Competition and the Corporate Society : British Conservatives, the state and Industry 1945-1964 book cover
1st Edition

Competition and the Corporate Society
British Conservatives, the state and Industry 1945-1964

ISBN 9781138864979
Published February 9, 2015 by Routledge
392 Pages

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Book Description

British society changed radically in the 21st century. Any political party dedicated to preserving the Britain of 1900 would have faced, over time, either major problems of adjustment or the possibility of its own destruction. The British Conservative party was just such a party, its character defined by its commitment to the defence of the British status quo. Yet it has also been one of the most successful political parties in the twentieth century. Not only was it able to adjust itself to the transformation of British society including two world wars and the most catastrophic slump – but it was able to win elections more consistently than any of its rivals. This book seeks to show how the Conservatives achieved such a metamorphosis, by identifying the main changes in the British economy and society, and the changing Conservative response.

In practice, there was no single Conservative response to any particular change. The debate within the party revealed a surprisingly large number of responses; yet the range was limited. Indeed, with some simplification, one can see only two general political positions, from which flowed differing proposals on all detailed issues. In describing these two positions, the author suggests a new method of classifying dominant political beliefs in Britain and other Western countries.

This study covers a wide field, bringing together contemporary Conservative politics, economic problems and economic history. The Conservatives were intimately related to the interests of what used to be called British capitalism, and their attitudes to the changes taking place in industry reveal most clearly the changing political priorities of the party. The book examines Conservative policy, proposals and attitudes to nationalization and the public sector, to the trade unions and labour, to private business and finally to the economic role of the State, between 1945 and 1964. For those wishing to gain an understanding of the British Conservatives, Nigel Harris’ detailed and stimulating material will make excellent reading and has been acclaimed since its first publication in 1972.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 7

Abbreviations 9

Introduction 11


1. Liberal-Conservatism 23

2. Capitalism: old and new 32

3. Liberal-Conservatism in crisis 48

4. Corporatism: theory and practice 62


5. The party and the new order 77

6. The heart of the Social Democratic society: public ownership 85

7. Organized labour 110

8. The old order: private business 123

9. Conservatism and the Social Democratic State 129


10. The phoenix lives 149

11. The challenge of organized labour 155

12. The mix of the mixed economy: public ownership 180

13. The new capitalism 203

14. The Conservative State 228


15. Competition and the Corporate Society 249

Appendix: {emsp}The Conservative tradition from Burke to Disraeli 275

References 289

Bibliography 341

Index of names 365

Subject index 372

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