Sixities, A Social Revolution? Why did Tories lose election in '64

Topic 1- Macmillan's premiership and why Labour won 1964 election

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The Establishment

  • Harold Macmillan and his 1963 successor, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, were both members of 'The Establishment', a term coined as a description of traditional, etonian MPs who were relatively 'stuck in their ways'.
  • Although 'The Establishment' had survived 13 years, with it had come great affluence and change, the country were now ready for a modernised government to reflect their modernised society.
  • Labour, as of February 1963 represented change and modernisation in the form of Harold Wilson.
  • Sir Alec Douglas-Home, October 1963, was older than Wilson and traditional in his ways. He was unappreciated and a unwelcome contrast to Britain's transformation.
  • The emergence of Satirical Comedy such as 'That Was The Week That Was' victimised Macmillan and mocked him, creating instability for his government and denying his past status as 'Supermac' 
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Harold Wilson

  • Became Labour Leader in February 1963
  • Described as 'man of the people', known for his working class, grammar school background and scholarship into Oxbridge, enjoyed simple pleasures (HP Sauce).
  • Youngest PM in 200 years, not associated with the wars, except for civil servanting during WWII.
  • Made 'White Heat of Technology' speech in 1962, professed idea of modernising Britain through technology.
  • Fantastic speech-maker.
  • Used 'Profumo Affair' (March 1963) to attack Conservative party and build up Labour in time for 1964 election.
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The Profumo Affair

  • John Profumo, Secretary of State for War in Macmillan's Government, married.
  • Christine Keeler, showgirl, had an affair with Profumo. Also linked to Ivanov- Russian Spy, London Drug Dealer
  • Stephen Ward, introduced Keeler to Profumo- 1961
  • Parliament heard of Profumo's interactions and warned him, Profumo ended affair with love letter
  • March 1963, Keeler involved in an incident in London in which she was a victim of an attempted shooting
  • Keeler fled to Madrid
  • Profumo called to House of Commons, declared that he had no seen Keeler since December 1961 (true) and that their relationship had held 'no improperties' (lie) 
  • Keeler returned and sold her story to The Daily Mail, Stephen Ward told papers of Profumo Affair
  • Profumo admitted that he'd lied in HOC and resigned as SOSFW and as MP
  • 'That Was The Week That Was' composed a song describing the event entitled 'She was poor but she was honest'
  • Media blow-up 
  • October- Harold Macmillan resigns as PM due to ill health (died in eighties)
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Conservative Record

  • Affluence of the late fifties replaced by 'Stop-Go Economy' in which 1961-1963 was a stop phase
  • Described by Harold Wilson as '13 Wasted Years' 
  • Evidence for  '13 Wasted Years'- attempt at nuclear power 'blue streak' leading to large loss of money. 
  • Decolonisation 'winds of change', disliked by some Conservatives, lost Macmillan votes
  • Debt, attempted to buy back votes in 1964 with a 'Go' phase that they couldn't afford, left 1964 new Labour government in £800million debt. 
  • 1962- 'Night of the Long Knives' Macmillan sacked 1/3 of his cabinet in an attempt to modernise the Conservative Party, this included Selwyn Lloyd, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who initiated the 1962 'pay pause' that caused friction between the Conservative Party and the Trade Unions. 
  • EEC- Macmillan was rejected by French President Charles de Gaulle in 1963, he stated that Britain was not open enough for European ideals. Entry into the EEC would've made trade within Europe easier and cheaper.
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