Labour Party 51-63

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  • Labour 1951-64
    • narrowly lost 1951 election - tota labour vote = 14 mil bigger than any victories
      • believed might soon return to power
        • but suffering deep internal divisions - intensified through 50s
        • attlee stayed leader til 55, ernest bevin died in 51
    • party unity was well maintained during govt. but htere wasgrowing split of personalities and ideology
      • key figures in split aneurin bevan (NHS - hero of the lab. left) and hugh gaitskell (prescription charges chancellor)- both considered to be next leader
        • clash between bevanites and gaitskellites came later but harmed effectiveness of govt
    • Suez Crisis 56
      • Gaitskell seemed likely to benefit from disgrace of Eden and boost Labour
        • if general election called in early 57 - might be elected
          • but it did not split C party
            • MacMillan quickly re-established unity and proved to be commanding PM
              • same time = maintaining party unity was increasingly diff, for Gaitskell
    • Gaitskell = right wing of party
      • regarded with suspicion by left
        • disagrrements and personal feuds became central part of lab. party between gaitskellites and bevanites
    • 1959 election
      • optimism they could win
        • Gaitskell confident campaigner, promoting moderate policies thought pop. with lab. voters
          • crushing defeat = surprise + disappointment
      • result of 59 election = splits widened
        • growing opp. to party leadership from trade u
        • divisions over Britain's nuclear weapons
          • The CND (campaign for nuclear disarmament) formed in 1958
            • rapidly became most powerful pressure grp
        • Reasons= -divisions over socialist policies (nationalisation) splits over CND, uncertainty of EEC
    • 59 conference
      • before election G wanted to abandon clause 4
        • clause committed party to nationalisation
          • idea from west germany's SDP who dumped commitments to marxist ideas
      • opposition from left wing and union leaders fierce
        • gaitskell backed down without putting it to vote
          • created further splits
    • position improved after 1960
      • cultural shift incountry that made the public unsatisfied with afluence and critical of govt
        • shown through publications 'private eye' and TV 'that was the week that was'
      • 1962 'supermac' magic wearing off
        • political problems and problems of balance of payments deficit
      • gaitskell died in 63, wilson took over


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