‘The main reason for conservative dominance in the years 1951 to 1964 was labour disunity’ Assess the validity of this view.

Topics: Harold Wilson, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Harold Macmillan Pages: 3 (2226 words) Published: October 31, 2014

‘The main reason for conservative dominance in the years 1951 to 1964 was labour disunity’ Assess the validity of this view. (June 2011) Labour disunity was a huge contributing factor as to why the conservatives were able to dominate from 1951 to 1964. However, there are also other factors that assisted conservative dominance. Whether that be conservative strengths, good timing, the end of austerity or their handle on public opinion, all factors contributed to the dominant years. However, how long the conservatives actually dominated is also a question. Did they dominate for the whole period, or just part of it? The years 1962-1964 question conservative dominance and how labour reunited. One of the major reasons why Conservatives were able to dominate politics so much between 1951 and 1964 was because the Labour Party failed to provide effective opposition. Firstly, there was the identity problem. By 1951 the Labour party had still to decide exactly what sort of party it was and what aims it should pursue. Many felt that the welfare state was just the first step towards true socialism, whereas others felt it was as far left is the party should go. The radical end of the party had supported Attlee but had felt that he should've gone further. With a new leader they felt the time was right to express their dissatisfaction. This lack of identity, sense of direction and organisation within the party would eventually cause the split between them. Gaitskell was always associated with the right wing of the Labour party and was regarded with suspicion by the labour left. Disagreements and personal feuds, between ‘Gaitskellites’ and ‘Bevanites’ became an almost permanent feature of Labour in opposition after 1951. ‘Bevanites’ wanted large trade unions to have a major say in shaping party policy. On the other hand the more moderate Gaitskell refuted the left on both issues therefore causing a split in the party. He believed that these radical policies would steer the...
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