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Conscription and the Attlee GovernmentsThe Politics and Policy of National Service 1945–1951$
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L. V. Scott

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198204213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198204213.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.xii) (p.1) 1 Introduction
Source:
Conscription and the Attlee Governments
Author(s):

L. V. SCOTT

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198204213.003.0001

In sponsoring the 1939 Military Training Act the government abandoned its previous pledges not to introduce military conscription in peacetime in haste and without the consultation that the opposition had come to enjoy. The Labour Party did not oppose the principle of compulsory military service in wartime, but found peacetime conscription unacceptable. Chamberlain announced that the government still committed to the voluntary principle in service recruitment. However, in the next month he changed his mind, and announced the ‘temporary and limited’ measures that would conscript twenty-year olds for a period of six months’ military training. Chamberlain changed his mind for a mixture of diplomatic and military reasons. In Parliament peacetime compulsion brought a flood of embittered rhetoric from Labour members. The Labour Party became increasingly isolated in its hostility. The Liberal Party quickly accepted the need for the Military Training Act and voted with the government.

Keywords:   Military Training Act, military conscription, compulsory military service, service recruitment, Labour Party, Liberal Party

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