The Politics of the National Service Act
This chapter discusses the National Service Act and the history and diversity of Labour objections to conscription and to the situation that existed in government in the PLP from the autumn of 1946 to the spring of 1947. Opposition to compulsory military service was founded on different arguments and expressed in different sections of the Labour Party. Pacifists, non-conformists, trade unionists, liberals, and the occasional military thinker all had their reasons for opposition. This was the case within Labour and also elsewhere — the Liberal and Independent Labour Parties were to remain resolutely opposed to military conscription. As the government had yet to reach a decision on long-term military policy it was not unreasonable for Atlee and his colleagues to want discussion in the party deferred, until both defence policy and the international situation in general had become clearer.
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