The years of Winston Churchill’s peacetime premiership, and that of his heir-apparent, Anthony Eden, were a period of adjustment in Britain’s foreign responsibilities. A public tired of rationing, conscious of the booming standards of living of the vanquished West Germany and Japan, was more interested in being able to buy bananas than in Britain’s status as a Great Power. In the West End John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger was seen to be symptomatic of what became known as the mood of the ‘angry young man’, Jimmy Porter. Critics perhaps failed to notice the sympathetic and heroic portrait of the colonel leaving India with the arrival of Independence. Osborne went on to write West of Suez (1971), in which he argued that the only people left with values in Britain were those who had returned with the narrowing of the reigns of Empire. Domestic circumstances, economic straits partly brought about by Mossadeq’s nationalisation of Iranian oil, meant that the Conservative governments initiated foreign and defence policies that moved away from the global commitments of their Labour predecessors.
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