The Attlee Government
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Keeley Street
This course has now started
Course Code: HBH63
Duration: 11 sessions (over 12 weeks)
What is the course about?
The course is about the social, economic and foreign policies of the Attlee governments 1945-51 and how these affected people in Britain following the war and transformed British society. After exploring the reasons for the landslide election of 1945 figures in the Attlee governments and discuss their policies and how far they dealt successfully with the problems confronting the country after the Second World War. We will also examine how the experience of war changed Britain’s relations with the rest of the world and decide whether Attlee’s post-war governments were able to carve out a new approach to foreign policy. Finally we will take a look at the elections of 1950 and 1951 and try to account for their outcomes.
What will we cover?
Britain in the aftermath of war and the challenges faced by the new government
The programme of the Labour Party in 1945
The elections of 1945, 1950 and 1951
Key members of the new government and their priorities – both at home and abroad
The foundation of the National Health Service, welfare provision, the house-building programme and environmental initiatives
Britain and the onset of the Cold War, including relations with the USA and Europe
The occupation of Germany after the war and the question of the atom bomb
How the programme of nationalisation of key industries was implemented and its consequences
The British empire after the Second World War, including departure from India and Palestine as well as relations with the Commonwealth and policies on migration.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Describe aspects of the United Kingdom after the Second World War its relations with the rest of the world
• Account for the Labour Party election victory of 1945 and its more disappointing performance in the elections of 1950 and 1951
• Explain the main social and economic policies of the Attlee governments and their effects on British society and economy
• Describe the government’s approach to foreign and imperial policy and changes to the British Empire and Commonwealth during this time
• Sketch the part Britain played in the onset of the Cold War and how this affected relations with its former wartime allies and adversaries.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course and does not assume any previous study or reading although you will need a good
grasp of English to keep up with the course. You will gain more from the course, in terms of enjoyment and
learning, if you are able and willing to do some supplementary reading. As with most of our history courses, intellectual curiosity and an open mind are more important than specific previous knowledge. If you do have any prior knowledge of any aspects of this period, you are very welcome to share this with the group.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Tutor presentation, group discussion, tutor-guided analysis of documents, images and video clips. You will be
given a short reading list in case you would like to do some additional reading, but this is not necessary to
participation in class discussion. Documents and other class materials will be available before each session and you will get more out of the course if you look through these beforehand. The programme for the course can be modified if students have particular interests or questions about this period. If you would like to start reading about this period in history, we can suggest ‘Now the War is Over’ by Paul Addison (Faber & Faber 2013 edition), or for a longer read, ‘Austerity Britain 1945-51’ by David Kynaston (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008). There will be further suggestions for reading during the course.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There are no additional costs. If you would like to take any notes, do bring a notebook or other means to record key points (or if this course is delivered online, check you have a secure Internet connection). All handouts and presentations will be put on the Google Classroom webpage for this course.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Other courses in British history. Please see the City Lit website.