first encountered them in Washington,
'friendly, easily accessible, anxious to help and to learn, patient in the
face of extreme pressure and receptive to any suggestions made'. 72
Constant appearances before Congressional Committees forced
Hoffman, who was a newcomer to international politics, to make
statements which sounded very like an attempt to bring political
pressure to bear upon foreign countries. For instance, asked in May
1948 whether he would supply dollars to support a nationalised steel
industry in Britain, he said 'We would have to decide whether
socialisation would make for recovery. My guess is that it would not.'
But then he drew back and acknowledged that 'Influencing govern-
ments politically is not our job. Unless and until told otherwise by
Congress, our objectives will be economic.' 73
Certain special interests attempted to cause trouble for Britain by
arguing that the aid was being used for purposes contrary to American
policy. When hostilities took place in Palestine between Jews and
Arabs, Jewish Congressmen argued that Marshall Aid dollars were
being used to supply arms to Arab Governments. 74 And early in 1950
the House of Representatives voted to deny further aid to Britain until
it ended the partition of Ireland. 75 This proposal was adopted,
however, only after the House had been assured that there would be
opportunities for the vote to be reversed upon later consideration -
and this was in fact done.
Congress grew increasingly hostile to providing aid for European
countries which were supplying war materials or indeed any type of
strategic goods to the Soviet bloc countries. Section 1170 of the
Economic Co-operation Act in fact forbade the use of ECA materials
to provide strategic goods for non-ECA countries. Hoffman in giving
testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July 1948
said that 'any shipments of war material into the Soviet sphere would
be regarded as sufficient reason for cutting off American aid'. He cited
as a case in point the recent sale of British jet engines to Russia - an
event which was deplored by Ernest Bevin when he heard of it and
which was not repeated. 76 In mid-August A. L. Moffat, a member of
the American aid team in London, discussed the matter of strategic
204 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

exports with British officials. He explained that the exports to be

banned were'( a) munitions, (b) items which were primarily of military
application and (c) certain raw materials.' He recognised that most of
the items in category (a) were now banned by British regulations, that
category (b) was restricted and that there were no exports under
category (c). But he thought that some raw materials were 'being
exported direct to territories within the Soviet orbit from the Colonial
territories'. He suggested that the Colonies might 'render a monthly
report of any direct shipments to countries within the Soviet orbit of
the specific materials in question'. In reply Roger Makins of the
Foreign Office said that British exporters were concerned by the
absence of 'any firm direct ruling from Washington' as to what was
covered and what was free to go. It was agreed to draw up a 'black list'
corresponding roughly to the British prohibited list, and a supplemen-
tary 'grey' list which could be the subject of discussion. 77
It was not until early 1949 that the American Mission was able to
draw up two lists of the character suggested the previous August.
Moffat pressed for early action by the British Government to secure
Parliamentary authority for export control of the items on the 'black'
list, and Rowan of the Treasury agreed that this could be done,
although he pointed out that other European countries were as yet
undecided about taking similar action. The difficulty was that the
French were unwilling to agree to restrictions unless Sweden and
Switzerland did likewise, and since these were neutral countries, the
likelihood of action on their part was remote. Rowan also said that his
Government was unwilling to restrict the export of tin- 'a commodity
which entered into normal trade'- as this 'could be regarded as the first
step towards imposition of economic sanctions' .78 In mid-February,
however, it was arranged that Harold Wilson, the President of the
Board of Trade, should announce a ban on exports of goods of
potential military value, along lines which had been agreed with
Finletter. 79 The two Governments were clearly thinking along similar
lines, but Britain's greater dependence upon overseas trade made her
less ready to forsake opportunities of normal exchange even with
countries which were potentially hostile. In 1950 the division of
opinion in this respect between Britain and the United States became
even more marked over the question of exports to China. 80
Although the United States depended far less than Britain upon
foreign trade as an element in her industrial activity, the American
mercantile marine possessed considerable influence in Congress, and
the National Federation of Shipping, supported by the seamen's union,
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947--50 205

the Maritime Union, argued that it was an essential part of American

strategy to have a substantial mercantile marine in peacetime, and that
this justified a form of protection similar to the old British Navigation
Acts. It was therefore written into the Economic Co-operation Act
that half of all the cargoes which were to be sent under the Act from
United States ports should go in American ships. 81 This arrangement
was at first operated fairly liberally by the Transportation Division of
ECA, whose Director, Colonel Arthur G. Syran, visited Paris to
discuss the provision with members of the OEEC Maritime Transport
Committee. He agreed that the terms of the Act would be satisfied by
'global' assessments, that is, by taking the shipping commitments of all
the European countries collectively, but he insisted on a separate
accounting for tramps, liners and tankers, each of which was to have at
least 50 per cent American participation. 82
The European nations were anxious to take as much of the aid as
they could in European ships or at least not in American ships, because
the American companies charged far higher rates than the others.
Hoffman himself accepted this standpoint and in December 1948
threatened to drop the 50 per cent rule, as he was entitled to do if the
charges were excessive, and a friendly Senator, Ralph E. Flanders
from the inland State of Vermont, pointed out that '20 per cent of the
aid to France and Italy is being dissipated in freight charges', and urged
that 'such a subsidy to the American mercantile marine, however
desirable, should not hide under the cloak of European recovery'.""
Nevertheless, in the spring of 1949 the provisions of the Act were
tightened and a special House 'watchdog committee' was established
solely to safeguard American mercantile interests under the Marshall
Plan. 84 In August of that year the British Supply Organisation in
Washington heard that the UK liner figures were in danger of
breaching the law:

Our particular black spot was the Pacific Coast from which the US
liner share of the recent big movement of lumber was nil, the
difficulty here being the high operating rates of US liners which were
well above the Conference rate and the UK tramp rate. 85

The result was that in December 1949 the ECA ordered seven
countries including Britain to refund about 30 million dollars of aid
owing to their failure to conform to the law in this respect. 86

* * * *
206 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Although the Treasury had been very anxious to persuade the

American Government in general, and the ECA in particular, that the
Sterling Area was a homogeneous entity, and that its dollar deficit
needed to be financed as a whole, there was some concern in Whitehall
when some of the Colonies themselves expressed an interest in taking a
share of the counterpart funds which had built up as a result of Britain's
receipt of Marshall Aid goods. Representatives of Malaya (which,
thanks to its export of tin and rubber, had a dollar surplus) and Malta
(which regarded itself as part of Europe and hence worthy of inclusion
in the general European plan for reconstruction) were those who
voiced this view. The Treasury, however, rejected the suggestion that
there was any entitlement for Britain to pass on any of its Marshall Aid
counterpart funds to the Colonies: but in 1950 it was agreed to allocate
some 1 500 000 to Malta for reconstruction. 87
In that year, however, the ECA itself, which was anxious to respond
to President Truman's 'Point Four' advocating assistance to unde-
veloped countries, urged the use of British counterpart funds to the
extent of 100 000 000 for a long-term programme of colonial
development. Cripps did not like this idea, and minuted 'In my view,
this should be most strenuously resisted as it means interference by
USA Congress in all our Colonial Development' .88 When a few
months later John Kenney, the head of the ECA Mission in London
wrote formally to put this suggestion to the Chancellor, he was met by
the argument- put to him by Gaitskell, now the Minister for Economic
Affairs- that to 'spend' these funds on Colonial development instead
of on debt retirement would be inflationary. 89
The Economic Co-operation Act also contained a provision whereby
the Administrator could guarantee private investment abroad by
United States citizens. The Colonial Office received an enquiry about
this from a representative of the Chamber of Commerce of the United
States in August 1948, and replied through the American Embassy to
disavow responsibility for the reactions of individual Colonies:

While HMG in the United Kingdom can lay down the broad lines of
general policy, the application of that policy in particular territories
is the primary responsibility of the Colonial Government itself, and
there are both political and constitutional limitations to the extent to
which HMG would be willing, or able, to enforce it against local
popular opinion, if that should prove in any particular case to be
adverse. 90
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 207

In the autumn of 1949 the tripartite talks between Britain, the United
States and Canada concluded with an agreement, among other things,
to encourage dollar investment in the Colonies, as one way of solving
the problem of the weakness of sterling.
But the Colonial Office remained unenthusiastic, and the Minister
of State for the Colonies, John Dugdale, commented on a draft

The more I look at it, the less need can I see for the House of
Commons to have to listen to a glorified company prospectus asking
people to invest in 'British Colonial Empire Limited' .91

The statement finally made, in reply to a Parliamentary Question on

28 June 1950, was distinctly grudging:

Our policy is, in general, to welcome American investment in the

Colonies. But we have to bear in mind that such investment
normally carries with it a dollar liability for remittance of dividends
or profits and an ultimate liability for repatriation of capital. So long,
therefore, as the dollar problem is with us, our policy must be
selective and we must satisfy ourselves that any given project will
either give a net earning or saving of dollars, or will be of such
substantial economic benefit to the Colonial territory concerned as
to justify any possible loss of dollars involved. 92

The Stockpiling Division of ECA, which had an obligation to Congress

to secure strategic materials for the United States, after a good deal of
haggling with Whitehall eventually succeeded in financing, mostly
from the ECA's own Strategic Materials reserve, the production of
bauxite in Jamaica for the Reynolds Metal Company. 93 This was one of
the few Colonial projects which were financed directly by the ECA to
assist both the United States and the dollar-hungry territories of the
British Empire.

* * * *
In the early months of 1950 the Treasury discovered a considerable
influx of gold and dollars into the country, but Cripps played this down,
regarding it as due to 'temporary factors' .94 He did not want to lose a
further allocation of American aid. But the movement continued
throughout the year, and early in November Gaitskell, who had now
taken Cripps's place as Chancellor, reported to the Cabinet that the
208 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

influx of gold and dollars was continuing, stimulated by rumours of

sterling revaluation, and the reserves at the end of the year might be
startlingly high. It was not surprising that as a result he also had to
indicate that 'The termination of Marshall Aid to the United Kingdom
was under discussion.' 95 On 11 December he told the Cabinet that he
'had now received a firm indication that the United States Govern-
ment did not propose to make further payments to this country under
the European Recovery Programme'. 96 He made an announcement
about this to the House of Commons two days later. The statement
said that there were two main reasons for the termination of assistance
in this form: first, Britain's dollar deficit had disappeared, and
secondly, 'the defence programme of the United States which includes
the Mutual Defence Aid programme will now impose new and heavier
demands upon her economy'. He added 'In all, since the beginning of
Marshall Aid, the United Kingdom has been allotted a total of 2694.3
million dollars.' Britain remained a member of OEEC and of the
European Payments Union, and the agreement was 'for the suspen-
sion, and not the termination, of ERP aid and for reconsideration if
necessary' .97 But in fact any subsequent assistance that Britain
received was to be for her rearmament programme, which had become
the more urgent in the light of the Korean War. A well-informed
article in the Economist explained the reasons for what it described as
'the softening of the dollar over the past twelve months':

First, there was the sharp reduction in the world's purchases of

American exports when devaluation raised their price to many
buyers by 40 per cent. Second came the American boom stimulating
imports into the United States and encouraging American produc-
ers not to bother to hold their export prices by cutting prices. And,
finally, the intensified commodity boom following the Korean War
must by now considerably have increased the dollar earnings of the
primary producing countries. 98

One of the most careful students of the history of the Economic

Co-operation Administration, Hadley Arkes, concludes that:

On the most important matters of self-regarding interests ... the

tendency of the ECA was to turn the presumptions to the benefit of
the ERP countries, and therefore subordinate the more narrow
conceptions of American self-interest. 99
Britain and Marshall Aid, 1947-50 209

The preceding discussion will have suggested that this was largely true.
On the larger issues, however, both Hoffman, who lacked political
experience, and Harriman, who had the special task of 'integrating
Europe', were inclined to press the European governments further
than some at least of them were willing to go. In Britain's case, her
world-wide responsibilities secured her a special status, as was shown
in the tripartite economic talks of the late summer of 1949. Richard
Bissell, an ECA economist with experience of wartime shipping
problems, recognised that in the last resort Britain was an essential ally
for the United States, and to try to force her into an 'integrated'
Europe might in the end be counter-productive for American global
policy. This point of view prevailed in 1949 and 1950, as relations with
the Soviet Union deteriorated still further and the Korean War
appeared to foreshadow a Third World War.
11 Labour and the 1950
Election: The Prospect
and the Outcome
By 1948, the approach of the next general election was beginning to
concern all the party leaders. The Conservatives were convinced that a
major reason for their failure in 1945 was the weakness of their party
organisation; and in the summer of 1946 Churchill invited Lord
Woo !ton, the wartime Minister of Food and a business man of proven
ability, to take over the chairmanship of the party's Central Office.'
Woolton agreed rather reluctantly, and at first was very disappointed
at the 'ramshackle' organisation that he encountered in the party. 2 The
recruiting campaign that he launched in his first year of office met with
only limited success; but in 194 7 criticism of the Government
mounted, and at the Party Conference in October of that year Woolton
boldly appealed for 1 000 000 for the central fund- and obtained it
before the end of the year. 3 In the first six months of 1948 alone over a
million new members were added to the party strength. 4 A committee
under Sir David Maxwell Fyfe recommended improvements in the
salaries and status of Conservative agents; and it was proposed that
henceforth constituency associations, rather than candidates, should
pay the entire election expenses of their contests, with support if
necessary from the central fund. 5 Many candidates had already been
adopted by local associations under the old terms, or were sitting MPs,
and so this change took time; but by 1950 the number of full-time
agents in the constituencies of England and Wales amounted to 527
out of 542- far beyond anything that Labour could match. On the eve
of the election in 1950, the Labour agents numbered only 279. 6
The Conservatives also endeavoured, with less support from
Winston Churchill, to present a new range of policies for the electorate
to consider. R. A. Butler, who felt strongly that the 1945 election had
been lost because of the party's lack of a 'positive alternative', took

212 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

charge of the formulation of a new policy. 7 As a result of his work a

document called the Industrial Charter was published in May 194 7. It
accepted the need for full employment and endorsed temporary
controls and rationing, but criticised restrictive practices by trade
unions and employers alike. Nationalisation was foresworn as a
principle of government, though accepted in practice in the cases of
coal, the railways and the Bank of England. Nationalised industries
were to submit to 'the test of the highest standards of commercial
efficiency' .8 The document was approved by Churchill in May and by
the Party Conference in October 194 7. 9
The Liberals, though very heavily crushed in the 1945 election, also
sought to stage a recovery. Their first object was to raise some money,
and this they succeeded in doing, albeit on a much humbler level than
that of the Conservatives: in 1946 they called for a Foundation Fund of
125 000 over a five-year period, and in 1948 alone they secured
contributions of 46 000. 10 In 194 7 the chairman of the party
executive, Philip Fothergill, announced that there were now 500 local
branches of the party in existence; and it was decided to fight the next
election on a broad front. 11 The Communist Party also emerged once
more as a political rival to the Labour Party: taking its cue from the
Communist Information Bureau or Cominform, it denounced the
Labour Government for being 'an active partner in the imperialist
camp', and prepared to oppose Labour candidates at the forthcoming
election. 12
Labour's preparations for the next election effectively began at the
1948 Party Conference. Morrison on that occasion argued that the
election programme must be attractive not only to the party members
but to 'the great body of public opinion'; and he suggested that it
should be

of ... a somewhat different tempo from the last, for we have to

embody in it proposals for the consolidation of existing achieve-
ments ... Let us prepare for a victory of consolidation.

The brief debate that followed indicated more than anything else the
need for further research on proposals for fresh nationalisation; and all
resolutions on the subject were remitted to the Executive for later
consideration. 13 Dalton formed the impression that Morrison was
opposed to all fresh nationalisation, and told Attlee that in his view this
'would never do':
Labour and the 195 0 Election 213

There should be a study of various possibilities in industry, trade and

finance. He thought we should look into wholesale distribution. I
agreed. There might be trouble with the Co-ops, but less now that
[Alfred] Barnes was a Minister. I also mentioned chemicals, cotton
(spinning board and merchanting), land (selective further acquisi-
tions) and discount houses, industrial assurance and life insurance
generally. He wondered about Smithfield and Covent Garden. 14

In July, despite Morrison's misgivings, the Policy and Publicity

Committee of the National Executive, of which he was chairman,
agreed on the procedure for drawing up the new party programme.
Eight sub-committees were to be appointed, including one on 'Indus-
tries for Nationalisation'; the Parliamentary Labour Party's Groups
were invited to submit memoranda and the TUC was asked to send
representatives to the discussions. Some thought had already been
given in the party's Research Department to future nationalisation
projects; and it was agreed that

documents should be prepared on the following industries: Com-

mercial Insurance, Chemicals, Water, Shipbuilding, Motors, Cot-
ton, Aircraft, Oil Distribution, and City Financial Institutions ... In
addition, a document already prepared on the Drink Trade would go
before this committee, as would a fuller version of the draft of an
Enabling Bill for Nationalisation ... and a draft on the United
Africa Company. 15

Before Christmas it was decided that there should be a special

weekend conference of the National Executive and Government
Ministers to discuss the first draft of the programme for the next
election. 16 The meeting ('this impressive conclave', as it was called in a
Times leader) took place at an hotel at Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight,
in late February 1949. 17 It had before it a draft programme entitled
Labour Believes in Britain, which, as in 1945, had been written by
Morrison with the aid of Michael Young, the secretary of the Research
Department. There had already been some reduction in the list of
industries tentatively suggested for nationalisation, and for the
remainder in each case the pros and cons were carefully set out. 18 At
this stage the list comprised: Industrial Assurance, Shipbuilding,
Imperial Chemicals Ltd., Water Supply, the Meat Trade, the Sugar
Industry, Public Buying, Cement, and the Nationalisation of Minerals.
The views of the trade-union leaders, if known, were also indicated;
214 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

sometimes they were not enthusiastic, for instance, in the case of


Mr Lincoln Evans (TUC) thought the case for nationalisation of

private refineries lacked strength because of their technical effi-
ciency and good labour relations; Mr R. G. Evans (NUGMW) also
stressed the progressive attitude of Tate & Lyle towards its

In the case of the Meat Trade, it was acknowledged that 'large foreign
interests (USA and Argentina) would have to be acquired- might lead
to international complications'. In addition, 'In any national abattoir
scheme, Co-ops might claim to retain their identity and operate its [sic]
own factory abattoirs.' On Shipbuilding, it was accepted that the
industry was 'efficient compared with other countries' and that trade
union views on nationalisation were divided. The proposal for the
public ownership of Water Supply was less controversial: it was
expected to secure efficient co-ordination of supply and to prevent
floods and droughts; and the unions were reported to be in full
agreement with the idea. Public Buying meant the co-ordination of the
purchasing of goods for public bodies and nationalised industries, and
an extension of this into supplies for the private consumer on the
pattern of the successful wartime scheme of 'utility goods'.
All these proposals put together were reckoned, according to the
Research Department, to bring only an additional 528 000 workers
into the public sector, as opposed to some 2 242 000 who had been
taken over, or would be taken over, by the legislation of the 1945
Parliament. Furthermore, some of the items on the new list were soon
transferred to an intermediate status, such as Shipbuilding, where
nationalisation would take place only 'if private enterprise fails', and
Chemicals only 'if it should prove necessary to assure vital national
interests' .19 But there was a considerable discussion about Industrial
Assurance, which meant the type of insurance the contributions for
which were collected weekly by local agents. This had been recom-
mended for nationalisation by Beveridge in his wartime report on the
Social Services, and Arthur Greenwood and James Griffiths were both
convinced of the desirability of retaining this in the programme for the
coming election. On the other hand, many of the unions which
recruited industrial assurance agents, for instance, the National
Federation of Insurance Workers, the Guild of Insurance Officers and
the Distributive and Allied Workers, were reported as 'inclined to be
Labour and the 1950 Election 215

hostile'. Cripps wrote to Dalton that in his view it would be 'a very
profound - perhaps even a fatal mistake' to include it in the
programme; 20 and Dalton, on reconsideration, agreed that it might
have a bad effect in the marginal constituencies: 'Not only the Agents,
but the Policy Holders may be panicked.' 21 Nevertheless, it was
accepted by the National Executive against the opposition of both
Morrison and Dalton. 22
The draft programme, Labour Believes in Britain, was published in
April, and when the annual conference of the Party took place in
Blackpool at Whitsun, two full days were allotted for its discussion.
The debate was both opened and closed by Morrison. So far as the new
programme of nationalisation was concerned, he was at pains to stress
its empirical character:

We have not made an abstract list of industries for socialisation. We

have considered them in relation to various parts of the programme
in a natural way. For example, the proposals with regard to making
industrial assurance into a public concern are made primarily on the
basis of rounding off the social services and completing that great
edifice. Water is in the programme primarily in relation to agricul-
ture and life in the rural areas, which have the greatest interest in
the development of water supply. Similarly, cement is there in
relation to the cost of building operations.

Other proposals, he pointed out, such as 'public ownership of

appropriate sections of food processing and distribution, meat whole-
saling, sugar and cold storage', came under the heading of 'Square
Deal for Consumers'. 23
The comments from the floor were full of complaints about the
running of the industries already nationalised, and especially about the
character of the appointments to the boards, and the size of the
salaries; and Morrison had to devote some part of his reply to
answering these critics. Other speakers in the debate included Aneurin
Bevan, who produced the magic apophthegm 'The language of
priorities is the religion of Socialism'; and James Griffiths, who argued
the case for the proposed nationalisation of Industrial Assurance. 24
Dalton noted in his diary:

The Conference is very easy. The Platform dominates the Floor,

which is quite content to have it so. The programme goes over with
little criticism. All EC speakers get long ovations. 25
216 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Nevertheless, Griffiths having ceased to be Party Chairman, the

decision about Industrial Assurance was soon in question once more.
The Co-operative Insurance Society had already submitted a
memorandum suggesting that their own constitution was very advan-
tageous because it was

in effect mutual ... All the profits in the life department belong to
the policy holders, and in the other departments are distributed to
the Co-operators through the medium of the Retail Societies. 26

In late September, Cripps, who had evidently been meditating the

matter from the point of view of the British economy, was present at a
meeting of the National Executive to argue against the inclusion of
Industrial Assurance as an item for nationalisation in the election
manifesto. He propounded three reasons for his view. First, it would
endanger British 'invisible exports' in the dollar area: Americans
might hesitate to insure with nationalised companies. Secondly, the
take-over itself would be very expensive, owing to the 'bad features of
high-pressure selling etc. which we hope to eliminate'. Thirdly, so
extensive a business, with so many policy-holders, would provide
'enormous possibilities of adverse propaganda, for example, allega-
tions that we intended to confiscate insurance policies'. But Cripps
thought that 'mutualisation', or ownership by the policy-holders
themselves, would prove to be an acceptable compromise. 27
A decision became more and more desirable as the autumn wore on.
At a meeting of the Policy Committee in mid-November Dalton urged
the dropping of the whole proposal, but Griffiths was not willing to go
so far, though he now accepted the idea of mutualisation. Bevan and
Tom Driberg - a newcomer to the Executive - still pressed for full
nationalisation, but Griffiths's new proposal was carried. It was
confirmed by the full Executive nine days later, on the 23rd. 28 On that
occasion Dalton again suggested dropping the measure altogether, and
had the support of Attlee and Morrison; but they were voted down by
the Left and by 'a row of silent Trade Unionists- the "imponderables"
as Alice Bacon called them afterwards!' who 'didn't want to change the
previous decision'. But Bevan's proposal 'that we stick to nationalisa-
tion' was also defeated, and so the mutualisation alternative was
accepted. 29
Meanwhile some of the interests affected by the other nationalisa-
tion proposals had been raising their voices. Lord Lyle, of Tate and
Lyle, the sugar manufacturers, privately tried to persuade Morrison
Labour and the 1950 Election 217

that nationalisation should be limited to the beet-sugar section of the

industry, which had owed its success largely to government subsidy:

No one questions our efficiency and progressive policy ... The

Refining Industry of this country has never at any time been
subsidised ... It is certainly not a 'Monopoly'. 30

But as the proposal for nationalisation had already been approved by

the Blackpool Conference, Morrison refused to receive a deputation
from the Sugar Refiners' Association, as Lyle had suggested; Lyle's
letter, however, was circulated to the members of the National
Executive, as was a subsequent memorandum in which Lyle shrewdly
took the line of the danger to exports involved in the take-over:

The Labour Party, despite its acceptance of the arguments in favour

of nationalisation for some industries, has always appreciated that
there are dangers in nationalising any industry which is directly
concerned with the export trade of this country ... The Cane Sugar
Refining Industry not only refines for home consumption but for
re-export. 31

Receiving a dusty answer to all his appeals, Lord Lyle turned to a

public campaign. It was not long before the sugar cartons that his firm
produced were decorated with a cartoon character, called 'Mr Cube',
who called for 'Tate not State' .32 By late October Morrison was
expressing to his colleagues his concern at the anti-nationalisation
propaganda being disseminated by 'large-scale business', in particular
Tate and Lyle, the Meat Trade Association, and the insurance
companies. 33
It is very doubtful whether the 'Mr Cube' campaign assisted the
sugar refiners' cause, because it tended to draw attention to the degree
of monopoly which Tate and Lyle enjoyed in the provision of sugar for
the domestic consumer. But Morrison decided in the late autumn to
take up the cudgels against these campaigns. In a speech at Birming-
ham on 26 November he declared:

It would be a very dangerous thing if it were allowed to become a

feature of our political life that big business could intervene in
elections both by secret subscriptions to political funds and by direct
large-scale propaganda campaigns calculated to influence the result.
It must not be thought that the law as to permitted expenditure
relates only to a period after the issue of the writs for an election. 34
218 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

When the matter was raised in the Commons the Attorney-General,

Sir Hartley Shawcross, argued that whether such propaganda was
illegal depended upon 'questions of fact and degree to be determined
by the court on the facts of each particular case'; and he said that he
had given instructions to the Director of Public Prosecutions 'that
should occasion arise he should institute such proceedings as he
thought proper'. 35 There is not much doubt but that these threats did
have the effect of limiting the direct participation of what Morrison
called 'big business' in the actual election campaign.

* * * *
Meanwhile the Labour Party both in Parliament and outside had been
beginning to contemplate the prospect of the next general election.
The portents were somewhat mixed. On the one hand, the Govern-
ment had not lost a single by-election since it took office, though this
was as much by luck as by good management. The seats which fell
vacant by death, ill-health, misadventure or promotion were normally
those held by older members of the Parliamentary Party, who had
occupied them since 1935 or earlier: so they were relatively safe. But
on the other hand, at these by-elections the majorities were often much
reduced; and the Gallup Poll, which was still regularly published in the
News Chronicle, and which since 1945 had acquired much more
esteem than previously, indicated that the Conservatives took the lead
in popular support in 194 7, after the fuel crisis; and although the
Government staged a recovery in 1948 and early 1949, it lagged
thereafter, suffering a considerable loss of popularity after the
devaluation of the pound in September 1949. By the following
November Labour was a full ten points behind the Conservatives. 36
The local government election results also began to show increasing
successes for Conservative candidates: the borough elections of May
1949 - at a time when councillors elected in 1945 or 1946 were
standing for re-election, and following an austerity Budget - turned
out badly for Labour, although it was by no means a rout. The Times
commented 'The outstanding feature of all these local elections has
been the success of the Conservative Party in getting its supporters to
the polling stations.' 37 Birmingham and Newcastle upon Tyne were
won back by the Conservatives, as well as several London boroughs.
Another matter of concern to the Labour Party was the alteration of
constituency boundaries effected by the Representation of the People
Act, 1948. The Boundary Commission had recommended the elimina-
tion of a large number of Labour-held seats in the central districts of
Labour and the 1950 Election 219

large towns; and it was true that these seats had become virtual 'rotten
boroughs' owing to the movement of population during the war and
since. The result was that whereas in 1945 there had been a bias in the
electoral system in favour of Labour, it now looked as if the
Commission had more than redressed the balance. A report by Labour
Regional Organisers to the National Executive suggested that 'under
the new proposals we can only expect 323 seats to return Labour
Members as against 393 at present in the House of Commons'. 38 Part
of this reduction was due to the fact that the Commissioners were
proposing to cut the size of the House from 640 members to 608
(excluding university seats). While preserving the total number of
seats for Scotland and Wales- in fact Wales obtained one extra- the
English total was cut so as to leave a number of large towns with
constituencies of over 80 000 voters each. Chuter Ede, the Home
Secretary, therefore consulted the members of the Commission and at
the committee stage of the bill introduced amendments to add an extra
seventeen seats for the larger English towns. The Government had
already decided to abolish the university seats, the business vote, and
the separate representation of the City of London. All these changes
were hotly denounced by the Conservatives and Churchill described
Ede's additional borough changes as a 'dirty racket' .39 But they did
little to reduce the overall benefit that the Conservatives secured from
the Act- though in the close election that ensued they may have been
crucial. According to the Nuffield survey of the 1950 election, the
actual loss to Labour occasioned by the Act was somewhere between
20 and 40 seats. 40
The Government also wished to improve the discipline of both
Parliamentary Party and trade unions, in order to ensure that
Communist influence was eliminated. In the early months of 1948, by
which time the Cominform had been created and had enunciated the
principle of the 'two camps' - Britain being placed firmly in the
'imperialist camp' - Ernest Bevin decided that the time had come to
act. On 8 March he attended an enlarged meeting of the Parliamentary
Labour Party's Liaison Committee, with both Attlee and the Chief
Whip present, and declared that he was concerned about

the activities of a number of Labour Members, whose speeches and

actions gave cause for misunderstandings abroad, and also made it
difficult to bring pressure to bear upon Trade Unions actively to
reduce Communist influence.
220 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

After some discussion, in which both Attlee and the Chief Whip took
part, it was agreed that 'the matter was primarily one for the National
Executive Committee'. 41 The National Executive, which at this time
was quite willing to obey the Government's wishes, promptly singled
out two culprits in the Parliamentary Party, John Platts-Mills and
Konni Zilliacus, whose speeches both at home and abroad had been
very pro-Communist. Platts-Mills was invited to attend a meeting with
leaders of the National Executive, and did so on 23 April, having in the
meantime given much greater cause for offence by organising the
so-called 'Nenni Telegram'. This was a message of support for
the Italian Socialists under Signor Nenni who were in alliance with the
Communists, and were fighting the Italian general election of 18 April
in opposition to the Marshall Plan. The supposed signatories num-
bered 37, but 4 of these declared that they had not signed the original,
and several others, who were unaware of the distinction between the
pro- Western and the pro-Communist groups in the Socialist Party of
Italy, apologised for their error and promised not to repeat it. A
further 21 MPs remained who accepted equal blame for the episode,
but pledged their future loyalty to the Government and its policy. 42 On
28 April the National Executive recommended the expulsion of
Platts-Mills from the Party and also undertook to investigate the
behaviour of Alfred Edwards, one of the two MPs for Middlesbrough,
the steel-making town, who had expressed opposition to the national-
isation of the steel industry. 43 The expulsions of both men were
confirmed at the Scarborough Conference of the Party at Whitsun. 44
The coup in Czechoslovakia at the end of February and the virtual
siege of the Allied zones of Berlin by the Rus~ians from June onwards
convinced all but a tiny minority of the Parliamentary Labour Party
that Bevin's foreign policy in the main must be accepted. One
indication of the weakness of the Left at this time was the willingness of
Tribune, normally the journal of the critics of Transport House, to
accept 500 from that body for a year's weekly two-page feature
expressing the official party line. 45 In 1949 the National Executive
continued the purging of the Parliamentary Party of its extreme
left-wing fringe. In February it was decided not to endorse Zilliacus for
re-nomination at Gateshead; and Lester Hutchinson's constituency
party at Ardwick, Manchester, was told that he too was in danger of
being refused endorsement. 46
Actually, Zilliacus was not a Stalinist, but a left-wing publicist with a
keen interest in international affairs who took the view that the
Western Powers were at fault for breaking off all contact with the
Labour and the 1950 Election 221

