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Why Did the conservatives loose the 1964 election?

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Karl Cupcakes

on 20 December 2012

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Transcript of Why Did the conservatives loose the 1964 election?

Out of Touch Leaders Wilson and Labour The Conservatives lost the 1964 election to a strengthened Labour party who had finally overcome some serious internal problems they had. With Harold Wilson now the new leader of Labour, the future looked fresh due to this younger mans modern ideas and advancements in technology. He was simply more attractive as a leader than the Conservative leaders Home and Macmillan who were older than Wilson.
Harold Wilson and Labour won the 1964 election for a few main reasons:

The labour party presented a new 'with it' image that was in tune with changing times and very attractive to young people.
Wilson simply overpowered his opponent (Douglas-Home) and was far more attractive to the public.
Wilson managed to maneuver a very skillful election campaign in which he presented himself and Labour as more suited to lead Britain into the new technological age, this edged him to victory.
Old headed and old fashioned political opponents were out of date and the aristocratic image didn't help theses Tory leaders. 13 Wasted years or not? Its very tricky to decide if the 13 years that the Conservatives were in power were of success. Many historians argue that the time the Conservatives spent in power were simply 13 years that went to waste. Although many people struggle to make up their minds on this topic, one thing is for sure, they lost the 1964 general election and there must be a main reason why or even many factors added together.
We are going to look at why they may have lost the 1964 general election and the main factors that contributed to their defeat to the Labour party. The Night of the Long Knives The Profumo Affair John Profumo was the Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan's Conservative government.
The relationship with Keeler lasted only a few weeks before Profumo ended it.
Rumours about the affair became public in 1962.
There was an allegation that Keeler had also had a relationship with Yevgeny "Eugene" Ivanov, a naval attaché at the Soviet embassy.
In March 1963, Profumo stated to the House of Commons that there was "no impropriety whatsoever" in his relationship with Keeler.
However, in June, Profumo confessed that he had misled the House and lied in his testimony.
He resigned his Cabinet position, as well as his Privy Council and Parliamentary membership.
Harold Macmillan, resigned on the grounds of ill health, which had apparently been made worse by the scandal.
He was replaced by the Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home.
However, the change of leader failed to save the Conservative Party's place in government; they lost the general election to Harold Wilson's Labour a year later. Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis was a diplomatic and military confrontation in late 1956 between Egypt on one side, and Britain, France and Israel on the other.
Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel, and then began to bomb Cairo.
Despite the denials of the Israeli, British, and French governments, evidence began to emerge that the invasion of Egypt had been planned beforehand by the three powers.
The attack followed the President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser's decision of 26 July 1956 to nationalize the Suez Canal.
He did this after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam.
As a result of the outside pressure Britain and France failed in their political and strategic aims of controlling the canal and removing Nasser from power.
Suez damaged Eden's reputation for statesmanship and led to a breakdown in his health which led to his retirement in January 1957. Nick, Will, Paddy, Dan & Emma Why did the Conservatives lose the 1964 election? General Economic Decline At one level the tories had been successful in their management of the economy. There had been no return to mass unemployment.
Although living standards increased , Britain were no longer the world power they used to be.
Self-ownership of homes had risen and reached 44 percent. People had fridges and vacum cleaners were found in 75 percent of homes.
Between 1959 and 1964 the real wages of manual workers increased by 19 percent , however this could be down to the appeasement of trade unions.
The consumer society had arrived.
Yet in comparative terms Britain was slipping behind the rest of Europe and was well on its way to becoming the sick man of Europe.
Britains share of world trade fell from 25% in 1950 to 15%.
Germany and Japan , the defeated in 1945 , now surged ahead. What had produced this relative decline fueled a national debate. To the right it was the burden of the welfare state (Althought they didnt do anything significant to cut it) and over powerful trade unions , resistant to change in work practises. To those on the left it was the class structure , incompetent management and bloated defense commiments.
Whatever the causes , the reality was beyond dispute. Britain , the third great power in 1945 , was now sixth in economic muscle. Over powerful Trade Unions Trade unions dominated the Macmillan government.
The appeasement of trade unions caused several problems for Macmillan and his government. Macmillan's government was one of consensus and he wanted his popularity to remain high.
It is clear Macmillan wanted to remain popular and remain in government. He frequently released give away budgets and lowered tax before elections. Once the election is secured he would then rise tax again.
The fact that the real wage of manual workers rose 19% is no doubt down to the appeasement of trade unions. The rise of wages rose to higher living standards which led to higher imports and less exports. Although exports grew , imports grew faster , creating a balace of payments deficit. Un doubtably this contributed to economic decline.
An example of the stop and go policy: Maudling , in the Autumn of 1962 , began to try to kickstart the economy. Purchase tax on cars was reduced to 25% from 45%. Bank rate was cut to encourage borrowing. More followed in april 1963 with tax cuts of £260 million. He was gambling for a dramatic dash for growth. The stop and go econmoic policy is high risk. There was a strong possibility that a strong go signal would be followed by a shudddering stop.
the appeasement of trade unions made Macmillan look weak and un willing to actually solve problems , rather than sit back and ignore them. Bought on by Selwyn Lloyd and his budget of 1962, which put taxes on sweets and ice cream; This was described as taxing the toddlers pocket money.
Butler, leaked news to the party Macmillan was planning a reshuffle causing him to sack Llyod a lot sooner than planned.
Macmillian became paranoid that Lloyd was gonna to revolt against him so on Friday 13th July; he sacked a third of his Cabinet.
David Eccles, previously minister of Education was offered a different position but he chose to retire.
This whole situation made Macmillanwho had previously gave the impression of level headed trustable and calm; - for example the super-mac tag - the image of being ruthless and panic - stricken.
Liberal MP, Jeremy Thorpe altered a bibical quote to make it relevant - "Greater love hath no man that he lay down his friends for his life"
Also ex- finacial miister was published to have said "For the second time, the Prime Minister has got rid of a chancellor of the exchequer who has tried to get expenditure under control. Once is more than enough."
It is nicknamed the "Night of the long knives" because it is similar to what Hitler did with the SA in Germany, the only difference being, Macmillan didn't shoot the dismissed.
However the new team that came in was certaintly a lot more talented than the previous.
It was, unfortunatly too late and a contributing factor to the loss of the 1964 Election. Macmillan was an Edwardian man and compared to his Opponent Gaitskell was not a very convincing figure at this stage despite being termed Supper Mace by the public in his earlier reign. Attempt to join the EEC MacMilan understood the importance for Britain to be in Europe. He thought access to the dynamic Western Market would boost Britain. Edward Heath was chose to lead our entry, Britain had the backing from the Cabinet and Torys.

The barrier we faced was De Gaulle the French President. He felt Britain and USA were too tightly bound. The liberation of France by the USA and Britain induced resentment not gratitude. This angered Macmillan and our economy was looking weaker.
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