The Sixties 1964-70

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  • Created on: 03-04-17 14:25

Wilson and the Labour governments

Wilson enters Downing Street, Labour in touch, promises 'white heat' of technological change, 1966 further election victory with sizeable majority, Wilson able to portray more attractive image to voters, Heath (Tory leader) seemed stiff, WIlson had been Bevanite, resigning 1950, but also served in Gaitskell's cabinet, challenged Gaitskell for leadership in 61, lost, however supported nuclear deterrent, attempted to reform trade unions, image far removed from Old Etonian style of Eden, Macmillan & Douglas Home, first to be educated at a state secondary school, in private anxious about leadership, conscious of balancing rivals, relied on advisors, 'kitchen cabinet' took part in informal discussions in kitchen of 10 Downing Street, reinforced his suspicions of party rivalries & prevented ministers from having access to him

Economic problems & policies including devaluation- Britain lagging behind, trapped in stop go, bursts of prosperity leading to inflation, runs on pound, regular crises over BoP, reorganisation of economy needed, inherited deficit of £800 million, classic solutions deflation or devolution, WIlson did not want to do this, deflation would support the value of the £ & prevent inflation, but was the old stop go approach, could prevent promise of extra spending on welfare & tech, devaluation would make imports more expensive & help exporters, but would make Britain look weaker & have to scale back activites across globe, would gain reputation of party of devaluation as had done this before in 1949, Department of Economic Affairs set up led by George Brown- growth targets, economic planning councils, agreement about wages with trade union leaders, restraint needed to prevent inflation rising- but proposals came to nothing, DEA in competition  Chancellor Callaghan & orthodox economists, 1966 Wilson moved Brown to Ministry of Foreign Affairs & DEA abandoned in 1967, government brought in prices and incomes policy to keep down inflation implemeneted by Prices and Incomes Board, another sterling crisis in 1966 caused by long strike of NAtional Union of Seamen, many shocked by WIlson's critical attitude to strikers, Cousins resigned from cabinet over the incomes policy, relationship with unions starting to break down, 1967 outbreak of war in Middle East effected oil supplies, major national dock strike affected BoP, devaluation couldnt be avoided, dropped by 14%, made defence cuts & introduced hire purchase restrictions & higher interest rates

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Economic problems/ industrial relations

Credibility damaged, second EEC application rejected, economic policies looked futile, Callaghan's replacement as Chancellor Roy Jenkins, used deflationary methods, raised taxes, tightened up government spending, top priority to improving BoP, made government unpopular but achieved BoP surplus by 1969, but 69-70 inflation 12%- key factor in making Labour confident of victory in 1970 election

Industrial relations- essential to maintain full employment and keep unions happy all governments since war, 1964 Cousins minister of technology (trade unionist)- 1966-67 relations deteriorate, wildcat strikes (sudden, unofficial) by local activists, opposition announced policy 'Fair Deal at Work', Wilson & Castle (employment minister) 1969 white paper In Place of Strife, controversial, 28 day cooling off period before strike went ahead, industrial relations court could prosecute those who broke rules, many voters supported, but Left hated them, storm of protest from leaders eg Jack Jones of Transport & General Worker's Union, in 1969 TUC negotiated face saving compromise, humiliating climbdown by government 

Other domestic policies- lack of technological expertise, Frank Cousins had little interest in technological development, 1966 Tony Benn took over, better, but all policies overshadowed by economic problems, r&d costly, Concorde in partnership with French, couldnt compete with USA 

Labour divisions- left vs right, death of Bevan and Gaitskell Wilson emerged as reconciliatory leader, common aim of technological modernisation united sides, minimised tensions eg over Clause IV, Wilson rivalry with Brown Callaghan & Jenkins, Brown unhappy about losing leadership election to Wilson, Wilson undermined his reputation by keeping record of embarassing incidents he was involved in, suspicious of Jenkins liberalising legislation as home secretary, thought he was plotting to replacing himself and Brown with Callaghan & Jenkins, paranoia, too much attention devoted to trying to keep party united & stopping colleagues threatening his position, likely divide would re emerge in 70s- left wing supporters frustrated by government

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Troubles in Northern Ireland

