Britain 1930-97


Results of the 1951 election?


                      Seats             % of vote

Tory :              321                   48

Labour:          295                   48.8

1 of 52

What 3 factors were important in the 1951 election

1) Labour Weaknesses

2) Conservative Strengths

3) The Electoral System

2 of 52

What were the Labour weaknesses that contributed t

  • Cabinet were exausted from post-war economic problems. To the public eye they were associated with austerity, rationing and high taxation. 
  • They took Britain into the Korean War, which was unpopular with the public, and increased financial tensions.
  • They were internally divided- Primarily about whether to impose charges for dental treatment, prescriptions and glasses, which seemed to undermine the principle that the NHS should be free at the point of treament.
3 of 52

What were the Conservative strengths that contribu

  • After their defeat in 1945 they were able to put policies in place and re-organise the party to take advantage of Lavours difficulties.
  • Lord Woolton reformed the parties finances and local organisation, so that the party was in a stronger position to challenge Labour.
  • He was aided by an influx of young talented politicians such as Reginald Maudling, who gave the party new ideas and dynamism.
  • Labours nationalisation of the iron and steel industry provided an controversial issue around which the Conservative party could challenge the government.
  • The Conservative Party offered an attractive programme; promised to build 300,000 houses a year, and to give the people 'more red meat', which had been strictly rationed. They also made it clear that they would not reverse Labours achievements and that they were fully commited to the Welfare State.
  • Finally, Winston Churchill was still a popular figure, many still saw him as a hero for leading Britain through the war and many wanted to thank him.
4 of 52

How did the electoral system affect the outcome of

  • The Nature of the British Electoral System- The first-past-the-post system meant that Labour needed to poll more votes than the Conservatives for the same amount of seats. They piled up votes in safe seats, but the Tories won many marginal Labour seats.
  • Boundary changes brought about by the 1947 Representation of the People Act- Boundary changes meant that Labour had to 2 per cent more of the popular vote to win the same number of seats, because the redistribution of seats resulted in some of their safe seats becoming marginals, and simply increased the number of votes they could win in already safe seats.
  • The Decline in the Liberal Party- The problem for Labour was made worse by the decline in the Liberal Party which fell from 2.6 million votes in 1945 to just over 700,000 in 1951. Many ex-liberal voters turned to Conservative which helped them to win a lot of marginal seats.
5 of 52

Why were the Conservatives able to dominate Britis

1) The Economic and Social Policy

2) Conservative Leadership

3) Weakness of the Labour Party

6 of 52

How important was the economy in Conservative domi

  • The Conservatives were fortunate in that much of the period was one of economic growth, this was inevitable due to the low level of industrail output after the war. Industrial growth was also stimulated by the end of the Korean War, which meant that more countries had more money to spend on goods rather than defence.
  • Britains share of world trade shrank from 25% ro 15% due to Britains defence expendiature which amounted to 10% of its GDP. As these funds were spent on defence rather than industrial growth, it's difficult to argue that the government aided the industrial growth with their policies, and may have actually limited it. 
  • The govenrment was criticised for failing to modernise staple and traditional industries, the government blamed this on consumerism, with people spending money on goods rather than investing. 
7 of 52

How did the rise in living standards allow the Con

1) This period was one of rising living standards, this was due to the fact that wages rose faster than prices so people could buy more with what they earned. In 1951, the average weekly wage was £8.30, but by 1964 it had risen to £18.35. 

2) Chancellors were able to cut income tax before both the 1955 and 1959 elections, meaning people could afford to buy more, and therefore increasing the 'feel-good factor'. This increased purchasing parity was reflecred in a 500 per cent increase in car ownership. 

3) The improvement in living standards was also made possible by the greater availability of credit- this meant people were able to buy things which would have previously been out of reach. Coupled with tax cuts, a consumer boom began and many people started to go on foreign holidays for the first time.

