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BRITAIN IN 1951
POLITICS
Three key turning points during this period
1951 election > start of 13 years Conservative rule
1979 election > start of Thatcher dominance lasting 11 years
1997 election > start of New Labour dominance (so far 13 years)
1951 saw end of Labour and Attlee in government ­ had achieved all promises outlined in 1945 election manifesto and legacy remains
for (arguably) twenty years.…read more

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THE POST WAR CONSENSUS, 1951-1964
POLITICS
1951: not obvious that 13 years of Conservative dominance were about to begin. Churchill looked tired and the Conservatives unlikely
to be able to deal with Britain's economic troubles. However, there came a succession of 3 Conservative PM's ­ Churchill, Eden, and
Macmillan.…read more

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KEY QUESTION: How could Labour lose the October 1951 election, yet win more of the popular vote?
Ratio of votes: Labour 47, 283 : 1 Conservatives 42, 733 : 1
1951 election saw Labour gain the highest aggregate vote ever achieved by any party up to that point.…read more

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Historical opinions on post-war consensus:
Hennessey ­ Attlee set foundation stone of all that is best about post war Britain `the fusion of myriad hospitals and private
practices into a National Health Service, the transfer of a workforce of 2.3 million people into nationalised industries, the
Attlee government also took the first steps towards changing an empire into a Commonwealth
Lawson ­ `Attlee government of 1945-51 set the political agenda for the next quarter century.…read more

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Welfare State ­ implementation of Beveridge Report. NHS iconic and Conservatives had warmed to it
Conservative majority was slender in Parliament ­ did not feel strong enough to dismantle Attlee legacy
ROLE OF PERSONALITIES
Churchill: PM from 1951-55. Not considered to be the greatest post-war PM. Some people argue that the man who really led the
Conservatives was Anthony Eden (acting PM) and key ministers such as Butler and MacMillan. Inactive in politics but visions of
himself as an international statesman.…read more

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Economic prosperity continued to gain approval from voters ­ continuing affluence kept voters happy
Reputation of Macmillan ­ nicknamed ` Supermac' , success as housing minister (300,000 new homes as promised during 1951
election manifesto)
Labour Party under Gaitskell had problems of its own
Remarkably ability of Conservatives to manage changes of leadership without too much blood being split in power struggles.
Macmillan was a safe choice, especially compared to the alternative Butler, and so with few enemies the party stayed united.…read more

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TUs
(2) simmering divisions over Britain's nuclear weapons > many Labour left wingers joining in with CND campaigns for Uniltateral
Disarmament (CND a an anti-nuclear weapon pressure group popular with middle class and intellectuals, best known for Aldermaston
March 1959 which attracted 8000 supporters)
1960 ­ Labour's position slowly improved > cultural shift in the country which meant public opinion was less satisfied with affluence
and more critical of government (rise of satire ­ Private Eye).…read more

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All exports rose between 1952 and 1962: Britain +29%, France +86%, Germany +247%,
Japan +378%!
Britain falls behind in productivity per person.
1961 ­ concerns about over-heated economy led to `pay pause' to hold down wage inflation and to ask for loan from IMF
1962 saw BALANCE OF PAYMENTS PROBLEM, economics of stop-go > Macmillan sets up NEDC (National Economic Development
Council) in attempt to get economic cooperation between government, employers and unions.…read more

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Britain's world trade ­ ¼ 1951 to 1/10th
1975
· Technical education neglected
· Low productivity vs. US, Japan and W. Germany
· Nationalisation a mistake
· Too much emphasis on full employment which had led to problems with
inflation
THE FALL OF MACMILLAN
Command over government faltered from 1962
1) Night of the Long Knives 1962 ­ Cabinet reshuffle. Macmillan's purge of the cabinet was intended to rejuvenate the
government but actually weakened it.…read more

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