The purpose of this work is to redress the imbalance in existing scholarship on Neville Chamberlain's domestic political career. Most work on Chamberlain focuses on the three years of his Premiership from 1937 to 1940, neglecting the remainder of his career. What emerges from this study is a politician who must be ranked as one of the most significant and constructive reformers in modern British history. Using a range of unpublished and published sources, the author shows that, as a member of Birmingham City Council, Chamberlain made a major contribution to the early town planning movement and was instrumental in establishing Britain's only municipal bank, and that as Minister of Health he paved the way for the establishment of the Welfare State by the Attlee government. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Chamberlain's reputation has suffered from the Keynesian ascendancy in the period 1945-75. Michael James challenges this assessment in the light of post-Keynesian analysis of the inter-war years and concludes that Chamberlain's orthodoxy did as much to aid recovery in the 1930s as a Keynesian approach would have done.
Chamberlain's reforms were underpinned by his Unitarian upbringing.