Tag Archives: william beveridge

20th century support for eugenics by Churchill, Beveridge, Keynes etc – what to make of it?

This week, a couple of LDV commenters mentioned the support of eugenics by Beveridge and Keynes in the 1930s and early 1940s. Such support was widely shared by members of the Fabian society and notables such as George Bernard Shaw, Marie Stopes, Harold Laski – even Winston Churchill (earlier in the 20th century).

Debate of this point was not possible on unrelated threads this week, so this article is posted to allow discussion of this interesting, and somewhat disturbing, historic phenomenon.

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Tim Farron’s Beveridge Lecture in full: “Let’s say a huge yes to active, ambitious, liberal government and build a new consensus”

Tim Farron MP speaks at the rallyLib Dem party president Tim Farron delivered the Beveridge Lecture at this weekend’s Social Liberal Forum conference. Here’s what he said…

William Beveridge never led our country or our party. But he changed both in a spectacular way.

He was a humble man, a good man and so I am going to make an assumption that he’d want to know what social Liberals plan to do next, rather than hear us eulogise about him.

It’s a massive honour to be asked to give this …

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Opinion: Back to basic principles on welfare reform

"Demand the Beveridge Plan", 1944The basic principles of the Beveridge Report were:

  1. The right of every citizen to a minimum level of subsistence;
  2. The need to preserve incentive, opportunity and responsibility.

The post-war National Insurance system was based on the assumption that there would be full employment, and that wages for men would be sufficient to maintain a wife at home raising children.

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats must stay true to our traditions post 2015

The period between now and the next general election in 2015 will be crucial in deciding the immediate future of the Liberal Democrats-but the post general election period will have a much longer term significance. I have long been one of those Liberal Democrats who believe that the word ’Liberal’ has been a little to silent in the party name – as policies around goldfish at fairs and ever increasing public spending without corresponding accountability have cast the party a long way from the roots developed by Beveridge, Keynes and Gladstone.

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Nick Clegg gives the William Beveridge lecture

Nick Clegg gives the William Beveridge lecture

Speaking at the at Social Liberal Forum Conference 2012 on Saturday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg gave the William Beveridge memorial lecture. Here are my tweets of the event, interspersed with some links to older blog posts that expanded on some of the issues which came up.

Storified by Mark Pack · Sat, Jul 14 2012 10:25:17

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Opinion: time to shift the public services debate?

Every nation dates the beginning of its welfare system from a different date. In Britain, we usually date it to 1909 and also 1942 – because that was the date that Sir William Beveridge published his famous report.

It’s the only government report in history to have reached bestseller status. British soldiers went into action against the Nazis with it in their pocket.

It provided hope, but it also set out the blueprint for the future, caring world. But there was a problem there, in retrospect, that goes to the heart of why public services remain such …

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Book review: Peace, Reform and Liberation – “the first port of call for anyone wishing to learn more about Liberal and Liberal Democrat history”

There has long been a need for a single volume history of the Liberal and Liberal Democrat parties covering the entire period from its roots in the constitutional struggles of the seventeenth century to the present day.

While Liberal history has received plenty of attention from historians, previous studies of the party have been limited to a specific eras or themes. In many ways of course the party has several histories. This includes the origins of the Liberal tradition in the Whigs of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the heyday of Liberal government in the middle of the nineteenth century, the party’s decline and near extinction between the 1920s and 1950s, its recovery in the second half of the twentieth century, and now the challenges of governing in coalition with the party’s historic enemies, the Conservatives.

So it is welcome that the Liberal Democrat History Group has sought to fill a gap with Peace, Reform and Liberation.

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Opinion: A Liberal idea for welfare reform

Its not often an article which seeks to promote the Liberal agenda gets to use Alan Sugar and Peter Stringfellow as case studies.
But the millionaire duo, are, through no fault of their own, examples of all that is wrong with the approach successive governments have taken to welfare provision.

As Lord Sugar explains, he receives, despite never having applied for it, the winter fuel allowance available to all people over the age of 60.

