Abstract Much of the economic and other historiography of post-war Britain is shaped by the perceived failure of Britain to consistently match the growth rates of GDP experienced in other rich countries. These declinist narratives are commonly coupled to tendentious and ideologically driven analyses of economic, social and political developments. This article seeks to displace this declinist narrative by one focussing upon de-industrialization and its consequences. The argument is that de-industrialization, beginning in the 1950s, brought about such a range of profound changes, that it provides the best underpinning narrative for understanding late twentieth-century Britain. After suggesting why ‘growth’ and ‘decline’ are not the best terms for understanding this period, the article sets out the case for seeing the employment changes brought about by de-industrialization as crucial to many changes in economic welfare. De-industrialization not only increased wage inequalities and job insecurity, but also re-shaped the social security system and the pattern of public employment. In addition, de-industrialization has seriously compromised the aim of neo-liberalism to free the labour market from the influence of government.
This article charts a history of everyday bodily interactions on the London tube. Through hundreds of passenger statements, gathered after the murder of Teresa Lubienska at Gloucester Road station in May 1957, it takes a cross-section of passenger behaviour in the 1950s while re-tracing the evolving relationship between the concept and practice of personal space as it responded to and shaped a century of material changes. It examines how the shift from private to public ownership and the problem of passenger impatience—the ever-increasing desire to rush—reshaped tube stations and cars, giving rise to indeterminate spaces in which passengers increasingly improvised to manage the potential touch of one another. Automated central doors, the increasing frequency and spaciousness of cars and the increasing necessity to straphang all compelled tacit agreements that made and remade subjective boundaries between passengers in every interaction, deferring the final establishment of those boundaries as a given ‘personal space’. Through tracing these changes, this article rethinks narratives of modernity and governmentality. If tube travel represented what it meant to be modern, this was not an established, self-regulating anomie. The tube’s modernity was a condition of un-decidability in which the ‘final’ fixing of the self’s boundaries was contingent on intrinsically indeterminate spatial relations with others: a need, since the 1920s, to mind the gap.
In July 1985 Steve and Susan Amphlett established Parents Against Injustice (PAIN) to support and represent parents falsely accused of child abuse. The Amphletts ran the organization from their own home, and struggled to gain funding, before closing PAIN in 1999. PAIN was to an extent a reflection of the ‘new politics’ of identity and lifestyle, concurrent with the rise of New Social Movements, as falsely accused parents utilized communication technologies to make their experiences public, and to contact and support one another. At the same time, PAIN also sought to exert political influence through relatively traditional channels—contributing to public inquiries, encouraging their membership to write letters to Members of Parliament, and shaping media critique. Despite its small size, PAIN was able to act as an intermediary between parents and politicians, social workers, solicitors and physicians. PAIN represented, but also collated and shaped, parents’ experiences. The case study of PAIN suggests that small groups have been able to mediate between ‘public’ and ‘experts’, effectively working with both groups because of their ability to combine experience and professionalism. These groups have brought experiential knowledge into social policy, and more broadly shifted the roles and responsibilities accorded to children, families and parents.
The growth of conservation organizations like the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (NT), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the county wildlife trusts was one of the more striking features of post-war social change. With their roots in late Victorian and Edwardian ideas of preservation and conservation, the membership of these organizations expanded sharply from the 1960s. The success of these groups, however, also brought its own problems. In particular the practical issues associated with their growth forced them to ask what kind of organizations they were and what kind of organizations they might become. The article focuses on the NT and the soul searching that it undertook in the late 1960s. It draws on but partly seeks to revise recent research on environmental and conservation organizations. In doing so, it documents how the transformation of the NT fits the professionalization thesis proposed within the existing historiographical literature, whilst seeking to draw attention to the influence of broader sociological changes associated with mass affluence and the growth of popular recreation. Given its patrician leadership, the NT was challenged by the democratizing effects of affluence and by the wider climate of cultural modernization. It was this set of cultural and social developments, rather than simply the inevitable logic of professionalization, which provided the conditions in which the Trust was impelled to reinvent itself and modernize its ways of working.
