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Managing the Economy, Managing the PeopleNarratives of Economic Life in Britain from Beveridge to Brexit$
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Jim Tomlinson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786092

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786092.001.0001

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Austerity to ‘Never had it so Good’

Austerity to ‘Never had it so Good’

(p.19) 1 Austerity to ‘Never had it so Good’
Managing the Economy, Managing the People

Jim Tomlinson

Oxford University Press

This chapter charts the intricacies of the Attlee government’s austerity strategy, the attempts to shape opinion around this strategy, and the obstacles faced. Central to persuading the public in these years was a notion of ‘fair shares’, a particular version of equity which was crucial to the politics of the 1940s. The chapter then outlines the grounds for success of the alternative, anti-austerity message from the Conservatives, and assesses who responded most strongly to this stance. Third, it analyses how a new politics of ‘affluence’ emerged during the 1950s, and how this related to public understanding of the economy. Alongside the analysis of the narratives constructed is an account of the means of propaganda employed, especially under the Attlee government when such propaganda was used more intensively than ever before or after.

Keywords:   austerity, consumption, rationing, propaganda, productivity, never-had-it-so good

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