Communist world. Zilliacus had earned a rebuke from Morgan

Phillips, the party secretary, as early as December 194 7 for having
spoken at a meeting of the British-Soviet Friendship Society, a body
'proscribed' by Transport House as a satellite organisation of the
Communist Party. Zilliacus replied that he found the Executive's
policy of prescription 'foolish and undignified', and he demanded to be

when it comes down to drawing the political colour line do you apply
it in the South American sense that anyone who has a drop of white
blood is considered a white man and within the pale, or do you apply
it as it is understood in the United States, where anyone who has a
drop of negro blood is considered coloured and without the pale?
... If the latter, then am I to understand that I must not appear at
meetings sponsored by the United Nations Association because the
British-Soviet Society are affiliated to that body? 47

But ridicule was not a good weapon with which to defend oneself
against the machinery of Transport House. Later on, in 1948, Zilliacus
visited Yugoslavia just after Tito had broken off relations with the
Cominform, and his publicly expressed approval of Tito's regime won
him the hostility of the Soviet leadership. 48 Bevan tried to save him
from losing his Labour Party endorsement, but his motion at the
National Executive (seconded by Michael Foot, the editor of Tribune)
was defeated. 49 On the motion of Attlee, seconded by Sam Watson, the
Durham Miners' leader, Zilliacus was recommended for expulsion, as
was Leslie Solley, another member of the far Left. 50 These decisions
were confirmed at the Blackpool Party Conference at Whitsun. The
expelled left-wing MPs, together with D. N. Pritt, KC, who had been
expelled as long ago as March 1940 for supporting the Soviet invasion
of Finland, constituted a separate group of four in the last year of the
1945 Parliament. But the group did not include Zilliacus, who had
offended those most sympathetic to Moscow by his support for Tito.
The most serious threat of creeping Communist influence within the
Labour Party came in the trade unions. Small, active minorities could
achieve prominence in the trade unions by assiduous attendance at
meetings which the rank and file tended to neglect. Communist control
was more or less consolidated in some unions, notably the Scottish and
Welsh area executives of the National Union of Miners and also the
Electrical Trades Union and the Fire Brigades Union. The issue had to
be fought out in unions which were less deeply committed to one side
222 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

or the other. Bevin's old union, the Transport and General, now had a
secretary who was a strong supporter of his anti-Communist attitude:
this was Arthur Deakin, who ensured that at the union's Biennial
Delegate Conference in July 1949 Communists should henceforward
be prevented from holding office: the result was the dismissal in
January 1950 of nine full-time officials. 51 The Amalgamated Engineer-
ing Union was much less centralised: its district posts were constantly
being put up for election, and Morgan Phillips privately urged the
Labour Party district organisers to whip up support for 'moderate'
candidates. 52
Meanwhile the more general preparations for the next general
election were proceeding. James Griffiths, the Party Chairman in
1948-9, accompanied by Morgan Phillips, by R. T. Windle, the
national agent, and by the appropriate district organisers met in turn
Area Group meetings of MPs to discuss electoral problems. 'All the
Groups unanimously agreed that Housing, Food and the Cost of
Living were the topics causing most concern in all parts of the country.'
The Scottish and Welsh MPs, however, also complained about 'the
continued existence of pockets of unemployment in their areas' .53 A
feature of municipal elections - the subject of much comment by
Labour MPs- was the strength of the Young Conservatives; whereas
the Labour League of Youth was relatively weak, partly because
Transport House did not really trust it to support Party policy (its
pre-war antecedent had fallen under Communist control and had had
to be disaffiliated) and partly because it was limited to those under 21-
a serious limitation at a time when those aged 18 were being
conscripted to the forces for eighteen months or two years. At the 1948
Conference of the Party it was agreed to raise the age of membership to
25; but no new organiser was appointed, the task being entrusted to
Len Williams, the assistant national agent, who was well into his
forties. 54 Arrangements were made for a week's rally at Butlin's
Holiday Camp at Filey in September 1949. This occasion was on the
whole a success: the weather was not disagreeable, and 4000 young
people were present, although as Morgan Phillips later admitted, only
1200 of them were actually members of the League. 5 5 Those who did
belong to the League held a meeting under the chairmanship of Bruce
Millan, who represented Scotland, and who had difficulty in coping
with a demand from the floor for freedom to engage in policy-making,
which the National Executive was determined not to allow. 56

* * * *
Labour and the 1950 Election 223

The date of the forthcoming general election was, of course, at the

discretion of the Prime Minister- except that it had to be held within
five years of that of July 1945. The early months of 1949 were good
months for the Government's rating in popular opinion. On 21 Feb-
ruary Strachey announced that chocolates and sweets would be taken
off the ration; 57 and on 14 March Harold Wilson was photographed
tearing up a clothes ration book, to signify the end of restrictions in that
sphere. 58 A few days later Wilson also abolished controls on matches,
paper (except newsprint) and hardwood. 59 On 22 March it was
announced that milk rationing would be removed for a three-month
period. 60 A Gallup Poll late in the month showed a two-point rise in
approval for the Prime Minister, and a nine-point gain for the
Government as a whole, which meant that more people were
approving than disapproving in each case. 61 For those who still did not
believe in opinion polls, there was a by-election success in mid-March
at Sowerby- a contest which threatened to turn out badly, because it
was the seat that had been held by John Belcher, the junior Minister at
the Board of Trade who had been found by the Lynskey Tribunal to
have been improperly influenced by hospitality from a 'contact man',
one Sydney Stanley, and to have used his Ministerial position to assist
the latter's clients. 62 After this victory voices were raised inside the
Government in favour of an early dissolution: both Morrison and
Griffiths, who was the Chairman of the National Executive, supported
the idea. But, according to Dalton, Whiteley, the Chief Whip, 'put his
foot down and said we must make no mistake either about the Parlt.
Bill or the Steel Bill'- both of which would have lapsed in the event of
an early general election. 63 In May Dalton discussed the matter with
Bevan, and found that he was 'sure that we ought to go to the country
this year':

He says our Party in the House will be getting nervy & demoralised,
and there will be no more really interesting legislation. We shall be
marking time, and losing our power of manoeuvre. Next year's
Budget will be even less popular than this one. And unemployment
may go up. And the winter is always a bad time for morale.

Douglas Jay also urged this on Dalton- who was now back among the
Cabinet's senior Ministers- pointing out that 'if we have to devalue
sterling, the cost of living will go up, and that will lose us the election'.
A pretext for dissolution could always be found, for instance 'if the
House of Lords mutilated the Steel Bill' .64
224 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Jay's fears about the economic situation were well justified, but the
crisis came earlier than he expected. A slight American recession
restricted the demand for British dollar exports, and there was public
discussion of the need to devalue sterling, which led to traders delaying
their purchase of sterling goods. Cripps was pressed by the Treasury
and by the Bank of England to cut food subsidies, but Jay, who had the
new post of Economic Secretary to the Treasury, pointed out to him
that food subsidies were in fact a subsidy to exports. Cripps found that
some of his senior colleagues, notably Morrison and Bevin, were also
opposed to the cut in food subsidies. Sir Oliver Franks, now the British
Ambassador in Washington, was present at the Economic Policy
Committee meeting on 1 July, and reported the views of Dean
Acheson, the American Secretary of State, and of Paul Hoffman, the
Marshall Aid administrator. Both of them were anxious to avoid an
additional item of bad news for Congress in the 'hot and testing month'
of July, 'with Atlantic Pact, Military Aid Pact and Second Appropria-
tion of ERP all in the balance. They want to avoid an explosion on the
Hill [that is, in Congress].' Acheson's view was that Britain might
restore her competitive position by reducing prices and costs, but that
devaluation was 'a subject for the British to decide: US wouldn't press
on this. It is only one way in which costs might perhaps be reduced.'
Morrison favoured devaluation, and so did Attlee, but Cripps opposed
it with Dalton's support. 65
In mid-July Cripps, still hostile to devaluation, announced a plan to
cut dollar imports for 1949-50 by a quarter. There was to be less sugar,
tobacco, cotton, steel, timber and paper. Chocolates and sweets were
to go back on the ration. There were, however, to be some increases in
the rations of butter, meat and bacon, owing to an improvement in
supplies from outside the dollar area. 66 A meeting of the Finance
Ministers of the Commonwealth was taking place in London at the
time, and Cripps asked them to cut dollar imports and to increase
exports, both to the dollar countries and within the Commonwealth
itself. A statement by Edgar Whitehead, who was present on behalf of
Southern Rhodesia, illustrating the difference in the cost of imports
from Britain and the United States, convinced Jay that devaluation
was desirable; and from then onwards both he and Hugh Gaitskell, the
Minister of Fuel and Power, who was also an able economist, began to
advocate it within Government circles. 67 The conversion of Gaitskell
was important because Attlee had asked both him and Harold Wilson
to take Cripps's place while the latter went off to a clinic in Zurich for
several weeks' treatment for a digestive complaint. 68
Labour and the 1950 Election 225

It was at this time that Attlee held what Dalton called 'a council of
war on the date of the general election'. Those present were Morrison,
Bevin, Dalton, Bevan, and Whiteley. Cripps had written a note to
Attlee proposing an election before the meeting of the Governors of
the World Bank, which was to be held in Washington in September.
This was hardly practicable, as it would mean an election in August,
during the holiday season, but Bevan pressed for action at least before
the end of the year. Bevin, on the other hand, was opposed to an early
election, because it would upset his negotiations with the United
States. Dalton himself felt that it should certainly be fought before the
next Budget, which meant February 1950 at the latest. 69 Morgan
Phillips, who was aware that an early election was under discussion,
wrote to Attlee to put his own point of view in his capacity as Secretary
of the extra-parliamentary Party and head of the Transport House
machine: he pointed out that there had lately been an 'improvement in
our political stock' to the extent that, according to a recent opinion poll
(not, however, the Gallup Poll in the News Chronicle) Labour and the
Conservatives were running neck and neck. He attributed this to 'what
has happened in the case of sweets' (they had been de-rationed, but the
result had been queues and shortages); to 'the period of milk
de-rationing, which appears to have been greatly appreciated, and the
plentiful supply of fruit. The fourth factor, for which we claim no
credit, is good weather.' But he warned that 'the Movement has not
been geared to the possibility of an early election', and so he asked for
a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the matter. 70 It is not
certain whether any special meeting did take place; but Attlee and
Phillips were frequently in contact at the National Executive and its
The decision to devalue the pound was taken by Attlee and the
junior economic Ministers while Cripps was still at his Zurich clinic; it
was not completely unanimous, for Harold Wilson required a consid-
erable amount of convincing. 71 The decision was incorporated in a note
which was delivered to Cripps at Zurich. 72 It was conveyed to Wilson,
who had already gone on a motoring holiday on the continent, and
Wilson then took it to Cripps. The Chancellor had frequently gone on
record in the previous months to denounce the idea of devaluation,
and he very much disliked being obliged to break his word. But as
Wilson has recorded, he hastily wrote Attlee a reply agreeing to the
decision but urging delay until after his visit to Washington in early
September and his discussions there with American and Canadian
representatives. Cripps also again urged on Attlee the idea of an
226 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

immediate general election, but Attlee regarded this as quite imprac-

The delegation which went to Washington for the financial discus-
sions was a very high-powered one, consisting as it did of both Bevin
and Cripps. The two men, with their senior aides, Roger Makins and
Edwin Plowden, left England for New York on the Mauretania on 31
August. 74 When he reached Washington, Cripps in strict secrecy
revealed the devaluation decision to his American and Canadian
colleagues. The public announcements after the discussions focused
on relatively minor ways of easing Britain's dollar problem - for
instance, the use of Britain's Marshall Aid for the wheat supplies that
she had already contracted to buy from Canada. Cripps flew home
from Washington on 16th September. 75
Speculation about the likelihood of sterling devaluation was now
very widespread, but Attlee endeavoured to keep up the secrecy by
arranging for an inconspicuous Cabinet meeting on Saturday 17
September, to which Ministers made their way by side and back
entrances of No. 10 Downing Street. 76 The Cabinet had really no
option but to agree to the measure, and Cripps told Churchill and Eden
next morning and broadcast the news in the evening. He said that
although the devaluation was a steep one- from $4.03 to $2.80- the
only early repercussion upon the public would be an increase in the
price of a loaf of bread from 4!d. to 6d. 77 (As Canada also devalued by
10 per cent, the price in fact only went up to 5!d.) When Parliament
reassembled early, at the end of the month, Churchill immediately
attacked Cripps for having denied the possibility of devaluation until
the last moment, and then changing completely round like 'a squirrel in
its cage'. 78 This blatant electioneering was very galling to Cripps, who
then refused to accept an honorary degree at Churchill's hands at
Bristol University, where Churchill was Chancellor. 79 Meanwhile
Cripps had persuaded the TUC General Council that devaluation
would not result in an increase in the cost of living of more than 4 per
cent; and the Council's Economic Committee agreed to recommend to
a conference of trade union executives in January that they should
accept a pay freeze, except for the low-paid, provided that the cost of
living did not rise by more than 6 per cent. 80
Meanwhile the proponents of an early election had not been put off
by the act of devaluation - rather, they thought it was all the more
necessary to go to the country at once. On 30 September Tribune,
probably reflecting Bevan's views, came out with the headline 'Let's
Have an Election Now'; and Philip Jordan, the No. 10 Press Officer,
Labour and the 1950 Election 227

and successor of Francis Williams, urged the Prime Minister to make a

statement in order to end the speculation. On 13 October the Cabinet
was consulted and agreed to Attlee's proposal that there should be no
election 'this year', though Cripps and Bevan recorded their disagree-
ment.81 This decision was then announced from No. 10.82
Early in December, Attlee held another conference to decide when
to dissolve. His colleagues on this occasion were Morrison, Cripps,
Dalton, Addison, Bevan and Whiteley. Bevin refused to attend, saying
that he was 'no politician'. Attlee said the choice Jay between February
and June, and he favoured February, although it might cause some
trouble in rural constituencies owing to the danger of bad weather.
Morrison was inclined to wait until June, but Cripps said that he could
not 'hold sterling beyond February'. Presumably he meant that the rise
in the cost of living would thereafter become rapid. The decision was
for 23 February;83 but no public announcement was made, though
Attlee gave an indication of his intentions in his New Year's Honours
List, when he promoted five sitting Labour MPs (including A. V.
Alexander) to the peerage. On 5 January he wrote to the King at
Sandringham asking for a dissolution; but he received the King's
consent only on the 7th after he had motored over from Chequers for
lunch. He then informed the Cabinet on the 1Oth.84 The public
announcement that the election would be on 23 February, was made
shortly after midnight on the night of 10/11 January. Morgan Phillips
at once cancelled the plans for a special Jubilee Conference of the
Party, which was being organised for 3 and 4 February, to celebrate its
fiftieth anniversary. 85

* * * *
The Labour Party entered the fight with its unity intact, at least on the
surface. Cripps's appeal to the trade-union leadership to accept a wage
freeze for a year, on the terms he had suggested, was recommended by
the General Council of the TUC and approved at a conference of
trade-union executives on 12 January, albeit somewhat grudgingly-
the vote was 4.3 million to 3.6 million: the difficulty Jay in the existence
of many sliding-scale agreements. 86 The Labour manifesto, entitled
Let Us Win Through Together, was published on 18 January. It was a
summary of Labour Believes in Britain, except that the new policy of
mutualisation was substituted for nationalisation in the case of
Industrial Assurance. On 24 January a meeting of Labour MPs and
candidates, held at Caxton Hall, Westminster, was addressed by
228 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Attlee, Morrison and Morgan Phillips, and was, according to Dalton,

'useful, but curiously undramatic' .87
More interesting to the public were the party political broadcasts on
the radio which the three major parties had saved up from their 1949
allocation, to deliver before the formal dissolution on 3 February.
Morgan Phillips had persuaded J. B. Priestley, the novelist and
playwright, whose broadcasts had been so successful during the Battle
of Britain, to speak on behalf of the Government, and on Saturday
night, 14 January, Priestley urged the 'middle class' to support Labour
in spite of any 'grumbles' that it might have. 88 Churchill also spoke in
January, but for the remainder of the campaign he allowed his
colleagues - including Charles Hill, the secretary of the BMA and
wartime 'Radio Doctor' - to make the running except for one final
appeal on the Friday before polling day. The Labour broadcasts, like
those of 1945, were each given by separate speakers: Morrison was the
first, and Attlee wound up the series the night after Churchill. The
Liberals, who were fielding no fewer than 4 7 5 candidates, were
disgruntled to receive only one broadcast at peak listening time in the
evening, as against five each for the Labour and Conservative parties.
The Communists, with exactly one hundred candidates, were allowed
one ten-minute broadcast at 6.15 p.m. 89
As in 1945 the elements of novelty in the campaign came from
Winston Churchill, but not this time from his broadcasts, but from two
speeches on the hustings. In the first, at Plymouth on 7 February, he
said that he thought that the Government could increase the basic
petrol ration for motorists and motor-cyclists; this caused some
confusion in the Labour camp, because although Attlee denounced
Churchill's utterance as mere electioneering, Gaitskell, the Minister of
Fuel and Power, admitted that he was hoping that some increase could
soon be made. 90 Then at Edinburgh on 15 February Churchill declared
that in order to try to reach agreement on the development of atomic
weapons, it might be desirable to have 'another talk with Soviet Russia
upon the highest level':

It is not easy to see how things could be worsened by a parley at the

summit if such a thing were possible. 91

Churchill's remark was prompted by Truman's decision, announced

five days earlier, to develop the hydrogen bomb- about which, to their
credit, many American politicians and scientists alike had heart-
searchings - and it was not very generous of Bevin promptly to
Labour and the 1950 Election 229

describe it in a broadcast as a 'stunt proposal' .92 But as it happened, the

issue of the hydrogen bomb was hardly appreciated in this country for
its importance, and so the argument made little difference to the
outcome of the election.
Meanwhile Attlee had embarked upon a thousand-mile tour of the
country, being driven from meeting to meeting not in an official car but
by Mrs Attlee in their own pre-war family Humber, accompanied only
by an Inspector of the Special Branch. The impression of modesty and
economy was in no way spoilt by the fact that an official car followed
them, containing a mobile Downing Street office of one secretary, one
typist, and one more detective. As Professor H. G. Nicholas, in his
Nuffield study of the election, wrote:

However worked upon by hostile critics, it could not be presented as

a picture of Socialist folly and extravagance, nor as a curtain-raiser
to the class war which would proceed via the liquidation of the
middle class to the eventual establishment of a Communist State. 93

Meanwhile Morrison and Phillips held a series of press conferences at

Transport House: they were attended by between 150 and 200
journalists. 94 A remarkable feature of the campaign was the recovery
of Labour in the opinion polls from a position well behind the
Conservatives. In November 1949 Labour had lagged ten points
behind the Conservatives; but on the day before polling the Gallup
Poll gave Labour a lead of H per cent. 95
It was fortunate for Labour that February was a mild month, and
that election day was also mild, although wet in the evening. There was
a very heavy poll- 84 per cent, compared with only 73 per cent in 1945
- though a good deal of the improvement was due to a more accurate
register and the introduction of new categories of postal voting. The
drop in rural turnout owing to winter conditions was, according to Dr
David Butler, 'sizeable only in Scotland and Northern Ireland' .96
There was a national swing of 3.3 per cent away from Labour to the
Conservatives, but this still left Labour with a lead of 3.0 per cent. The
Liberals fared badly in the fierce contest between the two main parties:
the average poll of their 4 75 candidates was 11.8 per cent, and all but
100 forfeited their 150 deposits under the 1918 law, by failing to
obtain one-eighth of the total poll. They felt that they had been
damaged by their poor showing in the polls which had appeared at
regular intervals in their own Liberal newspaper, the News Chronicle,
though they were pleased by one finding, namely, that 38 per cent of
230 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

the electorate said that they would vote Liberal if they thought that the
Liberals had the chance of a majority. 97 The Communists suffered a
considerable reverse, losing their two seats and forfeiting 97 deposits
out of 100. Two Irish Nationalists were elected for seats in Northern
Ireland; but it was a feature of the election that Independent MPs, who
had been quite numerous in the old House, now almost entirely
disappeared. None of the 'Labour Independents' survived the clash of
the two main parties; and with the ending of university representation
the other MPs who were without party links disappeared.
Labour's success in obtaining a 3 per cent lead in votes over the
Conservatives was counterbalanced by the 'wastage' of many of them
in seats where their candidates were exceptionally safe - the miners'
seats. As a result, to the distress of the statisticians as well as to the
disadvantage of Labour, the so-called 'Cube Rule', whereby normally
the ratio of seats equals the cube of the parties' proportions of the total
vote, failed to operate. The Labour majority in the new House over the
other parties, excluding the Speaker and the Irish Nationalists (who
hardly ever attended) was only seven. In surveying this result, Hugh
Dalton and the Economist once again saw eye to eye. Dalton described
it as the 'worst possible result ... We have office without authority or
power, and it is difficult to see how we can improve the position.' 98 The
Economist described the outcome as 'a great calamity' .99 Some thirty
of the seats that Labour lost were casualties of the redistribution; but
seats also changed hands markedly in the commuter areas, in
Middlesex, for instance, where there was an 8~ per cent swing, and in
outer Essex, where the swing was 8 per cent. 100 In Wales, by contrast,
the loss was only 0.3 per cent and in the North-East 0.9 per cent. It was
important for the outcome of the election that Labour actually made a
net gain of two seats in Wales.

* * * *
When the Cabinet met for the first time after the election on 25
February, Attlee was reported as saying:

The King's Government must be carried on and, as Labour would

have a majority, the proper course was for a Labour administration
to stay in office.lt must, however, be recognised that, with so small a
majority, there would be great difficulty in transacting Government
business in the House of Commons. There could, in particular, be no
question of attempting to carry through any of the major controver-
sial legislation which had been promised in the Party's Election
Labour and the 1950 Election 231

Manifesto. Very careful consideration would also have to be given to

the content and presentation of the Budget.

The Cabinet Minutes merely say 'The Cabinet endorsed these views' 101
but it is apparent from Dalton's diary and also from a letter to the
Prime Minister from the Cabinet Secretary, Norman Brook, later that
day, that they discussed the idea of 'a further appeal to the electorate
... this year'. This topic, according to Brook, was to be considered at
the first meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which was held on
1 March. 102 The minutes of this meeting contain no mention of any
discussion of the topic: it may be that Attlee had had second thoughts
in the meantime. 103
At any rate, Attlee had to set about a reconstruction of his Ministry-
a 'distasteful business', he wrote to his brother Tom, because it meant
'relegating some good friends to the back-benches' .104 Nevertheless
the main reason for the changes was that some Ministers had lost their
seats in the election. Both Creech Lmes, the Colonial Secretary, and
Rees-Williams, his Parliamentary Under-Secretary, had been de-
feated; so had Soskice, the Solicitor-General, and Christopher Mayhew,
Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office; and Lewis Silkin, the Minister
of Town and Country Planning, had lost his seat by redistribution and
had failed to find another. Attlee was not really sorry to lose
Creech Jones, whom he regarded as poor at administration, in
Parliament, and in Cabinet. 105 He offered his post to Dalton, who
wanted to take on a department; but the latter shuddered at the
prospect of having to visit 'pullulating, poverty-stricken nigger com-
munities, for whom we can do nothing in the short run, and who the
more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful'. 'This is not
my Kingdom', he told the Prime Minister very firmly; and so instead he
became Minister of Town and Country Planning, with the promise of
Housing as well as soon as it could be prised away from Bevan. 106
Attlee had already decided that Alexander, the Minister of Defence,
should move into semi-retirement: he 'had rather lost grip', he later
recorded, and as we have seen before the election Attlee had
transferred him to the Lords; now he succeeded Dalton in the largely
nominal post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The new
Minister of Defence was Shin well, who returned to the Cabinet having
in Attlee's view 'done very well at the War Office.' 107 Hector McNeil,
who had served Bevin well at the Foreign Office, also joined the
Cabinet as Secretary of State for Scotland, in place of Woodburn, who
Attlee thought 'had got thoroughly across the Scots'; and Patrick
232 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Gordon Walker, the Parliamentary Secretary at the Commonwealth

Office, was promoted to succeed his own Minister, Philip Noel-Baker,
who Attlee thought 'has not advanced his reputation- he was talkative
but not illuminating in Cabinet.' Noel-Baker had to put up with being
Minister of Fuel and Power, outside the Cabinet. Attlee persuaded
him to move 'after a hard tussle'. Much the most important appoint-
ment outside the Cabinet (partly on Dalton's recommendation) was
that of Gaitskell, from being Minister of Fuel and Power, to the new
post of Minister of State for Economic Affairs - in effect deputy
Chancellor of the Exchequer to aid the ailing Cripps. 108 John Strachey
moved from the Ministry of Food to the War Office, though Attlee
later admitted 'I would rather have put him in the Air Ministry [where
he had served before], but Henderson took a strong objection to being
moved.' Maurice Webb, the chairman of the Parliamentary Party and
long a crony of Morrison's, succeeded Strachey at Food. Attlee did not
replace Soskice, but ensured that he was quickly re-elected to
Parliament by creating a vacancy in a safe seat at Sheffield, the
incumbent being induced to resign by the offer of a peerage and the
local party being persuaded to adopt the Prime Minister's favourite. 109
The weakest links of the new Administration were at the Foreign
Office. Bevin was not in good health, suffering from heart trouble; but
of his two principal political aides, one, McNeil, had been promoted
elsewhere, and the other, Christopher Mayhew, had been defeated in
the election. To succeed McNeil, Kenneth Younger was transferred
from the Home Office; and Mayhew was replaced by Ernest Davies,
whose speciality as a back-bencher had been the nationalisation of
industry. Thus although the Administration as a whole had been
somewhat strengthened by Attlee's changes, this could hardly be said
to be true of the Foreign Office. The Economist justly criticised this
aspect of the new list of appointments; 110 and The Times, while
welcoming the new post given to Gaitskell, deplored the fact that
Isaacs had not been replaced by someone else who would give 'more
vigorous leadership' at the Ministry of Labour. The Times also
suggested a rapprochement between the parties on the basis of an
agreement to postpone the operation of the Steel Nationalisation Act;
but it acknowledged that in any case there would be 'a suppressed
election campaign ... going on all the time, outside as well as inside the
House of Commons'. 111
Those who in subsequent years have seen Ministries surviving with
smaller majorities and indeed with no majority at all may be surprised
at the general view in 1950 that the Labour Government could not last
Labour and the 1950 Election 233

for any length of time. It has to be remembered that the senior

Ministers were getting tired after ten years of continuous high office,
that the surviving Labour MPs were mostly older than their Conserva-
tive counterparts, and that although there had been minority Govern-
ments between the wars, there was no real precedent in the twentieth
century for a Government with such a narrow majority, the Liberals
having been virtually eliminated. It was therefore in a state of some
despondency that the Labour Government 'carried on', as the Prime
Minister put it at his first Cabinet.

Mr Cube . .. (seep. 217)

12 On the Defensive,
When Parliament reassembled in early March 1950, the caution of the
Cabinet was at once evident in the face of an almost equally-divided
House. The King's speech indicated a complete absence of contentious
measures, and Churchill commented that it might well have read 'My
Government will not introduce legislation in fulfilment of their
election programme because the only mandate they have received
from the country is not to do it.'~ But Attlee announced the
Government's determination to give effect to the Act already on the
Statute Book for the nationalisation of Iron and Steel, and this was the
issue on which the Government had to face its first major Parliamen-
tary challenge, in the form of an amendment to the Address, which
both Conservatives and Liberals were willing to support. 2 In spite of
this the amendment was defeated by 14 votes, and later divisions on a
Housing amendment and on the Civil Supplementary Estimates were
won by the Government with larger majorities, because the Liberals
were either supporting them or abstaining. In the course of the debate
on Supplementary Estimates Cripps declared that the Health Esti-
mates for 1950-1, which were the major component of the Bill, would
be regarded in the future as a 'ceiling' .3 The Government's first defeat
in the Commons came on 29 March, when they lost an adjournment
motion after a debate on fuel and oil supplies, but the Prime Minister
did not regard this as an issue of confidence. He instructed the Whips,
though, in future to try to

avoid divisions between the hours of 3.30 p.m. and 7 p.m., in order
that Ministers might be able to devote the afternoons to the work of
their Departments; but after 7 p.m. Ministers must be prepared to
set an example of regular attendance in the House. 4

One essential item of business which the Government had to carry

236 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

was the Budget. Before it was presented, Cripps took the issue of the
Health Estimates to the Cabinet, in order to secure support for his view
that, in view of the need for rearmament, some limit must be placed
upon the expenditure of the National Health Service. Bevan was still
hostile to any limit:

The Government's abandonment of the principle of a free and

comprehensive health service would be a shock to their supporters
in the country and a grave disappointment to Socialist opinion
throughout the world. 5

The wrangle continued through three meetings of the Cabinet, but

ended in a decision to support Cripps and to set up a Committee of
Ministers under the Prime Minister's chairmanship to review the cost
of the service. The Budget, when it was delivered, was not displeasing
to the Opposition. Cripps announced that he was placing a ceiling on
expenditure both on the Health Service and on food subsidies, and
although he increased taxation on petrol and commercial vehicles, he
cut income tax on lower incomes, as an incentive to overtime. He also
restored the house building programme to the level of 200 000 houses
a year. 6
A number of Government controls were removed in the late winter
and spring of 1950, some of them partly owing to Opposition pressure.
The Conservatives made a move in the Commons to debate the
Control of Engagement Order, which had been used occasionally to
retain workers in certain key occupations, but the Cabinet decided to
anticipate this by revoking the Order before the debate could take
place. 7 In mid-April the price of fish was decontrolled; 8 on 2 May the
price limit of 5s. on restaurant meals was abolished, ostensibly for the
tourist season only ,9 and points rationing was ended on 19 May .10 On 4
May Bevan announced that he was restoring the right of local
authorities to allocate a fifth of their building permits to private
houses, and on 22 May the Government won a Housing debate by the
margin of six votes. 11 Of more immediate importance for the Opposi-
tion was the abolition of petrol rationing on 26 May: as we have seen
this had been something of an election issue between the parties. 12

* * * *
In March Government and National Executive decided to hold an
inquest into their relative failure in the General Election and to try to
draw some lessons for the future. 13 The meeting, held in May, was
On the Defensive, 1950-1 237

somewhat similar to that held at Shanklin in 1949, but this time the
participants went no further than Beatrice Webb House, Dorking.' 4 A
few members of the TUC General Council and of the Co-operative
Movement were also invited. Herbert Morrison presented a paper
entitled 'The Last General Election and the Next', which argued that
in February Labour had lost seats largely owing to the fact that 'many
... people came out and voted Tory who had been apathetic in 1945'.
He thought that this was most evident in 'the Outer London dormitory
areas'. On the whole, he believed that the working-class vote had
remained solidly loyal, apart from 'some disquieting signs of a loss of
expected Labour votes on new Council estates'. For future extension
of the Labour vote, he thought the rural seats offered the best
prospect, but he recognised that 'nationalisation for nationalisation's
sake' was not popular. Of the Party's programme for the 1950 election,
he admitted that:

We rather 'invented' a further socialisation programme of odds and

ends, but it must be confessed that a substantial proportion of our
new proposals (Water was all right) did not command the active
support of many or most of the Trade Union leaders or rank and file
directly concerned, and my impression is that most of the candidates
and Party spokesmen did not find it easy to put them across.

