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The Coalition: A Transformative Government?

Beech, Matt


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Dr Matt Beech
Reader in Politics and Director of the Centre for British Politics



Paul Addison concludes his famous study of British politics during the Second World War by stating, ‘Such was Mr Attlee’s consensus, the new dispensation which began after Dunkirk in 1940, and until recent years seemed to be the natural order of British politics. We were all — almost all — Butskellites then’ (Addison, 1975: 278). Whether one agrees with Addison that there was a period from 1940 until the election of Margaret Thatcher to the office of the leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, which can meaningfully be understood as a consensus in British politics, or whether we interpret this period in rather less anodyne terms, it is, nonetheless, a fruitful starting point to examine whether the Conservative—Liberal Coalition has been a transformative government. Without an appreciation of post-war British politics one lacks the necessary historical data to measure the 2010–15 Coalition. Addison’s thesis is well known; the Labour governments of 1945–50 and 1950–51 set in motion a set of far-reaching social, industrial, foreign and defence reforms underpinned with the economic doctrine of Keynesian demand management, and it is because subsequent Conservative governments did not stray significantly from Labour’s post-war policy diet, that it came to be regarded as ‘Mr Attlee’s consensus’ (ibid.).


Beech, M. (2015). The Coalition: A Transformative Government?. In M. Beech, & S. Lee (Eds.), The Conservative-Liberal Coalition : Examining the Cameron-Clegg Government (259-269). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Publication Date Apr 8, 2015
Deposit Date May 25, 2021
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Pages 259-269
Book Title The Conservative-Liberal Coalition : Examining the Cameron-Clegg Government
Chapter Number 17
ISBN 9781137461360; 9781349498918
Keywords Liberal Democrat Party; European Economic Community; Labour Government; Conservative Party; Coalition effect
Public URL