Why did the Labour government suffer an unexpected election defeat in 1970?
In 1970, Harold Wilson's Labour Government lost the general election to Ted Heath's Conservatives. The Labour government had suffered economic problems (inherited from the previous Conservative government) throughout their time in office. Along with this; voters views of Wilson, problems with policy and awkward relations with the Trade Unions all contributed to the election defeat of 1970.
Economically in the 1960's, Labour and Harold Wilson had struggled. They inherited a large trade deficit and this became most apparent in 1966 once Labour had increased their majority. The problem was that to help ease the issue, Wilson would have to devalue the pound so that the UK's exports would be cheaper and therefore more competitive in price. However this was something that Wilson vowed he would not do. He believed that devaluing the pound would damage Britain's prestige in the world. This stubbornness from Wilson resulted in the devaluing of the Pound being delayed until November 1967. This mounted a lot of pressure on money markets and lost Wilson a lot of popularity. By finally giving in and devaluing the pound, Labours coherent reputation and authority was damaged. The whole issue surrounding the devaluation of the pound weakened the Labour party further by causing divides within. This weakening contributed to the election defeat in 1970. The party seemed somewhat unsure within itself and the state of the British economy didn't help either.
Another factor in Labour's defeat in the election was due to the attitude towards Wilson from the voters. In 1969, the voting age was lowered to 18. This meant that a whole new area of young voters was opened up. Initially, it was believed by pollsters that they would vote for Labour, however this was not to be the case. Wilson was viewed by many of the younger voters as being a stubborn, old man due to his going back on his word of not devaluing...
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