The Politics of Continuity

The Politics of Continuity:British Foreign Policy and the Labour Government, 1945-6

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Examines the foreign policy of the British Labour government from 1945-1946. Saville demonstrates the continuity between Labour's policies and those of previous administrations, underscoring the influence of the permanent staff at the Foreign Office on transient politicians.

This original and lucid book examines the foreign policy of the British Labour government in the aftermath of the Second World War. It exposes Britain’s complicity in the creation of the Cold War and emphasizes the continuity between Labour’s policies and those of Churchill’s coalition government, underscoring the political influence exercised by senior members of the Foreign Office.

Drawing on substantial new research, Saville focuses on the role of Ernest Bevin and his differences with Clement Atlee, particularly with regard to Middle East. Countering the widely held view that Bevin sought accommodation with the Soviet Union, he reveals Labour’s Foreign Secretary as a fervent ideologue, wholly in agreement with the deep-seated anti-Sovietism of his permanent officials. Saville moves beyond the ‘revolutionist’ American scholarship of the 1960s and 70s to show the Foreign Office, under Bevin’s generalship, vigorously encouraging and then collaborating with the Americans in the pursuit of Cold War policies.

The Politics of Continuity opens new avenues in the post-war diplomatic record. It will create a wide-ranging debate among historians and prove to be necessary work of reference for all those interested in international relations.


  • Why are our victories of 1945 so often thrown away afterwards? Devastating answers emerge from this cool enquiry. Very much a book for today.

    Basil Davidson