To What Extent Was There a Post-War Consensus?

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To what extent was there a Post-War Consensus between the years 1951 & 1964? The term ‘post-war consensus’ is used to describe a period of general agreement in the key areas of politics between the two main political parties following the Second World War. Prior to the 1951 Conservative election, Labour had introduced several important social and political reforms. It appeared that there was no systematic effort by the Conservative party when they returned to power to reverse these changes, arguably demonstrating that there was a strong sense of post-war consensus between the two parties. On the one hand, it can be argued that there was a strong sense of consensus in the post-war years under the Conservative government. Many historians maintain that the shared experiences of the war in the years before 1951 had shaped both the Labour and Conservative government. All Prime Ministers of this period had served in the First World War and had also had some more political involvement in the Second World War, and their shared experiences of the war led to broadly a similar view of the post-war world. The main political aims of both parties were simply focussing on reconstruction and keeping the peace rather than implementing new, radical policies, and so the attitude of the two parties for this reason were parallel, demonstrating that there was in fact a post-war consensus. As well as this, the continuation of Welfare State further demonstrates the consensus between the two political parties during this period. The establishment of the National Health Service in 1948 under Attlee’s government prior to this period was a massively radical movement at the time, and the fact that the Conservatives did nothing to alter it when they came into power showed a consensus. Furthermore, between these years approximately 6,000 comprehensive schools were constructed and 11 new universities opened as a continuation of Labour’s education policies. Comprehensive schools in...
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