History of Great Britain from 1950-Today
The first two years of the 1950’s were very eventful for Great Britain. After leading the British people through a devastating war Winston Churchill was reelected Prime Minister (he would serve for another five years) and the much loved King George VI would die in 1952. As the second son of George V, Prince Albert (as George VI was known then) had not expected to be King. It was his older brother Edward VIII who was in line to become the next king, but he abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson a divorced American woman. When King George died on February 6th, 1952 his daughter Elizabeth became Queen and still reigns today after fifty years. In 1951 the Government organized a Festival of Britain to celebrate British arts and design and to stimulate trade after the economic dislocation of the Second World War. It was also an attempt to give Britons the feeling that recovery and progress was possible, promoting a better quality of design in the rebuilding of the country. New styles of pottery, ceramics and fabrics were introduced made from fiberglass, plywood, Formica and plastics.
In the early 1950’s Britain still had a significant military presence in and around the Suez Canal, but 1954 with the signing of the Bagdad Treaty all British military were removed from the region. However, two years later Egyptian President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal Company, still owned by France, and invited the entire Arab Peninsula to join Egypt in pushing all remaining British and other European interests out of the region. This was in retaliation to Britain and America withdrawing their offer of financial aid to build the Aswan High Dam on the Nile. Nasser planned to charge dues from passing ships, and therefore raise money for the building of the dam. The Suez Canal was very important to international shipping, as it was the only passage for cargo ships to travel from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. By October 1956 the British and French governments had a plan; they would support an Israel attack on the Egyptians and gain control of the Suez Canal. It only took a few days for the Egyptians to be defeated, but an international uproar about the situation caused the United Nations to cast a vote of condemnation against the British government. The value of sterling collapsed and Britain was denied relief from the International Monetary Fund. Britain and France were forced to make an unconditional withdrawal from the canal and allow a multinational UN peacekeeping force into the region. The Suez crisis proved to be a humiliation for the British government and in January of 1957 after only a two year term as Prime Minister Anthony Eden retired from office. It was from this point that Britain realized it could no longer take independent action in foreign affairs with out the support and approval of the United States. At the beginning of 1960 Harold McMillan is now Prime Minister and the British economy was having difficulties, and unemployment was on the rise. In 1961 McMillan persuaded his party to agree to Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community (EEC), a group of six nations formed to establish economic cooperation between France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Unfortunately, President Charles de Gaulle of France vetoed the British application in both 1963 and 1967. Meanwhile the population of Britain was increasing maybe because of the government cradle-to-grave program of services, allowing families with two or more children a child allowance that supplemented the family income. To add to the expanding population was the million immigrants from the former African colonies that flooded into Britain in the early 1960’s. The passing of the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act limited immigration to those who could prove they had a job. In many cities, nonwhite immigrants replaced working-class whites...
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