Imagining the Nation
Chapter 5 The Cold War and the Colonies (1948-1990)
Chapter 5 The Cold War and the Colonies (1948–1990) The domestic focus present during the VE Day celebrations – evident in the f loodlighting of important buildings and the local crowd-feeling that was reported by participants – intensified for many people in the decade after the war. Reconstruction of British cities and industry occured slowly, and into the 1950s the country was muf f led by a sense of pessimism. Christopher Isherwood, visiting London in winter 1947, was confronted and depressed by London’s ‘physical shabbiness’: ‘Plaster was peeling from even the most fashionable squares and crescents; hardly a building was freshly painted […]. Many once stylish restaurants were now reduced to drabness and even squalor […]. London remembered the past and was ashamed of its present appearance. Several Londoners I talked to at that time believed it would never recover. “This is a dying city,” one of them told me’.1 The ‘landscape of fear’ that described London during the war appeared to remain relevant in its traumatised post-war fabric. In terms of its external relationships, the British Empire was changing to a Commonwealth of independent states, a process of decolonisation that was ref lected in changing patterns of immigration to the UK. The relationship with Europe was transformed by the entry of the UK into the European Economic Community in 1973, ending the previous system of preferential trading with Commonwealth countries, while the ‘special relationship’ with the US continued to strengthen post-war. As London was slowly rebuilt, these changes to global politics and...
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