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By Andrew Marr

This enticing quantity tells the tale of ways the good political visions and idealisms of Victorian Britain got here to be defeated by means of a tradition of consumerism, famous person, and self-gratification. It explains how in every one decade, political leaders stumbled on themselves confounded by means of the British humans, who continually grew to become out to be more durable to herd than envisioned. traditionally Britain has been a rustic at the edge—first of invasion, then of financial disaster, then at the susceptible entrance line of the chilly battle, and later within the leading edge of the nice starting up of capital and migration. This background follows the entire political and monetary tales of the fashionable period in addition to with such social traits as comedy, vehicles, the conflict opposed to homosexuals, oil-men and punks, Margaret Thatcher’s really good reliable good fortune, political lies, and the real heroes of British theater.

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All that survived seemingly unaltered through the years of danger. Britain still believed herself to be in her imperial heyday, mistress of the seas. Though we think of it as essentially Victorian, the British Empire, declaring itself the first ‘world state’ had continued to grow right up until the mid-thirties. At the beginning of the Second World War there were some 200 colonies, dominions and possessions connected to London, covering more than 11 million square miles. The Empire embraced Pacific tribesmen and Eskimos, ancient African kingdoms and the rubble of the great Mughal empire, Australian farmers and the gold-miners of South Africa.

The stock market was at a six year high. Economists and opposition parties were warning about the government being overborrowed, and about private debt. But nobody paid much attention. In the City the big banks still reported huge profits. There were mysterious characters called private equity investors and hedge fund managers. Few people really understood what they were up to, except that it was all very clever and complicated. The banks were paying astronomical bonuses to their managers. And for the majority, in the shops, clothes and gizmos were ludicrously cheap.

The new electoral roll was inaccurate, too, having been based on ration book records. Among those who found they had no vote because of clerical errors was the Prime Minister himself. For those with ears to hear, there were intimations of what was about to happen. During the war a high-minded religious socialism had become fashionable at home. As the carnage ground on overseas, an almost Utopian determination to build a more Christian country took root. As early as 1940 the great wartime Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, had called for ‘extreme inequalities of wealth to be abolished’.

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