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Copy of The Making of Modern Britain, 1951-2007

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Andrew Owen

on 9 September 2013

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Transcript of Copy of The Making of Modern Britain, 1951-2007

The post-war consensus? 1951-64
Attlee legacy 1945-51
rebuilding of post-war Britain with welfare state, nationalisation etc.
'foundation stone of all that is best about post-war Britain' - Peter Hennessy
'set the political agenda for the next quarter of a century' - Nigel Lawson
lost opportunity? - 'power had not shifted between the classes, social transformation had not come' - Coates, left-wing socialists
mistaken policy? - Conservatives should have broken with it to prevent a 'nanny state' overly dependent ono welfarism - right-wing views
accepting the post-war consensus was a key reason for Conservative political dominance

Conservative political dominance 1951-57
reorganisation of the party
split Labour party - Bevanites and Gaitskellites
1951 marked the end of 'austerity' and the start of the post-war boom
the Conservatives recognised the extent of the public approval for the Attlee legacy - the war years had made people more ready for the need of state intervention

Churchill government 1951-55
absentee prime minister due to age and ill health, but had strong ministers behind him - Eden and Butler
enormous prestige and political ability ensured that he still wielded a lot of power and influence
age of affluence - rising wages, increased car and home ownership, rationing ended 1954, rise in consumer goods
maintained welfare state
only iron and steel denationalised
Eden government 1955-57
there was optimism about Eden as PM
he decided to launch military action against Egypt and it ended in disaster as Britain was forced to withdraw from the Anglo-French operation due to pressure from America
Suez was a turning point for Britain's illusion of imperial power
Suez made Eden weak aswell as splitting the party
it caused a run on the pound - vulnerable financial position
Resigned in 1957 due to ill health and Macmillan emerged as PM
Macmillan government 1957-64
party unity was restored without lasting splits
now nicknamed 'Supermac', he led the Conservatives to victory in 59 - likeable personality, continuing affluence
'never had it so good' - 1957
called an election in 1959 and pushed the majority up to 100 seats
inflation rising as wages running ahead of productivity - stop-go economics

Divisions in the Labour Party 1957-63
attacked Conservatives over Suez unsuccessfully
feuds between Gaitskellites and Bevanites became a permanent feature
links between CND and Labour may have turned some voters away
trade unions starting to challenge the Labour leadership
Gaitskell put forward the idea of abolishing clause 4 which committed the party to nationalisation, he backed down
Wilson took up the leadership in 1963
End of Conservative dominance 1962-64
Macmillan began to slip and he resigned in 1963
the balance of powers began to shift as Wilson led the Labour party
hopes of radical modernisation of the economy were never really fulfilled
behind foreign competitors eg. West Germany
1959 EFTA, but not able to match the EEC
Night of the Long Knifes 1962 aimed to rejuvenate the government but it actually weakened it
Profumo affair
Alec Douglas-Home became leader - old out of touch
Wilson as leader of Labour became PM in 1964
British Society 1951-64
country still moulded by the war
rationing only just coming to an end
regional and class loyalities were strong
the experiences of the war and the welfare state had caused social change
Festival of Britain 1951 - edge of a new modern world
baby boom and demographic change - standards of hygiene and health improved
social mobility started to drain the population away from town centres
millions spent on new housing to replace the war damage
between 1957-63 1200 miles of new or upgraded main roads were completed - M1 1958

Social tensions and change 1951-64
by 1958 about 210,000 Commonwealth immigrants had settled in Britain
there were instances of friction and resentment against immigrants
authorities regarded immigration as economically desirable
1958, race riots eg. Notting Hill altered perceptions
this resulted in the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962 limiting immigration through a system of work permits
number of criminal offences more than doubled between 1955 and 1965 eg. Kray twins and Mods and Rockers
rise in crime occured in a time of affluence and against the background of National Service which had been set up to instil discipline
1962 Robbins Report led to massive expansion in higher education
Suez 1956 exposed blatant lying and manipulation by the government
the rise of CND from 1958 encouraged the tendency to challenge authority
Profumo affair - barometer of social change and suggested Britain was becoming a less deferential, less class-ridden society
Britain's declining imperial role 1951-64
withdrawal from empire was already underway with India in 1947
Suez Crisis 1956 - main trade route to the Indian Ocean
decolonisation - 1957 Ghana, 1963 Kenya
wind of change speech - Macmillan
difficult struggle to contain the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya - need to adapt to the wind of change
1964 - transition from empire to commonwealth complete
Britain and Europe 1955-63
Schuman Plan 1950 to eliminate the dangers of future wars between them
saw European intergration as important for continental Europe but not Britain so did not enter EEC
British attitudes changed - 1959 EFTA
submitted for membership of EEC in 1963, vetoed by de Gaulle and again in 1967, only in 1973 were they accepted
Labour party suspicious of the free-market principles behind the Common Market
United States keen for Britain to enter EEC for strategic reasons