4) The improvement in living standards was mostly seen in a housing boom- the government were largely able to keep to their promise of 300,000 homes per year, and the number of people who owned their propertis went from 25% before the second world war, to 44% in 1964.

8 of 52

What was the Conservative economic policy during t

  • R. A Butler continued a Labour-esque policy of increased borrowing, and increased spending on the Welfare State
  • High inflation or deflation was avoided using interest rates and taxes to manage the economy; If spending or wages rose too rapidly, taxes and interest rates would be increased, but if there was a fall in demand for goods, taxes and interest rates would be lowered. 
  • This policy has been described as a "stop-go" approach, as it just responds to changes in the economy, rather than laying down a long-term financial plan which will create growth. 
  • The government did not invest enough into industrial development, which hinderd growth compared to other countries.
9 of 52

What was the Social Policy of the Conservatives du

  • The Conservative party were largely able to keep up with Social Changes such as class distinctions with the increase of welfare spending, and the building of more houses. 
  • They also introduced important education reforms; the first purpose-built comprehensive schools were built under the Conservatives. Over 6000 new schools and 11 universities were built.
10 of 52

Who were the Conservative leaders during the perio

  • Winston Churchill won the 1951 Election
  • Anthony Eden won the 1955 Election
  • Harold Macmillan won the 1959 election
  • Alec Douglas-Home lost the 1964 election
11 of 52

Was Churchill anything more than a figurehead?

  • In 1951 it was Butler, rather than Churchill, who was the driving force behind the party, Churchill was 77 when he came into power, and it seemed as if his victory was a belated thank you for the war.
  • He had a stroke in 1953 and was absent for some time, however he was scarcely missed, which suggests he was just a figurehead and it was actually Butler who provided the drive and ideas for this administration.
  • Butler was responsible for the Conservatives accepting the principle of a mixed economy of private and state, this appealed to the ground-centre of politics, and it was therefore Butler, rather than Churchill, that was responsible for modernising the party and helping Eden win the 55 election. 
12 of 52

Why was Eden's administration short-lived?

  • Shortly after Edens victory in 1955, he called an election that resulted in a larger Conservative majority; partly due to his personal appeal, especially to women voters, but also due to the work of Butler. 
  • However, his office was short-lived due to one reason: The Suez Crisis 1956.
  • Although Britain were not defeated militarily, Eden's decision to withdraw was seen as evidence of lack of political will.
  • With most of the rest of the world condemning British actions it was clear that Britain was no longer a major power, and less than three months after the incident, Eden stood down due to 'ill-health'. 
  • Given the damage the affair had done to the party, it was lucky that Macmillan didnt have to go to the elctorate until 1959, else it may have resulted in a Conservative loss
13 of 52

Does Macmillan deserve his name 'Super Mac'?

  • Macmillan lead the Conservative Party from 1957-63, increasing the Conservative majority to 100 in the 59 election, despite this being just 3 years after the disastrous Suez affair. 
  • Although he was fortunate enough to preside over a period of growing prosperity and affluence, his personal appeal to the electorate also played a crucial role. His appearences on TV, satirists mocking him as 'Super Mac', and his well known phrase; 'Never had it so good'.
  • 1959 was the high point for Macmillan; by 1962, unemployment was rising, as was the number of days lost to strikes.
  • In order to try and breathe new life into the party, Macmillan had a cabinet reshuffle in 1962 which resulted in the sacking of 7 cabinet ministers, this became known as the Night of the Long Knives. 'Super Mac' became 'Mac the Knife'. 
  • He was also the victim of circumstances outside his control; The Cold war revealed that Britain was no longer a major power, France vetoed Britains entry into the EEC, and the government was his by a series of scandals, most notably the Profumo Affair in 1963. 
  • Not only had Macmillan been damaged by these events, but he was ill, and announced his resignation. 
14 of 52

Why did Douglas-Home become Prime Minister?

