The failure of ‘nationalization by attraction’: Britain's cross‐class alliance against earnings‐related pensions in the 1950s1

Hugh Pemberton
Published Online:
11 Oct 2011
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 65 Issue 4

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In 1957, the Labour Party published radical proposals for a state earnings‐related pension scheme (‘national superannuation’) whose funds were to be invested in stock markets to generate high returns, and to help modernize and dynamize the British economy. This article explores a sophisticated campaign against the proposal by the insurance industry, and the resistance of the unions. In doing so, it considers the implications of this cross‐class alliance, not least in terms of a possible missed opportunity to build a ‘developmental state’ in the UK, but also in terms of the country's increasingly inadequate and inequitable system of pension provision.

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