This article looks at the controversial music genre Oi! in relation to youth cultural identity in late 1970s’ and early 1980s’ Britain. As a form of British punk associated with skinheads, Oi! has oft-been dismissed as racist and bound up in the politics of the far right. It is argued here, however, that such a reading is too simplistic and ignores the more complex politics contained both within Oi! and the various youth cultural currents that revolved around the term ‘punk’ at this time. Taking as its starting point the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies’ conception of youth culture as a site of potential ‘resistance’, the article explores the substance and motifs of Oi!’s protest to locate its actual and perceived meaning within a far wider political and socio-economic context. More broadly, it seeks to demonstrate the value of historians examining youth culture as a formative and contested socio-cultural space within which young people discover, comprehend, and express their desires, opinions, and disaffections.
Ralph Miliband’s influential Marxist critique of Parliamentary Socialism (1961) depicted a Labour Party that had condemned itself to futility by its dogmatic commitment to parliamentary methods. By contrast, Social Democratic writers such as Ben Pimlott have argued that Labour’s reformism secured concrete gains, whilst accepting the premise that the party’s electoralism/parliamentarism went unquestioned at the time. Both sides are right insofar as no group within the party suggested abandoning parliamentary methods. What has been forgotten, however, is that there was considerable debate after 1918 about how Parliament should be used. Not only was Labour’s commitment to Parliament challenged by other parties, which alleged extremism and disregard of the rhetorical conventions of the Commons, but Labour itself accused its opponents of riding roughshod over parliamentary liberties. Thus, the decision of some left-wing MPs to use parliamentary disruption tactics in their quest to present themselves as spokesmen of the unemployed was depicted by them as a proper use of the Commons to challenge capitalism and by Conservatives as proof of Labour’s innate extremism and unfitness to govern. Issues of class were central to these understandings, and gender was also important. This article examines the arguments about Parliament and parliamentary methods that were conducted within and without the Commons, often through symbolic manifestations such as rowdy ‘demonstrations’ within the Chamber. It concludes that the inter-war experience taught Labour not the possibilities of Parliament but its limits.
This article will provide a long-term assessment of Britain’s relatively liberal (albeit constrained after 1962) immigration policy through an investigation of ethnic minority self-employment in Newcastle upon Tyne. It will offer an examination of immigrant experiences at grassroots level with regards to the employment sector and a reassessment of ethnic minority integration situated within a Western context. It will trace the development of entrepreneurship amongst Newcastle’s Muslim immigrant community from its arrival in Britain through to its emergence as a fixed attribute on the city’s landscape. A comparison with the German city of Bremen helps expose the long-term legacies of immigration histories and policies, and the role that Islam plays in determining levels of ethnic entrepreneurship. By drawing upon government documents and correspondence, Census material and a wide array of secondary literature, this article asserts that the literature focusing on immigrant aspirations and self-determination in the British labour market during the post-Second World War period needs revising.
Abstract This article investigates the Air League of the British Empire and its attempts to promote air-mindedness within British society in the late 1930s. It draws attention to the Air League’s construction of a distinctly militarized aerial theatre—in the form of Empire Air Day (EAD)—and highlights the extent to which the event was embedded in popular civic ritual. Linking the themes of nation, empire, youth, and air-mindedness, the case of EAD provides important insights into the ways in which British society interacted with—and ascribed meaning to—technology, technological change, and modernity, in a period of high international tensions. The article shows that the Air Ministry valued the display as a vehicle for recruitment, propaganda, and as a way to project an image of military strength to domestic and foreign audiences. The display enabled the League to place before the British public a form of ‘popular’ militarism that was supported by large sections of British society, key military figures, members of the royal family, newspapers across the political spectrum, and by politicians of all stripes. EAD was a politically and culturally acceptable way of promoting rearmament and the military capabilities of the British state.
Abstract Spatial mobilities are a neglected dimension of the historiography of post-war youth and yet, as this article argues, in the late 1950s and 1960s, mobilities became integral to a redefinition of young femininity. Examining media targeting girls and young women, as well as national newspapers and women’s magazines, this article explores the popularization of the idea that girls in their teens and early twenties were on the move and that particular kinds of mobility were a feature of modern girlhood. Whether out and about, travelling or migrating to cities, mobilities were often portrayed as empowering girls and facilitating transitions to adulthood; for these reasons, girls were encouraged to embrace opportunities to be going places, even if this meant challenging personal boundaries. This empowering new ideal came at a cost: youth, and the passage to adulthood, became riskier for girls. Only a thin line separated going places from out of place, as the most transformative mobilities took girls away from the parental home and other forms of adult supervision. There were long-established dangers posed by predatory men, but also new ones posed by going it alone—sexual and domestic exploitation, loneliness; risky mobilities were often less about travel than arriving someplace else. Financial resources helped safeguard girls, but survival increasingly depended on personal resources. Mobilities became a new axis of social differentiation, dividing the girls who were going places, literally and in terms of social status and cultural capital, from those who were out of place or stuck in place.
