Downhill

David Marquand

  • Years of Recovery: British Economic Policy 1945-51 by Alec Cairncross
    Methuen, 527 pp, £35.00, April 1985, ISBN 0 416 37920 6
  • The Politics of Recession by R.W. Johnson
    Macmillan, 275 pp, £20.00, January 1985, ISBN 0 333 36786 3
  • The Labour Government 1974-79: Political Aims and Economic Reality by Martin Holmes
    Macmillan, 206 pp, £25.00, May 1985, ISBN 0 333 36735 9
  • New Jerusalems: The Labour Party and the Economics of Democratic Socialism by Elizabeth Durbin and Roy Hattersley
    Routledge, 341 pp, £16.95, March 1985, ISBN 0 7100 9650 X

As late as 1951, the British economy was the strongest in Western Europe. Only the wartime neutrals, Sweden and Switzerland, surpassed us in income per head. In his magisterial new history of the economic policies of the post-war Labour Government, Sir Alec Cairncross shows that our industrial production was larger than that of France and Germany combined. It was 50 per cent above the 1938 figure, compared with 20 per cent in France and 10 per cent in Germany. France and Germany together exported less than we did. The seeds of our subsequent economic misfortunes were, of course, germinating beneath the surface: they had been doing so since the last quarter of the 19th century. But they were still a long way beneath, and they could not have been detected merely by looking at the statistics.

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