The Macmillan Government 1957 – 63
Why did Macmillan and not Butler succeed Eden?
· Butler failed to succeed Eden, largely due to his reluctance to get involved in the infighting necessary to become leader.
· Macmillan was far more skilled in gaining support than Butler, who seemed less interested in having the top job
· Macmillan had also done a fine job as Minister of Housing and was respected for his work at the treasury
· He appeared to be one of the traditional Tory members and was known as a fine huntsman;popular figure in the party
· much sharper political animal, who had come out of the Suez crisis relatively unscathed
· He became leader after being appointed by an inner circle of like minded people from a similar social circle.
· recovery was taking place, but slower than had been hoped.
· Britain’s economy seemed sluggish compared to western countried
· Society was still class ridden and there was little entrepreneurial spirit
· The work force was highly unionised.
· There was an obvious divide between workers and bosses
· avoid the extremes of inflation and deflation by meeting problems as they came along and to avoid confrontation with the unions whilst keeping high levels of employment.
· Rises in interest rates and tax rises were used to stop threats of inflation, and similarly they would be lowered if economic growth began to slow.
· This policy was criticised as being of too short term, with no long term view for steady growth being formed.
· The budgets were perceived as being used for political purposes; i.e. to bribe the public before an election, as was very much the case with the 1959 budget which introduced tax cuts at a time of rising inflation.
· ‘stop – go’ economics.
· Between 1951 and 1964, Italy’s economy grew at 5.6%, Germany at 5.1%, France at 4.3%, yet Britain only achieved 2.3%.
· This can partly be explained by the fact that Britain had a much higher level of defence spending than either of the other countries. By 1964, Britain was spending 10% of its GDP (or £1.7 billion) on defence.
There were three main criticisms of Macmillan’s economic policies;
1) There was no coherent economic policy.
2) Budget’s were being used to bribe the population at election time, not to put in place a financial strategy.
3) There was a failure to invest in research and development, or to improve employer – worker relations. By the mid 1960s Britain’s rate of economic growth was low.
‘Never had it so good’ speech
· The warning that Macmillan was trying to give was lost as the press and public took the message they wanted to hear – that Britain was prosperous.
· A large part of the government’s economic policy…