  • Macmillan resigned due to his illness and tiredness
  • The leadership struggle appeared to be between Lord Hailsham and Butler, many thought this would finally be Butlers chsnce to succeed, however, Macmillan did not wish to see him succeed and advised the queen to invite Douglas-Home to become PM. 
  • The process of appointing PM by sounding out the cabinet and MP's seemed rather ridiculous in a democratic age, especially as Douglas-Home was from an aristocratic background, backed by an old-boy network, full of Etonians. 
  • This caused resentment among some party members such as Enoch Powell, who said that he would not serve under Douglas-Home.
  • Although Douglas-Home was popular among some members of the party, however, he was up against a revitalised Labour Party lead by the dynamic Harold Wilson.
15 of 52

What were the reasons for the weaknesses of the La

  • Internal disputes: Mainly about Socialism, and Nuclear Policy
  • Attitudes towards Europe
  • The 1959 General Election
16 of 52

How was the Labour Party divided over Socialism du

  • The future of Socialism was the key issue that divided the party during this period
  • Those to the left of the party (Bevanites- after Aneurin Bevan), believed that the Welfare Measures that had recently been introduced were just the beginning on a path towards true socialism. They argues that there should be far more state control of the economy and society. 
  • Whereas those to the right of the party (Gaitskillites- after Henry Gaitskill) wanted more moderate reforms, and believed that policy should be decided by parliamentary party, rather than Unions. 
17 of 52

How were the Labour Party divided over Nuclear Pol

  • The left of the party wanted unilateral nuclear disarmament, so that there was more money available for social reforms.
  • The right of the party were opposed to Unilateralism, and wanted Britain to maintain its independent nuclear detterent
  • These divisions came to a head at the party conference in 1960, where the left of the party attacked the partys nuclear policy, and forced a unilateralist policy through using the block votes of the unions, which allowed left-wing union leaders to cast their votes on behalf of all union members (despite the fact that many union members were moderates who disagreeed with the policy)
  • However, within a year, the policy was abandoned
18 of 52

How did Labour's attitudes towards Europe further

  • Atlee had declared that the party was opposed to Britain joining the EEC, and in 1962, this policy was continued by Gaitskell, which hardly gave the party the appearance of modernisation and progression
19 of 52

How did the 1959 election weaken Labours position?

  • During the 1955 elction, Atlee appeared ill and tired in contrast to Eden, the new conservative leader.
  • Following Labour's defeat, the position was taken over by Hugh Gaitskell, a gifted politician, however his death in 1963 at the age of just 57 meant that he never became PM.
  • Labour had a chance of winning the 1959 election, as it was just 3 years after the Suez Crisis, however, they made mistakes during the election campaign
  • They promised an increase in pensions, without a rise in taxes, and when asked how they would fund this, they had few answers, and were not believed.
  • Added to the existing problems in the Labour party, it was not surprising that their performance in the 1959 election was so poor.
20 of 52

Why did support for the Conservatives decline?

  • The Economy
  • EEC rejection
  • Night of the Long Knives
  • Scandals
  • Social Problems: Social tensions and Riots, and Youth Sub-Culture 
21 of 52

How did the economy aid the decline in support for

  • Conservative dominance had been largely due to the rising standards of living, in 1959, they had been able to campaign "Dont let Labour ruin it". However, from 1961 onwards, the economy went downhill:
  • There was a balance of trade deficit. Government attempts to reduce it such as the establishment of the National Economic Development Council (NEDC), had no noticeable impact.
  • Unemployment began to rise and reached 800,000 by the end of 1963, with the North and Scotland suffering particularly badly. 
  • There was a significant increase in the number of days lost to strikes, particularly in the docks.
  • Compared to the rest of Europe, which had faster rates of growth, Britain appeared to be lagging behind.
22 of 52

