Conservative governments of 1951-64

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Churchill 1951-55

  • Churchill saw his re-election as a belated thank you from the British public.
  • He was an elderly primeminister, and so was only a figurehead.
  • Butler carried out the job of running the economy.
  • During this period, the idea of 'Butskellism' occured. This was the idea that the 2 political partied met in the middle to form a consensus on varying matters, such as the economy. 
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Eden 1955-57

  • Eden possessed beliefs that Britain was an independent world power.
  • The nationalisation of the Suez canal meant that foreign ships would have to pay to pass through.
  • Eden's sly actions in the Suez crisis led his resignation. 
  • He carried out secret discussions with France & Israel in order to launch a major attack on Egypt. 
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Macmillan 1957-63 "Supermac"

  • Macmillan carried on with Butler's main lines of policy. Following a mixed economy - some assets were nationalised and some privatised, and a loose form of Keynesianism.
  • Macmillan claimed that Britain had "never had it so good" - Growth in real wages, greater availability of credit, committed to building 300,000 houses a year, 'a property owning democracy'.
  • BUT HAD THEY? - Rent Act meant that those with lower incomes struggles to afford leases, unemploment continued to rise.
  • The Notting Hill race riots highlighted increasing social tensions.
  •  Britain was performing badly in comparison to that of European countries, this encouraged Macmillan to apply for membership to the EEC - this was vetoed.
  • In 1962, Macmillan carried out a major cabinet reshuffle "Night of the Long Knives" - demoting some of the more established members of parliament and replacing them with younger Conservatives.
  • In 1963, the Profumo affair came to light. One of Macmillan's cabinet members, John Profumo, had been sexually linked to a prostitute. Profumo denied the allegations, and Macmillan supported him. 3 months after Profumo's denial, he had to admit he had lied. This reflected badly on Macmillan and the Conservative government. 
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Douglas-Home 1963-64

  • Douglas-Home came in to power based on a note of recommendation to the Queen from Macmillan.
  • The undemocratic appointment process suggested that the old-boy party networks within the Conservative party were still at large. 
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