Aled Davies

The City of London and Social Democracy

The Political Economy of Finance in Post-war Britain

Oxford University Press 2017

New Books in British StudiesNew Books in Critical TheoryNew Books in EconomicsNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network September 12, 2017 Mark Klobas

In the decades following the end of the Second World War, the British economy evolved from a manufacturing-based economy to one driven by service...

In the decades following the end of the Second World War, the British economy evolved from a manufacturing-based economy to one driven by service industries, most notably finance. As Aled Davies explains in his book The City of London and Social Democracy: The Political Economy of Finance in Post-war Britain (Oxford University Press, 2017), this shift posed a challenge to the prevailing concept of social democracy in Britain, one to which politicians, particularly those on the left, struggled to respond. With British industry facing growing competition abroad, successive governments in the 1960s and 1970s sought investment capital in order to maintain that sector’s viability. Efforts were made to encourage institutional investors such as pension and insurance funds to devote more of their industrial investment to long-term development rather than short-term profit, while many on the left of the Labour Party in the 1970s advocated nationalizing the banks as a means of channeling resources into the sector. Such proposals, however, were countered with calls to liberalize and deregulate the financial sector, many of which were advanced by trade associations and other bodies within the financial sector whose growing influence reflected the increasing importance of the City both as a part of the economy and within national politics. Their success in resisting intervention, Davies concludes, presaged the market-driven approach pursued by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government after 1979, one which continues to define British policy down to the present day.

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