This article presents the wartime state in the local context and looks at how the daily activity of local courts and police changed dramatically during the wartime period. It also assesses the complex role that police and local courtrooms played with regards to ethnicity and nationalism. The increasing authority of local courtrooms and the enhanced powers of policing, I argue, amplified the role of the state in certain aspects of London life, but reduced it in others. New demands on local courtrooms and policing could only be accommodated by the redirection of their efforts from pre-war priorities. The traditional roles of the police in addressing ‘moral’ crimes such as public drunkenness and gambling declined dramatically as policy redirected police resources towards the enforcement of wartime regulations, the support of military conscription and discipline, and the policing of immigrant communities and ethnic minorities, and of ‘enemy aliens’ in particular. Although the balance of power in the latter case was highly asymmetrical, those brought before the courtroom on accusations of being ‘outsiders’ or ‘enemies’ in the national community were not entirely without recourse. The public nature of courtrooms meant that, in some circumstances, they could become sites for the affirmation of rights and national belonging in wartime Britain, rather vehicles for their abrogation.
Abstract Recent interpretations of religious change in modern Britain have stressed the importance of a sudden and abrupt ‘sexual revolution’ during the 1960s. The role the Churches played in bringing about their own demise remains a point of debate, particularly in the case of the Catholic Church. This article attempts to move beyond existing historical disputes over a ‘religious crisis’ and whether it was rooted in ‘internal’ causes (problems within the Church) or ‘external’, secular developments. It explores the way sexual knowledge was discussed and disseminated by Catholic authorities during this decade of perceived cultural transition, drawing on the previously unpublished papers of the Papal Commission for Birth Control 1963–5 and the training manuals of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council (CMAC). These sources offer a unique insight into the often problematic task of reconciling Catholic thought with the discourses of ‘sexual liberation’. While the central hierarchy’s continued opposition to women’s contraceptive autonomy has understandably dominated historical attention, the material presented here suggests that Catholic understandings of female sexuality were not universally at odds with the intellectual infrastructure of a ‘sexual revolution’. On the question of female sexual pleasure, progressive Catholic authorities in both the Papal Commission and the CMAC made fervent efforts to engage with contemporary scientific modes of understanding. Perversely, this approach served to neglect certain aspects of corporeal and emotional experience, thereby limiting the case for meaningful doctrinal change.
This article contributes to a growing literature on working-class suburbanization by arguing that both the residualization and privatization of council housing need to be properly historicized. This case study of housing policy in the borough of Brighton demonstrates that council house sales between the 1950s and 1970s were important in the residualization of inter-war estates well before the ‘right to buy’ legislation of the 1980s. Concerns about excessively affluent tenants can also be traced to the inter-war period, although it was not until the late 1950s that local Conservatives sought to push affluent council tenants into owner occupation via capping incomes and encouraging council house sales. The article shows that slum clearance had long been central to the local council’s provision of municipal housing and that apart from two short periods following the First and Second World Wars, council housing was conceived of primarily as a residual tenure by those in control of policy implementation. It further demonstrates that slum clearance between the 1920s and 1960s altered the social constituency for council housing and, combined with selective privatization, specific allocation policies and disinvestment, led to the stigmatization of certain inter-war estates. The article suggests that further case studies are needed in order to test the wider applicability of these arguments during the middle years of the twentieth century.
This article examines the rationale behind the Heath government's 1970 decision to negotiate a Five Power Defence agreement with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia and to maintain a small British military contingent in Southeast Asia as a part of this new politico-military framework. It argues that while its overriding foreign policy concern was to end Britain's problematic relationship with the European Economic Community and to make membership of this grouping the cornerstone of its foreign policy, the Heath government was careful not to cast Britain's post-imperial future in purely European terms. The successful negotiation of the Five Power Defence Arrangements in 1970–71 was instrumental in achieving this by ensuring that London would maintain close links with key Commonwealth partners in the Asian region. In what was not only an attempt to neutralize potential domestic opposition to Britain's entry into the EEC, but also a lingering reluctance to do away with the rhetoric of Britain as a leading power with extra-European interests, Heath was eager to show that by making a contribution to the stability of Southeast Asia, Britain still had a role to play outside Europe.
This article is a history of the privatization of British Telecom. BT's privatization occupies a central position in histories of Thatcherism as a pivotal moment in Thatcherism's ideological focus on popular capitalism. These histories, however, overlook the important intersection of financial institutions and information technology policy in shaping BT's privatization. Financial institutions in the City of London formed a lobbying group, the City Telecommunications Committee, that pressured for BT's privatization and secured preferential treatment for the City from BT, ending a decades-long policy of uniform telecommunications services across Britain. Margaret Thatcher's government positioned BT's privatization as central to the success of two of Britain's information industries, electronics manufacturing and the City of London. Her government also cast BT's privatization as essential to an ‘information revolution’ that, through personal, networked computing, would further personal freedom and free markets. BT's privatization thus performed two important and related functions. First, it oriented Britain's telecommunications network to the City of London's needs, and secondly, it enacted an ‘information revolution’ that was portrayed as essential to the success of the City of London and British electronics. I label this fusion of City finance, neoliberal politics, and British telecommunications the ‘London ideology’, and this ideology shaped the broadly-held assumption that privatizing telecommunications was essential to reaching the ‘information age’.
