Inside the Department of Economic Affairs: Samuel Brittan, the Diary of an 'irregular', 1964-6 (Records of Social & Economic History 48)
By: Roger Middleton (editor)Hardback
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The rise and fall of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) parallels the promised but eventually unfulfilled modernization agenda of the 1964-6 Wilson government. The diary kept by Samuel Brittan (in contravention of civil service rules) for the fourteen months in which he served as an 'irregular' in the DEA provides a unique source for understanding the growth ambitions of the new government and why they quickly ran into the sands. Published here in full, with extensive notes, the diary sheds light on the Wilson government more broadly, giving insights into the 'great reappraisal' of economic policy, the reform of government institutions and the personalities of those involved. Samuel Brittan emerged as the most important economic journalist of his generation (at the Financial Times from 1955, with brief interruptions, to the present). His diary is would be of interest for that reason alone, but it has a double value because of the special place that his book, The Treasury under the Tories, 1951-64, has in diagnoses of successive failures in postwar British economic policy.
The diary is central to understanding why Brittan turned against 1960s dirigisme and thus constitutes an important contribution to the early intellectual history of the reaction against the postwar consensus.
Professor Roger Middleton, AcSS has the chair in the history of political economy and is head of the School of Humanities at the University of Bristol. He is the author of a number of works on British economic policy, performance and the history of economic thought since the late nineteenth century. He is currently working on a variety of projects, on neo-liberalism in Britain, of which Brittan's diary is one of a number of publications on the theme of 'Brittan on Britain'; on economic policy in the 1930s; and is also the founding general editor of the British Historical Statistics Project which will produce a multi-volume and online successor to Mitchell's British Historical Statistics. He is Reviews Editor, Economic History Review. His books have won awards: twice CHOICE outstanding book (for my 1996 and 1998 books). He has been honoured as Academician of the Social Sciences (AcSS).
THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS ; 1. Introduction ; 2. The Significance of the DEA ; 3. The Origins of the DEA ; 4. The DEA and the Institutions of Economic Policy ; 5. Brittan and the DEA ; 6. Postscript ; SAMUEL BRITTAN, THE DIARY OF AN IRREGULAR, 1964-6 ; APPENDICES ; I. Dramatis Personae ; II. DEA Ministers and Senior Officials ; III. Calendar of Key Events ; IV. Contemporary Economic Statistics and Later Revisions
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