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The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929-1964$
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Peter Sloman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723509

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723509.001.0001

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Planning for War and Peace, 1939–45

Planning for War and Peace, 1939–45

(p.135) 5 Planning for War and Peace, 1939–45
The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929-1964

Peter Sloman

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses the Liberal Party’s shift to the left during the Second World War, with a particular focus on debates over post-war reconstruction. It shows that whilst Sir Archibald Sinclair and other senior Liberals took posts in Winston Churchill’s coalition government, Liberal MPs and activists revived constructive and New Liberal arguments about the economic functions of the state and the need for central planning to eliminate poverty and unemployment. Heated arguments ensued between radical interventionists, Gladstonian traditionalists, and Keynesian moderates, which were only partially settled by the decision to support Sir William Beveridge’s 1944 plan for Full Employment in a Free Society. Beveridge’s adhesion to the party boosted its morale, but hopes of a Liberal revival were dashed at the 1945 election by organizational weakness and the strength of the swing to Labour.

Keywords:   Second World War, Liberal Party, Sir Archibald Sinclair, Sir William Beveridge, Keynesianism, planning, 1945 general election

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