The Wartime State

  • Keith Middlemas


The needs of a nation fighting for survival, more than ideas about rational progress, have so far determined the main lines of state growth in modern Britain. Higher organisation of the war effort, reordered with amazing speed after the crisis of May 1940, lasted with few alterations until 1945 largely because it was both efficient and humane. It contrasted sharply with what had been achieved, haphazardly, during the First World War; but it owed its overriding symmetry to similar fears of invasion from Germany and chaos at home. In neither war did Britain indulge in total war planning from the outset. Long after 1940, indeed far into the post-war era, patterns of behaviour usually associated with the 1930s continued.


Trade Union Trade Association Union Leader Labour Party General Council 
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Notes and References

  1. For general accounts of the war economy, see the official histories, H. M. D. Parker, Manpower (1954)Google Scholar
  2. W. K. Hancock and M. Gowing, The British War Economy (1949)Google Scholar
  3. R. S. Sayers, Financial Policy 1939–45 (1950).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill (1983), vol. 6, p. 331.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    PEP: Government and Industry (1952) p. 72.Google Scholar
  6. For a description of how the process worked in the Ministry of Food, see William Wallace, Enterprise First (1946).Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    See, for example, R. S. Sayers, The Bank of England 1891–1944 (1976), vol. 2, p. 560.Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    Sayers, The Bank of England, pp. 561–5.Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    E. Durbin, Problems of Economic Planning (1949), p. 99.Google Scholar
  10. 39.
    In Kathleen Burke (ed.), War and Society (1981), ch. 6.Google Scholar
  11. 41.
    cf. L. C. Carpenter, ‘Corporatism in Britain’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 11, no. 1, 1976Google Scholar
  12. A. J. Marwick, ‘Middle Opinion in the Thirties’, English Historical Review, 1964Google Scholar
  13. 47.
    Quoted in R. S. Sayers, Financial Policy (1956), pp. 46–7.Google Scholar
  14. 50.
    John Ramsden, The Making of Conservative Party Policy: the CRD since 1929 (1980), pp. 95–8.Google Scholar
  15. 53.
    Eddersbury 1943; Skipton 1944; Chelmsford, April 1945; see generally, D. L. Prynn ‘Common Wealth: a British Third Party of the 1940s’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 7/1, June 1972.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Keith Middlemas 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith Middlemas

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