How did EEC rejection aid the decline in support f

  • Both major political parties had been opposed to joining the EEC when it had first been established, however, with the impact of the Suez Crisis, the loss of the empire, and damaged Anglo-American relations, politicians began to change their minds.
  • For many in the Conservative Party, the most important reason for a change in attitude was the economic performance of the EEC, which was far better than that of Britain. 
  • However, French president Charles de Gaulle had serious reservations about Britains sincerity and commitment to Europe, and rejected its application.
  • This was humiliating for Britain and revealed to many just how weak the country was.
23 of 52

How did the Night of the Long Knives aid decline i

  • In 1962, Macmillan saw that a Cabinet reshuffle was necessary due to the growing unpopularity of the party, illustrated in opinion polls that showed Labour surging ahead. 
  • This was particularly necessary as, alongside Labours new young dynamic party, Macmillans cabinet appeared old.
  • The reshuffle saw a third of the cabinet replaced.
  • Although there was some improvement in his ratings after this, he became known as Mac the Knife, and it damaged the unity of the party.
  • Macmillan never recovered his authority in either the party nor the country, as shown in opinion polls. 
24 of 52

How did scandals aid the decline of the Conservati

A large number of Scandals befelled the government in 1963 which only made matters worse for the Conservatives:

  • The Vassall Affair: Vassall was a civil servant in the Admiarality who spied for the Soviet Union, although no evidence was found that other senior figures tried to protect him, it created distrust and showed that the government had no control over its departments. 
  • The Philby Case: Kim Philby was a senior official at the Foreign Office, and had been passing information to the USSR and recruiting spies for them. He fled to Russia in 1963 to avoid arrest. 
  • The Argyll Divorce Case: The Duke of Argyll sued his wife for divorce on the grounds of numerous adultery. A list of 88 names was produced, with whom it was alleged that the duchess had *********. This list included some government ministers.
  • The Profumo Affair: John Profumo (the Secretary of State for War) had an affair with Christine Keeler, who was linked to a member of the Russian embassy, this raised security risks. Profumo's initial denial of the affair and then admission that he had lied to parliament, raised doubts over Macmillan's control of the party.
25 of 52

How did Social tensions and Riots aid the decline

  • The clearest evidence of Social Tensions were the Race Riots that broke out in 1958, as Britain struggled to adapt to being a multi-racial society. 
  • After ww2, immigrants had been encouraged to Britain to fill labour shortages, however, tensions developed as immigrants were blamed for houising and job shortages.
  • The most notable outbreak of violence occured at Notting Hill, where white youths tried to attck black owned and rented properties.
  • The government set up the Salmon Enquiry, which concluded that the trouble was due to increased immigration, yet failed to mention racism or discrimination.
  • The government responded to this inquiry by limiting the number of immigrants with the 1962 Commonwealth Immigration Act. 
  • However, as the Act was passing through Parliament, there was an influx of immigrants to avoid the Act, which had a counterproductive effect.
26 of 52

How did the Youth Sub-Culture aid decline in popul

  • Many young people were benefiting from greater affluence and had more money available to spend on a greater variety of goods.
  • However, not all young gained from growing affluence, and those that had missed out often felt alienated and developed 'sub-cultures', which resulted in the emergence of anti-social behaviour. 
  • The fights between the 'Mods and Rockers' characterised  the summer of 1964.
  • Many young lost respect for those in authority due to the growing number of scandals, and all of this helped to undermine the Conservative Party.
27 of 52

Why did the Labour Party win the election in 1964?

  • Harold Wilson's leadership of the Labour Party
  • How the electorate regarded the Conservatives
  • The revival of the Liberal Party
  • Changes in British Society during the 1950's. 
28 of 52

How did Harold Wilson's Leadership benefit Labour

  • The Labour Party appeared to be much more united than in 1955 or 1959, the divisions over nuclear weapons, Europe, and Nationalisation had not dissapeared, however, Wilson was able to gloss over them by presenting the party as modern, dynamic, and progressive.
  • The party's election manifesto promised a range of policies to promote faster economic growth, as well as improved welfare, housing, healthcare, and education.
  • Wilson portrayed himself as a 'man of the people', a Yorkshire-born, grammar-school educated football fan. 
29 of 52