The meeting considered several other documents, including one

from Shinwell and one from the 'Keep Left' Group of left-wing MPs.
Shinwell was inclined to agree with Morrison that there was unhappi-
ness among Labour supporters about nationalisation, and in the coal
industry it focused on the first years of the National Coal Board,
where workers felt disquiet about 'the number of officials employed
... the high salaries paid ... and the comparatively low wages of the
day-wage man'. He noted 'disquiet among consumers' about prices,
and, 'what is perhaps more irritating, the somewhat remote control
exercised by the coal, gas and electricity organisations in dealing with
complaints'. As for the new proposals, he said flatly that 'we gained
nothing from the presentation of such schemes'. He argued that what
the public wanted was to be satisfied that existing nationalisation was
running properly, that the Government was taking steps to reduce the
cost of living by reducing distribution costs, that it was working hard on
the housing problem, and that it was seeking to reduce social
In the discussion, Attlee expressed agreement with the 'general line'
238 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

of Morrison's argument. 'It is not worth while hanging out small flags
... We would be wise not to further emphasise nationalisation points.
We have taken away too much from local government.' But he was
contradicted by Michael Foot, the young journalist lately elected to the
National Executive. Foot was for retaining all the nationalisation
proposals of the previous programme: 'Dropping the list would be
regarded as a breach of faith by many members ... We should also
consider a capital levy and should also use the Budget more for
redistribution of wealth.' Bevan agreed with Foot: 'If now we drop
nationalisation, if we follow what would in effect be a coalition policy,
we would leave the territory on our left to be cultivated by our
enemies. In South Wales I know quite well that this would happen.
Horner, for instance, would win the Rhondda for sure.' (Horner was
the Communist secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers.) In
his usual picturesque phraseology, Bevan said of public ownership:

It is always more popular to distribute the fruit than to plant the tree.
We should not expect nationalisation to be popular already,
although we should point out with every emphasis that without
nationalisation, particularly of coal, there would by now be heavy

He called for a programme

which is buoyant, robust, hopeful. It is really no use to stress socialist

ideals if there is no socialism in the programme. If there were not any
socialist proposals I would not know how to make a speech at the

Lincoln Evans, Chairman of the TUC General Council, and himself

secretary of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, was more
cautious: he 'felt that it would be better to see how existing
nationalised schemes worked out before we embark on further
schemes ... The Trade Union Movement is not altogether satisfied
about the kind of consultations that took place on the cement and
sugar industries before the general election. Many trade union
representatives had reservations about the proposals made, but had
hesitated to express them for fear of being accused of disloyalty.'
In the later discussion, Cripps, Griffiths, and Harold Wilson all
expressed qualms about dropping nationalisation proposals which had
once been in the programme. Cripps, who much disliked breaking
On the Defensive, 1950-1 239

promises, said 'Having spoken on behalf of these proposals on the

platform how can we now come to the electorate and say we were
wrong?' Harold Wilson, although admitting 'The proposals for
cement, sugar and the rest were not well thought out and did not seem
to hang together very well in the programme', argued that 'Even so, I
do not see that we can drop these proposals now. If we did, it would
have a bad effect.' Dalton thought that the existing proposals should be
kept but 'played down' as against other elements in the programme.
Morrison, however, replying to the debate, pointed out 'If you look
back over the programme of the Party for the last thirty years, you will
find that various things have been dropped which were in previous
statements. There is no harm in this.' As usual, the conference steered
rather carefully round the question of wages. The summary submitted
to the National Executive in June said:

It was agreed that it was probably impossible to frame a detailed

wages policy in an election statement. Some people, however, felt
that the problem should at least be discussed. On the other hand it
was stressed that we should make it clear that there is no question of
a governmental attempt to evaluate a wages structure ... The
achievement of a wages policy must be evolutionary and gradual. It
was felt that the Government should leave assessment of wages to
free collective bargaining, backed by arbitration. The Government
should hold the ring favourably to the workers. 15

In the course of the ensuing months Morrison and his colleagues on

the Policy Committee prepared a statement called Labour and the New
Society, for approval by the National Executive and by the next Party
Conference, which that year met in October. The statement as
Morrison had wished contained no specific proposals for nationalisa-
tion, but, as Bevan and Foot wished, left open the possibility of further
take-overs. Thus the cracks which had begun to appear within the
Government itself were skilfully papered over. Introducing the
statement to the Conference, Morrison outlined the circumstances in
which there would be 'a prima-facie case for consideration of public

They are: (1) as a means of controlling the basic industries and

services on which the economic life and welfare of the community
depends; (2) in order to deal with essential industries which are
inefficient and in which the private owners lack either the will or the
240 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

capacity to make improvements; and (3) as a means of dealing with

monopoly which cannot be more suitably dealt with in any other

The debate was closed by Bevan, and the only hint of disagreement
with Morrison's attitude that he gave was to say:

I deplore some of the nuances that we have heard about nationalisa-

tion. Of course things are not all right. Who expected they would be?
There is no immaculate conception of socialism. I do not want to use
obstetrical analogies, but human institutions are born with even
more difficulty than the human family itself, and we are the
accoucheurs of a new society. 17

* * * *
Bevan would probably not have regarded Robert Schuman, the
Foreign Minister of France, as the 'accoucheur of a new society', and
certainly Attlee and Bevin did not. But it was just at this juncture that
the French Government was taking the initiative in European
economic co-operation by proposing a plan for an international
authority to control West European Coal and Steel. The proposal,
announced without notice to Britain on 9 May 1950, was called the
Schuman Plan, but it was largely the work of Jean Monnet, France's
leading economist. 18 The idea was really to persuade the Germans to
agree to permanent economic collaboration, so as to ensure that the
threat of resurgent German militarism would be contained, and coal
from the Ruhr would continue to be available for the French
steelworks. Acheson, the United States Secretary of State, who
happened to be in Paris on 8 May, heard about the plan before Bevin
did, but he had not helped to shape it. Indeed, this small degree of
foreknowledge embarrassed him two days later when he moved to
London, because Bevin promptly accused him of joining in a
conspiracy against Britain. 19
Nevertheless, there was a great deal to be said in favour of the
proposals, vague as they were to begin with. What the British
Government did not like to accept was the principle of a 'supra-
national authority', which the French made a pre-condition for
participating in the negotiations. On 28 May Kenneth Younger, the
Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who had to act for Bevin during
the latter's illness, told Massigli, the French Ambassador, that Britain,
though willing to discuss the proposals, could not accept a prior
On the Defensive, 1950-1 241

commitment to a loss of sovereignty. 20 Schuman imposed a deadline

for a final decision by governments on 2 June- the Germans having
already agreed to join. When the Cabinet met, Attlee and Cripps were
away, Morrison was in the chair, and only a rump of the Cabinet
attended, the date being the Whitsun holiday. 21 Morrison is reported
to have said, 'It's no good, we cannot do it, the Durham Miners won't
wear it.' 22 But Bevin had had plenty of time to indicate his views and
Attlee, who lunched with Massigli five days later, told him 'it was quite
impossible for us to sign a blank cheque' .23 Attlee told the House of
Commons on 13 June that the French Government's view was that
'Governments should accept at the outset the principles of the pooling
of resources and of a high authority whose decisions would be binding
on Governments.' So therefore, 'to their great regret', he and his
colleagues felt bound to reject the French proposals. 24
But the Cabinet wished to express sympathy with the French plan, if
only to indicate their readiness to support the concept of European
co-operation. From this point of view it was unfortunate that on that
very day the Labour Party National Executive published a pamphlet
entitled European Unity, which Bevin had encouraged the Interna-
tional Department at Transport House to prepare in order to indicate
the general lines on which he was thinking. 25 The pamphlet stated that

The European people do not want a supra-national authority to

impose agreements. They need an international machinery to carry
out agreements which are reached without compulsion.

and also:

No Socialist . . . Government in Europe could submit to the

authority of a body whose policies were decided by an anti-Socialist
majority. 26

Pressed to defend the publication of the pamphlet just as the Schuman

Plan was being discussed, Attlee himself conceded that it was
'unfortunate' in its timing. 27 He did not, however, disavow its contents.
The Opposition naturally made a good deal of this in a debate on the
Schuman Plan which was held two weeks later. 28
In July John Strachey, now Minister of War, was taken to task by the
Opposition for a speech at Colchester in which he appeared to use the
term 'plot' to describe the Schuman Plan. The Conservative spokes-
man, Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, who had made a considerable name for
242 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

himself as prosecuting counsel at the Nuremberg war criminal trials,

quoted Strachey as having said

Is it not perfectly obvious that the real purpose was precisely to put a
barrier against the control of the basic industries of Europe by the
European people? 29

Strachey maintained that he had used the word 'plot', not of the
Schuman Plan, but of the Opposition attack on the Government over
it, and Attlee stepped in to defend him, although conceding that 'I told
him frankly that I thought he had made mistakes in this speech.' 30
It was true enough that the Opposition were using this issue as an
opportunity to attack the Government, and it is very doubtful indeed if
their own attitude to the Schuman Plan would have been any more
positive, if they had been in power. But it was, of course, an important
turning-point in post-war history. The six nations which formed the
Coal and Steel Community later on became the foundation members
of the European Economic Community or Common Market, to which
Britain was not able to adhere until 1973, on far less favourable terms
than would have been possible if she had entered at the outset.

* * * *
At dawn on 24 June 1950 (Far Eastern Time) troops of the
Communist satellite state of North Korea, armed with modern Russian
weaponry, attacked in force across the 38th Parallel, which was the
boundary between North and South agreed in 1945 for the purposes
of, respectively, Russian and American occupation. The intention at
the end of the war had been that Korea, previously occupied by the
Japanese, should become a united independent state, but, as in
Germany, rival regimes were established in the two occupied areas.
The difference was that the rival occupation forces had been with-
drawn in 1948 and 1949, and early in 1950 Dean Acheson, the
American Secretary of State, had declared that Korea was beyond the
essential defensive perimeter of the United States. Nevertheless on
American initiative the Security Council of the United Nations was
called into session on the 25th and it at once called on the North
Koreans to cease hostilities and withdraw. 31 Next day President
Truman sent American forces to the aid of South Korea, and on the
27th the Security Council passed a resolution put forward by the
United States calling upon all members of the United Nations to do
likewise. This resolution was not subject to a Russian veto because the
On the Defensive, 1950-1 243

Soviet representative had withdrawn from the Security Council in

January in protest at the failure of the Council to recognise the new
Communist Government of China. 32 Truman authorised the despatch
of two American divisions to the aid of the South Korean forces, and
on 7 July General Douglas MacArthur, the American Commander in
the Far East, was formally named as the United Nations Commander.
Nevertheless his troops were forced south until they occupied only a
limited beach-head in the area of the port of Pusan. The British Chiefs
of Staff learned, and reported to the Cabinet, that the American
'anti-tank weapons made little or no impression on the heavy Russian
tanks with which the North Koreans were operating' .33
The British Cabinet at once agreed to support the American
resolution of 27 June urging all members of the UN to help assist the
South Koreans, but Bevin did not like the reference in the resolution to
'Communist threats in other parts of Asia which had not yet been
brought before the Security Council' .34 This was because the Ameri-
cans had already decided to send warships to protect Formosa, to
which island the Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek had
retired after his defeat on the mainland; whereas Britain had
recognised the Chinese Communist regime. British naval forces in the
Far East were placed under MacArthur's orders, but in view of existing
commitments elsewhere, both in Europe and in other parts of the Far
East - Hong Kong and Malaya - the Defence Committee at first
decided against contributing any ground or air forces to Korea. 35 In
late July, however, as the pressure grew in South Korea owing to the
unexpected strength of the enemy forces, the Prime Minister accepted
that there were 'strong psychological reasons' for sending some troops
to join the United Nations Force. General Sir William Slim, who was
now Chief of the Imperial General Staff, said that it was the view of the
Chiefs of Staff that 'it would be wrong to send less than a Brigade
Group. Nothing less would achieve the political object.' He thought
that the force should not be drawn from Hong Kong or Malaya but
direct from Britain. It would take about two months to arrive. 36
The Cabinet agreed to this on 25 July. 37 The readiness of the British
Government to react positively to the United Nations call was in part a
mark of respect for the United Nations and a desire not to betray the
cause of collective security, as Attlee and other Labour leaders
believed it had been betrayed in Manchuria and in Abyssinia in the
1930s; and in part a recognition of the alliance with the United States,
which was embodied in the North Atlantic Treaty. Shinwell, the
Minister of Defence, announced the preparation of the force in the
244 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

Defence debate in the Commons next day (26 July), and he also said
that an extra 100 million would be spent, mostly on improving
Britain's fighter defences. 38 Churchill, while approving the despatch of
troops to Korea, said that he remained concerned about the prepara-
tions for defence in Europe; he called for a Secret Session of the
Commons. This proposal was resisted by Attlee and defeated by only
one vote. 39
Meanwhile the battle had not been going at all well for the United
Nations forces in Korea, and in mid-August General Omar Bradley,
the Chairman of the American Chiefs of Staff, told the British Ministry
of Defence that' A platoon now would be worth more than a company
tomorrow.' 40 So it was decided after all to divert two battalions from
Hong Kong. These troops began to arrive at Pusan on 29 August, and
early in September, with the addition of an Australian battalion, they
were constituted as the 27th Commonwealth Brigade. 41 It was still
planned that the two battalions from Hong Kong should return there
as soon as the Brigade Group from Britain arrived on the scene; in the
event, however, they stayed in action. On 15 September MacArthur
had been sufficiently reinforced to attempt an amphibious operation
on the west coast of Korea, far behind the enemy line, at Inchon, which
was only a few miles from the Korean capital, Seoul. The landing was a
great success and the enemy were soon in full retreat across the 38th

* * * *
The aggression in Korea had caused something of a panic in western
Europe, for virtually nothing had yet been done to prepare for any
similar outbreak of hostilities in Germany, where an analogous
division of authority between East and West also existed, and where
also the Eastern Zone had begun to build up a militia of some strength.
The American Government had passed a Mutual Security Act in 1949,
which promised aid for the reconstruction of the armies of the western
European Powers, provided that they themselves contributed to the
joint effort. On 1 August the British Cabinet discussed a proposal to
spend the equivalent of 3400 million over a three year period on
defence: this implied an extra1100 million, of which it was hoped that
the Americans would provide 550 million. Bevan protested about the
burden that the programme and its counterpart in other countries
would involve, and in Britain's case he regarded it as a threat to the
social services. But the Cabinet accepted the scheme and it was
announced two days later. 42 At a later meeting of the Cabinet (11
On the Defensive, 1950-1 245

August) it was agreed that in order to increase the strength of the army
both at home and in Germany, it was necessary to lengthen the period
of service of conscripts from eighteen months to two years, and
substantially to improve service pay, so as to bring in more volunteer
regulars. 43 It was announced that Parliament would be recalled on 12
September to pass a bill for the extension of national service. 44
There was no difficulty for the Government in securing Parliamen-
tary approval of its measures for the strengthening of Britain's
defences, as the Conservative Opposition had no intention of making a
party issue out of the measures. What began to worry MPs on both
sides of the House was the danger of MacArthur becoming involved in
a war with the new Government of China, which seemed increasingly
likely as he sent his troops north of the 38th Parallel and hence towards
the Chinese border in the hope of completing the unification of the
entire country. In late October Chinese troops described as 'volun-
teers' began to cross the Yalu River to go to the assistance of the North
Koreans, and MacArthur launched bombing raids against the bridges
on the river in the hope of halting them. 45 In late November he also
sent his troops still further forward into North Korea in an offensive
designed, as he put it, to 'end the war'. 46 This offensive was a complete
failure and left the United Nations forces widely scattered and in a
position to be severely harried by the Chinese, who had now appeared
in considerable strength. Most of the UN troops were forced below the
38th Parallel again; others had to be rescued by sea from the east coast.
On 30 November, when the weight of the Chinese intervention
became known in Washington, President Truman, under questioning
at a press conference, declared that the use of the atomic bomb was
under 'active consideration' .47 Later that day he modified his state-
ment, but the observation had shocked the Commons in Westminster
on the second day of a foreign affairs debate. Attlee, who had been
pondering for some months the desirability of paying a visit to
President Truman, but who had been dissuaded by Acheson and
Franks on the grounds that it might draw attention to the relatively
small size of the British contribution to the Far Eastern war, now at
once got in touch with the President to ask to pay a visit. 48 After talks in
London with French ministers (on a visit arranged before this
emergency) he arrived in Washington on 4 December, accompanied
by (among others) Sir William Slim, the Chief of the Imperial General
Staff, but not by Bevin, who was not fit enough to fly. Truman satisfied
Attlee that he was not contemplating a resort to the use of the atomic
bomb, but for constitutional reasons he could give no formal guaran-
246 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

tee. Attlee emphasised the British- and French- view that the arena
of decisive importance for the next few years was Europe and not the
Far East. He also discussed the growing shortage of raw materials for
rearmament. 49
Early in the new year the United Nations troops were forced to
withdraw south from Seoul again, and to establish a line about seventy
miles south of the 38th Parallel. MacArthur, who seemed bankrupt of
ideas, proposed either an all-out war on China or a withdrawal from
the entire peninsula. Nevertheless, his army commander, General
Matthew Ridgway, showed that it was possible to fight back within
Korea; his troops moved forward in February and March and by April
again straddled the 38th Parallel. Early in April, to the satisfaction of
America's European allies, Truman decided to relieve MacArthur of
his commands, and Ridgway took his place. Later that month the
Chinese returned to the offensive, and the British 29th Brigade -
which had been sent direct from home and had now been in Korea for
some months- was heavily engaged, with troops of the 1st Battalion,
the Gloucestershire Regiment, suffering over a thousand casualties. 50
The battle see-sawed to and fro, and Ridgway secured a line close to
the 38th Parallel once more. Congressional hearings on the conduct of
the war were held in Washington: MacArthur again advocated his
proposal to carry the war against the Chinese mainland, but General
Bradley, for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that 'this strategy would
involve us in the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and
with the wrong enemy' .51 Early in June 1951 truce negotiations began;
they were to drag on for two whole years.

* * * *
Meanwhile the complexion of British politics was changing, partly
under the impact of the Korean War. The world-wide demand for raw
materials substantially increased, largely owing to the rearmament
drive in the United States and elsewhere. This, combined with the end
of the Cripps era of 'wage restraint' in 1950, caused a rapid inflation of
a character to which Britain was not accustomed. The index of retail
prices jumped by 10 per cent in 1951, compared with 1950, and by
1952 it had increased by another 9 per cent. Weekly earnings kept
pace, but only at the cost of overtime working. 5 2 By January 1951 43
per cent of respondents in a Gallup Poll declared that the most urgent
problem facing them was the cost of living and high prices. Almost
certainly as a direct consequence, the popularity of the Government
waned: by January 1951 the Conservative lead in the poll of voting
On the Defensive, 1950-1 247

intentions was 13 per cent. 53 Conscious of this, Conservative MPs

determined to bring the Government down by wearing out its
supporters in the Commons. As Robert Boothby put it in a speech on
13 March:

We shall harry the life out of them ... We shall make them sit up day
and night, and grind away until they get absolutely hysterical, and
say 'We can't stand it any more.' 54

The method that the Conservatives used for some time was to move
Prayers to annul statutory orders, which were taken at the end of other
business in the House. The result was to keep the House sitting until
the small hours or later, sometimes causing the cancellation of the next
day's business. On the night of 8 March, for example, there were seven
Prayers, and the House only finally adjourned at 6 a.m. next
morning. 5 5 A proposal by some Labour Members that the solution was
to cut off all alcoholic refreshment for Members on 'Prayer days' did
not find acceptance. Harold Wilson sought a way of forcing the
Opposition to come to terms by breaking off discussions with
manufacturers and traders who wished to increase their prices,
because this involved further orders against which Prayers might have
been moved. There was, in fact, a simpler solution which the Labour
whips soon adopted- namely, to move the adjournment of the House
and thus to use the Government majority to bring discussion to a
The older members of the Government Front Bench were in any
case in poor health. In October 1950 Stafford Cripps was forced to
resign from his post as Chancellor, having been told by his doctors that
he needed to rest for a year. Both he and Dalton favoured the
appointment of Hugh Gaitskell as his successor, even though the latter
had only entered Parliament in 1945 and had no high standing in the
labour movement. Dalton, in conversation with him in September, had
pointed out this weakness to him:

I speak of curious situation on National Executive. Many rising

Ministers, including HG, have no Public Face at Annual Confer-
ence. He agrees that he should do something about this, but can't
this year. 56

Gaitskell was duly appointed but it caused some ill-feeling among his
colleagues, including both Bevan and Wilson. Bevan told Attlee to his
248 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

face that 'these key positions should go to people who have some
standing in the Movement' .57
Bevan's comment was probably made when he saw the Prime
Minister in January, to discuss moving from the Ministry of Health, as
Attlee wished, to some other post. There is no reason to suppose that
he had hoped to be Chancellor, but he would have liked to be Colonial
Secretary. But Attlee wanted to move him to a Ministry where he
would not be able to spend any money, and after a struggle he
persuaded him to take on the Ministry of Labour. Isaacs, who had
served in that office since 1945, now moved downwards to the post of
Minister of Pensions, and Hilary Marquand, sometime Professor of
Industrial Relations at Cardiff, and according to Dalton 'the dullest
dog of them all', became Minister of Health outside the Cabinet. 58
Dalton became Minister of Local Government and Planning, thus
taking over from the Ministry of Health all its functions except the
management of the Health Service.
Bevin was also becoming more poorly, and early in 19 51 it became
apparent that he could not carry on as Foreign Secretary. Attlee
relieved him at long last on 10 March -which happened to be his
seventieth birthday - and transferred him to the less onerous post of
Lord Privy Seal, where he could continue to give advice to the Cabinet.
Since Morrison aspired to succeed Attlee himself in due course as
Prime Minister, Attlee felt obliged to offer him the post of Foreign
Secretary, and he accepted, although Dalton, who no longer wanted it
for himself, felt that Morrison's inexperience of foreign affairs would
be a serious disadvantage. 59 Morrison's post as Lord President now
went to Lord Addison, but those of Morrison's functions which were
necessarily associated with the House of Commons- in particular, the
Leadership - had to be transferred elsewhere, and Chuter Ede, the
Home Secretary, took them on. 60 Attlee's own health was normally
good, but in 1948 he had three weeks in hospital suffering from
eczema, and a duodenal ulcer was diagnosed. At Easter 1951 his ulcer
recurred, and he again retired to hospital for some weeks. 61
It was while Attlee was in hospital that the Cabinet faced its gravest
internal crisis- over the 1951 Budget. Gaitskell had to find the money
for a still further expanded rearmament programme - the total was
now envisaged at 4 700 million in three years - and apart from
increasing taxation, he naturally wanted to restrict social expenditure.
He proposed to require patients in the National Health Service to pay
for half the cost of dentures and spectacles. This relatively limited
infringement of the principle of a free service was expected to raise 25
On the Defensive, 1950-1 249

million in a full year, but only 13 million in 1951-2. But Bevan, who
although no longer Minister of Health regarded the preservation of the
National Health Scheme in its original completeness as his special
responsibility, protested vigorously, and even pre-empted the Budget
in reply to a heckler at a meeting at Bermondsey on 3 April by saying
that he could not remain in 'a Government which imposes charges on
the patient' .62 When in the customary fashion Gaitskell reported his
Budget proposals in full to the Cabinet on 9 April, the day before he
was due to present them to the Commons, Bevan and Harold Wilson
both opposed the Health charges, and so did George Tomlinson- the
latter more for the sake of Cabinet unity than because of deep
conviction one way or the other. 63 The Cabinet adjourned its
discussion until the evening and in the meantime Morrison, who had
been in the chair, went to see Attlee in hospital to discuss the matter
with him. Attlee gave Gaitskell his backing in a message which
Morrison conveyed to the adjourned meeting in the evening, and, on a
vote, the Cabinet did likewise. 64
Next morning (Budget day, 10 April), Gaitskell went to see Attlee
in hospital and found him willing to compromise with Bevan by
postponing the date of application of the charges. But Gaitskell
refused to give way and offered his resignation, whereupon the Prime
Minister rallied to his support and said 'I am afraid they'll have to go.' 65
When the Commons met in the afternoon, Gaitskell spoke for 133
minutes. Apart from announcing the Health charges, he put income
tax up by 6d. in the pound, increased the profits tax and purchase tax
and raised the duty on petrol. He compensated pensioners, however,
with an increase to allow for the higher cost of living. 66 The only
criticism from the Labour benches was a call of 'Shame!' from Jennie
Lee, Bevan's wife who was at this time a back-bencher, at the moment
when Gaitskell announced the Health charges.
There were no immediate resignations, for the charges required a
separate bill which could not be introduced for some days, and Bevan
and Wilson responded to appeals to stay in the Cabinet while further
attempts at compromise were made. These now centred on the
question of whether or not the charges should be made permanent.
Gaitskell in fact accepted a proposal that the bill should say that they
were to be temporary only, and after an initial period renewable only
by annual affirmative resolution. 67 But the split was widened by the
left-wing journal Tribune, which attacked him as a latter-day Philip
Snowden, thus equating him with the 'traitors' of 1931.68 The Cabinet
decided to take the National Health Service Bill in the Commons on 24
250 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

April, and on 21 April Bevan wrote to Attlee to resign. His letter, as

Attlee observed, 'extended the area of disagreement a long way
beyond the specific matter to which as I understood you had taken
objection'. This was because Bevan had argued that 'the scale of
military expenditure in the coming year' would be 'physically unat-
tainable'- a point which he may have drawn from Harold Wilson, who
realised that raw materials were running short. 69 Wilson's own
resignation came on the 23rd, and he was followed by John Freeman,
who was Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Supply. On the
morning of the 24th the Parliamentary Labour Party met to discuss its
differences: and Bevan made so intemperate a speech as to alienate
many potential supporters. Chuter Ede, winding up, compared him
with Oswald Mosley. 70 The National Health Service Bill was intro-
duced and quickly passed without opposition from the Conservatives,
but on the vital clause there were five Government opponents and
twenty abstentions- apparently the limit of Bevan's support within the
Parliamentary Party. 71
Ernest Bevin died four days after the presentation of the Budget,
and with the three resignations as well, Attlee had to make a fresh
reorganisation of his Government. Dalton said of Bevin's death in a
letter to Attlee 'It is as though a great and familiar landmark is gone
from the skyline', and he then went on in his usual fashion to make
recommendations about appointments: in particular, he wanted to see
a young trade unionist in the Cabinet. 'The best all-rounder, in my
view, is Robens ... 'It would be simplest, thought Dalton, to make him
Lord Privy Seal, pending the availability of 'a suitable Dept' .72 Attlee
did bring Alfred Robens into the Cabinet and gave him a Department
at once, the Ministry of Labour, where Bevan had served a brief term.
He also promoted Sir Hartley Shawcross, the Attorney-General, to the
Cabinet to be President of the Board of Trade in Wilson's place. As for
the post of Lord Privy Seal, he decided to bring in from the Ministry of
Works Richard Stokes, a business man with experience of engineering,
who was to take responsibility for a new Ministry of Materials. 73

* * * *
It was Morrison's misfortune, as a tyro in foreign affairs, to take over at
a time when a major international crisis for Britain alone was erupting.
As his biographers point out, his first two months in the new office
were much taken up with the Budget dispute, over which in its latter
stages - because of the Prime Minister's illness - he had to preside.
Furthermore, early in April he learnt that his wife had an incurable
On the Defensive, 1950-1 251

stomach cancer. 74 At the beginning of May he made a point of being

present at the opening of the Festival of Britain in London, rather than
at the meeting of Ministers of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg.
The Festival, which marked the centenary of the Great Exhibition of
1851, and which, like its predecessor, was intended to illustrate the
best of British achievement in art and design, was an event Morrison
had been planning for years. Besides the pavilions of exhibits on the
South Bank of the Thames, which were only temporary, and the
Festival Gardens, adjoining a funfair in Battersea, there was a new
permanent concert hall, the Festival Hall, which held its first perfor-
mance in the presence of the King and Queen on 3 May. 75
Meanwhile on 30 April the Iranian Parliament had passed a
measure asserting their intention to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil
Company, and to take over the running of its refinery at Abadan. This
was a dangerous precedent for British interests elsewhere in the
Middle East, and it threatened to cut off the country's one major
non-dollar source of oil. Morrison after discussion with the Prime
Minister and the Cabinet warned the Iranians not to take action by
force, and submitted the case to the International Court of Justice at
The Hague. 76 He also offered to send a mission to Teheran to negotiate
a new agreement. But the Iranians rejected any compromise about
compensation, and the Chiefs of Staff prepared a plan (Operation
MIDGET) for the seizure of Abadan Island and its refinery. 77
The American State Department was alarmed that hostilities might
break out between Britain and Iran, from which it thought only the
Soviet Union could benefit, and President Truman sent Attlee a

I am sure you can understand my deep concern that no action should

be taken ... which might result in disagreement between Iran and
the free world. 78

The attitude of the two powers vis-a-vis Iran was thus the reverse of
their attitude to China. The issue was debated in the Commons on 20
and 21 June, and Morrison promised military intervention if British
lives were in danger. 79 He also kept open the option of intervention to
secure the refinery itself on Abadan Island, and this issue was
discussed at a Cabinet meeting on 2 July. Dalton described Morrison
as 'very petulant. Quite a little Pam! Britain must stand up for herself.
We were too "United-Nations-y" .' Later Dalton spoke privately to
Attlee and said:
252 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

HM mustn't try to compensate himself for having been a CO

[conscientious objector] in WW I and against arms before WW 11.80

Later in the month Truman sent Harriman, his ubiquitous 'trouble-

shooter', to Teheran, and Harriman thought that he had persuaded the
Iranians to negotiate with Britain on the understanding that at least the
principle of nationalisation was accepted. 81 Attlee therefore sent out
Stokes, the Lord Privy Seal, to endeavour to come to some agreement
whereby British management of the refinery and the oilfield would
continue, but Stokes's efforts broke down when Dr Mossadeq, the
Iranian Prime Minister, refused to yield. 82 Stokes was in fact rather
impressed by the Iranian case: as he showed in a letter to Attlee in
mid-September, he felt that the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was being
unreasonable. 83 Matters were undecided when, on 19 September,
Attlee announced that another general election would be held on 25
October. On 3 October the last Anglo-Iranian Oil Company techni-
cians were withdrawn from Abadan, and the refinery was out of action
until the Mossadeq regime fell in 1953, and an agreement to restore
the Company's staff proved possible.

