The future: Great Britain or Little England?

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A unionist pin-up

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The future


Fingers crossed that the country will choose wisely

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BRITAIN WAS AT its most decisive when its cities lay in ruins. Within a few years of the end of the second world war a Labour government had founded the National Health Service, provided for universal free secondary schooling, introduced unemployment and sickness pay and child benefit and embarked on a public-housebuilding spree.
No less than 19th-century Anglicans heading into the bush, the architects of the British welfare state had a profound sense of mission. “Society must be brought under control in exactly the same way as man has tried to bring natural forces under control,” explained Aneurin Bevan, the mighty health minister who supervised the introduction of the NHS.

The state grew ceaselessly, even through recessions and the leadership of Margaret Thatcher. Between 1948 and 2009 spending on education, health and …

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