Edward Heath led the conservative party through a difficult and revolutionary period in British politics from the years 1965 to 1974, punctuated by the joining of the ECC in 1973, prolonged damaging strikes, high levels of inflation, and many monumental U-turns through the period of his office. The concept of change is most notably seen right from the offset of his leadership as he was the first conservative leader to be elected democratically, by ballot, marking a turning away from the old boy network of Tory prime ministers preceding him. He himself went against tradition, coming from very humble backgrounds, having been through the grammar school system and firmly middle class, this resulting in the changing of the image of the conservatives being a group privileged upper-class elite, a concept so loathed by voters in the ‘swinging sixties’. His leadership arguably comes as a direct response to the buoyant current leader of the Labour party and prime minister, Harold Wilson. It is the battle between these two strong characters which marked heath as the leader of the Conservatives, pushing for office in the sixties.
The defeat at the 1964 election gave the party much food for thought, and Heath was chosen to be the man to battle against Wilson at the polls, considered to have the tough, bullish qualities of an Opposition leader. He became leader of the party in July 1965, as said, the first leader to have done so democratically. After defeat, the Party’s aim was to complete a review of policies, to keep up with Labour’s election-winning phrase, keeping up with the ‘white heat of the technological revolution.’ Heath from the offset can be seen to be a successful leader due to the revolutionary and opposing policies to Harold Wilson, as set out primarily in the 1965 manifesto of the party, stressing for tax reform, competition, trade union reform and more means testing... [continues]
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