The Labour party and public housing, 1951-64 : an examination of national policy and its implementation in London
The main theme of this thesis is an examination of Labour Party policies
regarding public housing, 1951-64. In order to explore fully the varied and
changing Party policy towards public housing, this thesis moves between a
national and local level, drawing upon examples of policy and politics from
London local government. SpeCifically it takes as its focus four Labour Partyrun
councils; the London County Council and Islington, st. Pancras and
Lambeth. These local authorities differed significantly in their housing policies,
regarding both whom they housed and how this choice related to the authorities'
financial position and political priorities. Such local variation requires
An investigation and comparison of Labour's housing policies provides a
location from which to examine the ideology of the Labour Party. During this
period, there was much debate within the Party over issues of rents, rate
subsidies, race and municipalisation. These debates offer a window into the
broader political divisions within the Labour Party. Specifically, an examination
of Labour's housing agenda has allowed this thesis to examine the twin
considerations of finance and politics at both a local and national level.
The two strands of this thesis - housing and Labour Party ideology -
allow this thesis to isolate two important areas of investigation. The first of these
is the existing gap in the historiography of the Labour Party and local politics.
Specifically, making a case study of St. Pancras borough council, this thesis
starts to explore the nature of the Labour Party within local government and the
relationship and tension between local and national Party. Generally, moving
between the national and local level allows the thesis to discuss, with regards to
housing policy and finance, the issue of local authority autonomy from central
government and national party.
The second area of investigation of this thesis is an exploration of the
competing pressures of principles and pragmatism in the Labour Party's political
consciousness, or policy decisions. Therefore, the thesis explores how far the
pragmatic demands of governance were in conflict with, for instance, policies
such as municipalisation that many Labour Party members saw as furthering