The businessman even explains that he subsequently spent more than an hour on the phone trying to give the money back, only to be told that he …

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Forgotten Liberal heroes: Lady Louise Glen-Coats

Listen to Liberal Democrats make speeches and there are frequent references to historical figures, but drawn from a small cast. Just the quartet of John Stuart Mill, William Gladstone, David Lloyd George, David Penhaligon corner almost all of the market, especially since Bob Maclennan stopped making speeches to party conference. Some of the forgotten figures deserve their obscurity but others do not. Charles James Fox’s defence of civil liberties against a dominating government during wartime or Earl Grey’s leading of the party back into power and major constitutional reform are good examples of mostly forgotten figures who could

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Clegg: in 2015 the public sector will still employ 200,000 more than in 1997

In a speech given during the week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg strongly defended introducing a diversity of suppliers to public services, saying that,

The questions that confronted me, when I came into government, were these:

How can we reinvent and strengthen our public services at a time of anxiety and stretched resources?

And how can we preserve the public sector ethos as we move to a more plural, diverse and personalised way of running our public services?…

We have to modernise our public services. And we can make them better if we do.

Clegg went on to emphasise that increasing public expenditure is not …

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The weekend debate: Was Beveridge right to oppose the creation of a welfare state?

Here’s your starter for ten in our weekend slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

Though he is often thought of as the father of the modern welfare state in this country, William Beveridge in fact had other views on the matter. As he said of the Beveridge report, the aim, “was not security through a welfare state but security by cooperation between the state and the individual”. In other words, the state should assist people in achieving self-reliance (and so the contributory principle in the report) rather than being simply a benevolent charity writ large (and …

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Opinion: Child Benefit policy is within the great Liberal tradition

One of the most revered figures for British Liberal is Lord Beveridge, whose famous report laid the foundations for the welfare state as it was initially implemented by the 1945 Labour government. This report laid down the five “giant evils” which afflicted British society at that time, these were squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease.

As Lib Dems now contemplate the latest ream of announcements from George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith concerning reform of the welfare state, many of us, and particularly those who may identify with the ‘Beveridge’ Group within the party are concerned that the work of generations …

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Setting the Record Straight: Labour and the NHS

So, it’s the silly season again, and politicians are once more gripped by an irrational argument. No change there.

But for those of us who study history, the latest furore over the NHS is positively nauseating, with people apparently split into the camps of those who decry its very right to exist, and those who suddenly pretend they haven’t spent the last few years grumbling about how it’s in dire need of reform.

Part of this division is built upon a myth – a boil that needs to be lanced. We’re so used to Labour politicians churning out the line that Labour gave us the NHS, that we’ve begun to unthinkingly accept it. When Ian McCartney MP celebrated Labour’s centenary in 2006, he actually shed a tear for the NHS as Labour’s greatest triumph. Anyone familiar with 1940s history will tell you that this version of events is a cruel lie.

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DLT: Social Liberalism

Duncan Brack and Ed Randall, authors of the Dictionary of Liberal Thought, have kindly agreed to let us publish extracts on Lib Dem Voice. This month we conclude our trilogy of postings on liberalism – classical, economic and social. This month, it’s social. You can read other previous extracts on LDV here. The entire book is available on Amazon here and can also be bought at the Westminster Bookshop.

Social Liberalism

Social liberals believe in individual freedom as a central objective – like all liberals. Unlike economic or classical liberals, however, they believe that poverty, unemployment, ill-health, disability and lack of education are serious enough constraints on freedom that state action is justified to redress them. The British Liberal Democrats are generally considered a social liberal party, as are a number of other European liberal parties.

The development of social liberalism can be seen as a response to the problems of industrialisation in the mid- to late nineteenth century. Although free trade, the opening up of global markets and the transformation of European economies from agriculture to manufacturing delivered prosperity for many, they were also accompanied by a rising incidence of poverty amongst the new urban working classes.

In Britain the New Liberalism of T. H. Green, L. T. Hobhouse and J. A. Hobson, among many others, was the response. They argued that laissez-faire economic policies and the unrestrained pursuit of profit had given rise to new forms of poverty and injustice; the economic liberty of the few had blighted the life chances of the many. Negative liberty, the removal of constraints on the individual – the central aim of classical liberalism – would not necessarily lead to freedom of choice for all, as not everyone enjoyed access to the same opportunities; freedom of choice was therefore heavily constrained. Green proposed the idea of positive freedom (not to be confused with Isaiah Berlin’s notion of positive liberty): the ability of the individual to develop and attain individuality through personal self-development and self-realisation. Since much of the population was prevented from such self-realisation by the impediments of poverty, sickness, unemployment and ignorance, government was justified in taking action to tackle all those conditions. This was not a threat to liberty, but the necessary guarantee of it. As David Lloyd George put it in 1908, ‘British Liberalism is not going to repeat the errors of Continental Liberalism … Let Liberalism proceed with its glorious work of building up the temple of liberty in this country, but let it also bear in mind that the worshippers at the shrine have to live.’