* * * *
The Foreign Office suffered much discredit owing to the revelation
that two of its officers had been engaged in espionage for the Soviet
Union. This only became apparent early in June, when it was revealed
that on 25 May Donald Maclean, who had been First Secretary at the
Washington Embassy and privy to many of the secret negotiations
there, together with Guy Burgess, formerly Hector McNeil's Private
Secretary, had fled to avoid questioning by the Office's Security
Branch. 84
The Americans had long felt that the British Government was lax in
its treatment of security. But after the conviction of Dr Alan Nunn
May, the British atomic scientist, in 1946, a special Cabinet Commit-
tee on Subversive Activities was set up under Attlee's chairmanship. In
mid-March 1948 Attlee told the Commons that a procedure would be
introduced to remove Communists of Fascists from sensitive posts in
the Civil Service. If possible, the Civil Servants concerned would be
found alternative work; only in the last resort would they lose their
jobs, as in any case there was a right of appeal to an advisory board. But
by January 1949, as Attlee revealed in answer to a question in the
House, the number of cases where action had been taken was tiny. 85
Early in 1950 the Government received a further jolt with the
On the Defensive, 1950-1 253

discovery that Klaus Fuchs, a German-born refugee from Nazism who

was a member of the British team of scientists working on the atomic
bomb first in America and then in Britain, had been supplying
information to the Soviet Union. He was arrested and sentenced to
fourteen years imprisonment. This revelation, which was highly
damaging to the prospects of Anglo-American collaboration in the
atomic field, led to a further tightening of security, which was now to be
more thorough for key posts. This meant that the Government, as
Norman Brook told the Prime Minister in November 1950,

having first made sure that the Security Service has no adverse
record of the candidate, should itself make a conscious effort to
confirm his reliability. 86

Within the Civil Service this was called 'positive vetting', as against the
'negative' procedure previously followed.
It was, however, the American Central Intelligence Agency which
discovered that Maclean was the source of the leakage of information
to the Soviet Consulate in New York; and this was confirmed by
British cryptoanalysts in 1950.87 He was placed under a degree of
surveillance, but for various reasons the Americans were in no hurry to
take action against him. By May 1951 both men were in London; and
on 23 or 24 May Kim Philby, another spy who was the British
intelligence contact with the CIA in Washington, warned Maclean,
through Burgess, that he must escape at once, as he was shortly to be
interrogated.88 At the last minute Burgess decided to accompany
Maclean, and the two men went to Paris and then across to the East via
Czechoslovakia. The news of their sudden departure became public on
7 June, and caused an immediate outcry. Phil by came under suspicion;
he was interrogated, but did not break down; and he suffered at the
time only to the extent of being asked to resign from the Foreign
Service, which he did in July 1951.
There is no doubt that the Labour Government was lax on security
matters. It contained in its own ranks many ex-Communists or former
fellow-travellers, such as John Strachey, who was actually Secretary of
State for War in 1950--1. Morrison had always been vigilant against
Communists in the London Labour Party; he was not, however,
equally alert when it came to espionage. But he was no more to blame
than any other member of the Cabinet; and Attlee himself, who had
the greatest responsibility, was somewhat complacent about the
dangers, being a strong opponent of anything like the American
254 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

'witch-hunt' associated with Senator Joseph McCarthy. 89 In this

particular case, Morrison's behaviour was perfectly correct. 90 When he
was asked by Sir William Strang, the Permanent Under-Secretary, to
approve Maclean's interrogation, he agreed at once. This was on 25
May, but the proposed interview was not to be until the week of 18-25
June. 91 As it happened, Burgess and Maclean decided to make their
escape on the night boat to Paris on 25 May. On 7 July 19 51 Morrison
appointed a Committee of Enquiry, but it did not report until after he
and the Labour Government had left office.

* * * *
The problems that emerged in Commonwealth Relations and in
Colonial policy in the early 1950s seemed to be mostly matters of
inter-racial conflict. It became difficult for Britain to remain on close
or friendly terms with the Union of South Africa after a general
election there in 1948 had overthrown General Smuts's United Party
and allowed the formation of a Nationalist Government under Dr D.
F. Malan, committed to the policy of apartheid, or the separation of the
races: yet economic and defence ties between the two countries were
still important, and South Africa was still a member of the Common-
wealth. In November 1949. Dr Malan indicated publicly that he would
be asking the British Government to transfer to South Africa the
so-called 'trust territories' within or close to South Africa, namely,
Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland. These territories were
overwhelmingly black, and very poor.
The Bamangwato tribe in Bechuanaland was ruled by the Khama
dynasty, but while the grandson of the late Khama III was still a minor
his uncle, Tshekedi Khama, ruled in his place. But the grandson,
Seretse, came to England for his education and in September 1948
married an Englishwoman: his uncle declared that this violated 'the
laws and customs of the tribe'; and the High Commissioner, Sir Evelyn
Baring (who was also High Commissioner to South Africa) recom-
mended that Seretse should not be recognised as Chief. Nevertheless,
tribal feeling gradually came round to approval of him. A judicial
enquiry late in 1949 concluded that, although he had now been
accepted at a 'properly convened and assembled' tribal meeting, he
was 'not a fit and proper person to discharge the functions of Chief,
being 'a prohibited immigrant in the Union'. Noel-Baker, who was still
Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, agreed with this assessment:
'Recognition of Seretse would ... strengthen the position of those [in
the Union] who favoured the transfer of these territories to the Union.'
On the Defensive, 1950-1 255

He urged that Seretse should not be recognised but should be invited

back to England where 'a further attempt might be made to persuade
him to relinquish voluntarily his claim to the Chieftainship'. Creech
Jones, now nearing the end of his service as Colonial Secretary,
agreed. 92 When Seretse reached London, he could not be persuaded to
give up his claim, and on the recommendation of Gordon Walker, who
had succeeded Noel-Baker, he was forbidden to return to Bechuana-
land, and he and his wife were thereafter kept in enforced exile. His
uncle Tshekedi, who had become unpopular with the tribe, was also
banished from the Reserve, though not altogether from Bechuana-
Members of Parliament, both of the Left and of the Right, thought
that a grave injustice had been done. Churchill described it as 'a very
disreputable transaction' ,94 and the Liberal MPs put down a motion of
censure. In a White Paper issued on 22 March the Commonwealth
Relations Office denied that the Government's action was due to
pressure from South Africa or Southern Rhodesia or that 'the merits or
demerits of mixed marriages' had been taken into account. 95 The issue
continued to rankle with MPs, and after Tshekedi had visited England
in 1951, Clement Davies, the Liberal leader, moved a resolution
deploring his banishment. This became a vote of confidence: both
Churchill and Attlee spoke, and although the Government secured a
majority, several of its supporters in the lobby had previously
expressed their dissatisfaction. 96 It was only in 1956 that Seretse was
allowed to return home as a private citizen; in 1961 South Africa left
the Commonwealth; and in 1966 Seretse became the first President of
the newly independent Commonwealth state of Botswana.
Gordon Walker and Griffiths, the new Colonial Secretary, both
deplored the apartheid policy, and they hoped to keep it at bay by
strengthening the links between the three Central African territories-
the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland. The idea was that there should be a
federal government of the three (a Central African Federation as
already mooted in Noel-Baker's time) but that African interests
should be protected by a Minister appointed by the United Kingdom
Government. But Griffiths, who visited the two territories which were
the responsibility of the Colonial Office (Northern Rhodesia and
Nyasaland) in the late summer of 1951, found that African opinion
was very hostile to the proposed link-up. 97 No irrevocable decisions
had been made before the Labour Government fell; and the Federa-
tion created by the succeeding Conservative Government did not last
long. It already seemed clear to Griffiths that elsewhere in Africa the
256 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

way ahead could not lie through the federation of territories. In the
case of the Gold Coast, where a quite advanced constitution of early
1951 provided for early elections on a broad franchise, the party led by
Kwame Nkrumah, an African who was in prison at the time, won an
overwhelming victory, and by an 'act of grace' on the part of the
Governor he was released and at once became the 'Leader of
Government Business'. 98 In 1957 the Gold Coast became the inde-
pendent Commonwealth state of Ghana.
If events in Africa proved difficult for the Colonial Secretary, in
Malaya they were acutely dangerous. There a strong Chinese guerrilla
movement was fighting to win control. The British Government had no
intention of allowing this movement to succeed, although it took its toll
of troops, police and civilians alike. It was not just that Malaya was a
highly valuable dollar-earner, because of her exports of rubber and tin;
the guerrilla movement was not a national movement in the normal
sense, representing as it did only the minority of one of the several
communities in the country. At Whitsun 1950 Griffiths flew out to visit
the scene, accompanied by John Strachey, the War Minister. They met
the newly-appointed Director of Operations there, General Sir Harold
Briggs, and approved his plan for the resettlement of the numerous
Chinese 'squatters' in new villages, with enough land to provide food
and a home guard to provide protection. 99 The struggle was still
continuing when the general election in Britain took place: early in
1952 there were over 25 000 British troops on the scene, as well as
Gurkhas and contingents from Africa and from Fiji. 100

* * * *
Attlee had been thinking at least since May that an October election
would be appropriate. He explained to Morrison that he was anxious
not to make things awkward for the King, who was proposing to visit
Australia in early 1952. (In the event, owing to the King's illness and
early death, the trip was never made.) On the other hand, Attlee
pointed out that an immediate election was ruled out by 'the Festival of
Britain, Wakes Weeks and our own state of readiness and popularity'
(apparently a euphemism for 'unreadiness' and 'unpopularity'). 101 It
was not until early July that Morrison sent a note of reply suggesting a
meeting of 'a chosen few' to consider the best date. He thought the
group should consist of Attlee, himself, Gaitskell and Ede, together
with Whiteley (the Chief Whip), Morgan Phillips, and the national
agent (R. T. Windle). Morrison did not think that much attention need
be paid to the King's feelings: 'The factor you mention about Australia
On the Defensive, 1950-1 257

must be taken into a/c but for the sake of the country and the world, a
victory for Labour is of prime importance.' 102
Dalton was also urging an October election. He thought in June that
there was a chance of three or four Liberal MPs, including Megan
Lloyd George, crossing the floor of the House and joining Labour; and
that gave him some pause. But nothing came of the negotiations. 103 In
late June Gaitskell agreed with Dalton that October would be the best
time, as it was difficult to manage Parliament, with dissident Bevanites
on one side and a powerful Conservative Opposition on the other. 104
The Bevanites, who numbered some twenty-five, met regularly on
Tuesdays and in July published a statement of their own, One Way
Only: it again attacked Gaitskell's Budget and emphasised the dangers
of too intensive a rearmament programme. In September the group
published a further pamphlet, Going Our Way, which criticised
trade-union members of the National Executive for voting contrary to
the wishes of their union executives. Meanwhile Morrison, Gaitskell
and Shinwell were all in Canada for the Ottawa meeting of the Council
of the North Atlantic Treaty; they were still there when the dissolution
was announced. Attlee declared his plans at a rump meeting of the
Cabinet on 19 September, and nobody ventured any criticism. 105 But
Morrison was against an October election, and Gaitskell was also
changing his mind in the absence of any settlement either in Iran or in
Korea. 106
The Labour Party Annual Conference met as previously arranged at
Scarborough on 30 September, but its proceedings were limited to
three days to enable MPs to return to Westminster for the formal
dissolution. The election manifesto, which was published on the first
day, was drafted in the first instance by Morgan Phillips, and then
revised by a sub-committee of the National Executive including
Dalton and Bevan. 107 It opened with an extremely doubtful statement:
'Labour- proud of its record and sure in its policies- confidently asks
the electors to renew its mandate.' Its first emphasis was on the need
for peace- through 'collective defence', not by the old 'Tory' ways of
'Victorian imperialism and colonial exploitation'. It spoke of full
employment as Labour's greatest achievement, and said that the cost
of living could only be kept down by control of prices and rents and by
food subsidies. But there was still much to be done to achieve 'Social
Justice': 'Labour will press foward towards greater social equality and
the establishment of equal opportunities for all.' The manifesto
promised to continue the programme of building 200 000 houses per
year. So far as nationalisation was concerned, there were no specific
258 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

recommendations - only the general statement 'We shall take over

concerns which fail the nation.' This vague commitment satisfied all
shades of opinion within the party.
The conference was a quiet one, with all sections of the party rallying
together for the sake of the forthcoming contest. There was little
controversy as the manifesto was debated. The only obvious indication
of the dissension within the party was in the voting for the constituency
parties section of the National Executive, where Bevanite support was
organised very effectively to secure the election of Bevan himself and
two of his sympathisers, Barbara Castle and Tom Driberg, at the top of
the poll. Driberg's success disgusted some of his Parliamentary
colleagues, as he had lately been censured for failing to support his
colleagues in the lobbies owing to his absence in the Far East as a
foreign correspondent. Shinwell was defeated, but Morrison, Griffiths
and Dalton survived from the old guard, though Dalton secured fewer
votes than another Bevanite, Ian Mikardo. 108
On 4 October Parliament reassembled for prorogation, and next day
it was dissolved and the campaign began. There were many fewer
candidates than in 1950, because the Liberal total was cut from 475 to
109, and the Communists put up only 10 instead of 100. 109 This time,
too, there were very few 'Independents' in the whole of Britain: such
candidates had learnt their lesson from the 'massacre' of 1950. The
election was thus more than ever a struggle between the two major
parties. The Conservatives could capitalise on many existing discon-
tents- inflation and the housing shortage in particular. As we have
seen, the Conservative Party Conference in 1950 had insisted on the
party adopting a programme of 300 000 houses per annum, and the
leadership accepted this as an item in its manifesto.
For the first time in a general election there were television
broadcasts, but the party leaders did not know how to make use of the
medium, which in any case only reached a minority audience. So for
Attlee and Churchill it was the old familiar type of campaign, and
Attlee made another tour in his pre-war car, driven as before by
Mrs Attlee, and speaking, in all, at seventy meetings. Although he again
criticised Churchill's right to claim to be non-partisan, he largely relied
upon the record of the Labour Government to supply the points of his
speeches. Morrison, on the other hand, right from the Party Confer-
ence onwards attacked the Conservatives for wanting war over the
Iranian crisis. In view of his own personal inclination to use force- not,
of course, known to the public at this time- there was a certain irony in
this: but the charge of 'warmongering' remained an important element
On the Defensive, 1950-1 259

in the campaign throughout and may have been a factor in Labour's

steady growth of support in the country during late September and
early October. On election day the Daily Mirror, which was backing
Labour, appeared with a large picture of a revolver on its front page,
and the question 'Whose Finger?' In the Gallup polls, the Conserva-
tives had a lead of 8 per cent at the end of September, but it was eroded
to 2! per cent on the day before the vote. In fact, the final result showed
Labour 0.8 per cent ahead, with the largest total poll that any single
political party has yet secured - 13.95 million. But this lead was
dissipated in the constituencies because of the bias that had appeared
in 1950: large Labour majorities were built up and, in a sense, wasted
in mining areas. There was an overall swing to the Conservatives of 1.5
per cent, and they emerged from the contest with 321 MPs (including
nine Ulster Unionists), while Labour returned with only 295. There
were only six Liberals in the new House, and three other Members
representing Northern Ireland seats- two Anti-Partitionists and one
Irish Labour.
On the early evening of the day after the poll, as soon as he knew that
the Conservatives had secured an overall majority, Attlee went to
Buckingham Palace to offer his resignation. A few minutes later
Churchill was summoned by the King and was asked to form a
Government. It was almost exactly six years and three months since he
had last held office.
13 Conclusion
The Labour Government of 1945 took upon itself a very mixed legacy
from Churchill's Coalition and Caretaker Governments. On the one
hand it inherited complete victory in the Second World War, or as
Churchill put it, 'all our enemies having surrendered unconditionally
or being about to do so, I was instantly dismissed by the British
electorate' .1 But the effort of achieving that victory had been, for
Britain, one that deprived her not only of manpower (fortunately
much less so than in the First World War) but also of material
possession in the form of damage to the housing stock, loss of shipping
and above all exhaustion of financial resources and disruption of
trading links. The Sterling Area had been almost drained of reserves
by the end of 1940, when Lend-Lease began; and, to the mortification
of the new Labour Government, Lend-Lease was abruptly terminated
one month after the end of the war against Japan. Attlee's administra-
tion faced the task of maintaining the occupation of a large part of
Germany and Austria as well as much of the Middle East, and also of
re-possessing from the Japanese a substantial portion of the Far East,
at a time when members of the armed forces were clamouring for early
release and a return to their homes. It was humiliating to have to ask
the United States Government and Congress for a dollar loan to see
Britain through the early stages of reconstruction; still more to have
the request whittled down and to be forced to agree to terms which
involved the premature return to convertibility of the pound.
That the new Government should at the same time have inaugurated
a vast programme of social betterment was due to the competitive
character of the electoral system. It had been Churchill's view that
Britain could not easily afford the improvements advocated by
Beveridge in his Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services.
'Ministers' minuted Churchill, 'should be careful not to raise false
hopes, as was done last time, by speeches about "homes for heroes",
etc.' 2 In effect, however, this was what the Parliamentary Labour Party
did, more in response to Beveridge than as the result of any

262 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

long-standing commitment. Dr Jose Harris has lately shown that G. D.

H. Cole's Survey of popular attitudes to welfare in 1942, undertaken at
Beveridge's request, revealed on the one hand very widespread
dissatisfaction with the existing patchwork of social provision, but on
the other hand a high degree of 'ignorance and apathy' at the local
leveJ.3 Perhaps this was in part because the Labour Party had never
worked out a policy on the subject: the advances made between 1945
and 1948 owed little to Labour's Immediate Programme of 1937;
Beveridge himself was a Liberal, who had the misfortune to be beaten
in an attempt to secure election to Parliament as such in 1945, and had
to see many of his ideas put into effect by others. Yet it would be
difficult to gainsay the enormous benefit to the population at large of
the new National Insurance system, and also the National Health
Service, with its universal coverage for treatment both by general
practitioners and by hospitals. The nationalisation of the hospitals, as
we have seen, was the sudden inspiration of an energetic Minister on
the advice of his civil servants; it had had no place in the Party
manifesto and was agreed only after sharp disagreements in the
The most important features of the manifesto that were enacted
were the measures of industrial nationalisation, and it was here that
Morrison had shown his skill in the presentation of the measures on the
grounds of their likely contribution to the betterment of the workers'
lot, to increased efficiency and to improved co-ordination. The
industries to be taken over were the basic utilities of fuel, power and
transport; and the only industry outside this category was Iron and
Steel, the public ownership of which was imposed upon the Labour
leadership, against their will, by a Conference resolution of 1944.
Morrison's concept of the public corporation, independent of detailed
control by Government or Parliament, was put into operation in
successive measures of nationalisation. The idea was a sound one; it
owed much to Morrison's experience with London Transport between
1929 and 1931; but on the national level it raised hopes which could
not be satisfied in the short run.
To be sure, the workers in the industries concerned secured to
varying degrees considerably improved conditions and reduced hours
of work: miners' earnings, for instance, by mid-1952 had risen by half
as much again as those of workers in manufacturing industry; but
railway workers, whose industry was nationalised just as Cripps was
inaugurating an era of 'wage restraint', benefited less than the average
worker. 4 But both workers and managers disliked the increased
Conclusion 263

bureaucracy occasioned by national control of their enterprises. As a

report by the Acton Society Trust put it:

For the managers, nationalisation meant a loss of independence and

status which led to complaints of over-centralisation and 'remote
control'. For the men . . . in some respects, by concentrating
decisions at the centre, it made matters worse: local consultative
committees had less scope, and delays in getting complaints settled
increased. 5

Fortunately, the trade-union leaders were conscious that the Labour

Government was, in a special sense, their government; and in return
for generous treatment and consultation from the government they
were ready to do what they could to avoid trade disputes and strikes.
This accounts for the very limited number of working days lost in the
years 1946 to 1951, as compared with the equivalent period after the
First World War, 1919-24: an average of only about 1 904 000 days,
as against over 31 million days a year in the earlier period. 6 All the
same, this relative calm was bought at the cost of allowing the unions to
secure a position of increasing strength from which they could obstruct
necessary adaptation and improvement, in the interests of preventing
'redundancy'. The transformation has been well depicted in the case of
the electricity industry by its official historian, Dr Leslie Hannah:

Under Citrine's guidance men who refused [to join] were also called
in by the local manager, who explained that it was official policy for
men to join a union. A daunting set of interviews and discussions
with local, district and national officials followed if a man persisted
in refusing to join. It was a brave man who ran this gauntlet very far
... Understandably the level of unionisation increased consider-

The upshot was a growth of restrictive practices and 'abysmally low


By the mid-1950s the value added per worker in the industry was
still below the level achieved two decades earlier, despite substan-
tially increased levels of capital investment per worker. 7

It was, of course, to Morrison's credit that he realised as early as he

did that nationalisation was not the panacea that he and some of his
264 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

colleagues had hoped it would be. His demand for 'consolidation' of

existing enactments, and his opposition to the nationalisation of Iron
and Steel, were warning signs for his colleagues; but the latter were
swept onwards by their zeal for the Socialist millennium. It took the
1950 general election and the general recognition afterwards that
nationalisation had lost votes, and that the so-called 'shopping list' of
fresh candidates for the process was artificial and unconvincing, to lead
the majority of the Party's leaders to a reappraisal of the value of
public ownership as an instrument of policy. Hugh Gaitskell, who
succeeded Attlee as Leader in 1955, was already writing in 1953 that
'the earlier traditional arguments for nationalisation are ... weakened
but not destroyed' and that:

We have to weigh the gains from eliminating the wastes of

competition against the disadvantages of destroying the competitive
spirit. 8

One of Gaitskell's principal civil servants, Reuben Kelf-Cohen, who

was an Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Fuel and Power from 1946
to 1955, on his retirement wrote a careful but critical study entitled
Nationalisation in Britain: The End of a Dogma which drew together
most of the criticisms which Morrison and Gaitskell had already
reluctantly acknowledged. He pointed to the inadequacy of control by
Government and Parliament, although it was in 1957 that the
Commons at last discovered a satisfactory medium of supervision in
the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, which annually
examined a different Corporation in turn. The degree of control
already exercised by the Government became more evident upon the
enquiries of this body, and thereafter it increased because of the
Corporations' need for financial assistance: but the Government had
few civil servants capable of advising how much assistance should be
given, or alternatively, how economies might be made. 'The Govern-
ment Departments, unlike their opposite numbers in France, do not
possess the technical staff enabling them to discuss with the Boards
detailed policy. ' 9
Since the nationalised industries were simply instructed to balance
their accounts, 'taking one year with another', and since there was no
machinery for obliging them to undertake investment, they made no
contribution to effective planning of the economy. Indeed, no such
planning was undertaken, for the annual 'Economic Surveys' hardly
deserved to be dignified with such a title. During the war the Lord
Conclusion 265

President's Committee, together with the Joint War Production Staff,

could be said to have fulfilled this requirement; but the Joint War
Production Staff faded away at the end of the war, and the Lord
President's Committee under Morrison was concerned only with
minor matters of dispute between Ministers. In 194 7 Cripps, as
President of the Board of Trade, realised that something had to be
done to remedy the situation: his proposal was to make Bevin Prime
Minister, in the expectation that Bevin would be able to recognise the
dimensions of the problem. After discussion with Attlee, however, he
agreed to take on the task of economic 'supremo' himself; and after
Dalton's Budget indiscretion he was able to become Chancellor of the
Exchequer as well. The major decisions could henceforth be made in
the small Economic Policy Committee, as a sort of Executive
Committee of the Cabinet.
Even after 194 7 there was still no real planning of the economy,
except in a negative sense: that is to say, there were controls on scarce
goods (including of course dollar imports) and rationing. This
apparatus was inherited from wartime, and was for that reason more
acceptable to the nation as a whole, though as time went on the
Conservative Opposition increasingly called for greater freedom:
Churchill's manifesto in 1950 called for controls to be 'reduced to the
minimum necessary as the supply situation improves', and it was partly
to anticipate this demand that Harold Wilson undertook his successive
'bonfires' of controls in 1948 and 1949.
The weakest aspect of the Government's management of the
economy was its treatment of the trade unions. They were, of course,
its allies, and for this very reason they had to be placated, rather than
instructed. When the Government's White Paper on 'Personal
Incomes, Costs and Prices' was published in February 1948, the TUC
General Council was much offended at not being consulted in advance.
A deputation met Attlee, Cripps and other Ministers to ensure that
'wage restraint' was balanced by measures to limit prices and profits. 10
Of course the General Council recognised its obligation to assist the
Labour Government in every possible way; but it accepted the White
Paper only on the basis that 'the system of collective bargaining and
free negotiation' was retained 'unimpaired' and that existing wage
differentials were respected. 11 No wonder, therefore, that Cripps
complained a few months later that 'labour is still moving far too slowly
into the undermanned industries. The attractions of the home market
are still diminishing the pressure on manufacturers to export' .12 The
voluntary 'wage restraint' that the unions accepted in 1948 lasted only
266 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

until 1950, when the inflation caused by the Korean War caused a
large minority of organisations to break ranks.

* * * *
In the external sphere the Labour Government was even more at the
mercy of the harsh nature of the post-war world than it was at home.
Ideally, a foreign policy for such a Government would have placed
Britain as the arbiter between a Communist Russia and a capitalist
United States: but Soviet intransigence and hostility, combined with
Britain's own financial weakness, forced a reluctant Bevin and the
Labour Cabinet as a whole into dependence upon the United States.
As Gladwyn Jebb of the Foreign Office put it, in commenting upon
Crossman's Keep Left pamphlet in May 1947,

Much of what Mr Crossman says ... would have appeared sensible

two years ago, or even eighteen months ago. Indeed, all our papers
were then based on the assumption that there should in no
circumstances be any Anglo-American 'line-up' against the Soviet
Union, or indeed against Communism, until such time at any rate as
the Soviets should have made it abundantly clear that they did not
intend to co-operate with the West.

Nor, said Jebb, could Britain pursue her old 'Balance of Power' policy:

The prerequisites for such a Balance do not exist at the present time.
Nor is this solely due to Russian misbehaviour; it is also due to
British weakness. 13

Jebb's paper for Bevin was prepared only a month before Marshall's
offer of American financial assistance for a collective European
recovery programme. In the organisation of that programme, and in
the resistance to the Soviet Government's attempts to disrupt it, Bevin
played a leading role. If he was reluctant to see British sovereignty
subordinated to a federation of western Europe, he was the mainspring
of the European initiative for a North Atlantic Pact, which resulted in
the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the guarantor
of security for at least a generation. Even the authors of Keep Left
could scarce forbear to cheer: 'By committing America to the defence
of Europe, the Atlantic Pact diminishes the risk of military aggres-
sion.'14 It was the achievement of the Labour Government to secure an
exceptionally high degree of national unity for its foreign policy
decisions- culminating in participation in the Korean War in 1950.
Conclusion 267

Many Conservative leaders also recognised the necessity for the

withdrawal from India, though Churchill did not do so; and it was
largely to the credit of Attlee that the transfer of power took place with
dignity, if not without serious loss of life in communal conflict.
Thereafter the Labour leaders rejoiced in the creation of a multi-racial
Commonwealth, which was to be joined by a succession of newly-
independent Colonies, beginning with Ceylon. In the short run,
however, owing to shortage of investment capital, the Labour Gov-
ernment could do little for the colonial empire except to indicate its
willingness to see a progressive expansion of constitutional develop-
ment at the local level. The feeling of 'marking time' in the Colonies
was aggravated by Britain's call to them to restrict their dollar imports,
and to accept integration into an economic unit with western Europe. 15

* * * *
Many of the bright hopes of the Labour Government were thwarted by
external financial weakness. It is true that in some respects this helped
the causes that they had espoused: for instance, withdrawal from India
was acknowledged, not only by Labour supporters, but by many others
as well, to be essential; and certain forms of domestic rationing which
could be justified on grounds of Socialist principle were also found to
be practical necessities in the late 1940s. The slogan of 'fair shares',
which had been adopted in the difficult times during the war, and
which also appealed to Labour supporters in peace-time, retained its
force at a time of international scarcity. But the competing demands of
rearmament in the late 1940s and early 1950s interfered with the
maintenance and still more with the further development of the
Welfare State which was Labour's greatest domestic achievement.
Labour's success in securing as much of the vote as it did in the 1950
and 1951 general elections was primarily due to the maintenance of
full employment. This was quite different from what happened after
the First World War, and Labour obtained a largely fortuitous credit
for this accomplishment, for the continuing post-war boom owed much
first of all to the Marshall Plan and then to the boost given to the
Sterling Area by American stockpiling. In the 1951 general election
Labour secured the largest vote that any British party has received,
even up to the present day. When the Parliamentary Labour Party met
for the first time after that election, Attlee was elected Leader, as
Crossman tells us, 'by acclamation', and Morrison was elected as his
Deputy, again without contest. Crossman's view of the new Conserva-
tive Cabinet was that it was 'only very slightly to the right of the most
268 The Labour Governments, 1945-51

recent Attlee Cabinet'; and 'Just as Attlee was running what was
virtually a coalition policy on a Party basis so Churchill may well do the
same.' 16 It was certainly true that R. A. Butler, the new Chancellor of
the Exchequer, was forced by the continuing weakness of the economy
to follow much the same policy as Gaitskell had followed before him-
hence the term 'Butskellism' which was applied to British financial
policy in the early 1950s by the Economist. 17 But Churchill himself had
not forgotten his promise to 'set the People free'; and as soon as
circumstances allowed, as they did in the more congenial climate that
followed the death of Stalin in 19 53 and the end of the Korean War, he
secured the ending of rationing of all foodstuffs and the opening of new
opportunities for private enterprise, not only in the denationalisation
of road haulage and steel, but in commercial television as well. Yet his
Government, and those Conservative Governments that immediately
followed, managed both to maintain the Welfare State and to ensure
full employment- the most valuable legacies of the Attlee Govern-
ment to the succeeding generation.
Appendix A: List of Cabinet
Ministers, 1945-51
Prime Minister and Minister of Defence C. R. Attlee
Lord President and Leader of the Commons Herbert Morrison
Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin
Lord Privy Seal Arthur Greenwood
Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Dalton
President of the Board of Trade Sir Stafford Cripps
Lord Chancellor Lord Jowitt
First Lord of the Admiralty A. V. Alexander
Home Secretary J. Chuter Ede
Dominions Secretary and Leader of the Lords Viscount Addison
Secretary for India and Burma Lord Pethick-Lawrence
Colonial Secretary G. H. Hall
Secretary for War J. J. Lawson
Secretary for Air Viscount Stansgate
Secretary for Scotland Joseph Westwood
Minister of Labour and National Service G. A. Isaacs
Minister of Fuel and Power Emanuel Shinwell
Minister of Education Ellen Wilkinson
Minister of Health Aneurin Bevan
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Tom Williams

Changes in 1946: On 4 Oct A. V. Alexander became Minister without

Portfolio in preparation for becoming Minister of Defence when the new
legislation concerning the post had been enacted. This he was able to do on
20 Dec. But on the earlier date the three Service Ministers (Admiralty, War
and Air) were all excluded from the Cabinet. On 4 Oct A. Creech Jones
succeeded G. H. Hall as Colonial Secretary.
Changes in 1947: On the death of Ellen Wilkinson, George Tomlinson became
Minister of Education on 10 Feb. On 17 Apr Arthur Greenwood became
Minister without Portfolio and Lord Inman succeeded him as Lord Privy
Seal; Lord Pethick-Lawrence retired and was succeeded by Lord Listowel.
On 7 July the Dominions Office was renamed the Commonwealth Relations
Office. On 14 Aug the post of Secretary for India was abolished, leaving
Lord Listowel as Secretary for Burma. On 29 Sept Sir Stafford Cripps took
the new post of Minister of Economic Affairs; Harold Wilson succeeded him
as President of the Board of Trade; and Arthur Greenwood retired from the

270 Appendix A

Government. On 7 Oct Lord Inman left the Cabinet and was succeeded as
Lord Privy Seal by Viscount Addison, whose place at the Commonwealth
Relations Office was taken by Philip Noel-Baker; Arthur Woodburn
replaced Joseph Westwood as Secretary for Scotland. On 13 Nov Hugh
Dalton resigned from the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sir
Stafford Cripps was appointed in his place, thus combining it with his
existing office.
Changes in 1948: On 4 Jan Lord Listowel's post as Secretary for Burma was
abolished. On 31 May Hugh Dalton became Chancellor of the Duchy of
Lancaster, and Lord Pakenham Minister for Civil Aviation. On 2 July
Viscount Addison became Paymaster-General.

