Making of Modern Britain 1951-2007

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Election 1951
-The first past the post system gave the conservatives a majority of seats, winning them the election.
(16 majority)

-Winston Churchill became prime minister at age 77
-Won due to reputation from wartime leadership

Domestic Policies

-Conservatives continued Labour’s post-war consensus

-Labour had nationalised many industries such as Steel in 1951, but the public and conservatives were opposed to this arguing it was best left to the private sector
à Shown by ‘Tate not state’ campaign by the sugar industry

-The conservatives only denationalised steel, iron and the coal industry

-This symbolises that whilst the government changed elements of Labour’s consensus, they now accepted the notion of the ‘mixed economy’ the idea that alongside a flourishing private sector, the government should still have a role in other industries.

-Butskellism is the consensus between R.A Butler (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Hugh Gaitskell (Labour’s shadow chancellor)
-Continuation of Labour’s aims:

·         Commitment to full employment through Keynesian

·         High levels of state funded welfare

·         A mixed economy

·         Developing a nuclear weapons programme

Gaitskell = favoured high direct taxation and government involvement
Butler= Believed in economic control through interest rates

Short term:
Whilst the deflationary polices had beneficial effects:
-cost of British goods dropped
-exports had picked up
-Marshall plan in 1948 aided Britain with $1.5billion
à Increase in demand for British products

Long term:
-Balance of payments deficit (1961= £95million)
-Stag inflation (continued prices rise)
-Workers demanded a wage increase
-1957 debt= £54 million / 1964= £800million
-They tried to rebuild a modern competitive industrial economy but took on too much with costs of welfare state and the defence programme.

Full employment
-Conservatives were committed to maintaining full employment
-When unemployment began to rise in 1952 they quickly responded with public work schemes such as a tidal barrage across the River Severn
à Between 1952-1955 unemployment figures never exceeded 1/2million
à1955-56 no more than 300,000 unemployed
à 1958-66 peaked at 878,000 in 1963

-Churchill promised that a tory administration would build 300,000 homes annually
-Between 1952-54 Macmillan (housing minister) kept his promise
-After 1954 the pace slowed down, but in total the government created 1.7million new homes between 1952-64
-1957 Rent Act limited government control of the rental marked
à Showed conservatives’ view that the free market was best for ensuring affordable housing

-In 1956 the Guillebaud Committee concluded that the NHS urged additional funding, the government accepted and increased its spending in welfare
-1951-62 spending on the NHS doubled
üBuried the notion that they wished to destroy the NHS
-Early 1960s Enoch Powell began the ambitious programme of Hospital building
-Macmillan’s government published a plan to build 90 NHS hospitals, remodel 134 and improve a further 356 by 1962

-Tories continued to implement the provisions of Butler’s 1944 Education Act (triparte system of grammar/technical and secondary modern schools
à determined by the ‘11+’ exam)
à1959 Crowther Report


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