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DLT: Liberal Summer School (now Keynes Forum)

For the past year, Duncan Brack and Ed Randall, authors of the Dictionary of Liberal Thought, have kindly agreed to let us publish extracts on Lib Dem Voice. Last month’s instalment was Keynesianism, following on John Maynard Keynes; this month, the Liberal Summer School. You can read previous chapters on LDV here. The entire book is available on Amazon here and can also be bought at the Westminster Bookshop.

Liberal Summer School (now Keynes Forum)

Founded in 1921 as an annual week-long residential school to develop innovative Liberal policies, domestic and international, for the post-war world, the Liberal Summer Schools were the source of the Liberal ‘Yellow Book’ and helped to develop the thinking behind Beveridge’s proposals for the reform of welfare provision. The School now survives as an annual one-day seminar, in 2004 renamed the Keynes Forum, and run by CentreForum.

The Liberal Summer Schools movement in the 1920s originated in the apparently disparate strands of Nonconformist (q.v.) Manchester liberalism, as represented by Ernest Simon (q.v.) and C. P Scott (1846–1932), social and industrial reformers from Toynbee Hall and the LSE (including William Beveridge (q.v.) and Seebohm Rowntree (1871–1954)); and John Maynard Keynes’s (q.v.) Cambridge- and Bloomsbury-based circle of young economists (including Hubert Henderson (1890–1952), Walter Layton (q.v.) and Dennis Robertson (1890-–1963)).

In 1920 Liberals were simultaneously faced with a world that seemed both dangerously disintegrated and full of exciting promise, and with the disastrous Asquith–Lloyd George (q.v.) split. Recognising the urgent need for positive Liberal polices to fill this vacuum, the powerful Manchester Liberal Federation under Ernest Simon and the chief national party agent, Thomas Tweed, initiated the movement which ‘recruited intellectuals to the Liberal Party, and provided a forum at which experts could float their ideas about contemporary economic, social, and industrial questions’.

The first Summer School was held at Grasmere in 1921, on the lines of the Fabian Summer Schools. The founders included the historians Ramsay Muir (q.v.) and Philip Guedalla (1889–1944), and the economists Keynes, Henderson and Layton, supported by Simon’s friend and Lloyd George loyalist, C. P. Scott of the Manchester Guardian. Eleanor Rathbone (1872–1946), herself from a Manchester Nonconformist Liberal dynasty, spoke on ‘Women and the Family’. ‘What a party!’ Simon noted in his diary at about this time: ‘No leaders. No organisation. No policy. Only a Summer School!’

The format, retained for many years, was a residential ‘school’ where Liberals and sympathisers met in a university setting to hear and discuss lectures on topical issues, domestic and international. The ‘school’ structure remained through the 1920s and ’30s; the programme was described as a ‘Syllabus’, with the emphasis on discussion rather than received wisdom, and a recommended reading list. The week included cultural excursions, concerts, a dance, a garden party and sometimes a satirical revue by School members.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 16th Dec - 1:45am
    Sorry, I mean of course 'a Liberal ' in his youth, he wasn't psychic too!
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 16th Dec - 1:41am
    Well, Peter, the absurdity was just not taken account of, it seems. Yet a shrewd friend of mine, a Lib Dem in his youth and...
  • User Avatarfrankie 15th Dec - 11:55pm
    But David I seem to remember you were a fan of Bevan's quote about rats. That was a man who through bitter experience knew what...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 15th Dec - 10:52pm
    @ Martin Typo, not intended
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 15th Dec - 8:35pm
    I wish he was !!
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 15th Dec - 8:26pm
    The cinema site in Tunbridge Wells has been cleared and covered with broken bricks. A new cinema cannot legally be built precisely where the previous...