Evaluation of Anthony Eden government-1955-1957

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  • Created on: 27-02-15 09:37

Evaluation of Anthony Eden government-1955-1957

Advantages

  • Eden was young, attractive and experienced as a politician, particularly as an international statesman.
  • He had been groomed for leadership by Churchill. He was the "heir apparent".
  • His immediate success in the 1955 general election managed to increase Conservative majority in the House of Commons from 17 to 60.
  • Eden was able to improve the public opinion of him, as well as take advantage of the age of affluence, with Butler's 1955 give-away budget of £134 million in tax cuts.
  • Eden found great fame in presiding over the the lowest unemployment rate in post-WW2 British history, 215,000 in July 1955 – barely 1% of the workforce.

Disadvantages

  • Eden rapidly lost support from the public, failing in the opinion polls early into his premiership, falling from 70% approval to 40%.
  • The public lost some faith in him when he was struck by illness that strated in 1953 and worsened during his term in office.
  • He was similar to Churchill in that he did not care for domestic politics, leaving these affairs to his deputy, R. A. Butler. Eden was too committed to keeping Britain as a world superpower at the height of the Cold War. The economy could not afford to focus on this goal and this led to Britain to miss out on important developments in western Europe, such as the 1955 Messina talks on closer economic integration.
  • His greatest blunder was of course, the Suez Crisis in 1956-57.-Refer to revision cards on this topic.
  • He resigned after the chaos caused by Suez in 1957, to be replaced by Harold Macmillan.

Evaluation

Eden was clever, popular, experienced and had the support of the public and his party. The 1955 giveaway budget was hugely successful and added to his 1955 election success. However, all these attributes could not have prevented the chaos and problems caused by Suez. When he tried and failed to invade Egypt alongside France and Israel AND following a political controversy, he was shot down by the threat of American throttling of the British economy, leading to an economic crisis and the destruction of relations with the USA, the UN and the USSR. It was this blunder that earned him his reputation as the least successful PM in British history.

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