This book provides the first detailed examination of the Attlee government's rejection of British participation in the Schuman Plan in 1950, which proposed the establishment of a common market for steel and coal as a way of avoiding future Franco-German conflict. This also represented Britain's rejection of a leading role in fashioning European political and economic intergration. Many received myths are contested: the Schuman Plan was not a bolt from the blue; domestic political circumstances did not make it impossible for Britain to join; participation would not have been incompatible with Britain's global and Commonwealth roles. Edmund Dell assesses
Ernest Bevin's conduct as Foreign Secretary during this last year of his life: in declining health but still believing himself indispensable, he was arrogantly mistaken about the Schuman plan and lacked colleagues of comparable stature able to tell him he was wrong. The only hope was Stafford Cripps, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he was on the point of resignation due to ill-health and lacked the energy to press his doubts. Ministerial inadequacy was compounded by the Foreign Office, the leading officials in which were no less arrogant and quite as blind to the implications of the proposal. The consequence was a major policy failure which has influenced Britain's relations with its
European partners right up to the present. Edmund Dell works with archival evidence, and the memoirs of participants, to place these events in the context of the 'big questions' dominating British policy formation: security, the dollar shortage, and the difficult relationship with an American administration intent both on attacking the sterling area and pressing for European federation. The result is an incisive revaluation of a key episode in post-war European history.
Readership: Advanced undergraduate and graduate students of the politics, economics and history of post-War Europe and the
USA. Academics, politicians and commentators.
"Dell is writing a tract for our times, full of lessons for those who miss history's tricky rendezvous...All should read Dell's book." - New Statesman & Society, 13/07/1995
"It is a withering tale of a massive policy error, and Dell ... conducts a mordant inquisition which condemns without appeal the Labour government of the day." - Financial Times
"Dell's book is a meticulous account ... Not only is Dell a convinced, and consistent European; he is also a former Labour cabinet minister." - Times Higher Education Supplement
"Dell's book is a meticulous account, shot through with anger." - Times Higher Education Supplement
"Edmund Dell's wonderfully engrossing book will fuel the greater debate. His comprehensive analysis of Britain's rejection of the Schuman Plan in 1950 raises too many important issues for all to be discussed here ... Throughout he is scrupulously fair in his treatment of the convincing counter-arguments which he discusses at some length, thereby providing a valuable synthesis of debate." - The Political Quarterly
"Provocative and stimulating book ... This is a lively and well written book which provides the first detailed account of the Attlee government's attitudes to Europe." - The Economic Journal
"brilliant ... book." - New Statesman & Society, 20 June 1997