This article considers the discussion and rejection of a social insurance model of funding for the British National Health Service. Specifically it asks why the hospital contributory scheme movement had so little impact on policy debates in the 1940s. We argue that at the start of the policy-making process serious consideration was given to the incorporation of this mode of funding, not least because the contributory schemes, with some ten million members, played a major role in financing existing voluntary hospital provision. Early sections describe the growth and nature of the schemes, noting that, despite their large working-class constituency and the presence of labour movement representatives amongst their leadership, they remained peripheral to discussion of reform in the interwar period. We then trace the emergence of the proposal for an insurance-based ‘hotel charge’ in civil servants' discussions about hospital funding following the Beveridge Report. Officials, however, remained sceptical about the contributory schemes' capacity to deliver a comprehensive and efficient funding mechanism, given their lack of uniformity, the gaps in their coverage, and the limited progress of reciprocal arrangements between them. Finally, we note the ineffectiveness of the British Hospital Contributory Schemes Association as a player in the policy community. Its leadership had no clear strategy for influencing events and was reluctant to deploy pressure group tactics such as lobbying through the press or parliament. Crucially, the movement was divided internally between those members who supported the voluntary system and others who welcomed a publicly funded health service.
The author gives a brief account of his experience in utilizing the United States Freedom of Information Act to obtain copies of hitherto closed government documents dealing with Allied intelligence operations in Shanghai and North China during the Second World War. While describing some of the practical difficulties involved for both researchers and government departments in working with the Act, the author argues that similar legislation in the UK could benefit contemporary historians of Britain and of other countries whose records are often in large measure held in Britain.
The configuration of the war at sea in the popular memory of the Second World War has been relatively neglected. In particular, historians have overlooked the division between the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy. Yet portrayals of the two navies differed widely. Maritime films both during and after the war followed a well-established tradition of representing the navy as a force of disciplined and respectable men led by gentlemen heroes that reliably defended nation and empire. Such representations rarely acknowledged the existence of the Merchant Navy with its globally recruited and racially mixed workforce and its troubling associations with indiscipline. Yet naval operations largely concerned its protection, and the British war effort depended on the goods it transported. In the context of the leftward drift of wartime politics, the Merchant Navy received rare attention in a 1943 film that nevertheless avoided depicting non-white merchant seaman or disturbing the gender division. After the war the focus of maritime films returned to the Royal Navy. The liminal presence of the Merchant Navy in films of the 1950s was, however, significant. It was, variously, the vector for the expression of British insecurities about the wartime victory, the occasion for the portrayal of the enemy as an honourable foe, and a means to both romanticize, and hint at the fragility of, imperial masculinity.
Abstract The 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech brought back into public debate one of the most controversial figures in modern British political history. Powell remains indelibly linked to the stances he took on race and immigration in the 1960s and 1970s, but in recent years there has been a widening of the lens through which his politics and public arguments are viewed. This article contributes to this reappraisal, arguing that central aspects of his thinking were shaped by his highly distinctive reflections on sovereignty, representation, and the nation state in the early 1950s. It demonstrates that Powell’s positions on both the internal configuration of the nation state and its external relations were intertwined, and were applied by him on a fairly consistent basis throughout his career, informing the stances he took on the contentious issues of Europe and Ulster in the 1970s, as well as immigration. Our account of his thinking challenges both the tendency of his interpreters to treat his views on international relations and the internal politics of the United Kingdom as thematically distinct, and the accusation of political opportunism that has been a central motif in commentary on his political career.
Abstract This article argues that Falkirk—a medium-sized industrial town in Central Scotland—became the scene of a localized, yet typical moral panic about teenage deviancy in the late sixties. Located within a broader context of secularization and changes to popular youth cultures, the panic was sparked by a succession of trials. As a result of these, several teenage boys were charged with cannabis possession, and a 19-year-old man was convicted of unlawful intercourse with a 15-year-old girl. Responding to public outrage, local moral entrepreneurs attributed the changing attitudes and behaviours of numbers of young people to a decline in churchgoing and religious piety. With assistance from North American and Canadian evangelicals, they attempted to mobilize a mass religious revival in the style of Billy Graham’s ‘Crusades’. By seeking to reassert the discursive power of Christianity in the face of moral change, their enterprise sought spiritual remedies to complex social and cultural developments. However, by the time evangelicals arrived, the panic had subsided due to the court case providing a measure of closure, and many churchgoers in Falkirk felt uncertainty about whether a greater role for churches in policing morality was desirable. Thereby, this article challenges literature that has sought to downplay secularization in Britain during the sixties and which emphasizes the influence of discursive change within Anglican Christianity on the sexual and moral revolutions of the 1960s. It contests London-centric conceptions of moral change and demonstrates that this was a product of regionalism as well as cosmopolitanism.
