Wilson 1974-76

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Trade Unions

  • Labour's Trade Union and Labour Relations Act, 1974, repeals most of the Industrial Relations Act, although the National Court remains for a short time, but this is also abolished in July.
  • Introduced the social contract in the same year, initiated between trade unions and government - attempt to achieve industrial peace by agreement and without legal intervention. 
  • 1975 Employment protect Act gives statutory authority to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Servive (ACAS) to arbitrate, if requested, in industrial disputes and extends the rights of individual employees and trade unions. In 1975 alone it helped to resolve 2,500 disputes.
  • 1974-75 working days lost were halved and then again 1975-6
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Political

  • Wilson won the 1974 election by a total of 4 seats
  • As soon as Wilson felt dafe in leadership he called anoth er election to widen his majority. He gained 18 seats, bring them to a toal of 319.
  • The narrow commons majority, which was never more than three seats, meant that Labour was heavily dependent on the Liberal MPs and in 1977 this was formalised in the Lib-Lab pact. 
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Economic

  • Wilson inherited a turbulent economy that was just beginning to feel the effects of the OPEC crisis of 1973. 
  • He was presented with a 1 billion BOP deficit and unemployment was at 850,000 in 1973, annual inflation had also hit 16% in 1974.
  • In 1975 inflation peaked at 24%, but by the time Wilson left office it was declining, in 1976 it was reduced to 16.5%, but unemployment was still climbing reaching c.1.4 million in 1976. 
  • In 1975 he increased the standard rate of tax (up from 33%). 
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International - The 1975 referendum on Europe

It was to improve his relations with the Unions that Wilson opted to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership of the EEC. The left wing of the Labour Party and trade unions remained deeply suspicious of the Common Market. They regarded it as a capital club neccessarily hostile to socialism. In 1972, to quieten the left, Wilson began negotiations in regard to agriculture, budget payments and the special provisions for Commonwealth imports. The whole excercise was largely a gesture since it produced no major changes. 

Wilson called a referendum in 1975, in his campaign he preceded the referendum, the politicans, showed more enthusiasm than the people. 

When it came to the actual referendum, the electorate, in historains Pugh's words 'voted more out of fear of the consequences of leaving than out of enthusiasm for remaining in'. 

Yes 64.5%

No 35.5%

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