There were no further Cabinet changes before the 1950 general election.
Changes in 1950: On 28 Feb Emanuel Shinwell became Minister of Defence,
James Griffiths Colonial Secretary, Patrick Gordon Walker Secretary for
Commonwealth Relations, and A. V. Alexander (now Viscount Alexander)
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; Hugh Dalton became Minister of
Town and Country Planning. On 19 Oct Hugh Gaitskell succeeded Sir
Stafford Cripps as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Changes in 1951: On 17 Jan Aneurin Bevan became Minister of Labour and
National Service. On 31 Jan Hugh Dalton's title was changed to 'Minister of
Local Government and Planning', and he assumed some of the respon-
sibilities of the Minister of Health, the new Minister of Health no longer
being in the Cabinet. On 9 Mar Herbert Morrison became Foreign
Secretary, Ernest Bevin became Lord Privy Seal, and Viscount Addison
became Lord President. Chuter Ede became Leader of the Commons as
well as Home Secretary. On 24 Apr after the resignations of Bevan and
Wilson, Alfred Robens became Minister of Labour and National Service,
and Sir Hartley Shawcross became President of the Board of Trade. On 26
Apr, after Bevin's death, Richard Stokes became Lord Privy Seal; on 6 July
he also became Minister of Materials.

These details have been compiled from Butler and Sloman, British Political
Facts, 1900-1979, pp. 32-6.
Appendix B: List of
Unpublished Sources Cited
1. State Papers consulted at the Public Record Office, Portugal Street, later
Kew: CAB papers of the Cabinet and its sub-committees, and especially
CAB 128 (Cabinet Minutes) and CAB 129 (Cabinet Papers).
FO files of the Foreign Office
PREM Prime Minister's Papers
T Treasury papers
2. Labour Party Records consulted at the Party headquarters, Transport
House, SW1, later 150 Walworth Road, SE17:
Papers of the Chairman, 1945-6, Harold Laski
Papers of the General Secretary, Morgan Phillips
National Executive Committee Minutes (also on microfiche in Cambridge
University Library)
Minutes of the Parliamentary Labour Party (on microfilm at BLPES)
Minutes of the PLP Liaison Committee (on microfilm at BLPES)
3. Private Papers
Addison Papers, Bodleian Library, Oxford
Attlee Papers and draft autobiography, Churchill College, Cambridge
Attlee Papers, consulted at University College, Oxford, now transferred to
the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Attlee Personal Papers, by courtesy of Mr Kenneth Harris
Bevin Private Papers, FO 800/434ff, Public Record Office
Dalton, diary and letters, BLPES (Quotations by courtesy ofthe Librarian)
Sir Charles Dixon, 'Memoirs', Royal Commonwealth Society
Ede, diary, British Library
Gordon Walker Papers, Churchill College, Cambridge
Halifax, diary, Hickleton Papers, consulted at City Library, York
Creech Jones Papers, Rhodes House, Oxford
James Meade, diary, BLPES
Morrison Papers, Nuffield College, Oxford (Quotations by courtesy of Sir
Norman Chester)
Noel-Baker Papers, Churchill College, Cambridge
Pethick-Lawrence Papers, Trinity College, Cambridge
4. Unpublished Theses
J. T. Grantham, 'The Labour Party and European Unity, 1939-1951'
(PhD, Cambridge University, 1977)
J. W. Young, 'The Labour Government's Policy Towards France, 1945-51'
(PhD, Cambridge, 1983)

Appendix C: List of Special
Abbreviations used in the
BLAddMss British Library (London) Additional Manuscripts
BLPES British Library of Political and Economic Science (London)
BWC British Washington Committee (on Marshall Aid)
c.a. confidential annex (to Cabinet Minutes)
CAB Cabinet Records (at PRO)
C/E Chancellor of the Exchequer
CLC Commonwealth Liaison Committee (on Marshall Aid)
CM Cabinet Meeting
co Colonial Office
CP Cabinet Paper
CPGB Communist Party of Great Britain
CRO Commonwealth Relations Office
DO Defence and Overseas Committee (of the Cabinet)
ECA Economic Co-operation Administration (US Government)
EPC Economic Policy Committee (of the Cabinet)
ER European Recovery
ERP European Recovery Programme (that is, Marshall Aid)
FO Foreign Office
FRUS Foreign Relations of the United States (published documents)
HCDeb House of Commons Debates
HG Housing Group (of Ministers)
HLDeb House of Lords Debates
LP Lord President
LPCR Labour Party Conference Report
Min Minister
NEC National Executive Committee (of the Labour Party)
OEEC Organisation for European Economic Co-operation
PREM Prime Minister's Papers
PRO Public Record Office
RIIA Royal Institute for International Affairs
SI Socialisation of Industries Committee (of the Cabinet)
SIS Secretary of State
ss Social Services Committee (of the Cabinet)
T Treasury
TUC Trades Union Congress
w.a. written answers (to Parliamentary Questions)

Notes and References

1. See, for example, W. G. Runciman, Relative Deprivation and Social

Justice (1966); and R. T. McKenzie and A. Silver,Angels in Marble (1968).
2. J. Campbell, Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922-31 (1977).
3. C. T. Stannage, Baldwin Thwarts the Opposition (1980), p. 243.
4. For a valuable recent reassessment, see David Marquand, Ramsay
MacDonald (1977).
5. R. T. Lyman, The Labour Government of 1924 (1957).
6. For the full text, see Reginald Bassett, 1931: Political Crisis ( 1958), pp.
7. 'Jekyll and Hyde': see Labour Party Conference Report [hereinafter
8. D. E. McHenry, The Labour Party in Transition (1938), p. 42.
9. LPCR 1934, p. 14.
10. To write, therefore, as Dr Pimlott has done, that the NJC 'was never out of
step with the majority on the NEC', is, in an almost literal sense, to put the
cart before the horse. Ben Pimlott, Labour and the Left in the 1930s
(Cambridge, 1977), p. 19.
11. R. Postgate, George Lansbury (1951), p. 288.
12. Ibid, p. 291; LPCR 1934, p. 59.
13. P6stgate, George Lansbury, p. 300.
14. Manchester Guardian, 4 Sept 1935.
15. LPCR 1935, pp. 176, 178; but for Bevin's remark, I have quoted the
version that appears in Francis Williams, Nothing So Strange ( 1970), p.
16. Manchester Guardian, 2 Oct 1935.
17. The Times, 9 Oct 1935.
18. Manchester Guardian, 9 Oct 1935.
19. 305 HCDeb, 155 (23 Oct 1935).
20. Stannage, Baldwin Thwarts the Opposition, p. 120.
21. The Times, 12 Nov 1935.
22. Stannage, Baldwin Thwarts the Opposition, p. 148.
23. Ibid, p. 263.
24. B. Donoughue and G. W. Jones, Herbert Morrison (1973), p. 240.
25. Francis Williams, Nothing So Strange, p. 135.
26. LPCR 1935, p. 158.
27. LPCR 1934, p. 58.

274 Notes and References to pages 8-20

28. On the Socialist League and the Left Book Club seeP. Seyd, 'Factional-
ism within the Labour Party: The Socialist League, 1932-7', in A. Briggs
and J. Saville, Essays in Labour History, vol. 3 (1977); S. Samuels, 'The
Left Book Club', Journal of Contemporary History, 1 (1966).
29. LPCR 1937, p. 181.
30. On these two by-elections, see lain McLean, 'Oxford and Bridgwater', in
C. Cook and J. Ramsden, By-Elections in British Politics (1973).
31. R. Miliband, Parliamentary Socialism ( 1961 ), p. 230.
32. Pimlott, Labour and The Left in the 1930s, p. 194.
33. The first major publication in which they collaborated was G. E. G. Catlin
(ed.) New Trends in Socialism (1935).
34. LPCR 1940, p. 134.
35. LPCR 1942, p. 7; H. Nicolson, Diaries and Letters, 1939-45 (1967), pp.
178ff. (18 July 1941).
36. 'The Indian Political Situation' (2 Feb 1942), quoted in full in P. N. S.
Mansergh (ed.), The Transfer of Power, 1942-7 (1970), 1, 110 ff.
37. See Jose Harris, William Beveridge (Oxford, 1977), ch. 16.
38. For an account of the conflicting attitudes, see H. Pelling, Britain and the
Second World War (1970), pp. 168-73.
39. See, for example, Memoirs of Lord Chandos (1962) p. 293.
40. HMSO, The Cabinet Office to 1945 (1975) p. 108; and see T. D. Burridge,
British Labour and Hitler's War (1976).
41. Earl of Avon, The Reckoning (1965) p. 453.
42. Burridge, British Labour and Hitler's War, pp. 143-4.
43. Common Wealth Conference Report, 1944, p. 30.
44. See P. Addison, 'By-Elections of the Second World War', in Cook and
Ramsden, By-elections in British Politics.
45. See J. T. Grantham, 'Hugh Dalton and the International Post-War
Settlement' ,Journal of Contemporary History XIV (1979), pp. 713-29.
46. H. Dalton, The Fateful Years (1957), p. 432.
47. Ibid, pp. 463, 465.


1. The works referred to are: R. B. McCallum and A. Readman, British

General Election of 1945 (1947) and Paul Addison, The Road to 1945
( 1975). I may also mention here the brief treatment in my own Britain and
the Second World War (1970).
2. 263 HCDeb 1530 (1 Aug 1940).
3. See the graph in my Britain and the Second World War, p. 307.
4. R. G. Casey, Personal Experiences, 1939-46 (1962) p. 168.
5. See Alan Bullock, Ernest Bevin, 1 (1960) and 11 (1967).
6. W. S. Churchill, The Dawn of Liberation (1945) p. 233.
7. PREM 4/65/4, PRO.
8. Dalton, diary, 18 May 1945, BLPES.
9. NEC Minutes, 20 July 1945.
10. Lord Wigg, George Wigg (1972) p.119.
Notes and References to pages 20-33 275

11. H. Dalton, The Fateful Years (1957) p. 459.

12. LPCR 1945, pp. 86-8.
13. Daily Telegraph, 11 June 1945.
14. Dalton, diary, 19-23 May 1945.
15. Laski Correspondence, 38/20, Labour Party Papers.
16. Chuter Ede, diary, xn, p. 13 (28 May 1945), BLAddMss 59701.
17. Kingsley Martin, Harold Laski (1953) pp. 158-62.
18. Ede diary, XII, p. 11 {29 May 1945).
19. Ibid, XII, p. 16 (6 June 1945).
20. Ibid, XII, p. 11 (24 May 1945). Cf. Dalton, Fateful Years, p. 457: 'I saw
Attlee alone on the 17th, and he told me of difficulties arising already with
the Russians in Europe.'
21. W. S. Churchill, Victory (1946) p. 212.
22. Attlee to Churchill, 15 June 1945, PREM 4/65/4/518.
23. Churchill, Victory, p. 203.
24. Churchill to Attlee, 2 July 1945, PREM 4/65/4/507.
25. C. R. Attlee, As It Happened (1954) p. 145.
26. Martin, Harold Laski, p. 178.
27. Dalton, Fateful Years, p. 463.
28. McCallum and Readman, British General Election 1945, p. 242; D. E.
Butler and A. Sloman, British Political Facts, 1900-1979 (1980) p. 208.
29. McCallum and Readman, British General Election 1945, p. 240.
30. J. W. Wheeler-Bennett, King George VI (1958) p. 635.
31. Dalton, Fateful Years, p. 466.
32. Wheeler-Bennett, George VI, p. 638.
33. Attlee Papers 1/17/1, Churchill College, Cambridge.
34. Ibid, Iff.
35. H. Dalton, High Tide and After (1962) p. 11.
36. Town-Crier (Birmingham), 4 Aug 1945.
37. Ede diary, XII, p. 26 (28 July 1945).
38. W. S. Churchill, Second World War, VI (1954) p. 509.
39. McCallum and Read man, General Election 1945, p. 269.
40. R. A. Butler, The Artofthe Possible (1971), p. 12. For a recent discussion
of the importance of ABCA see Penelope Summerfield, 'Education and
Politics in the British Armed Forces in the Second World War',
International Review of Social History, 26 (1981) 133ff.
41. McCallum and Readman, p. 43n.
42. Leah Manning, A Life for Education (1970) p. 164.
43. See, for example, H. W. Richardson, Economic Recovery in Britain,
1932-9 (1967).
44. Wheeler-Bel)nett, George VI, p. 585.
45. H. Cantril, Public Opinion, 1935-1946 (Princeton, NJ, 1951) p. 275.
46. McCallum and Read man, General Election 1945, p. 23 7.
47. Ibid, p. 52.
48. Churchill, Victory, p. 208.
49. Wheeler-Bennett, George VI, p. 636.
50. Churchill, Second World War, VI p. 583.
51. Viscount Chandos, Memoirs (1962) p. 329.
276 Notes and References to pages 35-44


1. Quoted W. Golant, 'The Early Political Thought of C. R. Attlee', Part II,

Political Quarterly, vol. xu ( 1970) 311. For further discussion of the
topic see J. H. Berkshire, 'Clement Attlee and Cabinet Reform,
1930-1945', Historical Journal, XXIV (1981) 175-88.
2. 'Machinery of Government Report', Parliamentary Papers, 1918, XII, 5.
3. C. R. Attlee, Labour Party in Perspective (1937) p. 174.
4. Francis Williams, A Prime Minister Remembers (1961) p. 40.
5. See J. M. Lee, 'Reviewing the Machinery of Government, 1942-1952',
mimeo (1977).
6. Attlee, draft autobiography, Attlee Papers, Churchill College 1!17/2.
7. See above, p. 15.
8. Economist, 4 Aug 1945.
9. The Times, 4 Aug 1945.
10. Ibid.
11. Attlee Papers, Bodleian, Box 2, Folder 2; Ede diary, XII, p. 26 (28 July
1945), BLAddMss 59701.
12. Attlee, draft autobiography, Churchill College 1/17/3.
13. The Times, 4 Aug 1945.
14. E. Shinwell, Conflict without Malice (1955) p. 146.
15. Quoted in Michael Foot, Aneurin Bevan, 1 (1962) 381.
16. Economist, 11 Aug 1945.
17. Williams, Prime Minister Remembers, p. 86.
18. 'Central Organisation for Defence', Parliamentary Papers, 1945-6,
19. See table in Lee, 'Reviewing Machinery of Government', p. 70.
20. Attlee, draft autobiography, Churchill College, 1/17/14.
21. Attlee, As It Happened, p. 156.
22. Francis Williams, Nothing So Strange, p. 221.
23. Attlee to Tom Attlee, 30 Aug 1945, Attlee Personal Papers.
24. Attlee, As It Happened, p. 154.
25. W. K. Hancock and M. M. Gowing, British War Economy (1949) p. 517.
26. CM ( 45) 18 (7 Aug 1945).
27. CM (45) 19 (9 Aug 1945).
28. CM (45) 20 (10 Aug 1945).
29. Williams, Prime Minister Remembers, p. 84.
30. The Times House of Commons, 1945, pp. 4-6.
31. Details from Martin Harrison, Trade Unions and the Labour Party (1960)
p. 267.
32. D. E. Butler and Anne Sloman, British Political Facts, 1900-1979 (1980)
p. 168.
33. Hugh Dalton, The Fateful Years (1957) pp. 467ff.
34. Herbert Morrison, Autobiography (1960) p. 251.
35. Williams, Nothing So Strange, pp. 227ff.
36. 413 HCDeb 174 (16 Aug 1945).
37. 'Select Committee on Procedure in Public Business', Parliamentary
Papers 1945~, vm, pp. 597ff; Herbert Morrison, Government and
Parliament (Oxford, 1954) pp. 206ff.
Notes and References to pages 44-57 277

38. 415 HCDeb 2345ff(15 Nov 1945).

39. Morrison, Government and Parliament, pp. 338-42.
40. LPCR 1946, p. 56.
41. Hugh Dalton, High Tide and After (1962) pp. 22f. At the end of 1945
Bevin had decided that the Group was 'very near Communist'. See his
note on Carol Johnson's letter to himself, 11 Dec 1945, FO 800/491.
42. Liaison Committee Minutes, 1 & 2 July 1946.
43. Ibid, 9 Apr 1946.
44. Dalton, High Tide and After, pp. 61ff.
45. Laski to Attlee, 2 Aug 1945, Attlee Personal Papers.
46. Attlee to Laski, 18 Aug 1945, ibid.
47. Laski to Attlee, 4 Sept 1945, ibid.
48. Morgan Phillips to Laski, 20 Oct 1945, Phillips Papers, Labour Party
Files, Box 1, Palestine File.
49. Laski to Frankfurter, 21 Oct 1945, quoted in Kingsley Martin, Harold
Laski (1953) p. 214.
50. LPCR 1946, p. 212.
51. Morrison to Phillips, 21 June 1946, NEC Minutes, 24 July 1946.
52. NEC Minutes, 24 July 1946.
53. LPCR 1946, p. 174.
54. Dalton, High Tide and After, p. 131.
55. LPCR 1946, pp. 182-4.
56. Observer, 16 June 1946.
57. LPCR 1946, p. 146.
58. 419 HCDeb, 193-4 (12 Feb 1946).
59. Ibid, p. 288.
60. 419 HCDeb, 410ff. (13 Feb 1946).
61. 141 HLDeb, 426.
62. TUC Report, 1946, p. 38.
63. Harrison, Trade Unions and Labour Party, p. 44.


1. Douglas Jay, Change and Fortune (1980) pp. 131ff.
2. Hancock and Gowing, British War Economy, p. 247.
3. C/E, 'Our Overseas Financial Prospects', CP (45) 112 (14 Aug 1945).
4. The best account of the negotiations is R. N. Gardner, Sterling-Dollar
Diplomacy, New edn (New York, 1969).
5. Ibid, p. 193.
6. Halifax, diary, 17 Oct 1945, Hickleton Papers A.7.8.17.
7. Jay, Change and Fortune, p. 136. For some of the telegrams see PREM
8. Halifax, diary, 28 Nov and 1 Dec 1945. A.7.8.17.
9. 138 HLDeb, 782 (18 Dec 1945).
10. CM (45) 50 (6 Nov 1945).
11. CM (45) 57 (29 Nov 1945).
12. Halifax, diary, 1 Dec 1945, A.7.8.17.
13. Ibid, 13 and 16 Dec 1945, A.7.8.17.
14. Ibid, 23 Jan 1946, Hickleton Papers A.7.8.18.
278 Notes and References to pages 58-66

15. The Times, 12 Dec 1945.

16. Dalton, diary, 14 Dec 1945, BLPES.
17. 417 HCDeb, 442 {12 Dec 1945); James Meade, diary, 16 Dec 1945,
18. 138 HLDeb, 785 (18 Dec 1945).
19. Halifax to FO, 'Weekly Political Summary', 23 Feb 1946, FO 371/51606.
20. Attlee to Churchill, 13 Mar 1946, quoted in Williams, Prime Minister
Remembers, pp. 164ff.
21. Halifax to FO, 'Weekly Political Summary', 16 Mar 1946, FO 371/51607.
22. Dalton, diary, 29 Mar 1946, BLPES.
23. Halifax to FO, 'Weekly Political Summary', 13 May 1946, FO
24. LPCR 1946, p. 165.
25. lnverchapel to FO, 'Weekly Political Summary', 15 June 1946, FO
371/51608; idem, 7 July 1946, FO 371/51609.
26. Inverchapel to FO, 'Weekly Political Summary', 20 July 1946, as above.
27. Observer, 14 July 1946.
28. CM (45) 18 (7 Aug 1945).
29. 413 HCDeb, 105f. (16 Aug 1945).
30. 413 HCDeb, 794 (23 Aug 1945).
31. CM (45) 23 (16 Aug 1945); CM (45) 26 (30 Aug 1945).
32. W. S. Churchill, The World Crisis, val 5: The Aftermath (1929), ch. 3.
33. The Times, 4 Sept 1945.
34. The Times, 5 Sept 1945.
35. The Times, 6 Sept 1945.
36. Callaghan to Attlee, 31 Aug 1945, PREM 8/78.
37. De Freitas to Attlee, 13 Sept 1945; Callaghan to Attlee, 14 Sept 1945;
Isaacs to Attlee, 21 Sept 1945; PREM 8/78.
38. The Times, 3 Oct 1945.
39. Callaghan to De Freitas, 4 Oct 1945, PREM 8/78.
40. 414 HCDeb, 1692-5 (22 Oct 1945).
41. The Times, 23 Oct 1945.
42. The Times, 10 Dec 1945.
43. 414 HCDeb, 1773 (22 Oct 1945).
44. Ibid, 1804.
45. Observer, 27 Jan 1946; SIS for Air, ' "Strikes" in the RAF', CP (46) 25
(27 Jan 1945).
46. Woodrow Wyatt, Into the Dangerous World (1952) pp. 124ff.
47. R. J. Donovan, Conflict and Crisis: The Presidency of Harry S. Truman,
1945-1948 (New York, 1977) p. 165.
48. P. Moon (ed.) Wavell: The Viceroy's Journal (1973) p. 215; CM (46) 17
(21 Feb 1946); Attlee in 419 HCDeb, 1751-3 (26 Feb 1946).
49. 427 HCDeb, 38f. (8 Oct 1946) and 366 (10 Oct 1946).
50. 430 HCDeb, 26--8 (12 Nov 1946).
51. LPCR 1945, p. 117.
52. LP, 'Economic Survey for 1946', CP ( 46) 32 (30 Jan 1946).
53. LP, 'Annex to Economic Survey', CP (46) 40 (5 Feb 1946).
54. C/E, 'The Overseas Deficit', CP ( 46) 58 (8 Feb 1946).
55. A. Bryant, Triumph in the West: The Alanbrooke Diaries (1959) p. 530.
Notes and References to pages 66-76 279

56. R. F. Harrod, Life of John Maynard Keynes (1951) p. 643.

57. CM ( 46) 90 (24 Oct 1946).
58. 430 HCDeb, 639 (18 Nov 1946).
59. CM (47) 20 (11 Feb 1947); 435 HCDeb, 1966 (1 Apr 1947).
60. CM ( 4 7) 35 (3 Apr 1947) and Appx, Montgomery to Alexander, 9 Apr
61. 437 HCDeb, 2619 (22 May 1947).
62. For details of wartime rationing, see R. J. Hammond, History of the
Second World War: Food, 1 (1951) pp. 402-4.
63. Min of Food, 'Food for Europe', CP ( 45) 237 (22 Oct 1945); V. Gollancz,
Leaving Them to their Fate (1946) pp. 38ff.
64. Min of Food, 'Gift Food Parcels for Overseas', CP (46) 250 (2 July 1946);
430 HCDeb 1242 (25 Nov 1946).
65. A. J. Matusow,Farm Policies and Politics in the Truman Era (Cambridge,
Mass. 1967) p. 11.
66. Tribune, 29 Mar 1946.
67. Dalton, diary, 9 Feb 1946; News Chronicle, 2 Feb 1946.
68. CM ( 46) 20 ( 4 Mar 1946); CM ( 46) 22 (8 Mar 1946).
69. CM (46) 32 (10 Apr 1946).
70. CM (46) 43 (7 May 1946).
71. CM ( 46) 49 (17 May 1946); LP, 'Report on Mission to the US and
Canada', CP (46) 202 (22 May 1946); B. Donoughue and G. W. Jones,
Herbert Morrison (1973) p. 382.
72. News Chronicle, 11 Feb 1946.
73. Jay, Change and Fortune, p. 141.
74. The Times, 28 May 1946.
75. Dalton, High Tide and After, pp. 101ff.
76. News Chronicle, 21 June 1946.
77. The Times, 29 June 1946.
78. The Times, 10 July 1946.
79. Min of Food, 'Canadian Wheat Supplies', CP ( 46) 286 (19 July 1946).
80. Morrison to Attlee, 19 July 1946, attached to CP ( 46) 286.
81. CM (46) 70 (21 July 1946); Dalton, diary, 1 Aug 1946.
82. R. J. Hammond, Food, vol. 3 (1962) 714ff.
83. Strachey to Attlee, quoted in Hugh Thomas,John Strachey (1973) p. 236.
84. Dalton, High Tide and After, pp. 270ff.
85. For details of the results, see C. Cook and J. Ramsden, By-Elections in
British Politics (1973) pp. 374ff.
86. Jay, Change and Fortune, p. 155.
87. Observer, 28 July 1946.
88. News Chronicle, 1 Apr 1946.
89. Ibid, 2 Sept 1946.
90. Ibid, 16 Aug 1946.


1. SeeJ. Pinder (ed.) Fifty Years ofPolitical and Economic Planning (1981).
2. Wyatt, Into the Dangerous World, pp. 160ff.
280 Notes and References to pages 76-85

3. Morrison, Autobiography (1960) p. 253.

4. Harold Macmillan, The Blast of War (1967) p. 82.
5. Donoughue and Jones, Morrison, pp. 303-6.
6. LPCR 1932, p. 214; G. Ostergaard, 'Labour and the Development of the
Public Corporation', Manchester School of Economic and Social Studies,
XXII (1954) 214ff.
7. TUC Report 1944, p. 411; and see D. N. Chester, 'Management and
Accountability in the Nationalised Industries', Public Administration,
XXX (1952) 35.
8. Donoughue and Jones, Morrison, p. 336.
9. 413 HCDeb, 93 (16 Aug 1945).
10. Dalton, High Tide and After, p. 46.
11. 415 HCDeb, 162 (29 Oct 1945).
12. Dalton, High Tide and After, p. 103.
13. James Meade, diary l/4/115 (26 Aug 1945).
14. D. N. Chester, Nationalisation of British Industry, 1945-51 (1975) p. 40.
15. Emanuel Shinwell, Conflict without Malice (1955) pp. 172ff.
16. 418 HCDeb, 709ff. (29 Jan 1946).
17. Chester, Nationalisation, p. 256.
18. 418 HCDeb, 816 (29 Jan 1946).
19. Ibid, 972 (30 Jan 1946).
20. The Times, 2 Jan 1947.
21. Dalton, High Tide and After, p. 61.
22. Donoughue and Jones, Morrison, pp. 390-8.
23. Jay, Change and Fortune, p. 163.
24. Chester, Nationalisation, p. 138.
25. CM (47) 28 (13 Mar 1947); Morrison, Autobiography, pp. 258ff.
26. Philip Williams, Hugh Gaitskell (1979) pp. 132-4 (quoting Gaitskell's
27. Chester, Nationalisation, pp. 277,289.
28. CM (46) 107 (19 Dec 1946).
29. Min of Supply, 'Future of the Iron and Steel Industry', CP (46) 120 (28
Mar 1946).
30. SIS for Foreign Affairs, 'Future of the Iron and Steel Industry', CP (46)
152 (11 Apr 1946).
31. CM (46) 40 (2 May 1946).
32. Min of Supply, 'Iron and Steel: The Establishment of an Interim Control
Board', CP (46) 300 (30 July 1946); CM (46) 76 (1 Aug 1946).
33. CM(47)37(17Apr1947).
34. CM (47) 39 and 40 (24 and 28 Apr 1947).
35. LP, 'Reorganisation of the Iron and Steel Industry', CP ( 4 7) 185 (23 June
1947); CM (47) 57 (26 June 1947).
36. CM (4 7) 64 and 66 (24 and 31 July 194 7). For Morrison's view see his
Autobiography, p. 296; for divisions in the Cabinet at this juncture see
note by W. S. Murrie in PM's Briefs, CAB 21/2243 (4 Aug 1947). Dalton
in his unpublished diary entry of 8 Aug 194 7 reported Alexander as a
supporter of early nationalisation, but this seems unlikely. Morrison in his
Autobiography, p. 296, suggested that his scheme had only three
opponents in the Cabinet. He was no doubt thinking of Dalton, Cripps
Notes and References to pages 85-94 281

and Bevan; but Murrie shows that the majority of the Cabinet opposed
37. CM (47) 70 (7 Aug 1947).
38. Daily Telegraph, 12 Aug 194 7; Dalton, High Tide and After, p. 252.
39. Jowitt to Addison, 19 Aug 194 7, Addison Papers, Box 18, Bodleian
40. CM (47) 80 (14 Oct 1947); PM to Addison, 15 Oct 1947 (telegram),
PREM 8/1059 s.v. Parliamentary Procedure (House of Lords Reform),
41. P. Williams, Gaitskel/, p. 139.
42. 447 HCDeb, 218-238 (10 Feb 1948).
43. P. Williams, Gaitskell, pp. 153ff.
44. Morrison to Addison, 2 Feb 1948, Addison Papers, Box 18; Addison to
Mackenzie King, 9 Apr 1948, Addison Papers, Box 137.
45. CM (48) 39 (14 June 1948); Donoughue and Jones, Morrison, p. 430.
46. Dalton, diary, 26 May 1948.
47. E. N. Plowden to Cripps, 24 May 1948, in PM's Briefs, attached to
Norman Brook to PM, 27 May 1948.
48. R. J. Jackson, Rebels and Whips (1968) p. 53.
49. Min of Supply, 'Iron and Steel Bill', CP (48) 123 (20 May 1948).
50. CM ( 48) 36 (7 June 1948).
51. Min of Supply, 'Iron and Steel Bill', CP ( 48) 145 (10 June 1948).
52. CM ( 48) 52 (19 July 1948).
53. 458 HCDeb, 53-78 (15 Nov 1948).
54. Ibid, 219 (16 Nov 1948).
55. Ibid, 494 (17 Nov 1948).
56. On this see G. W. Ross, The Nationalisation of Steel (1965)
pp. 102-5.
57. CM (49) 65 (1 0 Nov 1949).
58. LPCR 1948, p. 108.
59. Ibid, pp. 166-7.
60. Ibid, pp. 168-9.
61. Ibid, p. 170.
62. Ibid, pp. 171-2.
63. Ibid, p. 122.
64. PM to LP, 27 Oct 1947, PREM 8/847.
65. 445 HCDeb, 566 (4 Dec 1947).
66. 448 HCDeb, 430 (Diamond) and 391f. (Crookshank) (3 Mar 1948).
67. Conservative Party, Industrial Charter (Popular Edition, 194 7) p. 11.
68. The Times, 14 May 1948.
69. Ibid, 24 and 25 May 1948; Lord Citrine, Two Careers (1967) pp. 270-2;
D. N. Chester and N. Bowring, Questions in Parliament (Oxford, 1962) p.
70. 451 HCDeb, 1636 (7 June 1948).
71. LP, 'Taking Stock', SI(M) (48) 8 (29 Jan 1948); copy in PREM 8/848.
72. PM to LP, 1 Feb 1948, ibid.
73. LP to PM, 3 Feb 1948, ibid.
74. Nathan to Morrison, 13 Feb 1948, CAB 124/945.
75. Gaitskell's comments, 16 Feb 1948, enclosed in M. E. Bolton (MFP) to A.
282 Notes and References to pages 94-105

Johnston (Office of the LP), 17 Feb 1948. Cf. P. Williams, Gaitskell, p.

76. Minutes of meeting, 3 May 1948, CAB 124/945.
77. PM to LP, 4 Nov 1948, PREM 8/846.
78. Ministry of Labour, 'Management and Men in the Socialised Industries',
SI (M) (48) 65 (13 Dec 1948); LP to PM, 16 Dec 1948. Both in PREM
79. LP to Chairmen of Public Corporations, 25 Nov 1948, CAB 124/946.
80. Hyndley to LP, 15 Dec 1948, ibid.
81. Minutes of meeting, 28Jan 1949, CAB 124/946;Spectator, 27 Feb 1948.
82. Quoted in Chester, Nationa/isation, p. 984.


