Ambivalence Rules

In spite of the hopes of 1997, New Labour missed its chance to modernize the welfare state leaving it to the Lib-Cons to re-examine mutualism and civic participation

This is not entirely surprising since originally the Labour Party opposed the Beveridge Report which relied solely on the support of the war-time Liberals and Conservatives.

In particular, Labour leaders hated the idea of a National Health Service based on local health centres and regional hospital administrations, preferring a nationalized body.

Beveridge also fiercely opposed “means-tested” benefits – later the core of Gordon Brown’s policies – because they create a “poverty trap” and encourage dishonesty.

In 1943, to the fury of Ernie Bevan, Labour back-benchers revolted and voted for the new welfare state but as we have seen, the leadership to this day remains ambivalent.


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