The Labour Government (1964 to 1970) Was Strong on Rhetoric, but Not on Action.” to What Extent Do You Agree with This Statement? (45)

1310 Words Mar 31st, 2016 6 Pages
Harold Wilson, who was the Prime Minister during 1964-70, had promised Britain one of his most effective campaign speeches. He had promised that Britain would catch up with “the white heat” of technological change. Wilson had successfully linked the Labour Party to modernisation in contrast to what were described as the “wasted years” of the Conservative government. The Labour government seemed to be more in touch with the social and cultural trends of the 1960s.

Modernisation of the British economy was one of the key priorities for the Labour government. By 1964, it was widely accepted that Britain was lagging behind other countries such as West Germany and Japan. Britain’s economy seemed to be trapped in the cycle of “stop-go”, with
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However, the economic situation improved markedly from this low point when Roy Jenkins replaced Callaghan as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Jenkins raised taxes and tightened up government spending in all areas of the economy, giving top priority to improving the balance of payments. These tough measures made the Labour government very unpopular but, by 1969, he had achieved a balance of payments surplus. These actions had therefore proven that the Labour government was strong on rhetoric and also by actions.

The infamous numbers of “wildcat strikes” has led to Wilson and his new employment minister, Barbara Castle, into planning to use the law to limit these unofficial strikes. She believed strongly in a powerful trade union movement but she was also convinced of the need for it to act responsibly. As a result, Castle produced her white paper in 1969, In Place of Strife. In many ways, Castle’s policy proposals would strengthen the unions in dealing with employers but the trade unions were not fooled. Castle’s In Place of Strike never got beyond the White Paper stage which proves that the Labour government were only strong on rhetoric but not on action. This is also evident through the deep divisions it had created within the Labour Party. The left asked bitterly why the government was contemplating a measure that undermined the principles for which the Labour Party was

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