The Attlee and Churchill administrations and industrial unrest, 1945-55
This study looks at the governments' handling of industrial unrest in the decade following the end of the Second World War. The period encompasses both the Attlee administrations of 1945-51 and the post-war Churchill government of the early 1950's. The period of 1945-55 was characterised by a relatively low level of strike activity. Nevertheless, a number of large scale, unofficial strikes broke out, especially on the docks which caused severe economic dislocation. In the first part of this study I focus on the re-establishment of an emergencies supply organisation after 1945 and on the use by the Attlee governments of the traditional strike-breaking instruments of the armed forces and civilian volunteers. I examine the role of the law in industrial disputes of the period and I analyse the pressure brought to bear on unofficial strikers through the withholding of state benefits. I also look at the attempts by the government to exert control over the coverage of disputes by the BBC. The study is placed in the economic context of the period and an analysis is also made of the effect of the Cold War on the government's attitude to strikes. In the second part I look at the return of a Conservative administration, pledged to following a policy of industrial conciliation after the bitterness of the interwar years. By looking at the period as a whole I am able to draw a comparison between the Attlee and Churchill administrations, to ascertain to what extent the consensus in economic policy was mirrored by a consensus in the industrial sphere.