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The inside history of the Treasury since 1976

The Treasury is one of Britain’s oldest, most powerful and secretive institutions. But all too frequently it has escaped public scrutiny when it comes to investigating the ups and downs of the UK economy. More often, it is depicted as a saviour, repeatedly rescuing the nation’s finances from the hands of posturing Prime Ministers, powerful special interests, and the combustions of world financial markets. It is a bedrock of government stability in times of crisis.

However, there is another side to the story. The Exchequer, more than any other institution, has shaped modern Britain’s economic system. In between the highs there have been many lows, from botched privatizations to dubious private finance initiatives, from failing to spot the great financial crisis to contributing to ever-growing regional imbalances and economic inequalities.

Davis’s book goes behind the scenes to offer an inside history of the Treasury, in the words of the chancellors, officials and civil servants themselves. It shows the failings as well as the successes, the personalities and the thinking which have shaped Britain’s economy since the 1970s. Based on interviews with over fifty key figures from the last five decades of Treasury life, it offers a fascinating, alternative insight on how and why the UK economy came to function as it does today, and why a paradigm shift and institutional rethink is long overdue.

India and America
Peter D.G. Thomas

was not a practical idea, for, quite apart from policy differences, it depended on Grenville’s willingness to serve as a mere Chancellor of the Exchequer: he had refused to do so earlier under Bute, and would never now accept such a demotion.5 Chap 7 19/8/02 11:47 am Page 149 The Chatham ministry I (1766–1767) 149 Far from being a successful attack on the ‘factions’, the new ministry was soon opposed by all three of them, and ironically the only political group that dissolved was the one to which George III would not have affixed such a stigma, that hitherto

in George III
Richard Toye

to female suffrage, the chapter analyses Churchill’s attitude to the extension of the franchise in the late 1920s, his record on social and taxation policy as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his attitude to women’s issues as both Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the 1940s and 1950s. It also examines how far Churchill constructed his public appeals in gendered terms. To what extent did he specifically attempt to appeal to women voters and to women as wartime c­ itizens – ­and how did his efforts (or the lack of them) fit into the context of the

in Rethinking right-wing women
Alun Wyburn-Powell

1922. In contrast to the majority of the former Liberals who went 93 DEFECTORS AND THE LIBERAL PARTY to the Conservatives, the first two – Reginald McKenna and Ronald Munro-Ferguson (Viscount Novar) – were anti-coalitionists. They were to become the first of eight Asquithians to defect to the Conservatives.2 Reginald McKenna was offered, and negotiated about, the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer under two Conservative prime ministers – Bonar Law and Baldwin. McKenna had already served as Chancellor in the Asquith Coalition, and in the process, some Liberals

in Defectors and the Liberal Party 1910–2010
Brian Pullan
Michele Abendstern

certain to have grave consequences for the University. It was in no position to solve its problems by laying off part of its workforce or sacking redundant executives. But the University could not afford to accumulate a deficit which it had no means of clearing away. At the end of 1973 Edward Heath’s administration withdrew guarantees that the Government would protect the finances of universities against the effects of inflation. No more would it proclaim itself ready to look with sympathy upon their plight. Anthony Barber, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, reduced

in A history of the University of Manchester 1973–90
Mark Garnett

4 The oratory of Iain Macleod Mark Garnett Iain Macleod has been a hero to many Conservatives, particularly but not exclusively to those who identify with the party’s ‘One Nation’ tradition. This is a fitting legacy for the man who co-founded (and named) the One Nation group of MPs. In part, he owes his continuing appeal to the fact that he died, at the age of just fifty-six, soon after reaching the pinnacle of his career by taking office as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The sense of promise unfulfilled is reinforced by the fact that, unlike so many moderate

in Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron
Open Access (free)
Jennifer Crane
Jane Hand

The National Health Service (NHS) officially ‘opened’ across Britain on 5 July 1948, replacing a previous and patchy system of charity and local providers and making healthcare free at the point of use for all. 1 By 1974, Barbara Castle stated that ‘Intrinsically the National Health Service is a church. It is the nearest thing to the embodiment of the Good Samaritan that we have in any respect of our public policy.’ 2 This comparison crossed decades and party lines: in 1992 the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel

in Posters, protests, and prescriptions
Keith Mc Loughlin

Alarmed by the diversion of material and technological resources to military ends, politicians and scientists on the left warned that this new war economy could undermine the development of civil industry. When a £4.7 billion rearmament package was announced by Labour's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hugh Gaitskell, in 1951, three ministers resigned in protest. As John Callaghan observed, the left felt that ‘costly overseas military commitments’ meant ‘that the future of the welfare state was jeopardised, let alone any further advances towards a socialist or social

in The British left and the defence economy
Cultural histories of the National Health Service in Britain
Editors: and

The National Health Service (NHS) officially ‘opened’ across Britain in 1948. It replaced a patchy system of charity and local providers, and made healthcare free at the point of use. Over the subsequent decades, the NHS was vested with cultural meaning, and even love. By 1992, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson declared that the service was ‘the closest thing the English have to a religion’. Yet in 2016, a physician publishing in the British Medical Journal asked whether the service was, in fact, a ‘national religion or national football’, referring to the complex politics of healthcare. Placards, posters, and prescriptions radically illuminates the multiple meanings of the NHS, in public life and culture, over its seventy years of life. The book charts how this institution has been ignored, worshipped, challenged, and seen as under threat throughout its history. It analyses changing cultural representations and patterns of public behaviour that have emerged, and the politics and everyday life of health. By looking at the NHS through the lenses of labour, activism, consumerism, space, and representation, this collection showcases the depth and potential of cultural history. This approach can explain how and why the NHS has become the defining institution of contemporary Britain.

Harold L. Smith

. The system of trying to provide for these children 138 Family allowances and the NHS through wages given everyone is like dealing with a shower of incendiary bombs on one part of London by sprinkling the whole of London equally. Chancellor of the Exchequer [Kingsley Wood]: What I am doubtful about in fact is whether if the Chancellor of the Exchequer has £100,000,000 it would not be [better] used for improvements in the medical services or in education or in the further provision of free and cheap milk and school meals and so on; where the money that was spent

in Britain in the Second World War