In this newly revised and updated edition of his acclaimed biography of post-war Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee, Francis Beckett argues that, as the architect of the NHS and the Welfare State, he is one of only two post-war Prime Ministers who can claim to have changed the society in which we live (the other being Margaret Thatcher). In the years preceding World War II, polarisation within British society was acute. The radicalism of the 1918 generation had spent itself in futile gestures and bitter recriminations, resulting in a minimal change in conditions for the poorest Britons. In 1945, however, the Labour government, led by Attlee, took office with the skill and the political will to translate socialist aspirations into legislation – to change the way men and women lived, fundamentally, and in a sense irreversibly.
FRANCIS BECKETT is an author, journalist, broadcaster, playwright and contemporary historian. His seventeen books include biographies of four prime ministers, as well as of Aneurin Bevan and Laurence Olivier. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian and New Statesman.
Find Francis on Twitter @francisbeckett
Also by this author, Olivier.