1 Several sharp policy differences between the
parties but broad lines of convergence
2 The central issue was a mixed economy
2.1 Labour had shown they didn't want all-out
socialism and accepted private enterprise and
2.2 Although the Conservatives were quick to denationalise
the steel industry and road transport in 1951, they left
the rest of Labour's nationalisations alone.
3 Other key themes
3.1 Legacy of national unity and cooperation left by the war - wartime coalition ministers.
3.2 Idea of what Nigel Lawson called 'big government' - need for
government intervention in social and economic policies.
3.3 Importance of maintaining full employment
- bitter memories of the 1930s contributed
to Labour landslide victory in '45.
3.3.1 Conservatives anxious to avoid been
seen once again as the 'party of
3.4 Importance of trade unions. Unions made stronger during
the war and by nationalisation. Conservatives wanted a
3.5 Popularity of Labour's welfare reforms, esp. NHS - many
Conservatives were much less hostile to the welfare state.
3.6 Conservative majority was slender. Did not feel in a strong enough position to dismantle
Attlee's legacy if they'd wanted to. This didn't please the party faithful at grassroots level, many
of whom opposed the consensus.