Plan for Britain

In January 1941 Tom Hopkinson, the editor of Picture Post, published his Plan for Britain. This included minimum wages throughout industry, full employment, child allowances, a national health service, the planned use of land and a complete overhaul of education. This document led to discussions about post-war Britain and was the forerunner of the Beveridge Report that was published in December 1943.

Later that year Hopkinson helped establish the1941 Committee. He later claimed that the motive force was the belief that if the Second World War was to be won "a much more coordinated effort would be needed, with stricter planning of the economy and greater use of scientific know-how, particularly in the field of war production."

The chairman of the 1941 Committee was J. B. Priestley and other members included Edward G. Hulton, Kingsley Martin, Richard Acland, Michael Foot, Peter Thorneycroft, Thomas Balogh, Richie Calder, Tom Winteringham, Vernon Bartlett, Violet Bonham Carter, Konni Zilliacus, Victor Gollancz, Storm Jameson and David Low.

In December 1941 the committee published a report that called for public control of the railways, mines and docks and a national wages policy. A further report in May 1942 called for works councils and the publication of "postwar plans for the provision of full and free education, employment and a civilized standard of living for everyone."

Primary Sources

(1) Tom Hopkinson, Of This Our Time (1982)

In publishing our 'Plan for Britain' so early in the war, Picture Post was taking the lead in what was to become one of the most controversial issues over the next years - that of war aims. Churchill himself was strongly against any discussion of war aims: Britain, he declared, had only one war aim, to defeat Hitler - and his position was understandable. He led a motley coalition; most of his ministers came from the Conservative ranks - in which at this time he himself had no secure roots - but there were also Labour and Liberal members of his cabinet. Winning the war appeared to him the only issue on which all could remain united; over discussion as to what Britain should be like when the war ended they would quite certainly fall apart. But though this might be a good reason for the government to keep silent about the future, it did not stop ordinary men and women - particularly those in the forces with time on their hands - from thinking and talking about it a great deal.

The result of our special issue, therefore, was twofold. It intensified support among readers, who looked upon the magazine as their mouthpiece, almost indeed as their own property, and it increased the antagonism felt in certain government departments, above all in the Ministry of Information.