Age of Affluence
The timing for the conservative government was lucky.
Mens weekly wages were rising (£8.30 in 1951 to £15.35 in 1961)
Private savings grew
A massive increase in car ownership.
Home ownership also increased as there were cheaper mortages avaliable.
Food rationing ended in 1954.
Consumer goods grew massively (bought on hire purchase)
Advertising industry grew showing the increase in affluence.
Butler was able to cut middle class taxes by £134 million.
Butler issued a give away budget in April 1955 (country close to election)
Churchill had retired and Eden called an election immidieatly.
The national press was in favour of the Conservatives.
Conservative majority of 70 (people were happy with their lives at this time) *had the feel good factor
Attlee retired and Gaitskell took over as Labour leader.
This was not a crushing defeat for Labour!
There was still the two-party system!
Eden to Macmillan
When Eden took over as prime minster in 1955 there was a strong optimism about him.
However, most of his political work had taken place in foreign policies, this meant he did not have much experience at home.
His major downfall turned out to be foreign affairs with his invasion of Egypt causing him a huge issue in 1956.
He then appeared weak and came under attack from the Labour party.
Suez crisis split the conservative party (Rebellion by 40 conservative mps)
USA had put pressure on UK, this exposed their financial weakness and put them on Run on the pound. (A rapid fall in the value of pound in international currency markets)
Eden never recovered from the Suez crisis.
Macmillan came to power and the party became united once more.
Economic prosperity continued.
Macmillan was described as 'supermac' and his popularity led to a comfortable win in the 1959 election.
The affluence of the consumer society was keeping people happy, the Labour party's disunity made them appear weak.
It was shown that the Conservative party could change their leaders without causing too many problems.
The party leaders were not elected, they were just chosen from within the party.
It soon became clear that Butler did not have as much support from within the party to become leader.
Macmillan not Butler?
Butler has been described as 'the best prime minister we never had'
By 1957, he had had a lot of experience.
He bought in eduation reforms. had been chancellor, acting prime minister.
Macmillan had made a great success when made 300 000 houses a year.
Butler was not very popular within the party, however was popular within the country.
Many remembered WW2. Macmillan had gone against Neville's idea of appeasement where as Butler had been linked to it.
Macmillan's government 1957-1963
Macmillan had made the speech 'never had it so good' in 1957, suggesting that Britain were enjoying the lifestyle they had because it was the best they had ever had. The 'age of affluence' was a major thing that contriubted to this.
This speech was also a warning of danger of unemployment.
For 5 years macmillan appeared to have everything within his control. The post war economic boom was continuing.
The Labour party's constant in fighting kept them away as an opponent.
He was famous for his calm speeches, but was actually sick before delivering them.
Macmillan and most of his cabinet were experienced politicians and extremley capable.
The Suez Crisis did not appear to have much of an effect on the governemnt after Eden had left.
October 1959 - Macmillan called an election and Conservatives won by 100 seats.
Macmillan's government 1957-1963 conti..
In 1957 and 1958 the government had massive policitcal and economic issues.
1957, there was a finanical crisis. Inflation was rising because wages were above productivity.
There was also run on the pound.
Chancellor, Thorneycroft, believed in Monetarism, to limit wage increases and cut money supply, Macleod however opposed this, as it would lead to unemployment.
It showed the problems of 'stop-go economics' (Expanding economy with low interest rates and rising consumer goods (go) and results of economy over heating with wages and imports exceeding productivity, deflating of the economy (stop) )
Macmillan sided with those who wanted to keep up expansion.
Thorneycroft proposed massive spending cuts in 1958, Macmillan overuled him. Thorneycroft resigned, the post war consensus had won again.
The budget of April 1959 showed a £370 million tax cut, the economy had expanded.