Harold Wilson 1964 - 70

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Harold Wilson - Political

  • 1964 majority 4, 1966 majority 110
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Harold Wilson - Trade Unions

  •  1966, Prices and Incomes board set up, (aimed to solve inflation). Introduced number of wage and prices freezes. Frank Cousins (Minister of Technology from 1964) resigned over the board being set up; he was the leader of Britain’s largest union TGWU.
  • Docker’s strike 1967
  • 1967 – 2,797,000 working days lost – strikes
  • 1968 – 4,690,000
  • 1969 – ‘White paper’, ‘In Place of Strife’, introduce a series of legal restrictions on the right for strike action.  Members of a union would have to be balloted and would have to agree on a clear majority to take industrial action/consult unions when major decisions being contemplated/28 cooling off period before a strike. Barbra Castle – Employment Secretary Vs James Callaghan – Labour party Treasurer.
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Harold Wilson - Social

·  Move towards the comprehensive schools.  Anthony Crosland – Secretary of State, 1965 introduced 10/65 circular. By 1970 only 8 authorities had failed to do, there were 1,145 comprehensive schools catering one 1 in 3 of all state educated schools. (Butler Act of 1944, most Br children 11+ exam – grammar school/technical school/secondary modern. 1960s public felt schools were not equal).

 ·  The Open university was created. (1963 Labour party study group proposed an expt on radio/tv ti be called the Uni of Air. In 1964 appointed Jennie Lee to consider project. Sept 1967, set up planning committee to work out comp plan for an open uni. Launched and received first charter 1969, began studies 1971. By 1980 – 70,000 students, awarding more degrees – Oxford/Cambridge.


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Harold Wilson - Unrest

·   1967 The National Front was campaigning to end all ‘black immigration’.

  • The Race Relations Board 1965 – Forbade discrimination in public places ‘on the grounds of colour, race or ethnic or national origins’. However discrimination in housing and employment were excluded and incitement to race hatred was not made a criminal offence.
  • The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 – This act restricted UK citizenship to at least one British parent or grandparent, born, adopted or naturalised in the UK
  • The Race Relations Act 1968 – Act banned racial discrimination in housing, employment, insurance and other services. Given stronger powers and a new Community Relations Board set up. Employers could discriminate against non whites in the interest of ‘racial balance’ and complaints against the police were excluded from the law. Race Relations Board only upheld 10% of the 1,241 complaints it received about discriminatory employment to January 1972.

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Harold Wilson - CND

  • Anti war protests, Political activists by students was given a new lease of life when some CND leaders took a key role in the planning of the first Vietnam War demonstration in 1965. CND eclipsed by the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign or VSC, which gained considerable support from university students. Summer 1964, there were teach ins on Vietnam at Oxford and the London School of Economics. The anti war protests coincided with and encourages the first stirrings of wider student unrest in the Universities. The LSE became the centre if radical activity, the decision in 1966 to appoint Dr Adams as the University, someone regarded by students as a “white Supremacist” , sparked a series of sit ins and ‘Daffodil March’ London 1967. A number of protests followed and the VSC harnessed some of the ill feeling in an outburst if radical activity, notable a violent clash on the 17th March at Grosvenor square. October 1968, 30,000 took part.
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Harold Wilson - Liberalising legislation


  •  The Abortion Act 1967 – two doctors certified, mental suffering of the woman
  •  The Sexual Health Offence Act 1967 – based on the recommendation of the Wolfenden report. Permitted male homosexual acts in private, age 21.
  •  Abolition of the Death Penalty 1969 – made the 1965 act permanent.
  •  Divorce Reform Act 1969 – “irretrievable breakdown”
  • The Open University – established to enable unqualified students to read for degrees by studying courses broadcasted on radio on radio and tv.
  •  Roy Jenkins, “civilised age” – Home Secretary 1965-67
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Harold Wilson - International

·         Norther Ireland – comparitively calm since 1922. However, IRA would not rest until the north was reunited with Eire, while the protestant dominated northern ireland parliament would never agree to this. Violence between Catholics and protestants heightened. August 1969 Wilson sent troops – Belfast/Londonderry to restrain the two fractions.

·         FAILURE - Rhodesia  - 1965, A man named Ian Smith (leader of the largest party) wanted to introduce an independent white majority government to Rhodesia. 200,000 white settlers to be superior to the 3 million native black. Socially Wilson appeared popular speaking out against Smith’s aims, opinion polls = popular. Imposed economic sanctions, believing this would solve the issue in weeks but in reality the first free elecions were not in place until 1980. Wilson was prepared to give Rhodesia independence as long as majority voting introduced over time, Smith said no, but this was lucky as would have been unpopualr with members of his own party – Barbara Castle.

·         FAILURE/SUCCESS Vietnam war  1963-75 – In attempt to restrict the communism in Asia, USA became mired in a long drawn out struggle in Indo-China. Britain did not become directly involved, but gave moral/political support towards America. (support of the £). Left wing protests, violent riot March 1968 Grosvenor square. 

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Harold Wilson - White Heat

·         Despite Wilson’s faith in science, new government was not helped by it’s own lack of expertise. Roy Jenkins, the first Minister if Aviation, later admitted that he had difficulty understanding his briefing because of his non scientific mind. First Minister of Technology, Frank Cousins was a union man who had little knowledge/interest in technological advancement. Of the eight junior ministers appointed to the Ministry of Technology only two had any scientific knowledge (Lord Snow and Dr Jeremy Bray).

·         Concorde and Nuclear energy, large investment from R&D. Financial disaster – concorde as only the state airlines of Britain (Britich airways) and France (Air France) bought the aircraft. Nuclear Energy – electricity produced by harnessing atomic energy. Britain’s first power station opened in May 1956

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