Heath's government, 1970-74

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  • Created by: Emily_O
  • Created on: 31-12-14 16:07
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  • Heath government, 1970-74
    • The new government and its problems
      • Heath didn't have a 'kitchen cabinet' like Wilson did
        • He did have trusted assistants but not like Wilson's
      • Heath 'flapped around like an affronted penguin' (Roy Jenkins)
        • He also had 'grumpy integrity' which Jenkins respected
      • He appeared likely to do what he said he was going to do and for the reasons he said he was doing it
      • He was firmly in charge of his Cabinet
        • However the government came over as a one-man band
      • Private Eye introduced a column 'Heathco - a message from the Managing Director'
      • Heath had a very clear idea of what was and wasn't wanted
        • Didn't want the Price and Incomes Board
          • Wanted to slim down government and make it more efficient
        • Wanted a new framework for industrial relations and Britain's entrance to the EEC
    • Problems of Northern Ireland
      • Roman Catholic civil rights movement developed in province of Ulster (only part of Ireland still under British Crown)
      • System of apartheid operated and the two communities lived side by side but in mutual distrust and incomprehension
      • Catholic protests began in 1967 and in 1968 produced a Protestant backlash
        • Jim Callaghan (Home Secretary) sent units of the British Army in in August 1969 to protect the Catholices
          • Initially the Catholics welcomed the troops but by 1970 there were Catholic attacks on British troops
      • The almost defunct Irish Republican Army (IRA) was revitalised
        • Breakaway group, Provisional IRA, established in Londonderry and Belfast and began to wage a guerilla war
      • The violence continued to grow throughout 1972
    • Promising start, 1970-71
      • Despite problems, for just over a year everything seemed to be going to plan
      • Heath got French and parliamentary approval for Britain's entry into the EEC
        • It left the Labour Party weakened and divided
      • Popular tax-cutting Budget by Tony Barber in 1971 designed to stimulate the economy
        • Standard rate of income tax cut by 2.5%
    • A new framework for industrial relation was achieved in 1971
    • Nationalisation
      • The government had shown their intent to reduce the role of government but was then forced to nationalise bankruptcy-facing Rolls Royce
        • The same happened in Scotland with Upper Clyde Shipbuilders
    • The miners
      • Soon clear that the Industrial Relations Act wasn't working as hoped
        • New Industrial Relations Court had power to enforce ballots before a strike and a cooling-off period
          • Could only act if unions registered under the Act which they didn't
          • When it did act a national dock strike was threatened
        • Showed that the government was unable to enforce its policy
      • Pay increases were running ahead of inflation and fueling further inflation
        • Over past 15 years miners had accepted moderate pay settlements in return for job security and voluntary redundancies as uneconomic pits were closed
          • Now they demanded a catch up
            • In 1971 they gained 14% (inflation 7%)
        • The government felt wage demands should be moderated
          • Miners increasingly under influence of more extreme leaders
            • Coal Board offer of 8% for 1972 rejected by the union and national strike by the miners began in January
              • Tactic of 'flying pickets' widely adopted by NUM
                • Small bands of strikers that can move quickly to any workplace associated with the strike
                  • Often intimidate not 'peacefully persuade' other workers to join in
              • Coal stocks at powers stations rapidly running down and power cuts occured
                • Government decided to surrender, NUM got almost everything they asked for
                  • It was a 'public and disastrous defeat' for the government (Douglas Hurd)
      • Growing economic problems of 1972 forced the government into a U-turn
        • They were facing two problems, growing inflation and growing unemployment (1 million in 1972)
        • The February 1972 miners victory encouraged other workers to press for bigger increases
          • Heath saw the answer to be a return to a government prices and incomes policy
            • Talks were held with the TUC and CBI in Autumn 1972 to see if a voluntary wage agreement was possible
              • Unions and TUC broke off talks in November
                • Heath introduced three-stage price and incomes policy
                  • Phase 1 was a six-month pay freeze
                  • Pay board introduced in 1973
                  • Phase 3 followed in Autumn 1973
                  • This was in direct contradiction to the very public dropping of an incomes policy in 1970
                  • In 1973 it looked like this might work but the outbreak of an Arab-Israeli War in October led to a reduction in oil supplies to the West
                    • Price of oil rocketed, British coal more important
                      • Miners' strike begins February 1974 and Heath decided to call a general election on the theme 'who governs Britain?'
                        • Avoided a union-bashing campaign
                        • Election resulted in hung parliament (no party had overall majority)
                          • Wilson called to the palace to become prime minister

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