Labour and the ‘Shopping-List’

  • Stephen Haseler


By 1949 most of the proposals for public ownership outlined in Labour’s policy document of 1945, Let Us Face the Future, had been put into effect.I The Party was then faced with the question of how it was to proceed in formulating policy for the next five years. Herbert Morrison was given charge of drafting a policy for the coming election. In this task he worked closely with Michael Young, the Head of the Research Department at Transport House, and also with the TUC, but the style and policy of the resultant document was essentially his. Labour Believes in Britain, as the document was called, saw the beginnings, in a mild form, of a split between the Leadership and the Left on the question of public ownership. This discord continued from 1949 until 1953 and centred around a host of policy proposals concerning nationalisation issued by the National Executive Committee. A distinctive feature of the period was a growing concern with the question of how many and what sort of industries should be included in a public-ownership proposal. This approach became known as the ‘shopping-list’ attitude to public ownership. Morrison, and the right-wing Leadership and unions, tended to favour a shorter ‘shopping-list’ whereas the Left advocated a vast increase in the number of industries that should be included.


Machine Tool Policy Document Public Ownership Socialist Commentary Labour Party 
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© Stephen Haseler 1969

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  • Stephen Haseler

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