By Robert M. Page, Richard L. Silburn
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Additional resources for British Social Welfare in the Twentieth Century
Beveridge's ideas - at least as expressed in his famous 1942 Report (Cmd 6404) - stressed the desirability of more comprehensive social security coverage to protect all individuals from misfortunes such as unemployment, and were crucially underpinned by the Keynesian strategy of economic management to ensure full employment (Harris, 1977, Ch. 16; Peden, 1988). Together, the arguments of Keynes and Beveridge were embraced by the Labour Party during the 1940s, forming the intellectual foundations of its postwar 'New Jerusalem'.
These were innovative not least in their circumvention of the Poor Law, an institution which was not going to die easily but which henceforth was increasingly restricted as to the sectors of the population with which it dealt. It is also noteworthy that many early Labour leaders did not disagree with the 'progressive' ideology of New Liberalism, only how, and by whom, it was to be carried out (Freeden, 1978; Pugh, 1993, Ch. 6). 24 British Social "Welfare in the Twentieth Century Liberalism in the party sense was in severe trouble after the First World War while Labour, although the main opposition party, never formed a majority administration before 1945.
This powerful notion of consensus in postwar welfare - in itself partly a product of the socioeconomic and political upheavals of the 1970s therefore has both contemporary and historical meaning, and continues to have its supporters, although most commentators are aware of its inherent problems. Nicholas Timmins, for example, while accepting the need to challenge any view of 'a Golden Age in which a lavishly funded welfare system operated in a glow of consensus', is equally concerned to question 'the obverse view ...