How did the way the electorate regarded the Conser

  • Many voters blamed the Conservatives for the growing economic issues that became apparent in the early 60's. 
  • The Tories did not seem to have the answers to growing unemployment, inflation, and industrial unrest.
  • The Conservatives seemed out-of-touch with a modern democratic society, due to the leadership of Douglas-Home, a 60 year old aristocrat, and also due to the number of seedy sex scandals that had emerged in 1963.
30 of 52

How did the revival of the Liberal Party aid the L

  • The Conservative government's growing unpopularity benefited the Liberal Party because many middle-class voters who wanted to register their protest but were not willing to vote Labour, lent their votes to the Liberals. 
  • The Liberals only gained 3 more seats but they nearly doubled their vote, and as the majority of these votes were taken off the Tories, they helped to hand victory to Labour in many seats such as Dover, and Bolton East.
31 of 52

How did changes in British Society aid Labour in t

  • Living standards raised considerably throughout the 1950's. Having more money to spend made people, especially the young, more independent and less willing to accept traditional authority
  • Cultural changes of the decade, plays, novels, satire, and changing attitudes towards sex, created a climate in which many, expecially thr young, aimed to create a new classless Britain.
32 of 52

What problems was Harold Wilson faced with when he

  • Labour held a majority of only 4 seats
  • The party's promises about modernising Britain needed to be fulfilled
  • There were pressing foreign and colonial issues to deal with
  • Senior figures in the government were talented but several of them disliked one another
  • The economic situation was serious
33 of 52

How did Wilson deal with Labour's small majority f

  • In the 1966 General Election, the government was returned with a majority of 96
  • This was a major achievement and had shown that Wilson's leadership had paid off. 
34 of 52

How did Labour deal with their promises to transfo

  • The government enacted a series of reforms, which had a major impact on British Society, such as:
  • 1965- Race Relations Act- Discrimination in public facilities illegal.
  • 1967- Abortion legalised
  • 1969- Voting age lowered from 21 to 18
35 of 52

How did Wilson deal with foreign and colonial issu

The Vietnam War: Wilson believed that Britain's economic recovery and security depended on a close alliance with America. In 1965, Wilson spoke out in support of the American's troops in the Vietnam War. However, to appease the left, he rejected Johnsons requests to send British troops to Vietnam. In 166, he publicly spoke out against America's heavy bombing of Vietnam. These actions irritated President Johnson without going far enough to satisfy the Labour Left

The Common Market: Wilson believed he could persuade President de Gaulle to change his mind about Britains application to the EEC. He failed. In 1967, he repeated his veto. However, Wilson was successful somewhat at maintaining the cabinet unity over Europe, the pro-europeans were pleased by the application, and the anti-europeans by its failure. 

36 of 52

What were Britain's economic difficulties in the 1

Labours immediate problem, left by the Conservatives, was an £800 million deficit. They believed that this was due to Britain's lack of competetiveness, which could only be solved by Britain producing goods that were better/cheaper than foreign products, this required British businesses to:

  • Improve efficiency by investing in new technology and machienery
  • Grant wage increases only if workers were more productive
37 of 52

Which two solutions were Labour faced with to tack

Deflation - Tax rises and/or cuts in government expendiature would mean less money in consumer's pockets, thereby decresing the import Bill.

Devaluation - Reducing the exchange value of the pound. This would make British products cheaper, boosting exports. However, because Britain relied on so many imports, it meant that the cost of living would rise.

38 of 52

Why did Wilson initially rule out devaluation when

  • He believed it would reduce the savings of thrifty, working-class families- people he believed the Labour party should be defending
  • He was aware that devaluation had destroyed one Labour government in 1931, and had severly damaged the Atlee government that he had worked in.
  • He didnt want voters to associate Labour with the 'easy way out' of economic difficulties.
  • He knew that with a small commons majority, he would soon need to call another election, and he said to one of his cabinet ministers "Devaluation would sweep us away". 


