British economic and social planning 1959-1970
This thesis attempts to trace the history of the politics, rhetoric and practice of British central government planning in the 1960s. As such, it attempts to answer a number of questions: why did 'planning' come back into fashion in the early 1960s? What meanings did it take on for those who espoused it? Did different groups have very different ideas about what it meant? Why was it adopted as such an all-encompassing reformist banner in this decade? Did it fail to achieve its ends, and if so, why? 'Planning' is therefore treated both as an idea and a practice in its own right, but also as a tool to answer wider questions about post-war British government and politics. How important were interest groups, for instance the 'social partners' of employers and trade unions, in the management of the economy? How central were provider and consumer interest groups in the planning and development of the Welfare State? How close together were the ideas and actions of the political parties? How powerfull was the central government, and what were the limits to its power? This thesis will use unpublished manuscript sources from the archives of the central government and the two main political parties, along with some personal papers, to attempt to answer these questions. It will conclude that planning failed because of a basic lack of agreement between the different 'planners', as well as the inability of the central government machinery to conduct such complex and testing work. It will also argue that the influence of political ideology and party-political conflict was much greater than has previously been thought.