Origins of the welfare state

25 October 2017 | by Paul Routledge


It has become fashionable to disparage the welfare state, 75 years after it took modern shape in wartime Britain. Being “on welfare” is a pejorative term. Add “state”, and in the rollback era you have the perfect slander. To the Trump and Iain Duncan Smith generation, the welfare state is practically Communism.

But as historian Chris Renwick points out in this timely reappraisal of its origins, the welfare state is essentially a liberal construct, to which Conservative politicians made a substantial contribution.

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