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The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929-1964$
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Peter Sloman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723509

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723509.001.0001

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Clement Davies and Liberal Keynesianism, 1945–56

Clement Davies and Liberal Keynesianism, 1945–56

(p.166) 6 Clement Davies and Liberal Keynesianism, 1945–56
The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929-1964

Peter Sloman

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the development of Liberal economic policy in the period of Clement Davies’ leadership, 1945–56, when the party’s electoral fortunes reached their nadir and both agricultural policy and political strategy provoked severe dissension. It argues that, in spite of these divisions, official Liberal policy followed a coherent trajectory away from wartime interventionism and towards a more mature version of the liberal Keynesian synthesis which had been developed in the late 1930s. The party’s growing enthusiasm for fiscal and monetary disinflation, the abolition of food and housing subsidies, and the removal of rationing and controls placed it in similar ideological terrain to the Conservative governments of the 1950s. This posture enabled the Liberals to profit from the ‘middle-class revolt’ which developed in the 1955 Parliament, but it did not offer a long-term strategy for the party-as members of the left-leaning Radical Reform Group increasingly pointed out.

Keywords:   Liberal Party, Clement Davies, Keynesianism, Conservative Party, nationalization, welfare state, inflation, middle class, free trade, Radical Reform Group

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