The failure of ‘nationalization by attraction’: Britain's cross-class alliance against earnings-related pensions in the 1950s


  • Hugh Pemberton


In 1957, the Labour Party published radical proposals for a state earnings-related pension scheme (‘national superannuation’) whose funds were to be invested in stock markets to generate high returns, and to help modernize and dynamize the British economy. This article explores a sophisticated campaign against the proposal by the insurance industry, and the resistance of the unions. In doing so, it considers the implications of this cross-class alliance, not least in terms of a possible missed opportunity to build a ‘developmental state’ in the UK, but also in terms of the country's increasingly inadequate and inequitable system of pension provision.