British Prime Minsisters & political figures


Harold Macmillan 1957-1963

  • BACKGROUND: Harold Macmillan came from a very aristocrtaic background. Went to oxford/Eton. Alot of the cabinet at the tim ewere also related to Macmillan by marriage - enhancing the old school tie network. DEliberately wanted to seem very serious-minded and gentlemanly - Edwardian style
  • POLITICAL OBJECTIVES: During this period he was very concerned over Britains economy. Concerns over inflation and the stop-go economic cycles. However this was ignored by the counrty who were enjoying a period of affluence - due to the post war boom. - NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD SPEECH
  • POLITICAL BELIEFS : - Still felt Britain was a major world power & believed employment was big issue
  • ACHIEVEMENTS :- NEDC - Started to inforce economic planning and management to end the stop-go cycles. Also became known as SUPERMAC for his calm unflabbility whilst dealing with economic problems.
  • FAILURES : Mac the Knife - forced members out of the cabinet to try and break down the establishment apperance. Made him seen brutal and desperate. Also got failed entry to the EEC.
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Sir Alex-Douglas Home 1963-64

  • Succsessor of Harold Macmillan who fell ill in 1963 - previously the Foreign secretary of Macmillan
  • BACKGROUND: Very very old -etonian schoolboy. Was in fact an earl himself - only went to prove the establishment reputation of the conservative party.
  • POLITICAL ACHIEVEMENTS: Pushed the economy into a go phase. Encouraged consumer spending. Made shopkeepers sell goods at a certain price - Small economic acheivements.
  • POLITICAL FAILURES: Was a very easy target for the criticism of the establishment - which proves to be a major flaw in the following loss at the election. Inforced an outdated class system. Also caused a revolt against his fellow tories in the cabinet as they didnt like the way he had been elected without their consent by Macmillan.
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Harold Wilson 1964-1970

  • BACKGROUND: Definately a politician who had made his career himself. Son of an industiralist chemist. Went to a grammr school and Oxford. Charasmatic character and was liked by many, he was witty and clever and a comforting normal charcter. Smoked a pipe and wore a raincoat and could relate to those at home.
  • POLITICAL BELIEFS : Wanted to break down the establishment and stimulate Britain into a new age of white heat. Invest more money in science and education which would hopefully propel Britain's economy. Put an end to stop - go policies of previous years.
  • POLITICAL ACHIEVEMENTS : Opening of comprehensive schools and open university. Gave labour goverment a new style outlook as its members were alot more liberal and working class in outlook.
  • POLITICAL FAILURES : Whilst Wilson wanted a new age of white heat and scientific developement none of his cabinet were really that scientifically minded and weren't interested in technology.     He didn't have the commitment of his party.    Also Wilson inherited a massive debt from the tory party and had to begin DEVALUATION. The value of the pound had grew very weak due to the oil crisis in syria. Tried to set up economic planning councils but these didn't work and were undermined by his civil servants, Had to return to previous tory policies of higher interest rates and restrictions on hire purchase.
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Edward Heath 1970-1974

  • BACKGROUND: Went to a grammar school and then followed onto go to Oxford. Succsessor of Sir Alex-Douglas Home. Party hoped he would provide a more middle class role and change the image of the Tory party as being like the Establishment. Enjoyed music and sailing however he was still very out of toutch with the people and was still much less popular then Harold Wilson. Very pro-buissness
  • POLITICAL BELIEFS: Wanted to concentrate Goverment social security payments to those who most needed them, Wanted to gain entry to the EEC. Cut down on wildcat strikes and implace more trade unions laws and restrictions. Rebuild Britains economy and make it stronger - ( Oppisite of labour devaluation) Also very much like Wilson he was into planning and management
  • POLITICAL ACHIEVEMENTS: Managed to transform the image of the tory party. Gained entry to the EEC. Intriduced the pill to the NHS.
  • POLITICAL FAILURES : Failed massively un industrial relations - NIRC, the right to belong to a trades union. Trades Unions had to be registered. Complaints board against trades unions. Illegalised unregistered trade unions action. Cooling off period from a pre-ballot before the strike. 

