During 1970s Britain, life was a picture of austerity and hardship for many members of the public. The country was facing the worst economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s and large numbers of the electorate were quickly beginning to grow tired of the failing policies being touted by both Labour and Conservative minority governments. The experience of Britain for many in the 1970s was one of drawn out decline and decay, the consensus politics of the 1960's was falling apart and Harold Macmillan’s notion of ‘You’ve never had it so good’ couldn’t have been further from the truth. It could be argued that the aforementioned factors played a role of importance when assessing the largely spontaneous emergence of the punk movement into British society.
Economic recession, not only in Britain but in other major world nations, was ever increasing, mainly due to the 1973 oil crisis which eventually cost Heath his post as prime minister and paved the way towards ‘The Rise of Thatcherism’. The crisis was due to the Arab members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), announcing, as a result of the ongoing Yom Kippur War, that they would no longer ship oil to nations that had supported Israel in its conflict with Syria and Egypt. These nations included the United States of America and their allies in the shape of Britain and Japan. British industry suffered a great deal due to the lack of oil being imported into the country, Britain began to face major competition from other major economies, such as Japan and the USA, in certain sectors such as manufacturing, which had previously been a large and consistent area of income. With the flight of capital in the face of increasing working class militancy, it soon became clear that Governments in the industrialised economies could no longer sustain a commitment to full employment. As factories within these newly competitive industries were forced to close due to falling sales, it consequently had the effect of rising unemployment. By the mid 1970s unemployment had reached well over a million people and did not show signs of ceasing at any point soon after. The electorate began to resent the emergence of mass unemployment as it had not played any real part within British politics since the years shortly following the end of World War I, a period of British history which the British public would not look back on with any great affection and certainly would not want to revisit. Considerable amounts of workers who had been recently made redundant began supporting trade unions on a more regular and meaningful basis. The unemployed became aggrieved with the failing British economy and felt adamant that they deserved better support and welfare than they were currently receiving due to the government’s current inadequacies. Now that the trade unions had a much greater support, albeit in unfortunate circumstances, they began to put increasing pressure on Heath’s conservative government to pass legislative measures to aid the unemployed in their hour of need. Workers from almost all of the countries key industries such as mining, ship building and car manufacture went on strike to demonstrate their frustrations and vent their anger towards the incompetence of the Tory’ administration. The refusal by either party to make compromises on their respective arguments only furthered the problems and deepened the mire which Britain was steadily descending into. Due to the prolonged strikes by the mining community which started on the 10th February 1974 and lasted until 7th March of the same year, Britain found herself being exceedingly stretched to the point of what resources they had left circa the aforesaid strike action. Electrical power was deemed to be being consumed at too much of a prompt pace and under the rule of Edward Heath, the Conservatives decided on the introduction of the ‘Three Day Week’. The Three Day Week was a policy in which commercial users...
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