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UBC Theses and Dissertations

British unemployment policy in the 1920’s : a re-appraisal of Revolution of Reason and We Can Conquer Unemployment Caulfield, Peter


Following a short postwar boom, the British economy fell into a long period of uneven growth. The single biggest symptom of interwar economic transition was the unprecedented phenomenen of persistent mass unemployment, concentrated in the export staple industries. This thesis re-evaluates two important contributions to the debate on unemployment policy in the 1920s, by political mavericks Oswald Mosley, of the Labour party, and David Lloyd George, of the Liberals. Each produced small but pithy books on unemployment: respectively, Revolutiony Reason, and Courp.jployment. Most of the historiography to date on the subject has been overly lieconomicu in its orientation, and lacking in historical context. The thesis argues for another interpretation of the two books.. It looks more deeply into the political and social environment in which the programs were developed, and focusses on the “positive” rather than the “normative” dimension of their economics. It will examine what Lloyd George and Oswald Mosley were trying to accomplish in their programs, and why the programs took the forms they did. It will also, for the first time, explicitly compare the two programs, The comparative approach will show just how different their policies were, an important aspect overlooked by the existing literature..

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