Over the next 9 months, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jim Callaghan introduced a series of deflationary measures, which included higher taxes on Alcahol and Tobacco

39 of 52

When was the National Plan introduced and what wer

September 1956

  • An annual growth rate of 3.5% per year
  • An increase in exports of 5.25% per year to wipe out the balance of payments deficit
40 of 52

Why did the National Plan never have much success?

  • The Treasury jealously guarded its role as the governments economics ministry and did not co-operate with the DEA.
  • The recommendations of the National Plan for government spending were undermined by the Treasury's deflationary measures to solve immediate economic difficulty
41 of 52

When was the pound devalued and why?


The general election gave Labour a susbtantial majority, but in 1967 the government had to accept the humiliation of devaluing the pound, as there was no other way out of economic difficulties:

  • The seamen began to strike, demanding pay increases that exceeded the governments pay guidelines
  • The strike damaged British exports, made balance of payments deficit worse

in November the pound was devalued from $2.80 to $2.40

42 of 52

Was devaluation successful?

  • Trade figures were stubbornly slow to improve
  • substantial balance of payments deficit remained
  • Roy Jenkins replaced Callaghan as chancellor, but despite devaluation, concluded that severe deflationary measures were still needed to cure the balance of payments crisis:
  • Prescription charges, abolished in 1964, were reintroduced. 
  • Jenkins, determined to overcome the balance of payments deficit, delivered another hefty dose of deflation, increasing taxation by £923 million. in 1968
  • During 1969, there were signs of improvement, the balance of payments at last showed a surplus, and the value of sterling rose. 
43 of 52

How successfully did the Labour government deal wi

In 1968, Wilson was worried about press criticisms of his failure to tame the unions. He asked Barbara Castle, to lead the Ministry of Employment and Productivity to reform industrial relations, in 1969, she produced proposals called 'In Place of Strife', the principal proposals were:

  • Employees would have legal right to join a trade union
  • The government could order a ballot to be held before a strike if it believed there was a serious threat to the national interest
  • Disputes between unions would be referred to a commission, whose decision would be legally binding.
  • There would be financial penalties if the comission was not obeyed.
  • Workers who were unfairly dismissed would be allowed compensation or their jobs back.

The TUC and the left-wing Labour MP's were outraged by the proposals. More than 50 Labour MP's rebelled when it was debated in the HoC. 

The failure of 'In Place of Strife', was one of the reasons for the downfall of the Labour party in the 1970 election. 

44 of 52

Why did the Labour Party lose the 1970 Election?

Wilson's Complacency: An opinion poll taken just before the election suggested that Wilson had a 51 per cent approval rating compared to Heath with just 28 per cent. This meant that Wilson was too relaxed during the elction, and the publication of some poor trade figures the day before the election dented Labour's claims that the economy was on the mend.

The disillusionment of Labour Supporters: Membership of the party fell from 830,000 in 1964 to 680,000 in 1970. For many activists and MP's the government had been too right-wing, especially in its economic and foreign policies.

The Failure of 'In place of Strife': many who voted Labour in 64 and 66 had been impressed by Wilsons promise to modernise Britain, but the defeat of 'In Place of Strife', suggested that the Trade Unions were selfishly determined to preserve their power, and were more powerful than the government. 

45 of 52

Why did the Conservatives win the 1970 election?

Conservative Policy Proposals: The Conservatives had used their years in opposition to develop a distinctive set of principles to underpin their policies. The main ideas were:

  • Industrial Relations Law would be reformed to reduce the number of disruptive strikes and inflationary pay settlements.
  • There would be less state intervention of industry, especially those that were loss-making
  • Attempts to control prices by law would end
  • Britain would apply to join the EEC

Edward Heath's Leadership: 

During the election campaign, Heath relentlessly attacked the economic record of the Labour government, stressing that inflation had risen by 33 per cent, and unemployment by over 200,000. The press attributed the Conservative win to Heath himself, the Daily Express praised his "guts and leadership".

