Experience and Change in the Postwar Period
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Immediately after the war, the incoming Labour government faced serious economic problems, with a public sector deficit of £443 million in 1947 which severely limited their plans for a public sector-led economy. However, by the end of the 1950s, Britain was entering a long period of economic growth which brought with it an increase in and spread of living standards. National output rose, unemployment fell and the economy bumped along at the constraints of full resource use and productive capacity. With the replacement of the postwar 1945 Labour government, which had embodied the naive socialist public administration ideal, the state came firmly under the sway of the mixed economy consensus. Whether Labour or Conservative governments were in power, their view on economic management was broadly similar. Butskellism (an amalgam of the economic policies of the Labour Chancellor Gaitskell and the Conservative Butler) ruled the day. Both were riding along on the economic wave of increasing national output based on the ‘white heat of new technology’, as the early stages of the electronic industrial revolution were termed, together with increased concentration of capital and the culmination of Taylor-ism in production processes, whereby assembly lines organised a rigid division of labour.
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