Reaction to the reforms of the post-war Labour Governments

The reaction to these reforms did vary - some were believed to be successes and some were seen as failures.

Successes

  • The NHS brought free health care to all from the cradle to the grave, including those who could not afford it.
  • The 'Homes for All' policy led to new towns, such as Cwmbran, and many families benefitted from the prefabs.
  • Education was granted to all for free.
  • Nationalisation provided improved working conditions in key industries for many.

Shortcomings

  • The NHS was unpopular with many doctors and it was seen as running at an enormous cost.
  • 'Homes for All' did not meet its expected ambitious targets.
  • '11-plus' education tests were seen as unfair by many, and a number of Labour members wished for a comprehensive school structure where pupils of all backgrounds and abilities were together.
  • Nationalisation was seen as protecting declining industries, and at a cost.

Other aspects

  • Despite these reforms, Labour only narrowly won the 1950 election.
  • Rationing of goods was still in place five years after World War Two had finished.
  • Reforms had led to a rise in taxation for many people.
  • The Conservative party challenged the nationalisation of the steel industries, and the Labour party was becoming weakened by differences within.
  • Another election was called in October 1951. The Conservatives won the election with Winston Churchill returning as Prime Minister.
  • Despite the change in government, the Welfare State remained in place.
Two men in flat caps look at a series of posters for the Conservative Party on a wall. Text: Cut out Government waste. Vote Conservative.
Conservative Party poster, 1951