John Greenaway / “Policy Fragmentation 1945-70: Three Case Studies” / Drink and British Politics since 1830 / 2003

1940s alcohol advertisement. © Science and Society / SuperStock.

Mid 20th century Britain, drink had a low political salience. Temperance movement weak: low popular support, and remote from political influence. During WW2, no political attention paid to drink, except re: compensation for bombed public houses. 1945-1970 period is interesting insofar as new alcohol related questions came on the political agenda, albeit not as major issues. Until 1930s, debate was on “temperance question,” a social problem in its own right. WW1 redefined along lines of national efficiency, but drink was still distinct issue. After 1945, there was a fragmentation in alcohol policy. Different departments take on different issues. Home office – interest in public order, licensing. Town and Country Planning – drink as leisure activity. Transport – drink and driving. Health – alcoholism, public health. Trade and Industry – economic aspects. Exchequer – fiscal and financial aspects.

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