Britain in the Sixties Author:Robert Theobald From the preface: — All the countries of the world have had to react and adjust to basically new conditions in the years since the end of the Second World War. In Britain, these forces although perhaps less obvious there than in other areas of the world, have led to what can be adequately described only as revolutionary changes. The object of thi... more »s volume is to try and show what to these forces have been, to document their effects, and to give the reader the material which will permit him to perceive the outline of the choices facing Britain at the beginning of the 1960s.
Economic constraints have been of major importance in determining the course Britain has been able to follow in these years. During the second World War Britain very largely exhausted her International credit, and at its end even owed large sums to many countries in the Commonwealth and elsewhere. Internally, Goods had been an extremely scarce apply for a period of more than five years, and large sums had been accumulated in savings. Britain was therefore faced with a need to export more goods than ever before at a time in which the population both wanted and felt entitled to a higher standard of living to compensate for the privations of the War years.
The imbalance between the amount of goods which people wanted to buy and the quantity actually available for purchase was further increased by the payment of large discharge gratuities to those who had served in the armed forces and also by many of the measures taken by the Labour government which came into Power even before the end of the war against Japan. Repeatedly during the six years the Labour party was in power, serious crises in the field of Foreign Exchange occurred and on more than one occasion Britain would have been unable to meet her International obligations without United States help.
For Britain, as for the other European powers, the American Marshall Plan was the major factor which enabled it to overcome the worst of the post-war shortages.