Created in 1922- unionists supporting union of United Kingdom, nationalists supporting united Ireland, majority of people in NI Protestant, Ireland Catholic, Belfast parliament dominated by Protestant Unionists, 60s evience Catholics discriminated against, electoral boundaries been deliberately drawn to prevent Catholics being elected (gerrymandering), Royal Ulster Constabulary biased against Catholics, 1964 civil rights movement challenged this, Irish Republican Army fears, loyalists started to set up paramilitary organisations to defend union, 1968 civil rights marches, attacked by loyalists, RUC failed to protect, loyalist Apprentice Boys annual march 1969, attacked by nationalists in Bogside (Catholic area) RUC tried to storm Bogside but held back in 2 days of rioting, officers beating Catholics, riots spread, Stormont government offered concessions on housing & electoral boundaries, loyalist riots, 1969 Wilson sent in Army troops to keep peace

End of post war consensus- economic problems not solved by consensus policies, trade unions more uncooperative, forcing even Labour to reform industrial relations, left of party dissatisfied by moderate consensus policies, social problems & poverty not ended, Conservative party- need for trade union reform, questioning need to ensure full employment

Loss of 1970 election- Conservative victory surprising, WIlson government had come through difficult times, Jenkins credited with achieving economic and financial stability, more experienced and popular than Heath, but in reality he was hard working, Wilsons government knockbacks, 1968 Powell River's of Blood Speech some argue made COnservatives more popular, new ideas gained support (consensus not working) 

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Liberal reforming legislation

Old taboos & prejudices breaking down, reforming legislation & greater affluence, youth culture & tech- Private member's bills- Labour did not set out with liberalising agenda, Wilson conservative on moral issues, working class MPs suspicious of change, laws on moral questions are free votes (vote according to conscience not party line), provision for backbench MPs to propose legislation through private members bills, number of reforms, Jenkins was sympathetic enabled enough parliamentary time for reforms to be passed

End of capital punishment- Ruth Ellis, murdered unfaithful lover in 1955, hung, anti hanging campaign boosted, Labour backbencher Silverman campaigned tirelessly to win support for total abolition despite number of offences being reduced, 1965 free vote hanging abolished for trial period of five years, 1969 made permanent, Jenkins refused to authorise beating of prisoners, brought in majority verdicts for English juries rather than demanding unanimity, helped convict many criminals- however abolition of hanging didnt significantly reduce number of crimes

Divorce reform- until 1960s divorce law demanded evidence that one party had committed adultery, divorce often impossible, Divorce Reform Act 1969, allowed for no fault divorce following irretrievable breakdown of marriage, not all MPs in favour, huge increase in number of divorces, 1950 fewer than 2 divorce decrees per 1000 married couples, by mid 1970s nearly 10 in every 1000 ended, could also be explained by growing female independence

Legalisation of abortion- until 1967 illegal, between 100000 and 200000 illegal abortions, 35000 women admitted to hospital with complications, between 1958-1960 82 women died, Abortion Law Reform Association had campaigned from 1945, thalidomide disaster of 1959 to 1962 swayed public opinion, however 1966 Society for Protection of the Unborn Child opposed liberalisation of law, could lead to abortion on demand, David Steel led reform campaign in Parliament, Abortion Act permitted legal termination of pregnancy within first 28 weeks with written consent 2 doctors 'mental suffering' of woman, number of abortions increased from 4 per 100 in 1968 to 17.6 in 1975

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Liberal reforming legislation

Legalisation of homosexual relations- until 1960s men could be imprisoned for 2 years, Conservatives rejected Wolfenden recommendations to decriminalise homsexuality, Labour divided, Abse, Labour backbencher, gained support due to help of Jenkins, 1967 Sexual Offences Act, decriminalised them where both partners consented, over 21, were in private, many men still prosecuted

Educational reform- development of Comprehensive schools- tripartite system seen as socially divisive, grammar places to those from middle class backgrounds, LEAs established comprehensive schools, every child same opportunities to learn at own pace, by 1964 1/10 in comprehensive (10 times as many as 1951), 1965 Tony Crosland became minister of education, supported comprehensives, issued request to LEAs to convert to comprehensive schools, government made money for new school buildings conditional on drawing up of plans for comprehensives, by 1970 only 8 had failed to do so, 1145 catering for 1 in 3 of all state educated secondary school pupils, mergers & changes caused disruption in early days, Wilson justified saying they were a grammar education for all, many middle class parents unconvinced, turned to direct grant schools & independent schools, system therefore flawed

