The nation's post-war social, economic and political landscape is radically altered and it begins to dismantle the empire.
Clement Attlee and his Labour party won the election in the dying days of World War II with a commitment to build a better Britain with full employment. They took over a country which was effectively bankrupt and worn out after six years of warfare; many were homeless or living in inadequate accommodation and some foodstuff was in desperately short supply. The Butler Education Act of 1944, which guaranteed the introduction of secondary education for all children, and the 1942 Beveridge Report, which set out proposals for the foundations of a welfare state funded by a fresh national insurance scheme, were widely regarded as the essential foundation blocks for a fairer Britain and social improvement in the post-war years.
The new government still ruled an empire, which some Labour MPs regarded as an anachronism, and India’s long campaign for self-rule demanded immediate attention. Moreover, Britain’s authority and prestige had been weakened in the oriental colonies conquered by Japan. Ireland severed its last slim connection with the Commonwealth in 1949. Even the ‘white dominions’ had become assured, independent nation states, which would never again regard the ‘mother’ country with the same deference they had shown during the two world wars.
1946 First meeting of the United Nations Organisation in London with the United Kingdom sitting as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.
~ Churchill makes his Iron Curtain speech at Fulton, Missouri, warning of the Soviet Union threat in Europe.
~ The Bank of England is nationalised.
~ A dollar loan is negotiated by Keynes after Lease Lend was abruptly terminated.
~ The International Military Tribunal tries Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. Lord Justice Colonel Sir Geoffrey Lawrence (1880-1971) is the tribunal’s lead British judge.
~ Dame Laura Knight eminent painter of many wartime scenes, paints scenes at the Nuremberg Trial of Nazi war criminals.
~ Jewish terrorists blow up the King David Hotel, the British HQ in Jerusalem.
~ Bread and flour are rationed, butter and fats ration reduced.
~ The TE20 ‘little grey Fergie’ tractor with 3 point linkage is produced by Harry Ferguson (1884-1960).
~ Royal Commission favours equal pay for women.
~ Repeal of 1927 Trades Disputes Act, passed after the General Strike.
~ London Airport opens at Heath Row.
~ The Arts Council of Great Britain is inaugurated.
~ The British mandated protectorate of Transjordan becomes the independent Kingdom of Jordan.
~ TV service in SE England is resumed and the BBC Third Programme is started on radio.
~ Bertrand Russell publishes A History of Western Philosophy.
~ Deaths and Entrances is published by Dylan Thomas.
~ The Winslow Boy by Terence Rattigan (1911-77) and An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley are produced on the London stage.