Facing the Future

Keith Middlemas

  • Fifty Years of Political and Economic Planning: Looking Forward, 1931-1981 edited by John Pinder
    Heinemann, 228 pp, £9.50, June 1981, ISBN 0 435 83690 0

Commemorative pieces tend to be pious rather than memorable, omitting or evading growing pains or the clashes of personality endemic in any institution. Some sections of this short collection of essays by past or present PEP workers are little more than catalogues of worthy research projects. But PEP (since its merger in 1978, now the Policy Studies Institute) has rarely been flatulent or woolly-minded, and the contributors, not always intentionally, reveal quite a lot about a characteristic institution of the 20th-century British political élite. In a well-known essay on ‘Middle Opinion in the 1930s’, Arthur Marwick called it ‘the most successful and most enduring of the “planning” groups’.

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