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‘Making a reality of collective responsibility’: The Lord President's committee, coalition and the British state at war, 1941–42

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-562
JournalContemporary British History
Issue number4
Early online date11 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


There has recently been renewed interest in the history of the British state and party politics during the Second World War. This article contributes to that, representing the first detailed analysis of a body that became a crucial part of the Whitehall war machine, the Lord President's Committee. Established in 1940, and comprising several senior politicians, this committee had the responsibility for many aspects of domestic mobilisation. Sir John Anderson, a former civil servant turned National Government MP, converted it into a powerful vehicle for the processing of data and refinement of policy. Yet, surprisingly, there has been no integration of the Lord President's Committee within the relevant historiography, and political historians have neglected its large and important archive. Charting the period where Anderson transformed the committee into an executive arm of the state, the article enhances our understanding of the wartime government and cross-party co-operation.

    Research areas

  • Second World War, British State, Churchill Coalition, Conservatives, John Anderson, Wartime Politics

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