Labour lost the general election of October 1951. The new Churchill administration pursued policies in foreign and defence affairs that in the main followed from, and were based on the same assumptions as those of the Atlee governments. The essentials of the National Service scheme remained the same, with the period of service fixed at two years, until in 1957 it was decided to phase out conscription altogether. For British defence and foreign policy the post-war period has been characterized as ‘the long retreat’. Even with a constantly rising level of economic growth, governments of all colours sought to accommodate diverging objectives.
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