chapter  2
26 Pages

Reform and reaction

Over the next three chapters I intend to look carefully not only at the character ofthe British working class but also at the structure of which that class is part. There has been change in both; there has also been stability, continuity and inactivity. These contradictory yet coexisting elenlents were evident in the inlnlediate afternlath ofthe war, a tinle when 'fighting shy' sat unconlfortably anlidst the radical sloganeering and abundant pronlises ofa society in the process oftransfornlation. 'We have

to rebuild Britain to standards worthy of the men and wonlen who have preserved it; we have to organize social services at a level which secures adequate health, nutrition and care in old age for all citizens; and we have to provide educational opportunities for all,' declared the Labour Party in a publication revealingly entitled The Old World and the New Society (1942, p. 11).