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Welfare State And World War 2

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#1 pebbel_heaven


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Posted 04 June 2005 - 04:34 PM

Hi there,

I'm looking for information on the effects of the second world war and how they lead to the development of the Welfare state. I have the ground facts that the injured soldiers were the first users of its services, but i am looking for soemthing to be able to quote on... Hmmm

Any partakers are welcome, many thanks. X
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#2 sapper


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Posted 04 June 2005 - 05:49 PM

It may sound odd to you today, but even in action in WW2 we had discussion groups.

The war had opened the eyes of the youngsters that fought. The old pre-war days of working for a pittance, of touching your forelock to the boss, the class society and all it stood for, where to fade away. Thank God! Never to return, though the ruling classes have made several attempts to reinstall their rule.

This is not a left wing moan, more an honest appreciation of the facts of pre-war Britain.

For when it came to calling up the young men, half of them were found to be half starved, Young nineteen year old men were conscripted, and on arrival at the camp, were found to be unfit to serve in HM forces. So many frail and white skinned men with their ribs poking through, To overcome this need for conscripts, the forces built special camps where these young men were sent to build them up, and make them fit for service,

When these young men returned to their units, it was nothing short of a miracle, large well covered youngsters, fit as fiddles!

There was no way that the returning men would go back to their pre-war life, after all the sacrifices, and the losses, they wanted something better. The first few post war days were utter misery..there was no fuel, and everything was in short supply. Not surprising really, after 6 years of war, the Country was broke! Not only broke, but
Bled white of its young men. All the thrusting young men that we needed to push the country into recovery post war, where not there, their graves were spread around the world for many thousands of miles. So was born the social security state.

A wonderful thing. Long may it last. For I can recall the times when if you could not pay, then you stayed sick, or you died. For me, it was the greatest move forward for hundreds of years.
If the war did one great deed? then it was the removal of the evil old days, of sick children, and half starved people on the lowest rungs of society. Yet this was the country that owned a mighty empire, with colossal riches flowing into the pockets of some, while our kids had rickets in the streets.
Sapper :unsure:
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#3 Harry Ree

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 01:29 PM

I think Sapper gives a very accurate picture of the era pre war and post war of the Second World War of life in Great Britain.

The improvement of welfare for the common citizen started with Lloyd George's contribution in introducing a state pension at the turn of the century.If you wish to see how the common citizen, non working,ie retired or unable to work existed, then look at the various census returns."Holder of an Annuity", "Of Independent Means" ran the backgrounds of the few and wealthy but the majority of retired people or people who could not work were described as "Paupers".

The social security reforms of Lloyd George saw some improvement in the life of the "non well to do"but these did not go far enough and post Great War,families down on their economic luck or with medical conditions that prevented them from earning a living found themselves living on local charity which was sometimes referred as being "on the Parish"ie Parish relief. (It was common to see ex Great War servicemen selling matches and the like outside railway stations, little more than begging.)

The Second World War saw Great Britain involved in a struggle for her survival and victory only came after a tremendous sacrifice and resolution from its citizen at home or on the battlefield.Had social measures not been in place then citizens returning from the battlefield would have been no better than their victorious fathers who having defeated the Kaiser came home to be thrown, along with their families on to the social scrapheap.

An economist,William Beveridge in 1942 had the social vision that there must be change when the war was finished and the central issue must be welfare reforms based on the principle of "freedom from want".He introduced his paper entitled,the "Beveridge Report for Social Security".In it he made proposals for a minimum standard of living attainable by the relief of mass unemployment, introduction of medical cover, free at the point of delivery for all and child allowances to reduce child poverty.His proposals were largely taken up by the new government in June 1945.

Bearing in mind that the country was bankrupt due to the cost of the Second World War,the government did reasonably well by introducing these social security changes by 1948.The last being the establishing of the NHS which was strongly objected to by the British Medical Association.

Regarding the British Armed Forces,it is interesting to note that after the Battle of France the German propaganga machine went into full swing reporting of the very poor physical standard and poor dental standard of British POWs, the majority of whom have never had any dental treatment in their lives other than total extraction.

The Second World War saw many advances in medicine and one of most important was the introduction of the new wonder drug penicillin which saved many battlefield casualties.It's first priority was its use by the Armed Forces before it was released to the civilian population post war.

As for one area in welfare reforms,I feel one principle is clear and that is, a democracy must maintain the same medical care to its citizens out of uniform if it expects the same citzens to fight for democracy at the times when that democracy is threatened.Winston Churchill was forced out of office in June 1945 because returning sericemen were not prepared to return home and live in the same social conditions as prewar.Churchill's opposition had a different agenda and the result was the party with the more attractive domestic policy won the day.
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#4 angie999


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Posted 05 June 2005 - 02:05 PM

Originally posted by Harry Ree@Jun 5 2005, 01:29 PM
The Second World War saw many advances in medicine and one of most important was the introduction of the new wonder drug penicillin which saved many battlefield casualties.It's first priority was its use by the Armed Forces before it was released to the civilian population post war.

Quoted post

Max Hastings' "Overlord" contains an appendix of 21st Army Group statistics, including this note:

"The use of penicillin, combined with close liaison between surgeons, physicians and pathologists, has been a large factor in producing a recovery rate of over 93% of all casualties who reach the Medical Unit."

What a pity and a scandal that due to indiscriminate overprescribing we are facing a time when there will be no antibiotics to treat many infections, such as MRSA, resistant tuberculosis and others which are emerging. We are perhaps very lucky to have lived through 60 years when most infections were relatively easy to treat.

No truly new antibiotics have been discovered for quite a few years.
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#5 sapper


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Posted 05 June 2005 - 02:37 PM

I do like your posting Harry Ree, very much to the point, and a true account, On another site, I am ridiculed for bringing up the state of our land pre-war.
Your description is spot on!
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#6 Kiwiwriter


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Posted 06 June 2005 - 03:24 PM

Sapper and Harry are dead-on accurate about how WW2 changed Britain socially.

Before the war, kids were still leaving school at 14 to work in the factories, and slums in Leeds and Manchester were unchanged since Dickens -- no running water, no electricity. Chunks of London were still lit by gas lamps until September 1, 1939, when lamplighters walked around the East End and shut them down for the duration. British Other Ranks were often barely literate when inducted. Many Britons ate a balanced diet for the first time in their lives under rationing. The food was not good, but the authorities tried to make it a balanced meal, with a proper vitamin spread, instead of the relentless "bangers and mash" or fish and chips.

Added to this were the changes wrought by the Luftwaffe, which tore open whole cities like Coventry, creating housing crises and health crises. Nearly half the doctors were in uniform, so there was far less medical help for civilians, which added to the pressure for National Health.

Lloyd George's "Fit Land for Heroes" line of 1919 was not going to play with the 1939-1945 Tommy. The bankruptcy of 1945 Britain and the British people's demand for a better postwar deal than in 1919 helped shove Churchill and the Conservatives out. His speech about a "Gestapo in Britain" didn't help much, either.
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