The United Kingdom 1951-1970
An impressively detailed but also unusually wide-ranging analysis of post-war Britain in the 1950s and 60s, covering everything from international relations to family life, the countryside to manufacturing, religion to race, cultural life to political structures.
In this, the first of two self-standing volumes bringing The New Oxford History of England up to the present, Brian Harrison begins in 1951 with much of the empire intact and with Britain enjoying high prestige in Europe. The United Kingdom could still then claim to be a great power, whose welfare state exemplified compromise between Soviet planning and the USA>'s free market. When the volume ends in 1970, no such claims carried conviction. The empire had gone, central planning was in trouble, and even the British political system had become controversial. In an unusually wide-ranging, yet impressively detailed volume, Harrison approaches the period from unfamiliar directions. He explains how British politicians in the 1950s and 1960s responded to this transition by pursuing successive roles for Britain: worldwide as champion of freedom, and in Europe as exemplar of parliamentary government, the multi-racial society, and economic planning.; His main focus, though, rests not on the politicians but on the decisions the British people made largely for themselves: on their environment, social structure and attitudes, race relations, family patterns, economic framework, and cultural opportunities. By 1970 the consumer society had supplanted postwar austerity, the socialist vision was fading, and 'the sixties' (the theme of his penultimate chapter) had introduced new and even exotic themes and values. Having lost an empire, Britain was still resourcefully seeking a role: it had yet to find it.
Introduction; 1. The United Kingdom in 1951; 2. The United Kingdom and the World; 3. The Face of the Country; 4. The Social Structure; 5. Family and Welfare; 6. Industry and Commerce; 7. Intellect and Culture; 8. Politics and Government; 9. 'The Sixties'; 10. Retrospect; Chronology; Bibliography; Index