‘The record of Labour governments in the years 1964 and 1979 was one of continuous failure.’ Asses the validity of this view. (45 marks)
The Labour governments throughout the years 1964 and 1979 can be considered a period of continuous failure. 1964, Harold Wilson came into power riding a wave of expectation and idealism, fuelled by the ‘the white heat’ of technological change. By 1970 however, Labour was in some difficulty and resulted in its time in power to slowly be ebbed away. At the time of their election, Wilson’s government seemed well suited to the tasks at hand. Wilson was calm, relaxed and a skilful performer on television. His personality could not be matched as Heath, the leader of the Conservative party, realised. Wilson also seemed to be in tune with modern trends and had a genuine commitment to science and technology and a lot of scientists were employed as government advisors. As a result he strengthened the department of education and science and the 1963 Robbins Report on higher education was implemented. By 1966 seven new universities, Sussex, East Anglia, Kent, York, Essex, Lancaster and Warwick, were set up and running. Several new modernising acts aimed at social issues were created like the home secretary Roy Jenkins promotion of liberalisation, the Parliament voted against capital punishment in 1965 and a new Race Relations Act was passed. However, for the Wilson government, reorganising the economic policy was less successful. Many Labour ministers’ blamed matters outside the governments control, for example, the difficult balance of payments situation they had inherited from the Conservatives. There were also anti-Labour attitudes from the vast majority of senior civil servants and from the Bank of England. However, other people felt that it was simply Labour that made a mess of their attempts to reconstruct the economy, especially the National Plan introduced by George Brown in 1965. Wilson was worried...
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