Far from consensual : the politics of British economic policy 1950-1955
This thesis examines the conduct of economic policy from the moment Hugh Gaitskell joined the Treasury in 1950 as Stafford Cripps' deputy to Rab Butler's departure in December 1955. It shows that, contrary to the prevailing view of this period, there was no consensus about the ways in which the economy should be managed. There was a sustained argument over the use of physical controls, monetary policy and direct taxation. This thesis examines Gaitskell's economic thought and the underlying economic and political rationales for the positions taken by the Labour and Conservative Parties. In examining the structure of economic policy-making, this thesis demonstrates that ministerial determination of policy is far more important than previous authors have assumed and that this is why a developing consensus among civil servants about the conduct of economic policy is not reflected in outputs. 'Set the People Free' was more than a political soundbite. This thesis is based on extensive research in the Public Record Office, but it also makes use of private and Parliamentary papers as well as elite interviews to illuminate the various inputs into policy-making and the way policy developed over the period.