How successful were the Labour governments of 1964-70 and 1974-79?

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Society 1964-70

  • Liberalising laws under Roy Jenkins (Home Secretary)
  • Murder Act (1965)
  • Abortion Act (1967)
  • Sexual Offences Act (1967)
  • Divorce Act (1969)
  • Criticism of a 'permissive society'
  • 1969: 'Open University' - more accessible system of 'distance learning'
  • Development of comprehensive schools (associated with Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for Education)
  • 1969: Representation of the People Act - voting age reduced from 21 to 18.
  • Commonwealth Immigration Acts of 1965/68 - seen as illiberal, racist and reactionary.
  • 1968: Conservative Enoch Powell: 'Rivers of Blood' speech enflamed race relations
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Economy 1964-70

  • 1967: Devaluation due to difficulties in international currency markets.
  • Resignation of Chancellor Callaghan on a 'point of honour' over devaluation.
  • Wilson accused of misleading public by claiming it wouldn't affect the 'pound in your pocket'.
  • DEA National Plan failure (1965)
  • Jenkins' spending cuts of around £750 million
  • Taxes raised on cigarettes, alcohol, petrol (later 1960's).
  • BUT by 1969 balance of payments in surplus at almost £400 million.
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Economy 1964-70

  • 1967: Devaluation due to difficulties in international currency markets.
  • Resignation of Chancellor Callaghan on a 'point of honour' over devaluation.
  • Wilson accused of misleading public by claiming it wouldn't affect the 'pound in your pocket'.
  • DEA National Plan failure (1965)
  • Jenkins' spending cuts of around £750 million
  • Taxes raised on cigarettes, alcohol, petrol (later 1960's).
  • BUT by 1969 balance of payments in surplus at almost £400 million.
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Industrial Relations 1964-70

  • 1970: almost 50% of workforce members of TU's.
  • Rising inflation and unemployment - poor relations.
  • 1967: 7 million working days lost.
  • 'In Place of Strife' (1969)
  • Ballots before strikes took place and a 'cooling off' period before a strike was called.
  • Wasted opportunity for trade union reform.
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Society 1974-79

  • 1974: Health and Safety Act.
  • 1976: Education Act - comprehensive revolution accelerated under this legislation.
  • Figurehead of comprehensive education - Shirley Williams.
  • 1975: unemployment at 1 million.
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Industrial Relations 1974-79

  • Soaring inflation.
  • May 1976: 'Social Contract' - in return for union's moderating wage demands, Gov would repeal 1971 Industrial Relations Act.
  • 1978/79: 'Winter of Discontent' - 29 million working days lost.
  • Con election poster in 1979: 'Labour isn't working' (long queue of the unemployed).
  • March 1979 election called on vote of no confidence.
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Economy 1974-79

  • In recession (1977-78)
  • Poor levels of investment.
  • Weak GDP compared to competitors.
  • British exports in decline.
  • BUT economic conditions improving.
  • Balance of payments starting to be boosted by North Sea Oil profits.
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