46 of 52

How successful was Heath as Prime Minister?

Heaths Economic Record: The Conservatives inherited an inflation rate of approximatelt 5% per annum, but this had reached 10 per cent 4 years later. Although the level of employment in 1974 was no higher than it had been in 1970, the number of working days lost to strikes was double that of Wilson's time in office. Heath inherited a balance payment suprlus, but left a substantial deficit. 

Joining Europe: Britain became a full member of the EEC on 1st January. From 1970, Britain had a much better chance of entry because de Gaulle had left office in 1969, and the new President Pompidou was not opposed to British entry.

The Industrial Relations Act 1971: The Act included the following provisions:

  • Workers would have the legal right to join a trade union
  • Trade Unions had to register with the Industrial Relations Committee (IRC), and members of registered unions would enjoy better protection

However, this act failed due to the provisions being so similar to 'In Place of Strife', the act was unpopular with most union members, and the TUC set out to make the Act unworkable by telling unions to de-register and defy the IRC. 

47 of 52

How successful were industrial Relations under the

  • Heath was less successful than Wilson at managing Industrial Relations, however, although the increase in strikes was partly due to union hostility against the Industrial Realtions Act, it was mainly a response to inflation; as prices rose, workers sought to increase their wages to prevent their standards of living falling.
  • Inflation was particularly bad in the early 70's because:
  • There was a worldwide increase in commodity prices.
  • The pound was allowed to 'float freely', its value determined by the money markets, however when this floated downwards, imports became more expensive. 
48 of 52

Why was the 1972 miners strike successful?

The miners enjoyed considerable public sympathy for doing a dangerous and poorly paid job, but their demand for a 47 per cent pay increase was well above the governments wage policy, and in January 1972, 280,000 coal miners came out on strike. The government was forced to declare a state of emrgency and there was frequent power cuts throughout the country. By Februrary, the commission awarded the miners a large pay increase. The strike was successful because:

  • The miners were skillfully organised, especially by Arthur Scargill, who co-ordinated flying pickets; groups of miners that disrupted the movement of coal by road.
  • The government was poorly organised to cope with the strike, and the severe winter weather meant that it had an immediate effect on the Country's energy supplies. 

The success of the strike was damaging for the government because:

  • It encouraged other workers to strike for pay increases
  • Successful strikes added to inflationary pressure
  • The government looked weak compared to the unions
  • It emphasized the failure of the Industrial Relations Act.
49 of 52

What was Heath's U-turn and when was it?


Heath's government had begun with the intention of reducing state intervention of industry and of refusing to rescue failing enterprises. But this policy did not last long, in 1971, the aircraft division of Rolls Royce, facing bankruptcy, was nationalised, because it was regarded as vital to Britain's defence industry.

Having failed to secure an agreement with the unions over wages and salaries, the government established policies in 1972 to regulate both prices and pay increase.

50 of 52

What was the oil price shock and when was it?


Middle eastern oil-producing countries were angry at what they percieved to be Western support for Israel in the Arab-israel war, they cut back oil supplies and quadrupled the price.

As Britain was reliant on oil for 50 per cent of its energy needs, this had a decisive impact on prices.

Heath went on TV to declare a state of emergency and announce the introduction of a 3 day working week to cut back on energy use. 

Heath called an election in 1974 on the issue of 'Who govern's Britain?', he hoped to get a decisive victory to support his governments policies, but the results of the election were unclear, and Wilson came back into power. 

51 of 52

Waht problems did the Labour government face in co

Minority Government

Relations with Trade Unions: To demonstrate that the 1971 Industrial Relations Act had been uneccessary, The Labour Party and the TUC reached an agreement called the Social Contract. But the social contract did not solve the nations economic difficulties because wage increases continued to exceed inflation rates. "The only give and take in the social contract was that the government gave and the unions took". 

52 of 52




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