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British Society 1951-1979

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Sophie Baxter

on 5 May 2014

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Transcript of British Society 1951-1979

British Society 1951-1979
The Debate over Secondary Education
The 1944 Education Act had aimed to create a 'triparte' system with Grammer Schools, Secondary Moderns and Technicals, although this never happened, and Secondary Moderns became the place for children who had failed their Eleven Plus exam
The Eleven Plus was controversial as it was considered inefficient, unfair and a wste of talent and potential
Anthony Crosland was instrumental in the creation of Comprehensive Schools
In 1962, the Robbins Report was commissioned which led to the creation of many new Universities such as York, Warwick and Lancaster
Social Reforms
In 1967, Abortion was made legal within the first 28 weeks with medical supervision and with the written consent of two doctors, with the mother's mental suffering being the only justification needed
Also in 1967, Homosexuality was made legal for two consenting males over the age of 21 in private
In 1969, the Divorce Reform Act was passed, which allowed couples to divorce if they had lived apart for two years and both wanted it, or had lived apart for five years and one partner wanted it
The Death Penalty was abolished in 1965 whilst the beating of prisoners ceased after 1967 and majority rather than unanimous verdicts were brought in for English Juries, which helped to convict many criminals
Satire and Culture
In 1962, Lady Chatterley's Lover was published, which then led the way for less censorship
There was more violence and sex on television, and dealt with more real life isses such as homosexuality and back-street abortions
Satire also experienced a boom with the magazine 'Private Eye', as well as 'Beyond the Fringe' which was a revue show with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett
'That Was The Week That Was' was a controversial television programme that made a huge impact, despite only running for one series
There was a cultural backlash from figures such as Mary Whitehouse who campaigned against immorality and depravity
Immigration 1951-1979
By 1958, 210,000 Commonweal immigrants had settled in Britain, 75% of them being male, working to support families back home. The majority were from the West Indies, though there were an increasing number from India and Pakistan
There were instances of racism, although they were generally accepted. However, in August 1958, there were Race Riots in Notting Hill, with some violence, from both sides

A Race Relations Board was set up to outlaw discrimination against immigrants in 1965
In April 1968, after a huge surge in Kenyan Asian immigrants, Enoch Powell made his infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech
Immigrants generally managed to assimilate themselves relatively easily
Demographic Change
Improvements in living standards and healthcare meant that there were more births than deaths in this period, thus increasing the population
Immigration also meant that there was an increase in population, although there were some examples of emigration to North America and Australia
There was the beginning of less of a divide between the countryside and cities, as there was mass car ownership, which itself drew people away from town centres to the Suburbs
Thousands of new houses were built as well as new towns
Traditional communities were broken up as there were more cars and motorways were also built and housing developments were pushed further outside towns and cities

Immigrants were still coming into Britain, whilst many people were moving to new housing developments and council estates
New roads often fragmented existing communities while commuting by car led to more Suburbs
50 million people in 1951, 56 million by 1975
Violence, Criminality and Hooliganism
Britain was very law abiding in the early fifties, but began to get restless - eg Teddy Boys who were sometimes violent
The Kray Twins had a reputation of extreme violence in London's East End and had built up a Criminal Empire. However, they were outwardly respectable, and were even associated with celebrities such as Barbara Windsor, and reflected changing attitudes in society towards crime
By the early sixties, football hooliganism was becoming prominent
There were clashes between Mods and Rockers, who dressed differently and listened to different styles of music, culminating with riots in Clacton, Margate and Brighton in 1964
What was clear was that youth culture was emerging - young people had more money thanks to greater prosperity and more time on their hands
The Impact on Communities of Industrial Disputes
By the 1970s, the nature of strikes had changed - they had become more political, with the government more involved, whilst the Unions became more militant and began wildcat striking
Huge numbers of work days were lost in the seventies, especially in the years 1972, 1974 and 1979
The Miners were the main strikes, and there were many younger, more radical union leaders who used flying pickets, who were often accused of intimidation and violence
With the impact of the 1973 OPEC Crisis , the confrontations led to a major energy crisis with a three day week as well as 50mph speed limit implemented
Many workers were laid off and had to sign up for temporary unemployment payments
Union militancy was strengthened, as was the public reaction against it whilst tensions with the Unions continued in the Winter of discontent of 1978-9 and later in the Miner's Strike of 1984-5 under Thatcher
Changing Attitudes to Class
In 1951, Britain had huge respect for authority and the Establishment, and it was easy to identify people's class by the way they dressed, or spoke
However, throughout the fifties, this started to break down, and there was a shift in attitudes - for example, the blatant lying in the Suez Crisis whilst the rise of the CND encouraged people to challenge authority
People wanted people to advance by meritocracy, rather than by being born into a good family and being part of the Establishment
The event that brought down the Establishment was the Profumo Affair, which involved the Defence Secretary, John Profumo, being trapped in a sex scandal and then lying to both the Prime Minister and Parliament, and then resigned in disgrace. he slept with a girl called Christine Keeler , who was also sleeping with a Soviet spy called Ivanov, which raised concerns about possible leaks of Cold War secrets
The biggest significance of the case however, is the fact that it revealed Britain's changing society, as the media got more intrusive and the people more challenging to the hypocritical establishment - more people were being educated more, and so had more radical ideas and were more prepared to challenge society, which gave rise to the Satire Boom and also plays and films
The Birth of Environmentalism
The great protest movement of the fifties and the early sixties was the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) which tried to involve people in direct action
The huge anti-War protests in 1968 outside the American Embassy were part of this trend, and were the start of the environmental movement
In 1962, the book 'Silent Spring' raised awareness about the decline of birds and other wildlife in farming countryside
Throughout the sixties, various movements were formed, such as the Hunt Saboteurs Organisation and Friends of the Earth
In the seventies the British Ecology Pary was formed, and later became the Green Party as well as the more radical Greenpeace, and Greenpeace UK
From 1973, Animal Rights Protestors carried out violent attacks on pharmaceutical laboratories whilst the Animal Liberation Front, formed in 1976, adopted extreme violence
There was also an increase in interest in the Natural Environment and Conservation, which was reflected by David Attenborough's 'Life On Earth' series in 1979, which was groundbreaking
By the end of the seventies, environmentalism was permanently part of British Politics and Society
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