Britain's position by 1964
1951 - already embroiled in the Cold War
Korean War - opposing North Korea
founding member of NATO in 1949
close cooperation with America over nuclear weapons and the sharing of intelligence
1956 - Suez Crisis affected Anglo-American relations for some time
Test Ban Treaty 1963 - limiting testing of nuclear weapons
Blue Streak 1960 abandoned - replaced by Polaris
independence granted to wide range of British former colonial territories
problems achieving settlements with Rhodesia, Gibraltar, Hong Kong and the Falkland Islands
'Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role'
The end of consensus 1964-70
The Labour government 1964-70
seemed much more in touch with the social and cultural trends of the sixties
'13 years of Tory misrule'
'white heat of technology'
economic policies ran into trouble with devalution in 1967
Wilson's indecisive leadership? - wasted opportunity
achievements socially - comprehensive schools, Open University, liberation of laws on abortion and homosexuality
small majority in 1964 so general election called in 1966 which ended in a larger 98 seat majority

British economy 1964-70
by 1964 it was widely accepted that Britain was lagging behind foreign competitors
affluence of post-war boom was not reflected in productivity or growth rates
trapped in 'stop-go' - inflation and pressures on the pound
balance of payments deficit of £400 million when Labour came to power
Wilson determined not to devalue, instead created the DEA led by George Brown
DEA faded after 1966 - Brown lacked consistency
prices and incomes policy brought in to keep inflation down
Seamen strike 1966 - sterling crisis threatened to run out of control
devaluation in November 1967 - pound dropped by 14% to $2.40
EEC application 1967 rejected
Jenkins replaced Callaghan as chancellor - he raised taxes and reduced government spending - by 1969 achieved a balance of payments surplus
Labour government and trade unions
in 1966-67 the cosy relationship began to fall apart
big strikes such as dockers strikes showed how union bosses were losing control - wildcat strikes
In Place of Strife 1969 - seen as too radical
General election 1970
Wilson confident of winning
victory of Heath and the Conservatives was a surprise
Conservatives consistently ahead on the opinion polls
Heath resisted pressure to make immigration an election issue - sacked Powell in 1968 over 'rivers of blood'
Conservative government 1970-73
Heath well prepared but unlucky in that office coincided with end of post-war boom
U-turn in 1972 - given up on aims?
entry into EEC secured 1973
oil crisis 1973
miners' strike 1974
troubles in Northern Ireland - close to success with the Sunningdale Agreement 1973

The economy 1970-74
Heath had a commitment to economic modernisation but ran into difficulties
Barber - tax cuts and cuts in public spending eg. end of free school milk, 'barber boom' began with rise in wage inflation
many blamed the rise in wages on the power of the unions
'stagflation' - unemployment and inflation both rising
Rolls Royce nationalised 1971, Clyde Shipbuilders - U-turn
1971 - Industrial Relations Act - set up Industrial Relations Court and provide a cooling off period - did not work and major strikes
miners' strikes 1972 lasted 6 weeks - winter of discontent - 3 day week
making good recovery in 1973 - working days lost to strikes reduced, unemployment dropped, lots of government investment
'who governs britain?' - not heath
oil crisis
Labour's return to power 1974
Labour less united than ever
anxious to call another election to achieve a working majority
abolished the Industrial Relations Act and the pay board
called another election in October 1974 - gained a working majority just
avoidance of disasters
EEC referendum 1975 to stop splits in the party - for Britain staying

The emergence of Margaret Thatcher 1974-5
her promises were to the right of Heath and Macmillan but she was not yet anti-Europe
only brief experience so far as minister of education
her and Neave cleverly exploited the sense that things were going badly wrong with the party and the country
Heath underrated Thatcher
She offered Heath a senior position but he turned it down
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