Abstract This article sets out to examine what fascism actually meant to its earliest British adherents focusing on Britain’s first self-proclaimed fascist group, the British Fascisti (BF). Drawing on material from the BF’s newspapers, the popular press, and archival sources, it argues that its members conceived of British fascism as an imperial solution to a crisis imagined in imperial terms. They envisioned British fascism in practice as the metropolitan extension of repressive imperial violence—that is, the ability to take whatever steps deemed necessary to safeguard the law, order, and the status quo, whether on the streets of Britain or those of the Punjab. In this sense, the article maintains, the BF formed part of a broader British political tradition, one that saw the ‘ethos’ of Empire as a means of averting Britain’s decline. It begins by introducing the BF and their ideology, moving to a discussion of how the Jewish-Bolshevik plot against the British Empire imagined by BF members reflected the colonial experiences of their leading personnel. It then interrogates the BF’s proposed antidote to this anti-imperial conspiracy. By emulating the qualities and behaviour of Britain’s imperial heroes and living an ‘imperial’ way of life, they hoped to restore Britain to greatness. It concludes with a call for further research into the overlapping histories of British fascism and the British Empire.
This article concentrates on the role of radio within and beyond the Falkland Islands. With radio as their primary communication technology, Falkland Islanders were part of a 'sonic community' framed around a complex radio environment. On the eve of the 1982 Argentine invasion, radio was to perform a vital strategic function in terms of alerting Islanders and wider communities (including the UK parliament) to the unfolding events. Using broadcast transcripts, interviews and published materials, this article reconstructs how, and with what consequences, broadcasting and listening conditioned the responses of Islanders to the seventy-four-day occupation, and also details Argentina's attempts to replace this Islander network. It is noted, by way of conclusion, that the official history of the Falklands campaign underplays this crucial sonic dimension.
Abstract The article explores five key episodes of Grange Hill, which focused on HIV/AIDS and sex education in the context of the development of sex education policy under the Thatcher and Major governments and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) children’s television provision. This addresses the BBC’s and the government’s conceptualization of childhood and specifically its intentions for, and assumptions about, the audience who watched Grange Hill in 1995. Having placed these key episodes in context, the article then reveals the didactic intent behind them, outlining their effects through a close textual analysis focused on the representation of sex education and HIV/AIDS stigma. The multiple narrative techniques deployed by Grange Hill’s creators receives particular scrutiny, allowing the article to expose how this storyline represented a culmination, response, and an intervention into the British politics of children’s AIDS education that preceded and surrounded it.
Abstract To persuade the electorate to vote ‘Yes’ in the June 1975 referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Economic Community, Britain in Europe, the pro-European campaign organization, adopted a pragmatic approach, focusing on the economic benefits of membership and warning about the potentially grave consequences of withdrawal. Importantly, they avoided discussing proposed future advances in European integration. However, this theme was of importance to pro-European youth and student campaign groups—the subject of this article. Through a detailed analysis of their campaign literature, this article further transforms understanding of the 1975 referendum and, especially, the nature of the ‘Yes’ campaign by demonstrating how radical youth groups’ arguments for continued membership were. It argues that young activists yearned to discuss sovereignty and deeper integration in great detail as they offered idealistic visions for how the EEC could develop and benefit Britain. The article also advances knowledge of youth politics in the turbulent 1970s. Greater light is shone on the frustration pro-European youth groups felt towards the main Britain in Europe campaign. Meanwhile, it serves as a case study on the extent to which the perspectives of party-political youth groups and their superiors differed on a specific, highly salient policy issue.
Given on the centenary of women's suffrage, this lecture explores the tensions and conflicts the claim for the vote raised among elite women already enmeshed in parliamentary and political circles. Drawing on the unbuttoned and sometimes angry correspondence among A.J. Balfour's suffragist sisters-in-law Lady Frances Balfour and Lady Betty Balfour, Frances' collaborator (and suffragist leader) Millicent Fawcett, Lady Betty's militant suffragette sister Lady Constance Lytton, and their old friend (and wife of the anti-suffragist Prime Minister) Margot Asquith, it explores the appeal but also the costs of this democratic claim for such "incorporated'' women - and explains why some nevertheless supported it.