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Conscription and the Attlee GovernmentsThe Politics and Policy of National Service 1945–1951$
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L. V. Scott

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198204213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198204213.001.0001

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The Politics of the National Service Act

The Politics of the National Service Act

(p.120) 6 The Politics of the National Service Act
Conscription and the Attlee Governments


Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the National Service Act and the history and diversity of Labour objections to conscription and to the situation that existed in government in the PLP from the autumn of 1946 to the spring of 1947. Opposition to compulsory military service was founded on different arguments and expressed in different sections of the Labour Party. Pacifists, non-conformists, trade unionists, liberals, and the occasional military thinker all had their reasons for opposition. This was the case within Labour and also elsewhere — the Liberal and Independent Labour Parties were to remain resolutely opposed to military conscription. As the government had yet to reach a decision on long-term military policy it was not unreasonable for Atlee and his colleagues to want discussion in the party deferred, until both defence policy and the international situation in general had become clearer.

Keywords:   National Service Act, conscription, Labour Party, pacifists, non-conformists, trade unionists, liberals, Independent Labour Party, Atlee, compulsory military service

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