June 2013 '' There were more similarites than differences'' Assess the validity of the view of the domestic policies of the Conservative and Labour parties in the years, 1951 to 1970

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  • Created on: 01-06-15 12:09

June 2013 '' There were more similarites than differences'' Assess the validity of the view of the domestic policies of the Conservative and Labour parties in the years, 1951 to 1970


  • Political- Post War Consensus and One Nation Tories dominated the 1950's: After Churchill returned in 1951, the Tories maintained much of the Attlee legacy such as welfare state and NHS as they were were popular with voters but not what the Conservatives ideology was based on.
  • Social- Liberalisation of Britain begun slowly under Macmillian, Homocide Act and dramatically continued under Wilson with most liberal Home Sectray Roy Jenkins (Abortion Act 1969, Theartes Act 1968, Divorce Act 1969, Education/Open University 1969)
  • Social- Trade Unions: During the 1950's and 1960's the trade unions worked more cooperatively with governments, and governments dealt with Trade Unions demands, giving in to what they wanted. During the late 1960's and 1970's new more radical trade leaders begun demanding high wages and threathing to strike and both Conservative and Labour governments dealt with them in the same way as they had been previously doing, granting these wishes.
  • Economic- Kenyanism: Althought Stop-Go economies had been working well during the 1950 as time progessed it was clear this policy wasn't effective in helping to deal with the British economy when struggling in deficits etc. Yet niether Labour nor Conservatives found an alternative solution to deal with the economic problem.
  • Foreign Policy: Both Labour and Conservative made attempts to join the EEC, Macmillian in 1963 under the Tories and Wilson in 1973, althought these attempts were half-hearted
  • Social: Niether dismantled the NHS and welfare state created, with concentration on the Tories within the 13 years of 1951-1964. As it was popular with the voters.


  • Polticial: More scandals in Tory Party: Profumo Affair 1963- Affair with Christine Keeler. Vassall Affair 1962- Russian spying.
  • Political: Image of Labour and Wilson Vs Tories: In 1963 when Alec Douglas-Home was announced as Tory leader and PM, they deciding for it was seen by many as outdated and unfair, secret soundings and meetings over the new Leader, whereas Wilson was elected Labour leader in a more democratic way and was seen as having a more modern image and also being from a non-aristicatic background and being linked with popular 1960's culture worked in his favour.
  • Political: Divisions in Labour: Throughout the period until Wilson in 1964 the Labour party remained a divided party. In 1953 the Labour party spilt over funding for the Korean War, some favoured bringing in prescription charges in the NHS whereas others argued strongly against this. However in 1969 at the Blackpool and Scarborough Conferences further splits in the party emerged again over dropping clause four and modernising the party, this was been the Gaitskellites on the right favouring this and Bevanites on the left opposing this. This split rumbled on within the party until both Bevan and Gaitskell died.
  • Social: Althought the liberalisation of Britain was started partly under Macmilliam with the Homocide Act 1957, Wilson continued this much further with his social reforms, something which it's seems unlikely the Tories would have done.

Overall comparison

During the early time in this period- 1950's and early 1960's the Conservatives and Labour shared similar domestic policies, and politics at this time is often referred to by historians as butskellism, showing there was consensus politcs between Labour and Conservative. As well as this throughout the entire period both parties struggle with the economy failing to find a cohernt economic policy, and sticking to the economic orthodox of Kenyanism.However as the period progress into the late 1960's it seems the Labour party seem to be much more in tune with changing British Society compared to the Conservatives and therefore are more able to effectely deal with the social demands.


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