Expansion of higher education- Robbins Committee 1961, Britain lagged behind France etc in Uni place provision, too many followed arts related courses, Polytechnics replaced colleges of tech, focus on applied education for work, nine colleges of advanced technology became full unis, new unis founded and charters given to some, by 1968 30 polys & 56 unis, opened up higher education to many whose familes never attended uni (still dominated by middle class, not enough parity of opportunity) Open University- high quality degree level learning to people who never had opportunity to attend campus unis, March 1963 University of the Air, Jennie Lee appointed to consider project, committed, September 1969 HQ in Milton Keynes, mid 1970s enough applications for students to study in 1971, used radio and TV innovative distance learning, part time students, attracted mature, women, disadvantaged, raised esteem of previous educational 'failures', 1980 Open Uni had 70000 students, awarding more degrees than Oxford & Cambridge combined

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Social and cultural change

Expansion of the mass media- Tv available, ended isolation of distant communities, 1961 65% had TV, 1971 91%, Greene director- general of BBC, money diverted to TV, guidelines on nudity & swearing revised, ITV launched 1955, TV advertising, JUly 1967 BBC2 1st channel to broadcast regular colour programmes, radios taken out, personal radios for teenagers, 1964 pirate stations, offshore radio, then banned, BBC pop music station radio 1 from former pirate DJs, reduction in print media, but the Sun launched 1964, bought in 1969 by Rupert Murdoch, more permissive attitudes, gained popularity

Growth in leisure activities- leisure time expanded, DIY & gardening popular hobbies, live theatre  & football match attendance shrunk, car ownership accelerated, accounted for 77% of journeys by 1964, bus & train travel declined, tech advancements made cars more affordable, shopping leisure activity as mass production grew fuelled by advertising, mass tourism, Britannia Airways 1964 to Spain etc, for most still preserve of middle classes, package holidays in infancy, grown from under 4% of total holidays 1966 to 8.4% in 1971, travel abroad injected continental flavour into British tastes

Impact of scientific developments- 1961 1st person had gone to space, 1969 US had landed on moon, Anglo- French partnership continued to develop Concorde aircraft, Post Office Tower opened in 1965 to improve telecommunications

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Social and cultural change

Reduction in censorship- playwrights addressed social issues, clashes with Lord Chamberlain's Office (had power to prevent plays being performed, could demand inappropriate material be removed, theatre owners could be prosecuted if play didn't have approval) backbencher Strauss introduced bill to abolish theatrical censorship, with testimony of Laurence Olivier, the bill passed into law 1968- permitted nudity on stage, 13 members of cast of Hair naked in 1968, more daring films despte categorisation, screen violence, sex, but didnt cause immediate wave of decadence, legitimised changes which had taken place, more liberal attitudes

Progress towards female equality- duty of women to be a good wife and mother, second wave feminism had begun in USA Betty Friedan The Feminine Mystique, 1963, women unfulfilled with restricted lives, growth in female education in Britain, only 5% of women reached managerial posts, married young, many jobs in service sector with poor pay, working mothers seen as selfish and unnatural, NHS Act of 1967 allowed local authorities to provide contraceptives, number of illegtimate births rose from 5.8%- 8.2% 1960-1970, marriages ending in divorce rose,  The Female ****** Germaine Greer 1970 encouraged feminist movement, women's lib groups sprang up to campaign for social & economic equality for women, rally in Britain 1969 led to estabishment of WOmen's National Coordination Committee, demands for equal pay, free contraception & abortion on request, equal educational & job opportunities, free 24hr childcare, 1970 matrimonial property act established that work of woman should be taken into account in divorce settlements, 1970 equal pay act (didnt come into force for further 5 years), feminist movement not much headway until 1970s, inequalities & discrimination existed, evolution not revolution

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Social and cultural change

Changes in moral attitudes- new openness, decline in conventional moral standards, encouraged by pill, spread of mass media, catholic church hostile to contraceptive pill, contrary to God's law, teen magazines, uncensored novels, STI rates increasing, Mary Whitehouse began moral crusade against 'immorality and indecency', support, but failed to have impact on programmes shown, drug culture, cocaine and heroin addiction 10 times more prevalent in 1st half of 1960s, soft drugs more commonplace, Beatles turned to LSD, Dangerous Drugs Act 1967 made unlawful to possess drugs eg cannabis, Wootton Report 1968 suggested legalising soft drugs, rejected by Home Secretary Callaghan, less liberal than predecessor, Jenkins, 1970 maximum sentence for supplying drugs increased to 14 years, surveys found that most young people either virgins on marriage or married their 1st and only sexual partner, social constraints remained, opened way to change 