Virago Press were established in 1972 and became one of the twentieth century’s most enduring publishing brands. As a women-led enterprise, articulations of independence have defined key moments in Virago’s history. This article explores two moments when the company re-structured as independent, in 1976 and 1987. To become successful, Virago had to overcome barriers that have historically hindered women’s participation in business, namely limited social capital and difficulties accessing finance. Virago founder Carmen Callil’s friendship with publisher Paul Hamlyn and printing entrepreneur Robert Gavron embedded Virago in networks of male entrepreneurial knowledge that helped shape the evolution of the company. Such networks were vital to Virago securing investment from Rothschilds Ventures Limited in 1987 who were, at that time, leading figures in the UK’s growing private equity industry. This article contributes to growing historical understanding of the synergies between financial, arts and culture industries in the 1980s. It argues that while this era offered new opportunities for women to participate in business, such participation was tempered by new forms of legal and financial discipline that re-calibrated existing gender inequalities within business cultures. Due to the time periods under consideration, this article also analyses how entrepreneurial practices and opportunities for women changed dramatically with the onset of Thatcher’s ‘Enterprise Culture’.
Abstract Dorothy Crisp is known for being the militant Chairman of the British Housewives League (BHL) after the Second World War, but historians have failed to recognize that her views and actions were the culmination of over twenty years of right-wing journalism and political activism through which she tried to influence the Conservative Party. This article re-evaluates Crisp's Conservatism and her political career. It asks why such a powerful pro-Conservative female activist failed to secure a place within Conservative politics during the 1930s and the 1940s. In doing so, it shows that Crisp was not willing to conform to traditional gender roles inside the Party or the broader Conservative movement and that she was a vocal advocate for gender equality. It was the combination of her attitude towards women's issues and her older brand of imperialist, ultra-patriotic, anti-statist Conservatism that was unusual for a right-wing woman in this period. Crisp's views on women's issues did not fit the domesticity agenda of the BHL or that of the ‘Tory women's tradition’, which could not provide her with an opportunity to achieve her career goals. The article also explores how the Party handled challenges from independent right-wing activists, especially women, in a period when ‘one-nation’ Conservatism was dominant. It engages with recent debates about ‘Conservative feminism’ and argues that Crisp was also an important figure because she kept alive the model of the independent radical female Conservative, which would become the hallmark of Margaret Thatcher's politics a generation later.
Abstract The British Nationality Act (BNA) of 1948 was designed to provide a form of supranational citizenship to accommodate the separate nationality provisions that were beginning to proliferate as a result of constitutional change within the late empire, decolonization and the formation of the Commonwealth. Under the provisions of the BNA, members of the Commonwealth would continue to be unified by transnational forms of citizenship, at least in principle. The Act aimed to cover every political arrangement conceivable in the late empire and early Commonwealth and contributed to the transformation of Great Britain into a multicultural society, by providing the legal vehicle for immigration into the UK in the second half of the twentieth century. However, the BNA had its limits. It could not be applied to territories characterized by constitutional exceptionalism and jurisdictional hybridity. In the Condominium of the New Hebrides, jointly governed by France and Great Britain from 1906 to 1980, the majority of the indigenous population were unable to benefit from the BNA, despite efforts to extend its coverage in all eligible territories. As part of the condominium agreement, the indigenous population were ineligible for any form of citizenship-British, French or New Hebridean-and remained stateless until independence as the Republic of Vanuatu in 1980. This article examines the relationship between indigenous statelessness and the BNA, exploring the implementation, interpretation and extent of the BNA in a territory characterized by constitutional hybridity, compromise and ambiguity. It argues that despite its emphasis on universal commonwealth citizenship, the BNA could not accommodate the diverse political, legal and constitutional diversity that characterized the Dominions, Crown Colonies, protectorates, protected states and condominia that had proliferated under imperial rule and whose legacies continued to inform the possibilities for decolonization and the politics of post-colonial citizenship making.
Abstract Despite having been overlooked in the standard histories of the UK and the European Community, gender politics and gender policies played a significant role in Britain's applications for membership in the EEC in the 1960s. Joining the European Community required that Britain comply with Article 119 on equal pay for equal work. A combination of domestic feminist and labour movement activism, the commitment of unions and parties, and the internationalization of formal commitments to women's rights constituted internal and external pressures for the passage of an Equal Pay Act in 1970. The article argues that the formal legislative commitment to gender pay equality, changing public attitudes towards women's employment, and European membership impacted further domestic social policy reform and slowly began to shift government attitudes towards gender equality.