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Twentieth Century British History Advance Access





Published: Sat, 23 Sep 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2017 05:47:21 GMT

 



British Widows of the South African War and the Origins of War Widows’ Pensions

2017-09-23

Abstract
The South African War of 1899–1902 cost the lives of 22,000 British and colonial soldiers and created almost 5,000 British war widows. It was in this context that the first state pensions for the widows of rank and file soldiers were introduced in 1901. Triggered by unexpectedly high casualty rates and widespread dissatisfaction with charitable provision, the introduction of state pensions also reflected changing public attitudes towards soldiers and their dependants in the context of an imperial war. Dismissed in the historiography as insignificant because of its low rates and restrictive eligibility clauses, the 1901 scheme in fact delivered pensions to the majority of war widows and made the Edwardian state their most important source of financial support. This article, after discussing the social and political context in which widows’ pensions were developed, analyses the economics of the scheme and how key eligibility rules were formulated, before investigating significant changes in the scheme to 1920, the point at which Boer War widows were finally granted full maintenance. Strongly influenced by the practices of Victorian armed forces charities and by contemporary ideologies of gender and class, the South African War pension regulations created precedents which would continue to shape pensions for military widows to the end of the twentieth century.



Reconsidering ‘Set the People Free’: Neoliberalism and Freedom Rhetoric in Churchill’s Conservative Party

2017-09-18

Abstract
It is often assumed that ‘Hayekian’ or ‘neoliberal’ influences lay behind Conservative attacks on socialism in 1945 and subsequent calls to ‘set the people free’ in 1950 and 1951. This assumption has had consequences for our understanding of late-1940s Conservatism and for wider interpretations of post-war politics. Heeding recent calls to reconnect the inter-war and post-war parties and to pay closer attention to how opponents and contexts generate arguments, this article revisits senior Conservatives’ rhetoric between 1945 and 1951 to break the link between neoliberal influence and freedom rhetoric. First, it argues that the rhetoric of 1945 was derived from a distinctly Conservative lineage of interwar argument and reflected strategies developed before the publication of F. A. Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom’. Second, it demonstrates that senior Conservatives’ emancipatory rhetoric in opposition after 1945 was neither a simple continuation of these themes nor primarily a response to the public’s growing antipathy towards rationing and controls. Rather, such rhetoric was a complex response to Britain’s immediate economic difficulties and the political challenges presented by austerity. Finally, the article sheds new light on the strategy that governed the party’s campaigns in 1950 and 1951. Churchill and others’ calls to ‘set the people free’ stemmed from a belief that the rhetorical opportunity lay in reconciling liberty with security. In that sense, the leadership had moved beyond begrudging compromises with the ‘Attleean settlement’ and was instead attempting to define a new identity within the parameters of the welfare state.