1. See above, p. 13.

2. 386 HCDeb, 1615-1694 (16 Feb 1943), 1765-1916 (17 Feb 1943) and
1964-2054 (18 Feb 1943).
3. 'A National Health Service', Parliamentary Papers, 1943-4, vn, 215ff.
4. 'Employment Policy', Parliamentary Papers, 1943-4, VIII, 121.
5. John Macnicol, The Movement for Family Allowances, 1918-45 (1980) p.
6. For the Committee's Minutes and Papers, see CAB 134/697.
7. James Griffiths, Pages from Memory (1969) pp. 77ff.
8. F. Williams, Prime Minister Remembers, p. 80.
9. 414 HCDeb, 434 (11 Oct 1945).
10. SS (45) 2 (3 Sept 1945), CAB 134/697.
11. SS (45) 3 (1 Oct 1945) ibid.
12. SS (45) 4 (8 Oct 1945) ibid.
13. 414 HCDeb, 539 (11 Oct 1945); see also TUC Report 1946, p. 93.
14. 418 HCDeb, 1744 (6 Feb 1946).
15. The Times, 26 June 1946.
16. 419 HCDeb, 105 (11 Feb 1946).
17. 423 HCDeb, 616 (23 May 1946).
18. 423 HCDeb, 1425 (30 May 1946).
19. 444 HCDeb, 1612 (24 Nov 1947).
20. For an account of this, see Harry Eckstein, The English Health Service
(Cambridge, Mass. 1959) Part I.
21. On the EMS, see R. M. Titmuss, Problems of Social Policy (1950) ch. 5
and pp. 466-9.
22. 'A National Health Service',Parliamentary Papers, 1943-4, VIII, 315ff; J.
E. Pater, Making ofthe National Health Service (1981) pp. 77ff.
23. Pater (as note 22) p. 104.
24. British Medical Journal, quoted in Pater (as note 22) p. 107.
25. Pater (as note 22) p. 178; and interview with Mr Pater, November 1981.
26. Min of Health, 'National Health Service: The Future of the Hospital
Services', CP (45) 205 (5 Oct 1945).
27. LP, 'National Health Service: The Future of the Hospital Services', CP
(45) 227 (12 Oct 1945).
Notes and References to pages 105-14 283

28. CM (45) 43 (18 Oct 1945).

29. CM (45) 58 (3 Dec 1945); 416 HCDeb, 2511f. (6 Dec 1945).
30. Labour Party, National Service for Health (1943) p. 18.
31. CM (46) 22 (8 Mar 1946).
32. Pater, Making of the National Health Service, p. 122.
33. Ibid, p. 123; The Times, 22 Mar 1946.
34. 422 HCDeb, 44-7 (30 Apr 1946).
35. SS (45) 15 (17 Dec 1945), CAB 134/697.
36. 422 HCDeb, 55 (30 Apr 1946) and 392 and 398 (2 May 1946).
37. J. S. Ross, The National Health Service in Great Britain (1952) p. 123.
38. Min of Health, 'National Health Service: Attitude of the Medical
Profession', CP (48) 23 (19 Jan 1948).
39. 447 HCDeb, 35 (9 Feb 1948).
40. For an account of Bevan's struggle with the BMA, see Ross, National
Health Service, pp. 125ff.
41. Lord Hill, Both Sides of the Hill (1964) p. 98.
42. Ibid, p. 97.
43. Ibid, p. 99.
44. Labour Party, Let Us Face the Future, p. 9.
45. 413 HCDeb, 253 {17 Aug 1945).
46. 425 HCDeb, 1378 (18 July 1946).
47. HG (45) 1 {11 Dec 1945), CAB 134/320.
48. Herbert Ashworth, Housing in Great Britain (1957) p. 39.
49. News Chronicle, 11 and 12 Sept 1946; CM (46) 82 (17 Sept 1946).
50. 'Celticus' (A. Bevan), Why Not Trustthe Tories? (1944) p. 76.
51. Min of Health, 'Progress Report on Housing, Nov. 1945', CP (45) 330 (6
Dec 1945).
52. 426 HCDeb, 903 (30 July 1946).
53. HG (46) 1 (23 Jan 1946), CAB 134/320.
54. HG (46) 5 {12 Dec 1946) ibid.
55. CM (46) 28 (28 Mar 1946).
56. 427 HCDeb, 1354 (21 Oct 1946). For an interesting critique of Bevan's
policy see Nathan Rosenberg, Economic Planning in the British Building
Industry, 1945-49 (Philadelphia, Penn., 1960) esp. ch. 3.
57. 'Economic Survey for 1947', Parliamentary Papers, 1946-7, XIX, 497.
58. 441 HCDeb, 87 (28 July 1947).
59. CM (47) 68 (1 Aug 1947).
60. CM (47) 81 (20 Oct 1947).
61. CM (48) 16 (23 Feb 1948).
62. 472 HCDeb, 868 {13 Mar 1950).
63. D. E. Butler, British General Election of /951 (1952) p. 15.
64. J. B. Cullingworth, Environmental Planning, 1939-1969, 1 (1975)
p. 254.
65. Ashworth, Housing, Section VII.
66. Dalton, High Tide and After, pp. 353-5.
67. Published in 1939. Cf. Betty D. Vernon, Ellen Wilkinson, 1891-1947
68. Dalton, diary, 27 July 1945; Donoughue and Jones, Morrison, pp. 340ff.
69. CM ( 45) 25 (23 Aug 1945).
284 Notes and References to pages 114-21

70. CM (45) 28 (4 Sept 1945); P. H. J. H. Gosden, Education in the Second

World War (1976) pp. 124-7.
71. CM (47) 8 (16 Jan 1947).
72. The Times, 1 Mar 1947.
73. Fred Blackburn, George Tomlinson (1954) pp. 161, 170.
74. 'Education in 1947', Parliamentary Papers, 1947-8, XI, 525.
75. 'Education in 1948', Parliamentary Papers, 1948-9, XIV, 368.
76. I. G. K. Fenwick, The Comprehensive School, 1944-1970 (1976) pp.
77. LPCR 1946, p. 189.
78. Ibid, pp. 191, 194.
79. 475 HCDeb, 148 (w.a., 16 May 1950).
80. Ibid, 1372 (18 May 1950).
81. NEC Minutes, 24 May 1950.
82. Labour Party Research Department, 'Repor\on Comprehensive Schools'
(R28), NEC Minutes, 28 Feb 1951.
83. Minutes of sub-committee, reported to NEC, 25 Apr 1951.
84. Blackburn, Tomlinson, p. 199.
85. Election manifesto, LPCR 1951, p. 210.
86. Listener, 8 July 1948.
87. Harris, Beveridge, pp. 448ff.
88. A. E. Zimmern, Quo Vadimus? (1934).
89. Sir G. Schuster in United Empire, xxvm (n.s., 1937) 518.
90. William Temple, Citizen and Churchman (1941) p. 35.
91. 'Truman's "Welfare State"', leading article in New York Times, 4 Jan
92. New York Times, 26 Oct 1949.
93. ADA World, 21 Nov 1949.
94. 467 HCDeb, 705 (14 July 1949).
95. Ibid, 1096 (18 July 1949).
96. Attlee to Ungoed-Thomas, 25 Sept 1950, Attlee Papers, Bodleian
Library, Box 1.


1. For Bevin's career see Alan Bullock, Life and Times of Ernest Bevin, vol.
I (1960), II (1967) and III (forthcoming).
2. Bullock, Bevin, II, 177; see also A. J.P. Taylor, Beaverbrook (1972) p.
3. D. Dilks (ed.) Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan (1971) p. 778.
4. Piers Dixon, Double Diploma (1968) p. 170 (diary, 30 July 1945).
5. LPCR, 1944, p. 145.
6. LPCR, 1945, pp. 115, 118.
7. Dixon, Double Diploma, pp. 173-4 (diary, 31 July 1945).
8. W. Hayter, A Double Life (1974) p. 76.
9. Dalton, Call Back Yesterday, pp. 223ff.
10. Dixon, Double Diploma, pp. 181, 183ff.
11. Ibid, p. 182.
Notes and References to pages 121-9 285

12. 413 HCDeb, 291 (20 Aug 1945).

13. Foreign Secretary, 'Disposal of the Italian Colonies and of the Italian
Mediterranean Islands', CP (45) 162 (10 Sept 1945); CM (45) 30 (11
Sept 1945).
14. Dixon, Double Diploma, pp. 192ff.
15. Trygvie Lie, In the Cause of Peace (1954) p. 32.
16. See above, pp. 54-60.
17. PREM 8/387, Bevin to PM, 27 Sept 1945; CM ( 46) 27 (25 Mar 1946).
18. CM (46) 41 and 42 (3 and 6 May 1946).
19. FO 371/56921 (1 Oct 1946).
20. FO 371/56883.
21. FO 371/51606 (2 Feb 1946).
22. Ibid (5 Feb 1946).
23. Ibid (10 Mar 1946).
24. FO 371/56883 (22 July 1946).
25. FO 371/44539 (10 Nov 1945), quoted in P. G. Boyle, 'The British
Foreign Office View of Soviet-American Relations, 1945-6', Diplo-
matic History, III, (1979) 317.
26. FO 800/279, lnverchapel to PM, 10 Mar 1947.
27. Ibid, PM to lnverchapel, 23 Mar 194 7.
28. Ibid, Bevin to Inverchapel, 17 Mar 194 7.
29. In what follows I have largely followed M. M. Gowing, Independence
and Deterrence, 1945-52,1 (1974). But see also Peter Hennessy, 'How
Bevin saved Britain's Bomb', The Times, 30 Sept 1982.
30. PM to President, 25 Sept 1945, quoted in Francis Williams, A Prime
Minister Remembers, pp. 97-101.
31. PM to President, 16 Apr 1946, Williams, Prime Minister Remembers,
pp. 110ff.
32. PM to President, 6 June 1946, Williams (as note 31), pp. 112-17.
33. 450 HCDeb, 2117 (12 May 1948).
34. DO (50) 13 (11 July 1950).
35. LPCR, 1944, p. 9.
36. President to PM 31 Aug 1945 and PM to President, 16 Sept 1945, in
Williams, Prime Minister Remembers, pp. 187-91; LP, 'Palestine
Committee Report', CP (45) 156 (8 Sept 1945).
37. CM (45) 52 (13 Nov 1945); Bevin, 415 HCDeb, 1927ff. (13 Nov 1945).
38. F.O. 800/484, Bevin to Halifax, 12 Oct 1945.
39. 422 HCDeb, 197 (1 May 1946).
40. See above, p. 60.
41. Quoted inN. Bethell, The Palestine Triangle (1979) p. 244.
42. Bethell, Palestine Triangle, p. 263.
43. CM (46) 77 (7 Aug 1946).
44. Foreign Secretary, 'Palestine: Reference to the United Nations', CP ( 4 7)
28 (13 Jan 1947).
45. CM (47) 6 and 11 (15 and 22 Jan 1947); Dalton, High Tide and After,
pp. 189ff.
46. CM (47) 18 (7 Feb 1947).
47. CM (47) 22 (14 Feb 1947); 433 HCDeb, 988f. (18 Feb 1947).
48. CM (47) 76 (20 Sept 1947).
286 Notes and References to pages 129-35

49. Evan Luard, History of the United Nations, 1 (1982) 173.

50. Ibid, pp. 190-206.
51. Annual Register, 1949, p. 359.
52. 427 HCDeb, 1510 (22 Oct 1946).
53. C/E, 'The Overseas Deficit', CP (46) 58 (8 Feb 1946).
54. C/E, 'The Cost of the British Zone in Germany', CP (46) 218 (4 June
55. F. A. Vali, The Quest for a United Germany (Baltimore, 1967) p. 16.
56. CM (46) 56 (6 June 1946).
57. W. S. Churchill, The Sinews of Peace ( 1948) p. 100. Bevin's view may
have owed something to a report from Sir Maurice Peterson, the British
Ambassador in Moscow, who had been told by Stalin that Churchill's
speech 'had not been repudiated'. Peterson to Bevin, 28 May 1946,
PREM 8/349.
58. CM (46) 73 (25 July 1946); FRUS, 1946, v, 585.
59. Dalton, diary, 5 Oct 1946.
60. F. 0. Wilcox and T.V. Kalijarvi, Recent American Foreign Policy: Basic
Documents, 1941-1951 (Westport, Conn., 1972) p. 301.
61. FRUS, 1947, v, 110 (12 Mar 1947).
62. CM (47) 37 (17 Apr 1947).
63. CM (47) 43 (2 May 1947).
64. CM (47) 53 (10 June 1947); CM (47) 56 (24 June 1947).
65. FRUS 1947, m, 237-9 (5 June 1947).
66. For its impact in Britain, see Chapter 10.
67. Foreign Secretary, 'Extinction of Human Rights in Eastern Europe', CP
(47) 313 (24 Nov 1947).
68. CM (47) 95 (15 Dec 1947).
69. Foreign Secretary, 'Policy in Germany', CP (48) 5 (5 Jan 1948).
70. For an account of this episode, see J. W. Young, 'The Labour
Government's Foreign Policy towards France, 1945-51' (PhD thesis,
Cambridge, 1983).
71. 446 HCDeb, 383ff. (22 Jan 1948).
72. Bevin to Dixon, 22 Apr 1948, quoted in Dixon, Double Diploma, p. 255.
73. CM (48) 22 (15 Mar 1948).
74. Bevin and Bidault to Marshall, 17 Apr 1948, FRUS 1948, m, 91.
75. FRUS 1948, III, pp. 135ff.
76. Comments by Marshall transmitted in Lovett to Balfour, 28 May 1948,
FRUS 1948, III, p. 133.
77. Daniel Yergin, Shattered Peace (Boston, Mass., 1977) pp. 366-88.
78. A. J. and R. L. Merritt, Public Opinion in Occupied Germany (Urbana,
lll., 1970) p. 261.
79. Lie, In the Cause of Peace, pp. 217ff.
80. Walter Mills, The Forrestal Diaries (1952) pp. 429ff.; DO (48) 18 (13
Sept 1948).
81. For a good account of the negotiations see Nicholas Henderson, The
Birth of NATO (1982).
82. FO 800/454, Kirkpatrick to Franks, 29 Nov 1948.
83. Ibid, Franks to Bevin, 29 Dec 1948.
84. Henderson, Birth of NATO, p. 92.
Notes and References to pages 136-43 287

85. NEC Minutes, 22 Jan 1947. For FO intervention in securing this

decision see CM (48) 2 (8 Jan 1948).
86. 'Western Union: Note of Deputation ... received by the PM and
Foreign Secretary, 17 June 1948', CP (48) 162 (26 June 1948).
87. Lord Strang, At Home and Abroad (1956) p. 290.
88. Foreign Secretary, 'North Atlantic Treaty and Western Union', CP (48)
249 (2 Nov 1948).
89. Lord Gladwyn, Memoirs (1972) p. 224.
90. Dalton, High Tide and After, p. 322.
91. Ibid, p. 329.
92. Bullock, Bevin, 1, 133ff.
93. New Statesman, 24 Jan 1948; quoted opposite title page of W. D. A.
(Bill) Jones, The Russia Complex (Manchester, 1977).
94. LPCR 1945, p. 119.
95. CM (46) 102 (2 Dec 1946).
96. Dalton, High Tide and After, pp. 155, 168.
97. In May 1945 Healey had called for a 'foreign policy ... completely
distinct from that of the Tory Party'. LPCR 1945, p. 114.
98. Labour Party,Approach to Foreign Policy (194 7), p. 14; see also Healey
to H. McNeil, 16 Dec 1946 and McNeil to Healey, 19 Dec 1946, Labour
Party Papers ID Box 3.
99. Healey to Furness, 18 Nov 1946, ibid, Box 4.
100. 430 HCDeb, p. 526 (18 Nov 1946).
101. Ibid, p. 527.
102. Ibid, pp. 581-2.
103. Ibid, p. 591.
104. Dixon, Double Diploma, p. 241.
105. CM (46) 100 (25 Nov 1946); PLP Minutes, 28 Nov 1946.
106. NEC Minutes, 27 Nov 1946.
107. LPCR 1947, p. 175.
108. Caffery to Marshall, 1 July 1947, FRUS 1947, III, 301.
109. Roderick Barclay, Ernest Bevin and the Foreign Office (1975) p. 30.
110. Ibid, pp. 46--9, 52-66.
111. S/S for the Colonies, 'Situation in Malaya and Hong Kong', CP ( 49) 52
(5 Mar 1949).
112. Foreign Secretary, 'Sir William Strang's Tour in South-East Asia and the
Far East', CP (49) 67 (17 Mar 1949).
113. Note by Cabinet Secretary, 'China and South-East Asia Committee', CP
(49) 71 (24 Mar 1949).
114. CM (49) 30 (28 Apr 1949).
115. Min of Defence, 'Visit to Hong Kong', CP (49) 134 (17 June
116. Foreign Secretary, 'China', CP (49) 180 (23 Aug 1949). For discussions
about recognition inside the Foreign Office, see R. Ovendale, 'Britain,
the United States, and the Recognition of Communist China',Historical
Journal, 26 (1983), 139ff.
117. Foreign Secretary, 'Recognition of the Chinese Communist Govern-
ment', CP (49) 214 (24 Oct 1949).
118. CM (49) 62 (27 Oct 1949).
288 Notes and References to pages 143-53

119. Foreign Secretary, 'Recognition of the Chinese Communist Govern-

ment', CP (49) 248 (12 Dec 1949).
120. CM (49) 72 {15 Dec 1949);Annual Register, 1950, p. 323.
121. Bevin to PM, 21 Apr 1949, FO 800/445.
122. Barclay, Ernest Bevin, p. 67.
123. See FO 800/449 for this.
124. ECA, The Sterling Area (1951) p. 23; FRUS 1950, v, 212-15.


1. The Times, 21 Nov 1942.

2. Penderel Moon, Wavell: The Viceroy's Journal (1973) pp. 159,161.
3. Mansergh, Transfer of Power, VI, 230-2.
4. Moon, Viceroy's Journal, p. 171.
5. Mansergh, Transfer, VI, 765.
6. Moon, Viceroy's Journal, pp. 213-14.
7. Mansergh, Transfer, vu, 582-91.
8. Moon, Viceroy's Journal, pp. 235-6.
9. Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence, 14 Apr 1946, Pethick-
Lawrence Papers, P-L 6, p. 160; cf. Vera Brittain, Pethick-Lawrence
10. Alexander to Bevin, 1 June 1946, Alexander Papers, A VAR Pers. 3.
11. P-L to Lady P-L, 19 June 1946, P-L 6.186.
12. Mansergh, Transfer, VIII, 454-65 and 570-3.
13. Moon, Viceroy's Journal, p. 399.
14. Bevin to Attlee, 1 Jan 1947, Mansergh, Transfer, IX, 431.
15. Attlee to Bevin, 2 Jan 1947, Mansergh, Transfer, IX, 443ff.
16. P-L to Attlee, 30 Jan 1946, Mansergh, Transfer, VI, 871ff.; Moon,
Viceroy's Journal, p. 458.
17. Mansergh, Transfer, IX, 396.
18. Moon, Viceroy's Journal, p. 497.
19. Ibid,p.417.
20. Ibid, p. 419. 'Dickie' was Mountbatten's nickname.
21. 145 HLDeb, 838-9 (20 Feb 1947); Mansergh, Transfer, IX, 773-5.
22. For Jinnah's comment, see A. Campbell-Johnson, Mission with Mount-
batten (1951) p. 59.
23. For the statement at Westminster, and for an extract from Mountbatten's
broadcast, see P. N. S. Mansergh, Documents and Speeches on British
Commonwealth Affairs, 1931-52 (1953) pp. 661-9.
24. C. R. Attlee to Tom Attlee, 3 June 1947, Attlee Personal Papers. Ashley,
later Lord Mount Temple, had been a Conservative junior Minister and
was President of the Anti-Socialist Union.
25. See Wheeler-Bennett, King George VI, pp. 710-16.
26. 150 HLDeb, 802-874 (16 July 1947).
27. C. R. Attlee to Tom Attlee, 18 Aug 1947, Attlee Personal Papers.
28. See H. V. Hodson, The Great Divide {1969) esp. pp. 403-18.
29. P-L to Attlee, 2 Apr 1946, P-L Papers 5.77.
30. Maurice Collis, Last and First in Burma (1956) p. 290.
Notes and References to pages 154-61 289

31. Lord Garner, The Commonwealth Office, 1925-1968 (1978) p. 15.

32. Memo. by Creech-Janes, undated, Creech-Janes Papers ACJ 4/4/75,
Rhodes House, Oxford.
33. D. J. Morgan, Official History of Colonial Development (1980) vol. v,
34. K. M. de Silva, History of Ceylon, vol. III (Colombo, 1974) 530.
35. For an account of Ceylon's progress to independence from the Colonial
Office standpoint, see Sir Charles Jeffries, Ceylon: The Path to Indepen-
dence (1962).
36. 0. Stanley to Creech-Janes, 7 Oct 1946, ACJ 8/3/59.
37. Quoted D. Goldsworthy, Colonial Issues in British Politics, 1945-61
(Oxford, 1971) p. 199.
38. Liaison Committee Minutes, 30 Oct 1946.
39. 'The Colonial Empire', Parliamentary Papers, 1947-8, XI, 55 and 58.
40. 465 HCDeb, 1602 (27 May 1949).
41. Morgan, Colonial Development, 11, 4ff.
42. Ibid, pp. 6ff.
43. Ibid, p. 12.
44. Ibid, p. 23.
45. Ibid, pp. 234ff.
46. CM (46) 93 {31 Oct 1946).
47. Morgan, Colonial Development, 11, 241-50.
48. Ibid, p. 244.
49. Ibid, p. 271.
50. See Alan Wood, The Groundnut Affair (1950); John Iliffe, Modern
History of Tanganyika (Cambridge, 1979) pp. 440-2; Hugh Thomas,
John Strachey (1973) ch. 16.
51. Picture Post, 19 Nov 1949.
52. 470 HCDeb, 78 (21 Nov 1949).
53. Morgan, Colonial Development, 11, 290, 294.
54. Thomas, Strachey, p. 254.
55. H. G. Nicholas, British General Election of 1950 {1951) p. 117; D. E.
Butler, British General Election of 1951 (1952) pp. 68, 97.
56. Chapter 7, pp. 127-30.
57. On this, see Ronald Robinson,' Andrew Cohen and the Transfer of Power
in Tropical Africa, 1940-1951 ', in W. H. Morris-Jones and Georges
Fischer, (eds) Decolonisation and After (1980); R. D. Pearce, The
Turning Point in Africa, 1938-1948 (1982).
58. 'The Colonial Territories, 1949-50, Parliamentary Papers, 1950, VIII,
59. 'The Colonial Empire', Parliamentary Papers, 1947-8, XI, 67.
60. Garner, Commonwealth Office, p. 282.
61. Noel-Baker to Addison, 8 Nov 1948, Noel-Baker Papers, 4/108; Gordon
Walker diary, 4 Mar 1948, Gordon Walker Papers, 1/8.
62. Gordon Walker diary, 6 Oct 1947, 1/7.
63. Garner, Commonwealth Office, pp. 290-2.
64. 'Memoirs of Sir Charles Dixon', pp. 57ff. Dixon was Assistant Under-
Secretary of State at the Dominions Office and CRO, 1940-8.
65. CM (48) 74 {18 Nov 1948); Garner, Commonwealth Office, p. 320n.;
290 Notes and References to pages 161-9

Jowitt, HLDeb, 1087-93 (15 Dec 1948), quoted Mansergh, Documents,

pp. 818ff. It was agreed that relations with the Republic of Ireland should
continue to be conducted through the CRO: CM (48) 81 (15 Dec 1948).
66. See Second Reading debate, 464 HCDeb, 1854-1964 (11 May 1949).
67. Sir B. N. Rau, 'India and the Commonwealth', 24 Jan 1948, copy in
Gordon Walker Papers, 1/7; for the quotation see A. B. Keith, The
Dominions as Sovereign States (1938) p. ix.
68. Note by Gordon Walker, Joe. cit.
69. Gordon Walker diary fragment, 21 Apr 1948, Gordon Walker Papers,
1/8. Cf. Hodson, Great Divide, p. 470.
70. Gordon Walker diary fragments, 7 Jan and 10 Feb 1949, Joe. cit.
71. Gordon Walker to Mountbatten, 20 July 1949, and memo. for PM, 5 Jan
1949, Gordon Walker Papers.
72. Gordon Walker diary fragment, 10 Feb 1949, Joe. cit.
73. Quoted in Wheeler-Bennett, King George VI, p. 724.
74. CM (49) 17 (3 Mar 1949); Garner, Commonwealth Office, p. 318.
75. Mansergh, Documents, p. 846.
76. Ibid, p. 1289.
77. Amery to Attlee, 28 Apr 1949, Attlee Personal Papers.
78. Attlee to Gordon Walker, 30 Apr 1949, Gordon Walker Papers 1/7.
79. Attlee to Cripps, 30 Apr 1949, CAB 127/85.


1. News Chronicle 31 Dec 1946.

2. C. L. Mowat, Britain Between the Wars (1955) pp. 38-40.
3. News Chronicle, 9 Jan 1947.
4. Ibid, 20 Jan 194 7.
5. Annual Register, 1947, p. 5.
6. The Times, 8 Feb 1947.
7. Ibid, 13 Feb 1947.
8. 145 HLDeb, 622 (13 Feb 1947).
9. The Times, 25 Oct 1946. For a carefully documented attack on Shinwell,
see Jay, Change and Fortune, pp. 142-52. But his record is defended by
Lord Wigg, George Wigg (1972) pp. 126--30.
10. Dalton, High Tide and After, p. 205.
11. On Ellen Wilkinson as Minister see also pp. 113ff.
12. Donoughue and Jones, Herbert Morrison, pp. 391-4.
13. Dalton, diary, 24 Feb 194 7.
14. Attlee to Morrison, 5 Apr 1947, Morrison Papers.
15. Morrison to Attlee, 8 Apr 1947, ibid.
16. Attlee to Morrison, 16 Apr 1947, ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Lord Inman, No Going Back {1952) p. 185.
19. Inman to Attlee, 4 Sept 1947, quoted in Inman, No Going Back, p. 186;
Economist, 11 Oct 194 7.
20. CM (47) 9 (17 Jan 1947); Dalton, High Tide, p. 193.
21. Dalton to Attlee, 20 Jan 1947, Dalton, High Tide, pp. 194-8.
Notes and References to pages 170-9 291

22. CM (47) 13 (28 Jan 1947); Dalton, High Tide, p. 198.

23. CM (47) 13 (28 Jan 1947); Dalton, High Tide, pp. 206-9.
24. 435 HCDeb, 1962.
25. Attlee to Morrison, 5 Apr 194 7.
26. Churchill, 437 HCDeb, 458 (7 May 194 7).
27. 436 HCDeb, 61, 64, 87.
28. Dalton, diary, 2 May 194 7.
29. Parliamentary Papers, 1946-7, XIX, 473ff.
30. CM (47) 14 (30 Jan 1947).
31. The Times, 22 Feb 1947.
32. Kingsley Martin, Evening Standard, 25 Feb 1947.
33. 434 HCDeb, 970 (10 Mar 1947).
34. The Times, 28 Mar 1947.
35. Dalton, diary, 28 Apr and 2 May 1947; cf. Dalton, High Tide, p. 236.
36. Dalton, diary, 26 July 1947; Morrison to Bridges, 8 July 1947, Morrison
Papers; Donoughue and Jones, pp. 406-8.
37. Manchester Guardian, 28 July 1947.
38. Dalton, diary, 26 July 1947; cf. Dalton, High Tide, p. 239.
39. Dalton, diary, 28 July 1947.
40. Ibid, 29 July 1947.
41. Ibid, 30 July 194 7.
42. Ibid.
43. CM (47) 67 and 68 (1 Aug 1947).
44. CM (47) 69 (5 Aug 1947); 441 HCDeb, 1486ff. (6 Aug 1947).
45. Economist, 9 Aug 1947.
46. 441 HCDeb, 1677-81 (7 Aug 1947).
47. Dalton, diary, 12 Mar 1947; 8 Aug 1947.
48. PLP Minutes, 11 Aug 1947; Dalton, High Tide, p. 253.
49. Dalton, High Tide, p. 262.
50. See Jowitt to Addison, 19 Aug 1947, Addison Papers, Box 18.
51. CM (47) 74 (25 Aug 1947); The Times, 28 Aug 1947.
52. Dalton, diary, 5 Sept 194 7.
53. Dalton, High Tide, p. 241.
54. Ibid, p. 243.
55. Morrison to Cripps, 8 Sept 194 7, Morrison Papers.
56. Cripps to Morrison, 8 Sept 194 7, Morrison Papers.
57. For an (admittedly) second-hand account of this interview see Dalton,
High Tide, p. 245.
58. Jay, Change and Fortune, p. 193.
59. Gordon Walker to Morrison, 23 Sept 1947, Gordon Walker Papers,
Churchill College.
60. See, for example, Lord Samuel's article in The Times, 9 Sept 194 7.
61. Dalton to Attlee, 20 Sept 1947, Attlee Personal Papers.
62. Morrison to Whiteley, 13 Sept 1947, Morrison Papers.
63. Attlee to Morrison, 15 Sept 194 7, Morrison Papers.
64. Since July, Addison's existing office had been entitled 'Secretary of State
for Commonwealth Relations'.
65. In fact, Isaacs was not appointed to the Economic Policy Committee.
292 Notes and References to pages 179--89

66. In his unpublished diaries Dalton refers to Shin well as 'Shinbad'. See also
Dalton to Attlee, 23 July 1947, Attlee Personal Papers, and Cripps to
Dalton, 24 Sept and 3 Oct 194 7, Dalton Papers.
67. Morrison to Attlee, 19 Sept 1947, Morrison Papers.
68. Attlee to Morrison, 23 Sept 194 7, Morrison Papers.
69. Webb to Morrison, 1 Oct 1947, Morrison Papers.
70. Attlee to Morrison, 3 Oct 194 7, Morrison Papers.
71. Dalton to Attlee, 20 Sept 1947, Attlee Personal Papers.
72. Cripps to Dalton, 24 Sept 1947, Dalton Papers.
73. Cripps to Attlee, 24 and 25 Sept 194 7, Attlee Personal Papers.
74. Attlee to Morrison, 3 Oct 194 7, Morrison Papers.
75. CM (47) 78; Dalton, diary, 2 Oct 1947.
76. 'The 1948 Dollar Programme', PM's Briefs, 17 Oct 1947, CAB 21/2243.
77. The Times, 10 Oct 1947.
78. The Times, 11 Oct 194 7.
79. Dalton, diary, 12 Oct 1947.
80. CM (47) 79 (9 Oct 1947).
81. Dalton, diary, 18 and 19 Oct 1947.
82. Dalton, High Tide, pp. 268ff.
83. Manchester Guardian, 11 Nov 1947.
84. The Times, 6 Dec 194 7.
85. 'John Bouverie', News Chronicle, 24 Oct 1947.
86. The Times, 24 Oct 194 7.
87. The Times, 13 Nov 1947.
88. For a full account of this episode see 'Select Committee on the Budget
Disclosure', Parliamentary Papers, 194 7-8, VI, 545ff; and also Dalton,
High Tide, pp. 276-86.
89. Economist, 25 Dec 1948.


