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Britain 1951-1964

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Ellie Minns

on 20 April 2013

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Transcript of Britain 1951-1964

Britain 1951-1964 The Attlee Legacy and the Post-War Consensus
Conservative Political Dominance 'Supermac': the Cons government
The Labour party and it's internal divisions 1957-63
The end of Conservative dominance, 1962-4 Post-War prosperity and Conservative dominance, 1957-64 British Society
Social Tensions, 1951-64
Adjusting to a Post War world British Society and Britain, Europe and the World 1921-64 The Post-War Consensus? 1951-64 The Attlee Legacy and Post-War Consensus There were 3 key episodes in recent British history, Great depression of '30s, WW2 herotic, good war, rebuilding of post-war UK and est welfare state
According to Hennessy Attlee achieved 3 things, the NHS, national insurance and made the first steps towards changing the empire to the commonwealth
Both Hennessy and Nigel Lawson agree what Attlee achieved was the heart of post-war consensus
However some like Coates were not impressed, power hadn't shifted in Classes, no social transformation, hadn't created socialist common wealth, created mixed economy, most of which was private owned
Right/w view of post-war consensus was a mistake policy and that the conservative party should have broken it much sooner to prevent the nanny state
according to Bernett's interpretation, Thatcherism was a necessary correction to the flabby politics of her predecessors Conservative Political Dominance Reorganisation of the Cons Party
infighting between Bevanites and Gaitskellites weakened labour
1951 marked end of 'austerity' and start of post-war boom
Cons recognised extend of public approval of Attlee's legacy Conservative Dominance: Reasons Conservative and the post-war Consensus quickly denationalised steel and road transport in 1951
key elements:
legacy of national unity+co-operation (coalition gov) left by war
idea of what Nigel Lawson called 'big government' (intervention)
importance maintaining full employment
importance of trade unions, wanted co-operative relationship
popularity of Labour welfare reforms esp NHS
Conservative majority small, leadership didn't feel strong enough to take on Attlee's legacy, this realism didn't please grass root supporters Key Profiles R.A. Butler Anthony Eden Harold McMillan Hugh Gaitskell 'the Prime Minister the conservatives never had'
came to prominence as architect of 1944 Ed Act
Played key role in reorganisation of party/policies in preparation for returning to power '51
Chancellor '51-5
seen as possible leader after Eden and when McM resigned rising political star in 30s
played key role as Churchill's 1st foreign Secretary
several occasions '51-55 when acting PM
Became PM 1955 but forced to resign January '57 after Suez Crisis MP, Churchill's military liaison officer during WW2
Successful housing minister in Churchill's gov '51
achieved target of 300,000 houses per year
foreign Secretary in Eden's gov
'57 emerged as new Cons PM after Edens resignation Chancellor in Attlee gov 1951
his decision to introduce prescription charges, party to fund Korean War
led to resignation of Bevan and long-term party split
conflict between 2 proved problem in time Gaitskell leader, '55-63
divisions worsened over nuclear disarmament
struggled to make impression against PM, but might have led Lab to victory if not for death in 1963 The Age of Affluence '51-55 Issues in Churchill's Government 1951-55 The 1955 General Election From 1952 mens weekly wage was increasing
massive increase in private savings
increased car ownership
increased house ownership helped by cheaper mortgages
Butler's 'give away' budget £134mill tax-cut for middle/c MacM fulfilled pledge 300,000 houses per year
farmers did well
increased ownership of consumer goods
new towns planned by Labour rapidly increasing Churchill had ill health and was 80 when retired in 1955 and had had a serious stroke in 1953 that impaired his speech, no one knew and those that did, didn't tell
Churchill saw politician as part-time work, had little interest in domestic policy but international, spent more time abroad. Day to day government led by dept. PM Eden and his key ministers; Butler and Chancellor MacMillan
Tensions, rivalary of Butler/MacM and relationship strains between Eden and Churchill
Eden wanted Churchill to step down while Churchilll had doubts over Eden's sutibility Called immediatly after Churchill resigned as Eden seeking own mandate
Relaxed electoral campaign, media overwhelmingly supported Cons, Public had 'feelgood factor'
Not a crushing defeat for Lab but Attlee retired afterwards and Gaitskell replaced him From Eden to McMillan High hopes for Eden's government as he represented "contemporary manhood", he had progressive ideas on domestic affairs, belief in property owning democracy and industrial partnership
Edens weakness as PM was that he'd spent all of his career in foreign affairs and had little experience in domestic
Suez Crisis was Edens decision to launch military action against Egypt's new nationalist leader in '56 ended in disaster with the USA virtually ordering UK out
Key Problems caused by Suez Crisis; Eden seemed weakened in area had most strength, split Cons rebellion by 40 MPs, pressure of USA exposed financial weakness causing run-on-the-pound, turning point for illusions of UK imperial power, Eden had lied to H of C prestige badly damaged
Eden resigned on grounds of ill health in early '57
McMillan replaced him and restored party unity, economic prosperity continued and in '59 'supermac' led another easy victory Why McMillan not Butler? By '57 Butler had been architect of Ed reforms, played key role in revitalising Cons policies during years of opposition, Chancellor in Churchill's gov, PM when Eden out of action due to illness so Eden expected him to be his successor
McMillan formidable rival, delivered ambitious 300,000 houses a year as promised '51
main problem Butler not as popular in party as country vast majority of Edens cabinet preferred McMillan
also old ghosts, Butler's closely linked to appeasement where as McMillan didn't 'Supermac': the Conservative government under Harold Macmillan, 1957-63 Macmillan man of many contradictions; image of 'tory toff' yet had quite radical views on social justice. His polices molded by 2 world wars and the Great Depression. Him and his cabinet were effective political managers in tune with public opinion. Suez crisis didn't have lasting effect on Cons support, Oct '59 after 18months in power Macm had comfortable victory, cons mijority went up 100 seats.
Summer of '57 major banking crisis because wages were ahead of productivity , run on the pound and danger pound devalued against dollar. Chancellor Thorneycroft wanted limit wage increase and cut money supply while other ministers strongly opposed as lead to increase unemply and cutbacks in house. This row symbolized problems of stop-go economics, continued to Thatcher and after that within the Cons party. Macm overruled Thorneycroft 1958 when proposed drastic spending cuts so Thorneycroft resigned with junior ministers.
Crisis no lasting harm to Macm, shrugged off their resignation as 'a little local difficulty'. Sterling regained against dollar and economy expanded so much '59 budget provided tax cuts £370million
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