The centenary of the Trevelyan-Northcote Report was celebrated during one of our periods of national complacency. In what was a coronation year there was a great deal of talk about a new Elizabethan age in which Britain would recapture the glories she once knew. It would have been more realistic to have thought in terms of a reappraisal of Britain’s role in the modern post-war world rather than of past glories. But in more ways than one, the country’s attitudes remained rooted in the 1930s when Britain had indis-putedly been a great power, and when she had possessed the financial strength to act as the world’s banker. Britain was not now equipped for either role, but she still attempted to police a large part of the world and continued to invest abroad in developed countries on a vast scale sums that would have been better used in helping to modernise her own manufacturing and service industries. Moreover, the pound sterling remained one of the world’s two major reserve currencies, perennially open to speculation and based on what had become a very shaky economy. Indeed, part of its shakiness followed from the rigidities imposed by maintaining the pound at a fixed exchange rate after the devaluation of 1949. The unwillingness to face up to changes in our external circumstances was accompanied by a marked slowness to appreciate how the nature of our internal affairs had altered.
KeywordsCivil Servant Management Training Working Party Ministerial Responsibility Labour Party
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