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James Cronin, "The Politics of State Expansion: War, State and Society in Twentieth Century Britain"
Publisher: Routledge | ISBN: 0415036232 | edition: 1991 | PDF | 400 Pages | 1,8 Mb
Despite powerful opposition, the British government expanded rapidly over the course of the twentieth century, and by the 1950s had come to occupy a prominent place in the daily life of the nation. In this study, James Cronin argues that the politics of Britain's expansion were twice transformed by war which, combined with mobilization for war,expanded the state's bureaucratic and fiscal capacity and disturbed the normal workings of politics. The interests opposed to the growth of government lost influence, and new political space was created for reformers inside and outside the state to argue the case for innovative public policies.
After the First World War, the battle was won by those with a very limited vision of what the state should do; after the Second World War a much broader vision triumphed. Even then, those who opposed the state's expansion managed to deny to reformers the fiscal and administrative mechanisms that would be required over the long term in order to meet the commitments made in the 1940s. The absence of those tools would bedevil subsequent governments, and would lead to the triumph in 1979 of a Conservative government eager to abandon the commitments embodied in the "postwar" settlement.