Labour History Review

The Labour Party and Retail Distribution, 1919–1951

Labour History Review (2008), 73, (3), 269–286.

Abstract

This article attempts to show how, during the interwar period, Labour's ambivalent attitude to the retailing industry was born. This meant that, on the one hand, the party favoured big, consolidated businesses, but, on the other, it saw the advantages of small, local shops. Given that the Cooperative, perhaps surprisingly, was marginal to most Labour thinking on retailing, this ambivalence produced two broad policy vectors within the party. The first of these argued for the rationalization of retailing, while the second maintained that efficiency within retailing could be promoted without totally restructuring the industry. These issues were debated most strongly during the period of the postwar Attlee Governments. This article will examine how and why the rationalist argument was defeated, and will consider the policies regarding retailing pursued by these governments.

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Author details

Manton, Kevin