1. Balfour to Nevile Butler, 29 May 1947, T 236/1887.

2. J. Gimbel, The Origins of the Marshall Plan (Stanford, Calif., 1976) p. 4.
For a more balanced view, see Scott Jackson, 'Prelude to the Marshall
Plan' ,Journal ofAmerican History, LXV (1979); M. J. Hogan, 'The Search
for a "Creative Peace": The US, European Unity, and the Origins of the
Marshall Plan', Diplomatic History, VI (1982).
3. Forrestal, diary, 3 and 4 Mar 194 7, Millis, Forrestal Diaries, pp. 244ff.
4. Kennan, memo, 16 May 1947, FRUS 1947, III, 221.
5. Kennan to Acheson, 23 May 1947, FRUS 1947, III, 224.
6. Clayton to Acheson, 27 May 1947, FRUS 1947, III, 230-2.
7. Acheson, Present at the Creation, p. 234.
8. Rene MacColl, Deadline and Dateline (1956), pp. 174ff.; L. Miall, 'How
the Marshall Plan Started', Listener, 4 May 1961.
9. W. Eady to B. Trend, 13 June 1947, T 236/1887.
10. 'UK Draft Record of Conference of Foreign Ministers, 3 July 1947', T
11. For the Anglo-French compromise, see ibid.
Notes and References to pages 189-97 293

12. Marshall to Douglas, 8 Sept 1947, FRUS 1947, III, 418.

13. Douglas to Marshall, 9 Sept 1947, FRUS 1947, III, 420.
14. A. H. Vandenberg, Jr, The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg {1953)
p. 377.
15. Harry B. Price, The Marshall Plan and Its Meaning (Ithaca, NY, 1955) p.
16. Vandenberg, Vandenberg Papers, pp. 374ff.
17. Price, Marshall Plan, p. 67.
18. Ibid, p. 55.
19. Ibid, p. 71; Acheson, Present at the Creation, p. 234.
20. T. L. Rowan, 'Draft Economic Co-operation Agreement between the UK
and the US', EPC (48) 48 (2 June 1948), CAB 134/218.
21. Reports to CLC (48) 3 (3 June 1948), CAB 133/18.
22. C/E, 'Economic Consequences of Receiving no ERP Aid', CP (48) 161
(23 June 1948).
23. CM (48) 42 {24 June 1948).
24. CM ( 48) 43 (25 June 1948).
25. Hoffman, memo. to the President, 26 June 1948, FRUS 1948, III, 457-8.
26. For the text of the treaty, see Royal Institute of International Affairs,
Documents on European Recovery and Defence, 1947-1949 (1949) pp.
27. 453 HCDeb, 41ff. (5 and 6 July 1948).
28. Marshall to lnverchapel, 12 Mar 1948, FRUS 1948, Ill, 484; Gladwyn,
Memoirs, pp. 215ff.
29. Douglas to Marshall, 31 Aug 1948, FRUS 1948, III, 484.
30. R. S. Churchill (ed.), The Sinews of Peace (1948) p. 199.
31. NEC Minutes, 22 Jan 194 7. For Labour's attitude to Europe in this period
see J. T. Grantham, 'The Labour Party and European Unity, 1939-1951'
{PhD thesis, Cambridge, 1977).
32. 446 HCDeb, 396-8.
33. NEC Minutes, 28 Jan and 28 Apr 1948.
34. LPCR, 1948, p. 177.
35. Memo, Clarke to Eady, 27 Feb 1948, T 236!1892; published in Sir R.
Clarke, Anglo-American Economic Collaboration in War and Peace,
1942-1949 (Oxford, 1982) p. 192.
36. Barclay, Bevin and the Foreign Office, p. 83.
37. Douglas to Marshall, 31 Aug 1948, FRUS 1948, III, 485.
38. CLC (48) 1st meeting (14 May 1948), CAB 133/8.
39. Douglas to Marshall, 31 Aug 1948, FRUS 1948, III, 485.
40. R. M. Bissell, memo, 22 Sept 1948, FRUS 1948, Ill, 486-9.
41. Cripps, 'Note of a Conversation with Mr A. Harriman', 13 May 1948, T
42. 'ERP Progress Report No. 8: Visit of the Chancellor ... to Canada and
the USA, 21 Sept-7 Oct 1948', T 236!1893.
43. Bevin to Spaak, 15 Oct 1948, quoted in P. H. Spaak, The Continuing
Battle {1971) p. 196.
44. OEEC, Two Years of Economic Co-operation {Paris, 1950) p. 17;
Labouisse to Acheson, 29 Mar 1949,FRUS 1949, IV, 380.
45. Harriman to ECA Missions in Europe, 1 July 1949, FRUS 1949, IV, 406.
294 Notes and References to pages 197-205

46. Ibid, p. 407.

47. Katz to Hoffman, 28 July 1949, ibid, p. 408.
48. Hoffman to Harriman, 5 Aug 1949, ibid, pp. 416-18.
49. Ibid, p. 425n.
50. See Chapter 11, p. 226.
51. Memo of conversation by G. Hayden Raynor, 24 Sept 1949,FRUS 1949,
IV, 425.
52. William Diebold, Trade and Payments in Western Europe (New York,
1952) p. 78; Economist, 29 Oct 1949.
53. Economist, 29 Oct 1949.
54. Douglas to Acheson, 18 Oct 1949, FRUS 1949, IV, 431.
55. Acheson to Douglas, 24 Oct 1949 and note, ibid, 434.
56. Douglas to Acheson, 26 Oct 1949, ibid, 435ff.
57. The Times, 1 Nov 1949; Economist, 5 Nov 1949.
58. Economist, 17 Dec 1949.
59. The Times, 3 Nov 1949.
60. Daily Telegraph, 17 Jan 1950.
61. Memo. of conversation with J. J. McCloy, 20 Jan 1950, FRUS 1950, III,
62. Murphy to Harriman, 5 Jan 1950, FRUS 1950, III, 610.
63. Editorial note, ibid, pp. 645ff.
64. Cripps to Hoffman, 7 Mar 1950, T 172/2040.
65. Hoffman to Cripps, 15 Mar 1950, ibid.
66. Aide-memoire, Acheson to Bevin, 11 May 1950, ibid, 655-7.
67. Diebold, Trade and Payments p. 92; Robert Triffin, Europe and the
Money Muddle (New Haven, Conn., 1967) p. 167; and forGaitskell's role
seeP. M. Williams, Hugh Gaitskell (1979) pp. 215-26.
68. ER (ECA) (49) 11th meeting (12 Dec 1949), CAB 133/49.
69. Kenney to Harriman, 13 Dec 1949,FRUS 1949, IV, 460-2.
70. Holmes (UK Charge d'affaires) to Acheson, 10 Mar 1950,FRUS 1950,
III, 643.
71. L. D. Epstein, Britain, Uneasy Ally (Chicago, 1954) summarises the
evidence in Parliament and press.
72. Memo 'ECA', 8 June 1948, CAB 133/74.
73. New York Times, 14 May 1948.
74. See ERP/BWC (48) 5th meeting, 25 May 1948, CAB 133/73.
75. New York Times, 30 Mar 1950.
76. See Bevin to Attlee, 29 Sept 1947, FO 800/438;New York Times, 1 July
77. ER (ECA) (48) 6, 6 Aug 1948, CAB 133/49.
78. ER (ECA) (49) 4, 31 Jan 1949, CAB 133/49.
79. ER (ECA) (49) 6, 11 Feb 1949, ibid; Harold Wilson in 461 HCDeb, 149f.
(w.a.) {15 Feb 1949).
80. For Anglo-American disagreement over China, see above, p. 143.
81. Hadley Arkes, Bureaucracy, the Marshall Plan and the National1nterest
(Princeton, New Jersey, 1972) p. 168.
82. Report to ER (W) (48) lOth Meeting (31 Aug 1948), CAB 133/74.
83. New York Times, 22 Dec 1948.
84. Arkes, Bureaucracy, p. 269.
Notes and References to pages 205-15 295

85. ER (W) (49) 15th Meeting {16 Aug 1949), CAB 133/75. For the text of
the Act and its 1949 amendments, see Royal Institute for International
Affairs, Documents on European Recovery, pp. 31-68.
86. New York Times, 7 Dec 1949.
87. Morgan, Colonial Development, II, 11 Off.
88. Ibid. On 'Point Four', see H. S. Truman, The Truman Memoirs, II,
89. Morgan, Colonial Development, pp. 111ff.
90. lbid,p.lOl.
91. Ibid, p. 106
92. 476 HCDeb, 222 (w.a.) (28 June 1950).
93. Morgan, Colonial Development, pp. 112-18.
94. CM (50) 17 (3 Apr 1950) and CM (50) 28 ( 4 May 1950).
95. CM (50) 70 (2 Nov 1950).
96. CM (50) 84 (11 Dec 1950).
97. 482 HCDeb, 1162 {13 Dec 1950).
98. Economist, 25 Nov 1950.
99. Arkes, Bureaucracy, p. 285.



1. J.D. Hoffman, The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1945-51 (1964)

p. 81.
2. Wootton, Memoirs (1959) p. 333.
3. Hoffman, Conservatives in Opposition, p. 89.
4. Ibid, p. 90.
5. Ibid, pp. 93-6.
6. Nicholas, British General Election of 1950, pp. 24, 28.
7. Hoffman, Conservatives in Opposition, p. 144.
8. Conservative Party, Industrial Charter (1947) p. 26.
9. Hoffman, Conservatives in Opposition, p. 148; R. A. Butler, The Art of
the Possible, p. 145.
10. J. S. Rasmussen, The Liberal Party (1965) pp. 14ff.
11. Ibid, p. 15.
12. Pollitt's report to CPGB executive, quoted in H. Pelling, British
Communist Party (1958) p. 142.
13. LPCR 1948, pp. 121-4.
14. Dalton, diary, 26 May 1948.
15. NEC Minutes, 28 July 1948.
16. Morgan Phillips to Attlee, 16 Dec 1948, and acknowledgement, 17 Dec
1948, Phillips Papers, Shanklin File.
17. The Times, 26 Feb 1949.
18. For the details and arguments, see Phillips Papers, Shanklin File.
19. Labour Party, Labour Believes in Britain (1949) pp. 8, 13.
20. Cripps to Dalton, 16 Mar 1949, Dalton Papers.
21. Dalton, diary, 23 Mar 1949.
22. NEC Minutes, 23 Mar 1949.
296 Notes and References to pages 215-23

23. LPCR 1949, pp. 154ff.

24. Ibid, p. 172, pp. 206ff.
25. Dalton, diary, 3-10 June 1949.
26. Co-operative Insurance Society, 'Memo ... on Labour Party Proposals',
NEC Minutes, 5 June 1949.
27. NEC Minutes, 28 Sept 1949; note on 'Industrial Assurance' in Dalton
Papers, 9/7.
28. NEC Minutes, 23 Nov 1949.
29. Dalton, diary, 23 Nov 1949.
30. Lyle to Morrison, 14 July 1949: copy in NEC Minutes, 27 July 1949.
31. Lyle, memo. 'The Future of the Sugar Industry in Great Britain', NEC
Minutes, 28 Sept 1949.
32. For one version of the cartoon, seep. 233.
33. NEC Minutes, 26 Oct 1949.
34. Quoted Nicholas, General Election 1950, pp. 72ff.
35. Ibid, p. 74.
36. News Chronicle, 29 Nov 1949.
37. The Times, 14 May 1949.
38. NEC Minutes, 28 Jan 1948.
39. 448 HCDeb, 3029 (24 Mar 1948).
40. Nicholas, General Election 1950, p. 4.
41. Liaison Committee Minutes, 8 Mar 1948.
42. R. J. Jackson, Rebels and Whips (1968) pp. 65-9.
43. NEC Minutes, 28 Apr 1948.
44. LPCR 1948, pp. 17, 120ff.
45. NEC Minutes, 27 Oct 1948.
46. NEC Minutes, 23 Feb 1949.
47. Zilliacus to Phillips, 22 Dec 1947, NEC Minutes, 23 Feb 1949.
48. Zilliacus, 'Memo. to Members of the By-Election Sub-Committee',
NEC Minutes, 23 Feb 1949.
49. NEC Minutes, 27 Apr 1949.
50. Ibid, 18 May 1949.
51. See Pelling, British Communist Party, p. 155.
52. For example, Phillips to J. W. Raisin, 24 May 1948, Phillips Papers Box
14; Phillips to J. T. Anson, 4 Nov 1948, Box 25 (re AEU).
53. NEC Minutes, 26 Jan 1949. The prominence of the housing issue in the
General Election is confirmed by the Mass-Observation survey, Voters'
Choice (1950).
54. LPCR 1949, p. 12.
55. LPCR 1950, p. 16.
56. Manchester Guardian, 21 Sept 1949.
57. 461 HCDeb, 1577 (21 Feb 1949).
58. News Chronicle, 15 Mar 1949.
59. 463 HCDeb, 2124 (22 Mar 1949).
60. The Times, 23 Mar 1949.
61. News Chronicle, 1 Apr 1949.
62. The Times, 26 Jan 1949; Lynskey Tribunal, 'Report', Parliamentary
Papers, 1948-9, XVIII, 425ff.
63. Dalton, diary, 20 Mar 1949.
Notes and References to pages 223-31 297

64. Ibid, 24 May 1949.

65. Ibid, 1 July 1949.
66. 467 HCDeb, 673ff. (14 July 1949).
67. Jay, Change and Fortune, pp. 186ff.
68. The Times, 18 July 1949.
69. Dalton, diary, 17 July 1949.
70. Phillips to Attlee, 19 July 1949, Attlee Papers, Bodleian Library, Box 2.
71. On Wilson's hesitation seeP. M. Williams, Gaitskell, pp. 199-200; Jay,
Change and Fortune, pp. 187, 191.
72. For the text of the note, see Jay, Change and Fortune, pp. 188ff.
73. R. T. McKenzie's interview with Sir H. Wilson, BBC 1, televised 11 Aug
74. The Times, 1 Sept 1949.
75. For Cripps's report to the Cabinet, see C/E 'The Washington Dis-
cussions, 7-12 Sept 1949', CP (49) 191 (20 Sept 1949).
76. A. Johnston to Helsby, 'Devaluation of the Pound', 17 Sept 1949,
PREM 8/973.
77. Listener, 22 Sept 1949.
78. 468 HCDeb, 168 (28 Sept 1949).
79. Jay, Change and Fortune, pp. 191ff.
80. TUC Report, 1950, pp. 263ff.
81. 'No Circulation Record', 13 Oct 1949, CAB 128/21/2; Cripps to Attlee,
13 Oct 1949, CAB 127/85.
82. The Times, 14 Oct 1949.
83. Dalton, diary, 7 Dec 1949.
84. Wheeler-Bennett, King George VI, p. 770; CM (50) 1 (10 Jan 1950).
85. NEC Minutes, 25 Jan 1950.
86. TUC Report, 1950, p. 265.
87. Dalton, diary, 24 Jan 1950.
88. Listener, 19 Jan 1950.
89. Asa Briggs, Sound and Vision (Oxford, 1979) pp. 643ff.
90. Nicholas, General Election of 1950, pp. 95ff.
91. Ibid,p.103.
92. Listener, 23 Feb 1950.
93. Nicholas, General Election 1950, p. 94.
94. 'General Election Campaign: Head Office Service', NEC Minutes, 22
Mar 1950.
95. News Chronicle, 29 Nov 1949 and 22 Feb 1950.
96. Nicholas, General Election 1950, p. 319.
97. News Chronicle, 25 Jan 1950.
98. Dalton, diary, 26 Feb 1950.
99. Economist, 4 Mar 1950.
100. Ibid.
101. CM (50) 5 (25 Feb 1950).
102. Brook to Attlee, 25 Feb 1950, PREM 8!1166; and his 'No Circulation
Record' at the end of the Labour Government's 1951 Minutes; cf.
Dalton, diary, 25 Feb 1950.
103. PLP Minutes, 1 Mar 1950.
104. Attlee to Tom Attlee, 2 Mar 1950, Attlee Personal Papers.
298 Notes and References to pages 231-43

105. This and later comments are from Attlee's notes on the subject, CRA
1/17, Churchill College Library.
106. Dalton, diary, 28 Feb 1950.
107. Ibid, 27 Feb 1950.
108. Ibid, 27 Jan 1950.
109. Attlee to Phillips, 14 Mar 1950, Phillips Papers, Box 27.
110. Economist, 4 Mar 1950.
111. The Times, 1 Mar 1950.


1. 472 HCDeb, 145 (7 Mar 1950).

2. 472 HCDeb, 474 (9 Mar 1950).
3. 472 HCDeb, 937 (14 Mar 1950).
4. CM (50) 16 (30 Mar 1950).
5. CM (50) 17 (3 Apr 1950).
6. 474 HCDeb, 38ff. (18 Apr 1950).
7. CM (50) 9 (9 Mar 1950).
8. The Times, 8 Apr 1950.
9. CM (50) 26 (27 Apr 1950); 474 HCDeb, 158f. (w.a.) (1 May 1950).
10. CM (50) 32 (18 May 1950); The Times, 20 May 1950.
11. 474 HCDeb, 1888ff. (4 May 1950).
12. 4 75 HCDeb, 2383-5 (26 May 1950).
13. NEC Minutes, 22 Mar 1950.
14. For a record of the discussions, see Phillips Papers, Box 26/3.
15. NEC Minutes, 28 June 1950.
16. LPCR 1950, p. 114.
17. Ibid, p. 132.
18. Jean Monnet, Memoires (Paris, 1976) ch. 12.
19. 'Record of a Conversation between Mr Bevin, Mr Acheson, and M.
Schuman', 11 May 1950, PREM 8/1428; Acheson, Present at the
Creation, pp. 385ff.
20. J. W. Young, 'The Labour Government's Foreign Policy Towards
France, 1945-51' (Cambridge, 1983) p. 252. This PhD thesis contains
the best account of the negotiations that I have seen.
21. CM (50) 34 (2 June 1950).
22. Donoughue and Jones, Morrison, p. 481.
23. Note by PM, 7 June 1950, PREM 8!1428.
24. 476 HCDeb, 36 (13 June 1950).
25. E. Davies to Dalton, 28 Apr 1950, Dalton Papers, 9/8/30.
26. Labour Party, European Unity (1950) pp. 6, 8.
27. 476 HCDeb, 552 (15 June 1950).
28. 4 76 HCDeb, 1907ff. (26 and 27 June 1950).
29. 477 HCDeb, 1159 (11 July 1950).
30. Ibid, 1166.
31. Luard, History of the United Nations, 1, 240.
32. Ibid, p. 314.
Notes and References to pages 243-51 299

33. CM (50) 46 (17 July 1950).

34. CM (50) 39 (27 June 1950).
35. DO (50) 12 (6 July 1950).
36. DO (50) 15 (24 July 1950).
37. CM (50) 50 (25 July 1950).
38. 478 HCDeb, 484ff. (26 July 1950).
39. Ibid, 695ff. (27 July 1950).
40. Air Vice-Marshal Elliot to PM, 17 Aug 1950, CAB 21/2281 A.
41. David Rees, Korea: The Limited War (1964) pp. 44, 109.
42. CM (50) 52 (1 Aug 1950); The Times, 4 Aug 1950.
43. CM (50) 53 (11 Aug 1950).
44. The Times, 12 Aug 1950.
45. Rees, Korea, pp. 109, 131.
46. Ibid, p. 148.
47. Ibid, p. 167.
48. Franks to Bevin, 16 Aug 1950, PREM 8!1156; Acheson, Present at the
Creation, p. 438.
49. Truman, Memoirs, 11, 420-38 for a full account.
50. Rees, Korea, pp. 249ff.
51. Ibid, p. 274.
52. C. D. N. Worswick and P. H. Ady, The British Economy in the
Nineteen-Fifties (Oxford) p. 536.
53. News Chronicle, 5 Feb 1951.
54. Quoted D. E. Butler, British General Election of 1951, pp. 13ff.
55. Annual Register, 1951, p. 18.
56. Dalton, diary, 11 Sept 1950.
57. Ibid, 18 Jan 1951.
58. Ibid.
59. Ibid, 19 Feb and 10 Mar 1951.
60. The Times, 10 Mar 1951.
61. Kenneth Harris, Attlee (1982) pp. 425,472.
62. News Chronicle, 4 Apr 1951. The comment was not recorded by The
63. CM (51) 25 (9 Apr 1951); Dalton, diary, 9 Apr 1951.
64. A Note of Attlee's views initialled hy Morrison and Whiteley, 9 Apr
1951, is in the Morrison Papers.
65. P. Williams, Gaitskell, p. 252.
66. 486 HCDeh, 826ff. (10 Apr 1951).
67. CM (51) 29 and 30 (19 and 23 Apr 1951).
68. Tribune, 20 Apr 1951.
69. The Times, 23 Apr 1951.
70. News Chronicle, 25 Apr 1951; Dalton, diary, 24 Apr 1951.
71. The Times, 3 May 1951.
72. Dalton to Attlee, 15 Apr 1951, Dalton Papers.
73. The Times, 27 Apr 1951.
74. Donoughue and Jones, Morrison, pp. 484-8.
75. The Times, 4 May 1951.
76. CM (51) 37 (28 May 1951). For a good account see A. W. Ford, The
Anglo-Iranian Oil Dispute of 1951-1952 (Berkeley, Calif., 1954).
300 Notes and References to pages 251-8

77. Reported to CM (51) 48 (2 July 1951).

78. President to PM, 31 May 1951, CAB 21/2281B.
79. 489 HCDeb, 829f. (21 June 1951 ).
80. CM (51) 48 (2 July 1951); Dalton, diary, 2 July 1951. 'Pam' was the
nickname of Lord Palmerston.
81. CM (51) 57 (1 Aug 1951).
82. PM to President, 23 Aug 1951, CAB 21/2281B.
83. Stokes to Attlee, 14 Sept 1951, Attlee Private Papers.
84. The best account of this is Andrew Boyle, The Climate of Treason, 2nd
edn (1982).
85. On this see Peter Hennessy and Gail Brownfeld, 'Britain's Cold War
Security Purge: The Origins of Positive Vetting', Historical Journal, 25
(1982) 965ff.
86. Ibid, p. 969.
87. Boyle, Climate of Treason, p. 387.
88. Ibid, pp. 398ff.
89. See Attlee's article in Foreign Affairs, 1953, quoted in Hennessy and
Brownfeld, 'Positive Vetting', pp. 96lff.
90. For these details, see FO memo. to Morrison, 19 July 1963, Morrison
91. On this point I follow the FO memo. and not Boyle, Climate of Treason,
p. 401.
92. CM (50) 3 (31 Jan 1950).
93. CM (50) 7 (3 Mar 1950).
94. 472 HCDeb, 295 (8 Mar 1950).
95. CRO, 'Bechuanaland Protectorate: Succession to the Chieftainship of
the Bamangwato Tribe', Parliamentary Papers, 1950, XIX, 5ff. .
96. 489 HCDeb, 1190ff. (26 June 1951 ).
97. Griffiths, Pages from Memory, pp. 114-16.
98. CO, 'The Colonial Territories, 1950-51 ', Parliamentary Papers,
1950-1, XXVI, 36.
99. Ibid, p. 12; Griffiths, Pages from Memory, pp. 94-100.
100. CO, 'The Colonial Territories, 1951-52', Parliamentary Papers, 1951-2,
XXIV, 13.
101. Attlee to Morrison, 27 May 1951, Morrison Papers.
102. Morrison to Attlee, 6 July 1951, Morrison Papers.
103. Dalton, diary, 16 June and 21 Sept 1951.
104. Ibid, 26 June 1951.
105. CM (51) 59 (19 Sept 1951); Dalton, diary, 19 Sept 1951.
106. Dalton, diary, 19 and 24 Sept 1951.
107. Ibid, 24 Sept 1951.
108. LPCR 1951, p. 98. The manifesto is printed on pp. 209-11.
109. This account of the campaign is largely drawn from Butler. British
General Election of /951.
Notes and References to pages 261-8 301


1. W. S. Churchill, Second World War, 1, 526.

2. Ibid, vol. IV, 861.
3. Jose Harris, 'Did British Workers Want the Welfare State?' in Jay Winter
(ed.) The Working Class in Modern British History (Cambridge, 1983) p.
4. 'Interim Report on Public Ownership', TUC Report, 1953 p. 489.
5. Acton Society Trust, Patterns of Organisation (1951 ).
6. Calculated from Ministry of Labour Gazette.
7. Leslie Hannah, Engineers, Managers and Politicians (1982) pp. 131, 13 7.
8. Hugh Gaitskell, Socialism and Nationalisation (1956) pp. 18, 29. The
essay was first written in 1953.
9. R. Kelf-Cohen, Nationalisation in Britain, 2nd edn ( 1961) p. 207.
10. The Times, 12 and 19 Feb 1948.
11. TUC Report, 1948 p. 290.
12. Cripps, press conference, Daily Telegraph, 15 July 1948.
13. Jebb, 'Keep Left', 5 May 1947, FO 800/493.
14. R. H. S. Crossman eta/, Keeping Left (1950) p. 19.
15. D. J. Morgan, Official History of Colonial Development, II, 80ff.
16. Janet Morgan ( ed.) The Backbench Diaries of Richard Crossman ( 1981)
pp. 28ff.
17. Economist, 13 Feb 1954.
Abadan 251f (1951) 248, 250; and bread
Abyssinia 5, 243 rationing 70ff; and public
Acheson, Dean 135, 188, 190, 198, relations 72ff, 165; and
201, 224, 240, 242, 245 nationalisation 80, 84f, 87, 92,
Acland, Sir Richard !4f 212, 216, 235, 237f; relations with
ADA World 118 Bevin 119ff, 129, 136, 139, 144f,
Adenauer, Konrad 134 150, 168, 219ff; and foreign
Addison, Viscount: Dominions Sec affairs 120, 124, 132, 169, 245f,
(1945-7) 37, 85, 105, 153, 168, 251ff; and fuel crisis (1947) 166;
269; other posts ( 194 7-51) 86, criticism of(1947) 173-5, 176f;
87, 89, 159, 178,227.231,248, and Communists 219,221, 252-4;
269, 270 and 1950 election 225, 227-31;
Afrika Korps 12 and 1951 election 256-9;
Aftermath, The (Churchill) 62 holidays 176, 241; illness
Alamein, El (1942) 12, 21, 31, 147 (1951) 24!m
Alexander, A. V. (later Viscount): at Attlee, Tom 40, IS Iff, 231
Admiralty (1940-5; 1945-6) 11, Attlee, Mrs Violet 39, 229, 258
42, 148f, 150, 269; Ministry of atomicbomb 41,124-7,193.228,
Defence (1946-50) 85. 126, 142. 245f, 253
143, 155, 169f, 170f, 182, 227, Atomic Energy, Advisory Committee
231,269 on 125
American Medical Association 118 Auchinleck, Gen. Sir Claude 21
Amery. Leo 163 Aung San !53
Amethyst. H. M.S. 142 Australia 141, 144, 244, 256
Anderson, Sir John 22. 36. 78, 125 Austria 9, 188, 190, 261
Anglo-Iranian Oil Company 251f Azores 122
Annual Register 165
Army Bureau of Current Affairs Bacon, Alice !!Sf, 216
(ABCA) 29f Bailey, Dr E. E. !57
Asquith, H. H. 145 Baldwin, Stanley Sf
Attlee, C. R.: as party leader 2, 3, 4, 5, Balfour, Sir John 187
6ff, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 31.264, 267; Balfour Declaration (1917) 127
in 1945 election 18-26; Prime Baltic States 10, 18
Minister 27-9, 33, 59. 105. 118. Bank of England 2, 77-9, 80, 89, 90,
224, 233, 236, 24lf, 255, 261, 265, 94, 203, 211, 224
268, 269; and Cabinet Barclay, Roderick 141
making 35-39, 41f; and personal Baring, Sir Evelyn 254
staff 39f, 53; and National Barkley, Sen. Alben W. 59
Executive 45-7; and 'Big Barnes, Alfred 166, 213
Five' 56, 174, 183; and Barnes, W. Gorell 182
demobilisation 61-3; and Cabinet Bartlett, Vernon 9
reshuffles (1946) 69, 167-9; Basutoland 254
(1947) 177-82; (1950) 23lf; Beaverbrook, Lord 18, 22, 27, 58, 119

304 Index

Bechuanaland 254ff bomb 126f; Colombo Conference

Begin, Menachem 128 (1950) 144; ill-health 141, 144,
Belcher, John 223 232, 240, 245, 248; death 250,
Belgium 133, 136, 193, 194, 196f, 270
198 Bevir, Anthony 39
Berlin blockade (1948-9) 134, 220 Bidault, Georges 132, 134, 189
Bernadotte, Count 129 Bikini atomic test ( 1946) 125
Bevan, Aneurin: backbench critic 9, Bissell, Richard 195, 209
20, 38, 46, 103; Minister of Health Blackburn, Raymond 43
(1945-51) 42,46, 56, 82, 87, 98, Blackett, Prof P.M. S. 126
129, 215f, 221; and NHS 102-8, Blum, Leon 132, 133
236, 244,247-50;and Boothby, Robert 79, 247
housing: 108-13, 236; resists Borah, Sen. William E. 10
Cabinet change 179, 181, 248; Bottomley, Arthur 159
urges early election (1949) 223, Bradley, Gen. Omar 244
225-7; urges more nationalisation bread rationing: 67, 69-71
(1950) 238, 239f; Minister of Bridge, Roy 203
Labour(1951) 262, 270; Bridges, Sir Edward 56, 57, 160, 173,
threatens resignation (194 7) 85; 174, 176
resigns ( 1951) 250, 270 Briggs, Gen. Sir Harold 256
Bevanites 257 British Electricity Authority 82, 93
Beveridge, Sir William 12, 98, 106, British Iron and Steel Fedn 83, 84, 87
117, 262 British Medical Association
Beveridge Report on Social Services (BMA) 102, 103, 106-8, 228
(1942) 12ff, 18, 31, 97, 99ff, 102, British Medical Journal 103
214,261 British Nationality Act (1948) 160ff
Bevin, Ernest: Secretary of Transport British Overseas Airways
Workers (to 1940) 4, 7, 43, 76, Corporation 81, 90
222; Minister of Labour British-Soviet Friendship Society 221
(1940--5) 11, 13-15, 18-20,27, Brook, Sir Norman 169, 231, 253
32, 36, 38, 61, 66; Foreign Brooke, Gen. Sir Alan (later Lord
Secretary (1945-51) 28, 33, 36, Alanbrooke) 41, 66
41ff, 56, 60--2, 70, 85, 165, 174, Brown, Ernest 102
183, 194f, 201,224-7, 269; Brown, George 43, 173, 181, 183
Chairman of Manpower Committee Brussels, Treaty of (1948) 133, 134,
(1945-7) Ill, 119; on Defence 137, 193
Committee 39, 169, 182; and Bulgaria 121
parliamentary party 44f, 139, Burgess, Guy 252-4
140f, 220; and Communists 133, Burma 67, 153; Independence Bill
219; loyalty to Attlee 144f, 173, (1947) 153
177; hostility to Morrison 28; Butler, R. A. 13, 29, 98, 100, 113,
rejects premiership 120, 173, 177; 211ff, 268
attitude to USA 47, 60, 69, 118, by-elections: Oxford (1938) 9;
120, 122, 124, 128, 134-6, 170, Eddisbury (1943) 15; Skipton
266; to USSR 120--3, 132f, 138f, (1944) 15; Chelmsford
203; welcomes Marshall Aid 132, (1945) 15; Battersea (1946) 72;
199; on Western Union 133, 193; Sowerby (1949) 223
opposes Federation 136f, 197-9, Byrnes, James, Secretary of State 55,
240ff; works for North Atlantic 122, 131
Pact 134-6, 145, 193, 266; and
Germany 87, 130ff, 134, 145; and Cabinet, War (1939-45) 11, 12, 13,
Palestine 47, 60, 128-30; and 14, 35, 36, 76, 120
India 150, 162; and Cadogan, Sir Alexander 120
China 142-4, 243; and atomic Callaghan, James 45, 58, 62, 63, 182
Index 305

