2M Wars and Welfare: Britain in Transition, 1906–1957

This option provides for the study of a transformative period of British history, during which democratically elected government faced a series of challenges, both internally and externally, and British society underwent fundamental change. It develops concepts such as reform and retrenchment, patriotism and pacifism, social status and cultural values. It also encourages students to reflect on the process of economic and social change and the impact of that change for both governments and the people.

Part one: Society in Crisis, 1906–1929

The Liberal crisis, 1906–1914

  • The Liberal governments: the 1906 election; New Liberalism; the influence of Campbell-Bannerman, Asquith, Lloyd George and Churchill; the position of Labour and the Conservatives
  • The state of the economy: staples; 'new' industries; agriculture; trade and invisible earnings; economic concerns and external competition
  • Social issues: class division; poverty; changes in taxation; the 'People's Budget'; Liberal social and welfare reforms; reasons for legislation and its effect
  • Challenges and crises: the constitutional crisis; the issue of female emancipation; Irish Home Rule; industrial unrest

The impact of war, 1914–1922

  • Politics in wartime: the 1915 coalition; Lloyd George and Bonar Law; Liberal division; the influence of the Labour Party and the 1918 constitution; the 1918 election and the Lloyd George coalition; policies, problems and Lloyd George's fall
  • Economic issues: Britain's wartime economy; housing and austerity; trade unions; post-war industrial problems; the position of the staple industries and trade
  • Social and cultural impact of war: role of women; reform of the franchise; unions and Labour; cultural change; issues of patriotism; conscientious objection; effect of trenches on soldiers; the war poets
  • Ireland: the Easter Rising; the war of independence and the Anglo-Irish Treaty

The search for stability, 1922–1929

  • Political developments: the decline of the Liberals; the 1923 election; the first Labour government: aims, reforms, international relations and collapse; the Conservative resurgence and government; the roles of Baldwin, Churchill and Chamberlain
  • Economic issues: post-war re-adjustment and return to Gold Standard; the problems of the coal mines; industrial disputes and the General Strike
  • Social and cultural change: unemployment and regional division; the post-war role of women; the growth of the media including newspapers and cinema; the cultural reaction to war
  • The 1929 election: the franchise extension and 'flapper vote'; the new Labour government; MacDonald and Snowden and their aims; the state of Britain by 1929

Part two: the emergence of the Affluent Society, 1929–1957 (A-level only)

The 'Hungry Thirties', 1929–1939 (A-level only)

  • Political developments: the Labour government; domestic policies and response to economic problems; the reasons for and policies of the National Government; the leadership of MacDonald, Baldwin and Chamberlain
  • Economic issues: the Depression and financial crisis; changes to economic policy, including moving from the Gold Standard; tariff reform and imperial preference; effect on industry, agriculture and trade
  • Social and cultural impact of the Depression: changes in working opportunities and living standards; National Government policies; social and regional division; literary responses; radio and cinema; social and cultural responses to international crises
  • Challenges to stability: the abdication crisis; radical political groups: the BUF; Communism

The People's War and Peace, 1939–1951 (A-level only)

  • Political developments: the fall of Chamberlain; Churchill as wartime leader, character and style; coalition government; the reasons for Labour victory in 1945; Attlee as Prime Minister; Labour ideology and aims
  • Economic issues: mobilisation of resources in wartime; the post-war economic readjustment; Labour's post-war balance of payments problems and policies, including nationalisation
  • The social and cultural impact of 'total' war: conscription; women and children; civil liberties and restrictions; propaganda; the Blitz; plans for reconstruction including Beveridge and the Butler Act; policies of post-war Labour government, including the creation of the NHS and medical advances
  • Britain by 1951: the Festival of Britain; continuing austerity; Labour divisions; Conservative reorganisation and the elections of 1950 and 1951

'Never had it so good'? 1951–1957 (A-level only)

  • Conservative governments and reasons for political dominance: Churchill, Eden and Macmillan as political leaders; domestic policies; internal Labour divisions; consensus politics
  • Economic developments: post-war boom; balance of payments issues and 'stop-go' policies
  • Social and cultural developments: rising living standards; the impact of affluence and consumerism; changing social attitudes and behaviour; class and 'the Establishment', the position of women
  • Britain by 1957: issues relating to New Commonwealth migrants and race-relations; nuclear concerns and the formation of CND