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New Left Review I/4, July-August 1960

Dorothy Thompson

Farewell to the Welfare state

In the era of popular conservatism, the Labour movement has abandoned the revolutionary priorities of welfare and community provision, and neglected the growth of “double standards” in the “irresponsible society”.

when the tide rises, the whole ship goes up with it. There is no doubt that—throughout Western Europe at any rate—the combined forces of economic stability, the high level of employment, the consolidation in certain important sectors of working-class power and influence, have, in the last fifteen years, raised the overall living standards of all sections of the people. Fifteen years is a short time, and it is hardly surprising that many people have been overwhelmed by the speed of the change. The most striking thing, for the older generations, has been the apparent abolition of poverty. They can still remember times when a skilled man in full employment could barely manage to raise a family decently, when no job was secure, when working-class children had to turn down grammar school scholarships because their parents could not afford the clothes to send them to school. These things were the rule, not the exception, and the comparison with the position of the skilled worker and his family today needs no labouring.

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Dorothy Thompson, ‘Farewell to the Welfare State’, NLR I/4: £3

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