Canada 12, 55,59, 69, 70,125,134, Common Wealth 14f, 18

148, 160, 193, 197,207,226,257 Commonwealth Affairs Committee
Canadian Citizenship Act (1946) 160 (Cabinet) 160, 162, 178, 253, 258
Caretaker Government (1945) 22, 32, Lommonwealth Finance Ministers
42,62,98,172,259 Meeting (1949) 224
Carvel, John 184 Communist Information Bureau
Casey, Richard 18 (Cominform) 132,212,219,221
Castle, Mrs Barbara 58, 258 Communist Party: British 8, 10, 31,
Catto, Lord 79 49,212,219, 221f, 228,230,
Central African Federation 160, 255 252f, 258; abroad 132, 133; see
Central Electricity Board 166 also Communist Information
Central Intelligence Agency (US) 253 Bureau
Ceylon 64, 147, 154f, 160, 267 Congress Party (Indian) 147, 148f,
Ceylon Independence Bill (194 7) 154 152
Chamberlain, Neville 9, 10 Conservative Party 1, 3, 9, 11f, 13,
Chequen 20, 39,40,183 15, 22, 26ff, 29f, 33, 51, 57, 70f,
Cherwell, Lord 13 86, 89, 100, 110, 155, 170, 193,
Chetwynd, George 43 211,218,225, 229;after 1950
Chiang Kai-shek 243 election 235, 245, 247, 257f, 259,
China 142, 143, 204, 243, 245f, 253 265; Central Office 6, 211
China and S.E. Asia Committee conscription 65-7, 170, 245
(Cabinet) 142 Control of Engagement Order
Churchill, Mrs Clementine 33 (1947) 236
Churchill, Winston S. 6, 10, 62; Prime Co-operative Insurance Society 216
Minister (1940-5) 11-15, 17-21, Co-operative Party 42
36--9,98, 103, 125, 147, 174, 259; co-operative societies 8, 42, 46, 82,
in 1945 election 22-7,29,30, 213,214,237
32ff, 47; in Opposition 58, 63, 65, Council of Europe 137,199,251
71, 78, 89, 185,211,212,219,226, Council of Foreign Ministers:
268; Fulton speech of 59, 123; (1945) 121; (1946) 132, 150;
and European unity 136, 138, (1947) 132ff, 187
193; in 1950 election 228, 235, Couve de Murville, Maurice 198
244, 249; in 1951 election 271; Cove, W. G. 115
Prime Minister (1951) 272 Creech Jones, A. 129, 142, 153, 154,
Citrine, Sir Walter (later Lord) 4, 5, 155, 156, 158,231,255,269
80,82,96, 263 Cripps, Sir Stafford 3, 4, 7; and
Civil Service Clerical Association 51 Socialist League 8, 9, 14; in
Clarke, R. W. B. ('Otto') 194 Coalition 12, 32, 37, 76; President
Clay, Gen. Lucius 130 Board of Trade (1945-7) 37, 56,
Clayton, Will 55, 58, 131, 188 70, 166, 167, 169, 172, 174, 175;
Coalition Government and India, 148, 150, 151, 163;
(1940-45) 11f, 18-24, 38, 42, attempts to remove Attlee
44, 45, 61, 97, 102, 110, 111,259 (1947) 176f, 265; Minister for
Cobbold, Cameron 79 Economic Affairs ( 194 7) 177-80,
Cohen, Andrew 158 181, 183f, 269; Chancellor of
Cole, G. D. H. 262 Exchequer (1947-50) 87, 96, 112,
Colombo Conference (1950) 143f 142, 185f, 197f, 199f, 201,207,
Colonial Affairs Committee 215ff, 224, 227, 235f, 238f, 241,
(Cabinet) 160, 162, 178 262, 265, 270; and devaluation
Colonial Development and Welfare (1949) 198, 223f;
Acts 156 ill-health 224f, 24 7
Colonial Development Corporation Crookshank, Capt H. F. C. 93
(CDC) 157 Crossman, Richard 43, 138, 140, 266,
Committee of Nine (Cabinet) 166 267f
306 Index

Cummings, A. J. 72 Eady, Sir Wilfrid 56, 174, 176, 194

Cunningham, Gen. Sir Alan 129 East African High Commission 158
Cyprus 128 Economic Co-operation Act (US,
Cyrenaica 121 1948) 191, 205, 206, 207
Czechoslovakia 9, 132ff, 189f, 220, Economic Co-operation Administration
253 (ECA) 190, 193, 195, 199,201,
Economic Policy Committee
Daily Express 25, 27 (Cabinet) 159, 177ff, 178ff, 185f,
Daily Herald 4, 40, 44 191, 224, 265
Daily Mirror 259 'Economic Survey' (1946) 66
Daily Telegraph 21, 23 Economic Survey ( 194 7) 112, 17lf
Dalton, Hugh 5, 7, 15, 27, 87, 121; in Economist 37, 38, 169, 174f, 176,
Coalition Govt 11, 12, 13, 15, 19, 186,198,199,208,230,232,268
21, 32; Chancellor of Exchequer Ede, Chuter (Home Sec. 1945-51) 23,
(1945-7) 28, 37,40,43-7, 54, 29,37f,219,248,250,256,269
56--9, 69, 130f, 139, 166f, 172-6, Eden, Anthony 9, 10, 23, 57, 120,
182f, 183, 184; describes Cripps's 121,226
putsch 176--8; resignation 184f, Education Act (1944) 13, 98, 113, 116
265, 270; Chancellor of Duchy Edwards, Alfred 87, 89, 220
(1948-50) 223, 230, 270; urges Edwards, Ebby 80f
Cabinet changes 179-81, 247; Egypt 55, 64, 65
Minister of Town and Country Eighth Army, British 12
Planning (1950--1) 113,231,239, Eire see Ireland, Republic of
270; Minister of Local Govt Eisenhower, Gen. D. D. 125
(1951) 248,250, 25lf, 258, 270; Electrical Trades Union 221
and nationalisation 78f, 85, 87, Electricity Act (194 7) 165
212ff, 215, 216; and European Elizabeth II, Queen 163
Assembly (1948-50) 137, 138; Empire 159
and election dates (1949-51) 225, Employment Policy, White Paper on
227,231,257 (1944) 97
Davies, Clement 100, 255 Engineering Union, Amalgamated 49,
Davies, Ernest 232 91, 222
De Freitas, Geoffrey 40, 63 European Assembly 137f
De Valera, E. 59 European Economic Community 242
Defence Committee (Cabinet) 39, 41, European Payments Union 201, 208
6~ 127,170,174,243 European Recovery Programme 88,
Denmark 11, 122, 137, 200 135,224
devaluation (1949) 198, 223-6 European Unity (1950) 241
Distributive and Allied Workers, Evans, Lincoln 214, 238
National Union of 49, 214f Evans, R. G. 214
Dixon, Pierson 120, 121, 133, 140 Evening Standard 172
Docker, Sir Bernard 105 Exodus 129
Douglas, Lewis (US Ambassador) 135,
189, 192, 195, 196, 198, 199 Fabian Colonial Bureau 155, 159
Driberg, Tom 216, 258 Fabian Society 46
Dugdale, John 207 Family Allowances 13, 31, 97, 98, 99
Dukes, Charles 49 Festival of Britain (1951) 251
Dulles, J. Foster 118 Figgins, J. B. 91
Duncan, Sir Andrew 84 Fiji 256
Dunkirk 62, 63; Treaty of Finland 10, 221
(1947) 133 Finletter, Thomas 199, 204
Durbin, Evan 10, 43 Fire Brigades Union 49, 221
Durham, Earl of 12, 148 Flanders, Sen. Ralph E. 205
Index 307

Foot, Michael 58, 221, 238, 239 Gillies, William 15

Ford Motor Company 88 Going Our Way (1951) 257
Foreign Assistance Act (US, Gold Coast 156, 158, 256
1948) 190 Gollancz, Victor 8, 67
Formosa 243 Good, Alan 15
Forrestal, James 187 Gordon Walker, P. C. 9, 142, 159,
Fothergill, Philip 212 160, 161, 162, 163, 231f, 255
France 8, 10, 130, 132, 133, 135, Gower, Sir Patrick 6
136ff, 143, 145, 188, 190, 193, 196, Greece 61, 66, 119, 122, 137, 169,
198,240,264 170
Frankfurter, Felix 4 7 Greenwood, Arthur 6ff, 11, 12, 28,
Franks, Sir Oliver 135, 189, 224, 245 36ff, 214; Lord Privy Seal
Freeman, John 43, 250 (1945-7) 37, 39,45, 98, 99, 108,
French North Africa 12 167, 179, 180, 269
friendly societies 1OOf Grey, Sir Edward 145
Fuchs, Klaus 253 Griffiths, James Min of Nat Insurance
full employment 13, 19, 31, 88, 97, (1945-50) 46, 82, 92,98-100,
212, 257, 267, 268 101; Party Chairman
Fulton speech (Churchill, 1946) 123, (1948-9) 214, 215, 216, 222, 223;
131 Colonial Sec (1950--1) 238, 255f,
Fyfe, Sir David Maxwell 211, 241f 258
Grigg, Sir James 22
Gaitskell, Hugh 10, 25, 43, 264; groundnuts scheme 156-8, 159
Minister of Fuel and Power
(1947-50) 86, 179, 181, 182,224, Haldane, Lord 35
228; Minister of Economic Affairs Halifax, Earl of 47, 54, 55, 56, 57,
(1950) 201, 206, 231; Chancellor 124, 152
of Exchequer ( 1950--1) 207f, Hall, George: Col Sec (1945-6) 42,
247f, 256,257,268,270 4 7, 154, 158; at Admiralty
Gallup Poll 14, 17, 27, 30, 31, 72,165, (1946-51) 155
218,223,225,229, 246f, 259 Hall, W. Glenvil 181, 182
Gandhi, Mahatma 147, 149, 153 Hall-Patch, Sir Edmund 194f, 199
Garner, Lord 154 Hardman, David 116
Gas Council 86 Harriman, Averell 190f, 193, 195,
General and Municipal Workers, 197,200,202,209,252
National Union of 43, 214 Hastings, Sir Patrick 26
General Election (1906) 1; ( 1931) 3; Hawton, John 102, 103f
(1935) 6, 14, 27, 31; (1945) 1, Hayter, William 121
15,17-19,22-8, 29-33,36; Healey, Denis 46, 139f
(1950) 160,200,223,225,227, Health Service Employees,
264, 267; (1951) 256-9, 267 Confederation of 79
General Strike (1926) 50 Helsby. Lawrence 39
George V, King 2 Henderson, Arthur 3, 5, 7, 8, 121, 182
George VI, King 27, 31, 33, 152, 162, Henderson, Arthur, Jr 182, 232
163, 227, 251, 256f, 259 Henderson, Sir Hubert 57f, 62
Germany: under Nazi rule 10, 15, 18; Henderson, Sir Nicholas 135
under occupation 61, 66, 67, 68, Heyworth Committee (1945) 86
69, 126, 130, 132, 133, 145, 168, Hill, Dr Charles 107, 228
169,174, 183, 261; and Marshall Hiroshima 41, 125
Plan 187, 188, 189, 191, 196; Hitchman, Alan 202
Federal Republic 134, 242, 244, Hitler, Adolf 9, 10, 11, 76, 97, 121
245 Hobson, Harold 166
Gibson, George 79 Hoffman, Paul 190, 192, 195, 197,
Gilbert and Ellice Islands 122 199ff,202, 203,205,209,224
308 Index

Hogg, Quintin 50 Iron and Steel Trades Confedn 238

Holland see Netherlands Isaacs, George, Min of Labour
Hong Kong 41, 142, 143, 243, 244 (1945-51) 38,42, 61, 62f, 85, 95,
Horder, Lord 69 98, 16~ 17~ 179,190,232,248,
Horner, Arthur 238 269
housing 32, 38, 108-13, 222, 236, Ismay, Gen. Sir Hastings 151
257,258 Israel 130
Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Italy 5, 64, 66, 135, 137, 188, 196,
Act(1944) 109 198,220
Hungary 121
Hunter, Ellis 84 Jamaica 207
Hurcomb, Sir Cyril 96 Japan 12, 18, 20, 39, 40f, 53, 54, 61,
Hutchinson, Lester 220 122, 142, 187, 191, 192, 242,261
Hutting Operation for the Raising of the Jay, Douglas 10, 40, 53, 56, 72, 82,
School Leaving Age 115 177, 182, 223f
hydrogen bomb 238f Jebb, Gladwyn 135, 137, 266
Hynd, J. B. 167 Jeffries, Sir Charles 156
Hyndley, Lord 80, 95, 166 Jewish Agency 60, 128
Jinnah, M.A. 147, 151, 152
Iceland 122 Johnson, Carol 44
Imperial Chemicals Ltd 213 Jolly George 138
Independent Labour Party (ILP) 3, 8, Jordan, Philip 226ff
10, 140 Jowitt, Sir William (later Lord): Lord
India 12, 55, 64f, 67f, 143, 147-53, Chancellor (1945-51) 37, 85, 86,
160-2, 167-70 89, 98,99, 162,167,269
India, Government of, Act (1935) 148
India and Burma Committee Kaldor, Nicholas 58
(Cabinet) 39, 148, 150, 160, 167 Kashmir 153, 159, 162
Indonesia 66, 122, 142 Katz, Milton 197
Industrial Charter (194 7) 93, 95, 212 Keep Left (194 7) 266
Industrial Assurance 213-6, 227, 269 Keep Left Group 237
Information, Ministry of 12, 40 Keith, Prof. A. B. 161
Inland Revenue Staffs Assn 51 Kelf-Cohen, Reuben 264
Inman, Lord 169, 173, 269 Kennan, George 187f
Insurance Officers, Guild of 214f Kenney, John 199,202,206
Insurance Workers, National Federation Kenya 158
of 214ff Keynes, J. M. 10, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58,
International Customs Union Study 59, 65, 97, 130
Group 194 King, W. L. Mackenzie 125
International Monetary Fund Korea, North 242, 243, 245
(IMF) 55, 180 Korea, South 191, 242,243
International Post- War Settlement Korean War 208, 209, 242-4, 245,
(1944) 15, 37, 127 257,266,268
Intra-European Payments Agreement:
1948 196; 1949 197 Labour, Nat Council of (earlier National
Inverchapel, Lord 60, 124, 128, 135, Joint Council) 4, 5, 12
170 Labour and the New Society
Iran (Persia) 59, 121, 251f, 257, 258 ( 1950) 239
Ireland, Northern 229, 230, 259 Labour Believes in Britain (1949) 213,
Ireland, Republic of 135f, 137, 160, 215, 227
203 Labour League of Youth 222
Ireland Act (1949) 161 Labour Party, extra-parliamentary see
iron and steel nationalisation 83-91, National Executive Committee;
179, 183, 223, 232, 235, 264, 268 Transport House
Index 309

Labour Party, parliamentary see Lyle, Lord 216ff

Parliamentary Labour Party Lynskey Tribunal (1948) 223
Labour Party, Confe.rences: (1932) 77; Lyttelton, Oliver 33, 89, 118, 192
(1935) 57; (1937) Sf;
(1940) 11;(1944) 15,77,83, MacArthur, Gen. Douglas 243, 244,
119, 120, 262; (1945) 19f, 21, 24, 245,246
65, 119, 120, 138f; (1946) 48f, McCarthy, Sen. Joseph 254
6~7~ 115,128, 141,22~ 222; MacColl, Rene 188
(1947) 141, 173; (1948) 91f, MacDonald, Malcolm 142
194, 212; (1949) 215, 221; MacDonald, Ramsay 2f, 7, 8, 38, 47,
(1950) 239f; (1951) 257f 76,77,98
Labour Party in Perspective (Attlee) 35 McGovern, John 140
Labour's Immediate Programme McGowan Committee on Electricity
(1937) 8, 262 Distribution ( 1936) 82
Labour Teachers, National Association Machinery of Government Committee
of 115 (Cabinet): (1918) 35; (1942) 36,
Lancet 105 94
Lansbury, George 3, 4, 5 Machtig, Sir Eric 160
Lascelles, Sir Alan 141 Mackay, R. W. G. 136, 193, 194
Laski, Prof. Harold 8, 15, 21, 23, 24, Maclean, Donald 252-4
25f, 39, 45f, 47, 60, 139 Maclean, Neil 44
Lawson, J. J., Minister of War McMahon Act (US, 1946) 125
(1945-6) 42, 65,66, 105,269 Macmillan, Harold 76, 138
Lawther, Will 92 Macmillan Committee on Finance and
League of Nations 6, 7 Industry (1929) 119
Leahy, Adm. W. D. 123 McNeil, Hector 116, 231, 232, 257, 270
Lee, Jennie 249 Macpherson, Tom 82
Left Book Club 8 Makins, Roger 195, 204, 226
Legislation Committee (Cabinet) 39, Malan, Dr D. F. 254
179 Malaya 142, 158, 206, 243, 256
Lehman, Herbert H. 118 Malta 206
Lend-Lease 41, 53-5, 57, 261 Manchester Guardian 5, 29
Let Us Face the Future ( 1945) 26, 77, Manchuria 243
78, 105 Manning, Mrs Leah 30
Let Us Win Through Together Manpower Committee (Cabinet) 111,
(1950) 227 119
Liberal Party 1, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 27, Maritime Union (US) 205
31,80,8~ 117, 147,21~228, Marquand, Hilary 248
229f,233,235,255,257,258,259 Marshall, Gen. George C., US Secretary
Liesching, Sir Percivale 157, 160, 163 of State 132, 134, 135, 187, 188,
Lindsay, A. D. 9 189, 193, 198
Lippmann, Walter 123 Marshall Aid 68, 70, 118, 124, 132,
Listowel, Earl of, Secretary for India 133, 135, 137, 138, 145, 182, ch. 10
(1947) 85, 153, 167f, 269f passim, 224, 226, 267
Lloyd George, David 1, 21, 26, 32, 35, Martin, Kingsley 172
73, 108 Masaryk, Jan 133, 190
Lloyd George, Megan 257 Massigli, Rene 240, 241
Location of Industry Act ( 1945) 13 Maud Committee 124, 126
London County Council 6, 76, 104 Maxwell, Sir Alexander 160
London Passenger Transport Act Mayhew, Christopher 43, 231, 232
(1933) 77 Meade, James 79
London Passenger Transport Board 90 Meat Trade Association 217
Lord President's Committee Miall, Leonard 188
(Cabinet) 39 Middleton, J. S. 7f
310 Index

Mikardo, Ian 258 Sub-Committees: Elections 46, 48;

Millan, Bruce 222 International 46, 47, 48, 139;
Milne, Sir James I66 Policy 26, 46, 48, 116, 213, 216
Mineworkers, National Union of (earlier see also Transport House
Miners Federation) 3, 81, 92, National Government (1931-40) 2f,
166f, 221, 238 6, 75, 77
Moffat, A. L. 203f National Health Service 13, 97, 100,
Molotov, V. 121, 133, 138, 189 118, 236, 248f, 262
Molson, Hugh 95 National Health Service Act
Monnet, Jean 240 (1946) 100, 102-6, 117;
Monte Bello atomic test ( 1952) 127 (1951) 249f
Moore. Sir Henry 155 National Insurance Act (1946) lOOf,
Moran, Lord 106 107, 117. 262
Mornin~ Post 6 National Insurance (Industrial Injuries)
Morrison, Herbert 6, 262; Coalition Act (1946) 99. 100, 117
Minister(1940--5) 11,13,14,15, Nationalisation in Britain
19, 20, 21, 26, 32, 36, 37, 114; (Kelf-Cohen) 264
Lord President (1945-51) 28, 36, Nationalised Industries, Select
40,43f,45,46,48,56,65, 68, 70, Committee on (1957) 264
73, 104f, 127, 138, 160, 167, 169, National Labour Party 3
170, 172, 173. 174, 176; National Liberals 22
relinquishes committees 177-81; National Parks Act ( 1949) 113
and 1950 election 223, 224, 227, National Service for Health (1943) 103,
228; in new Govt 237, 241; role in 106
nationalisation 75-82, 86, 88, Nation's Schools (1945) 115
216; doubts about iron and National Transport Commission 81,
steel 84f, 87; favours 91, 96
'consolidation' 92, 93-6, 212f, Nehru, Pandit 152
263f; and 1950 election 215, 217f, Nenni Telegram (1948) 220
232, 237f; chairs Cabinet 241, Netherlands (Holland) 66, 133, 142,
249; Foreign Secretary 143, 193, 196, 198
(1951) 248,249,250--4,256,257, New Fabian Research Bureau 10
258, 270 News Chronicle 27, 72, 165, 218, 225,
Mosley. Sir Oswald 76, 250 229f
Mossadeq, Dr M. 252 New Statesman 138, 172
Mountbatten of Burma, New Towns Act (1946) 113
Viscount 150--2, 161, 162, 167 New Zealand 9, 101, 141, 229f
Mountbatten of Burma, Viscountess Nicholson, Max 75, 77
(Edwina) 151f, 153 Nicolson, Harold 12
Muggeridge, Malcolm 188 Nineteen-Forty-one Committee 14, 30
Munich Agreement (1938) 9, 30 Nkrumah, Kwame 256
Muslim League 147, 148, 149 Noel-Baker, Philip: on National
Mutual Security Act (US, 1949) 244 Executive 15, 46, 48, 60;
Commonwealth Secretary
Nagasaki 125 (1947-50) 142, 144, 159, 160,
Nathan, Lord 94 161ff, 181ff, 254ff, 270; Minister of
National Assistance Act (1948) 100, Fuel and Power ( 1950--1) 232
101, 117 Norman, Montagu 78
National Coal Board 79, 93, 237 North Atlantic Treaty (1949) 134-6,
National Executive Committee (Labour 137, 138, 145, 224, 243. 257, 266
Party) 4, 7, 11, 19ff, 21, 23, 25, Norway 11, 122, 137, 143, 200
39, 45, 47-9, 60, 87, 116, 139, 141, Nyasaland 255
193ff, 213, 215ff, 219-21,225,
236ff, 239, 241, 247, 257ff Observer 60, 72
Index 311

Organisation for European Economic Potsdam Conference (1945) 22, 28,

Co-operation (OEEC) 190, 193, 36,37,47, 120f, 130
194, 195, 196, 197, 198f, 200, 201' Priestley, J. B. 14, 21, 228
202,205,208 Pritt, D. N. 8, 192, 221
Overseas Food Corporation
(OFC) 157 Railway Clerks Assn 43
Overseas Resources Development Act Railwaymen, National Union of 43,
(1948) 157 49, 91
Rau, Sir B. N. 161
Reconstruction Committee (of Labour
Pakenham, Lord 168, 270 Party) 80
Pakistan 151, 152, 160 Reconstruction Committee (War
Palestine 47, 58, 60, 64, 127-30, 154, Cabinet) 13
158, 169, 170, 180, 193, 203; Reconstruction Committee, Overseas
Anglo-American Commission (Cabinet) 39
(1946) 128 R.ees-Williams, D. R. 231
Palestine Committee (Cabinet) 127 Reid, Sir Charles 93
Paling, W. T. 98, 99, 168 Representation of the People Act
Paole Zion 4 7 (1948) 218f
Parliamentary Labour Party 1, 3, 4, 7, Republic of Ireland Act (1948) 161
13, 25; in 1945 Parliament 27, 31, Rhodesia, Northern 255
33, 42f, 81, 82, 177, 218, 219f, Rhodesia, Southern 160, 224, 255
261; meetings 21, 22, 28f, 44, 85, Ridgway, Gen. M. 246
140f, 173f, 175,267 Robbins, Lionel 54
Parliamentary Labour Party Groups: Robens, Alfred 182; Minister of
Area 222; Defence 62; Labour(1951) 250,270
Policy 44f, 75, 213; Scottish 45, Roosevelt, Pres. F. D. 53, 55, 125, 191
222; Trade Union 43, 45; Rowan, Leslie 19, 20, 39, 191,204
Welsh 45, 222 Royal Arsenal Co-op Society 46
Parliamentary Labour Party Liaison Ruhr 130
Committee 44, 76, 155,219 Rumania 121
Parliamentary Women's Group 45 Russia (Soviet Union) 10, 12, 18, 23,
Patterson, Robert P. 123 31,59,120-2,129-31,138-40,
Persia 59: see also Iran 145, 162, 189, 192, 209, 228, 242f,
Pethick-Lawrence, Lord, Secretary for 251,253,266
India (1945-7) 37, 147, 149, 151,
153, 167f, 269 Salisbury, Marquess of 89
Philby, Kim 253 Samuel, Frank 156
Phillips, Morgan (General Secretary, Sargent, Sir Orme 162
Labour Party) 46, 136, 221, 222, Scotland 163,219,222,229,231
225,227,228,256,257 Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Picture Post 157 (US) 134, 190, 203
Platts-Mills, John 192, 220 Seretse Khama 254f
Plowden, Sir Edwin 87, 172, 173, 176, Schuman, Robert 198, 240
226 Schuman Plan (1950) 138,240
Plummer, Leslie 157 Schuster, Sir George 117
'Point Four' (Truman) 144, 206 Shawcross, Sir Hartley 50, 96, 162,
Poland 10, 11, 18, 23, 138, 184 218; President Board of Trade
Polish immigrants 166, 174 (1951) 250, 270
Political and Economic Planning Shinwell, Emanuel 20, 46, 91, 139;
(PEP) 46, 75, 77 Minister of Fuel and Power
Portugal 135, 200 (1945-7) 38, 42, 56, 79f, 82, 84,
Post Office Engineering Union 51 165-7, 269; MinisterofWar
Post Office Workers, Union of 51, 91 {1947-50) 86, 179, 181, 182;
312 Index

Shinwell, Emanuel continued Switzerland 198, 204

Minister of Defence Syran, Col. A. G. 205
(195~1) 231,237, 243f, 257,
258,270 Tanganyika 156-8
Shipping, National Federation of Tate & Lyle 214, 216, 217
(US) 204f Temple, Archbishop William 117
Siam 142 Templewood, Viscount 152
Silkin, Lewis 113 Thomas, Ivor 87, 89
Silverman, Sydney 101 Thurtle, Ernest 12
Singapore 17, 142 Times, The 29, 37, 38, 57, 62, 63, 100,
Slim, Gen. Sir William 94, 243, 245 105, 172, 184,218,232
Smith, Sir Ben 68 Tito, Marshal 221
Smuts, Field-Marshal 121, 254 Tizard, Sir Henry 126f
Snowden, Philip 3, 249 Tobruk 17
Social Services Committee Tomlinson, George: Minister of Works
(Cabinet) 39, 98, 99, 105, 179 ( 1945-7) 111; Minister of
Socialisation and Transport Education (1947-51) 114f, 116,
(Morrison) 77 167,249,269
Socialisation of Industries Committee Town and Country Planning Act
(Cabinet) 79, 88, 93f (1943) 113; (1947) 113, 165
Socialist League 4, 8, 14 Trade Disputes Act (1927) 49, 91
Solley, Leslie 221 Trades Union Congress 4, 5, 38, 49,
Soskice, Sir Frank 231, 232 50, 51, 85, 92, 174,213, 214;
Soul bury Commission ( 1944) 154 General Council 2, 38, 46, 49, 77,
South Africa, Union of 83, 181, 183, 99,225,227,237,238,265
254, 255 Transport Act (194 7) 165
Spaak, P.-H. 197, 198, 199,200 Transport and General Workers'
Spain 135, 189 Union 4, 7, 43, 68, 92, 119, 155,
Spanish Civil War 8, 9 173,222
Spectator 95 Transport House (Labour Party
Stalin, Joseph 59,124,138,268 headquarters) 4, 7, 8, 15, 21, 22,
Stalingrad 31 45, 46, 98, 159, 220, 221, 222, 225,
Stanley, Oliver 147, 154, 155, 158 229, 241; International Dept 15,
Stanley, Sydney 223 159, 241; Research Dept 6f, 46,
Stansgate, Viscount 65, 269 98, 116, 213, 214
Star 184ff Trefgarne, Lord 157
Stephen, Campbell 140 Tribune 68, 87, 220, 221, 226, 249
Sterling Area 56, 142, 195, 197, 200, Trieste 121
206,261,267 Tripolitania 121
Stikker, Dr Dirk 200 Truman, Pres. H. S. 54, 59, 68, 117,
Stokes, Richard 250, 252, 270 122, 123, 124, 125, 127, 131, 135,
Strachey, John 64; Minister of Food 170,190,192,206,242,243,245,
(1946-50) 69, 156-8, 183f, 223; 246, 251, 252; 'Truman Doctrine'
Secretary for War (195~1) 232 (1947) 131f,170
Strang, Sir William 142, 254 Tshekedi Khama 254f
Strauss, George: Minister of Supply
(1947-51) 87, 88f, 96, 126, 179, Uganda 158
182 United Africa Company 156, 157, 213
Subversive Activities, Committee on United Europe Movement 136, 193,
(Cabinet) 252 194
Swaziland 254 United Nations 19, 23, 59, 121, 123,
Sweden 111, 136, 137, 143, 189,200, 125, 128f, 130, 134, 141, 158, 159,
204 161f, 180; and Korean
Swinton, Viscount 89, 166 War 242-6
Index 313

United Nations Association 221 Whiteley, William: Chief Whip

United Nations Special Committee on (1945-51) 20, 41, 44, 167, 177,
Palestine 129 178,180,219,223,225,227,256
United States of America 10, 12, 31, Wigg, George 20
41, 47, 60, 64, 67, 68f, 85, 87, 88, Wilkinson, Ellen 20, 21, 46; Minister
118, 120, 122, 123, 126, 127, 131, of Education ( 1945-7) 42, 98,
132, 139, 185, 266; and Far East 105, 114, 115, 167, 269
142, 143; and Korean War 242-6; Williams, Francis 40, 41, 43, 227
and Lend-Lease 53, 54, 122; and Williams, Len 222
loan to UK 54-60, 84f, 124, Williams, Tom 42, 49, 105, 269
171, 173, 176, 183, 192, 261; and Willink, H. U. 97, 102, 103, 109, 110
Marshall Aid 132, 187-209; and Wilmot, John: Minister of Supply
North Atlantic Treaty 134, 141, (1945-7) 83, 84, 87, 182
193, 266; and Sterling devaluation Wilson, Harold 42, 43; President
(1949) 197f, 207,224 Board of Trade (194 7-51) 179,
180, 204, 224; and devaluation
Vandenberg, Sen. Arthur H. 134, 190 (1949) 225; and bonfire of
Vander Bijl, Dr 83 controls (1948-9) 223, 265;
Venture 159 resigns (1951) 249,250,270
Vinson, Fred 55, 58 Windle, R. T. 222, 256
Vyshinsky, Andrei 121f, 139 Winster, Lord 81
Wood, Sir Kingsley 13
Wales 82,163,176,219,230,238 Woodburn, Arthur 182, 231, 270
Watson, Adam 122 Woolton, Lord 13, 22, 43
Watson, Sam 221 World Bank 55, 225
Wavell, Field-Marshal Lord 147f, 149, Wyatt, Woodrow 43, 64, 75f
150, 151, 167
Webb, Maurice 44, 158, 180, 232 Young, Michael 46, 77, 213
'Welfare State' 97, 117f, 267, 268 Young Conservatives 222
Wells, William 43 Younger, Kenneth 43, 232, 240
Western Union 88, 133, 162, 193 Yugoslavia 221
Westwood, Joseph 42, 182, 269, 270
Wheatley, John 32 Zilliacus, Konni 220f
Whitehead, Edgar 224 Zimmern, Alfred 117