This failed massively with the miners strikes and worsened industrial relations. Had to enforce a 3 day woprking week to save energy. Gave strikers an wage increase of 47% plus other fringe benfits.

Massive inflation and employment were in place. Lots of days lost due to strikes.

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Harold macmillan 1974-1976

  • Re-elected due to the failure of Edward Heath. Revoked the Industrial Relations act put in place by Heath. He was identified more with the working class which gained sympathy of the strikers and the working class. 
  • Working class was re-growing as there was massive employment and inflation again so living standards were in decline.
  • Wilson did help curb some of the stirkes and the number of days lost due to the strikes had halfed.-Partially due to the resolvement of the miners strikes under Heath
  • However there were still stikes which lead to further nationalisation and higher taxation.
  • Retired at 60 during 1976
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John Profumo - (1961)

  • Army minister of macmillans goverment at the time 
  • Exposed the sex and scandal of high society at the time. Had an affair with the prostitute Christine Keelor. However Christine keeler at this time was also having an affair with the Russian embassy minister who was known to the british services to be a spy - aided to furl the corruption of British politics in a time when people were questioning high society. 
  • This all came out 18 months later when Keeler was later in a relaionship with 2 west indian immigrants who regularly fought over her. 2 shots were fired outside her house and she was taken to the police where she confessed everything
  • Profumo put a dirty name on the conservatives as he had become a security risk.
  • Later resigned due to the humiliation of the tabloids.
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Jim Callaghan (1964)

  • Under Harold Wilsons Labour Goverment Callaghan had been a major rival for prime minister
  • Became the Chancellor of the exchequer- part of Wilsons new economic management and planning scheme
  • Whilst he was not keen on deflation he had to introdue a series of declinary measure due to the oil crisis and the devaluation of the dollar weakening the pound.
  • Charged Surcharge on imports
  • Tax increases
  • Rise in interest rates
  • Cut in goverment expenditure especially on defence
  • However eventually he did manage to get the dollar to back the pound which took off the initial economic crisis facing Britain
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George Brown (1964)

  • Another rival within the labour party to Harold Wilson
  • Got put in charge of the Department of economic affairs
  • Intoduced his own national plan to try and put an end to the previous Tory stop-go policies - howver this never really got off the ground
  • He wanted an increase in exports
  • Annual growth in gross product
  • - WANTED THE NEDC - later brought in by Macmillans goverment
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Roy Jenkins

  • Son of a welsh miner - very much a self made politician story
  • Became Homesecretary in 1965 
  • Went omto become the chancellor of the exchequer in 1967
  • Later went on to form his own left wing party which later joined with the liberals to form the liberal democrats
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Roy Jenkins

  • Minister of avaiation
  • Supported the legalisation of homosexuality
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Frank Cousins

  • Minister of Technology
  • He was more into trade unions and had little knowledge over scientific issues & was very unitertested in developement of technology - Collectively represents how Wilson didnt really have the support of his party under his idea of a new age of white heat
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Barbara Castle

  • LABOUR GOVERMENT - But later influenced Ed Heaths bill of industrial relations
  • Under Edward Heath Goverment 
  • In place of strife:
  • She beacme massively dismayed that the labour party who was fighting for the working class was suffering backlash from the trade unions.
  • She had wanted to put in radical legislation which would outright ban wildcat strikes however this was met with outcry by unionists therefore was never passed.
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Anthony Wedgewood Benn

  • Labour Goverment- wilson
  • Believed in freedom of intervention and was very anti nuclear war
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Enoch Powell

  • Imposed his "Rivers of blood" speech- very towards the Immigration acts
  • He was sacked by Edward Heath's goverment afterwards for making the Conservative party seem very racist, however he was seen as a hero amongst the working class for speaking out against the rise of black people in Britain
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Enoch Powell

  • Imposed his "Rivers of blood" speech- very towards the Immigration acts
  • He was sacked by Edward Heath's goverment afterwards for making the Conservative party seem very racist, however he was seen as a hero amongst the working class for speaking out against the rise of black people in Britain
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