Youth culture- increased living standards, spread of education, growth of leisure created youth more inclined to question norms, clashed with parents over fashion, moral standards, but alcohol tobacco & caffeine used more than illegal drugs, young people spent more time listening to music in bedrooms than at festivals (1969 survey), traditional rules abandoned, women wore trousers, The Top of the Pops 1964, end of 1960s skinheads evolved from Mods, hippies

Anti Vietnam War riots- youth culture & political activism, 1965 teach-ins at Oxford & LSE, Vietnam Solidary Campaign set up 1966, uni student support, 17 March 1968 violent scenes anti war demonstration, two Conservative MPS in Essex attacked


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Immigration and race

Influx of immigrants from New Commonwealth, 1965 survey 1/5 objected to working with black people/ asians, half would refuse to live next door to black person, 9/10 disapproved of mixed marriages, Race Relations Act 1965, forbade discrimination in public places on grounds of colour, race, ethnic origins (in housing or employment excluded), complaints referred to Race Relations Board (but 734/982 complaints dismissed through lack of evidence), Commonwealth Immigration Act 1968 limited right of return to Britain for non white Commonwealth citizens, Powell Rivers of Blood Speech 1968, condemnded by liberal Establishment, sacked from shadow cabinet by Heath, but he had public support, strikes by dockers & meat porters, 75% of population supported Powell, Race Relations Act 1968 banned racial discrimination in housing, employment, insurance etc, relations board given stronger powers, still loopholes, complaints against police excluded, upheld only 10% of 1241 complaints it received, positive aspects to immigration, Notting Hill Carnival 1964, Asian corner shops, Chinese takeaways, hippes wore indian cottons, west indian music 

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Foreign Affairs

By 1964 18 Commonwelath states independent, hoped to continue this process, reducing of military responsibilities east of Suez, complicated by fact many believed UK had an important world role, Britain's special relationship with US & rest of Europe

USA & Vietnam- Wilson supporter of Atlantic Alliance, Cold War ongoing, Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia 1968, UK and USA relationship under strain over Vietnam War, US Johnson wanted to gain support from allies, Australia sent troops, Wilson resisted direct military involvement, WIlson wanted to maintain alliance but war became highly unpopular in Britain (risked losing political support  in UK) also economic considerations, couldnt afford involvement but needed US support of value of Sterling to avoid devaluation- moral without military support, annoyed US & Labour MPs who wanted gov to condemn to US

World affairs- Gaitskell had fought against UK 1st application to join EEC, 'would be the end of 1000 years of history', step towards federal political union, left & trade unions hostile, saw EEC as club for capitalists, prevent from socialist policies, however Europhiles in cabinet eg Jenkins, Wilson more ambivalent, preferred Atlantic Alliance but could see strength of economic reasons for joining, needed to keep party united, 1966 WIlson's cabinet agreed to back new application, seemed half hearted due to doubts within Labou, de Gaulle had not changed mind about British entry, chances of joining low (left of party not therefore strongly opposed), Wilson & Brown went to Paris to meet de Gaulle, toured other EEC countries, 1967 Wilson back to Paris, de Gaulle demands assurance UK would detach from special relationship, de Gaulle used veto again in November, application rejected

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East Suez- reduction in military commitments from 64 for economic reasons, process of spending cuts to bring defence budget below £2 billion by 1970 (Healey), timetable for troop withdrawls from Aden, middle east, malaysia, singapore, no serious debate about giving up nuclear deterrent, continued to deploy US Polaris missiles, 1967 commitment to upgrade system, 1968 drastic spending cuts Jenkins, withdrawal accelerated, troops pulled out of Aden etc by end of 1971, development of TSR2 high tech war plane abandoned as too costly, Rhodesia- Cape Town Macmillan WInds of Change SPeech to target white minority regimes who thought they could resist reform, white minority regimes not persuaded, speech seen in Southern Africa as threat, Ian Smith became prime minister of SOuthern Rhodesia, 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence without accepting majority rule, challenge to Labour government, WIlson met Smith for talks on HMS Tiger in 1966, made progress but SMith then disavowed everything he said on return home, oil sanctions didnt have much affect, Rhodesia got supplies through Portuguese colony of Mozambique, big oil companies ignored sanctions, South Africa traded with Rhodesia, talks in 1968, Wilson's diplomacy got nowhere, upset Commonwealth & many on left of Labour, made Britain look weak 

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