What British politicians won’t admit – we need to transform the welfare state | John Harris

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I found an anecdote towards the end of The Road to 1945, the late historian Paul Addison’s history of how the second world war changed Britain. It centres on Winston Churchill, Ernest Bevin – then minister of labour in the wartime coalition government – and thousands of soldiers setting off to mainland Europe. In June 1944, two days before the D-day landings, Churchill and Bevin went to Portsmouth to say farewell to the troops. “They were going off to face this terrific battle,” Bevin recounted, “with great hearts and great courage. The one question they put to me when I went through their ranks was: ‘Ernie, when we have done this job for you are we going back on the dole?’… Both the prime minister and I answered: ‘No, you are not.’”

Despite the self-evide

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