By the end of the Second World War there was a broad agreement between main political parties that Britain should develop a welfare system. However, although it has become commonplace to talk of the ‘postwar consensus’ on social policy, there was not a consensus of opinion on the need for increased welfare in the strictest sense of the term since politicians from different parties had their own distinctive reasons for supporting greater social provision. Also, within the parties some were opposed to the welfare state for a variety of reasons. Some on the political right opposed welfare policies on the grounds of both cost and the bad effect that increased welfare would have on those who would receive. On the political left were those who took a much greater interest in public ownership policies than in welfare policies, while others feared that a successful welfare state would make capitalism acceptable and thereby undermine the chance of creating a truly socialist society in Britain. The broad centre ground of politics, however, did support the establishment of a welfare state and this was in line with the mood of the electorate of the 1940s; most people were not prepared to return to the harsh times of the 1930s after making sacrifices for the war effort.
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