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To What Extent Can The Period Of Conservative Dominance Between 1951 1964, Be Regarded As “Thirteen Wasted Years”?

1070 words - 5 pages

To what extent can the period of conservative dominance between 1951-1964, be regarded as “Thirteen Wasted Years”?
In October 1964 the Labour government described in their party manifesto that the period of 1951-64 was “thirteen wasted years” and their policies brought “direct and crippling consequences”. Many years were senselessly wasted by the conservative government which only led to damaging the Conservative government’s popularity, yet other events that took place suggested that the thirteen-year Conservative rule was not completely futile.
Following the period of austerity, the Conservatives were facing increasing economic problems. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rab ...view middle of the document...

Despite the boom, there were still concerns about inflation and the dilemma to maintain growth and employment. The stop-go policy was not an entire success as Macmillan consistently hid the balance of payments problems due to the short-termism of stop-go economics and devaluation of the sterling. However, an ordinary voter in an affluent society would be interested in how better off they are and this led to people voting for the Tories and helping them withhold their place. Although the consumer was better off than they had been under the previous Labour government, the balance of payments deficit, which reached 400 million pounds by 1964 causing problems in the long run, suggests that the period was wasted in terms of economic policy.

There were many foreign affairs that contributed to why the Labour said the period was wasted. The Suez crisis in 1956 happened during Anthony Eden’s time in office. The Egyptian leader Colonel Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal as the canal was both built and owned by France and Britain which linked the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. Britain decided to intervene. Eden saw Nasser as ‘the Hitler of the Nile’ and encouraged Israel to attack Egypt before British troops landed on port Said. Military action was somewhat successful as most of the canal was taken back however they were forced to withdraw after pressure from both the USA and USSR. Rather than maintaining Britain’s world status Eden focused on imperialist objectives and caused embarrassment on a global stage. It was from this point that Britain’s dwindling position in the world can be seen. Britain no longer had the military power or economic resources to engage in maintain its empire. This event certainly supports the idea of years being wasted as Britain did not have a very strong position in the world.

The rate of decolonisation increased and many African countries were granted independence. The ‘Wind of Change’ speech in 1960 made by Macmillan showed how that the Empire was not working in the eyes of the British government and had to face reality. By 1964 decolonisation occurred hastily with little hassle and so the successful transition from empire to commonwealth suggests that the year were not...

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