Do You Agree With The View That Suez Crisis Of 1956 Essay

Submitted By omonye98
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Do you agree with the view that Suez Crisis of 1956-57 did no damage to the fortunes of the Conservative party?
For many, the Suez crisis did major damage to the fortunes of the conservative party, as there were many major problems in Britain as a result of the crisis (socially, politically and economically). In Harold Macmillan's words, the British controversy over intervention caused rifts in friendships, divisions in families, and stresses in political parties. In addition there were negative sanctions on the economy as Britain faced the real prospect of having to devalue the sterling and also face the possibility of an Arab oil embargo. However there is some debate that Britain was in a bad state prior to the Suez crisis. But source 4 shows that the supporters of the conservative party declined after the crisis according to ‘opinion polls’. However source 5 argues that the crisis did not destroy the conservatives politically at home, as agreed in source 6.

Source 5 gives the impression that the Suez crisis did not damage the fortunes of the conservative party. Some people including source 5 would argue that the conservatives remained together even with the embarrassment of the crisis. The source adds weight to this statement by stating that “there was no internal split in the conservative party”. This was because many of the traditional conservatives still believed in the virtues of the empire. However this point can be counteracted as there was a new generation who were outraged by Eden's blinkered approach. Two junior ministers, Edward Boyle and Anthony Nutting, resigned from the government in protest against Suez. And some who stayed expressed deep reservations about the Suez enterprise; one was Butler, who was Eden's heir. Even source 6 which was taken from the memoirs of Lord Kilmuir who was Lord Chancellor in the Conservative government said that the ‘most loyal party workers’ were ‘dismayed’. Therefore, it can be argued that, as a member of the government during the crisis, Kilmuir would have wanted to downplay the political fallout of such a disastrous policy decision. With this in mind, his statement that even ‘the most loyal workers’ were ‘dismayed’ by the leadership’s handling of the situation takes on greater significance and does provide some insight into the level of disquiet that affected the party. Overall even though majority of the conservative MPs did stay united, the few that broke away suggested a division in the conservative party, which would have damaged the fortunes of the party, as the electorate wouldn’t have wanted to elect in a split party.

However with this in mind the conservatives were still able to increase their majority in the 1959 election from 344 seats in 1955 to 365 seats. This adds weight to Kilmuir’s suggestion that “Suez did us no harm… in the short view or in the long view”. This suggests that the public still had faith in the conservative party, so still continued to support them even with the events of the Suez crisis. Therefore showing that Suez crisis didn’t really damage the conservative’s fortunes. Therefore juxtaposing source 4 argument that their “reputation seemed badly even fatally”. But on the other hand at this time many of the British public were not aware of the collusion, even many MPs were not let in on the loop. Most of them thought it was mad to cover the invasion as the plan was so flimsy that it would soon be blown. To disguise what was going on, the British, in particular, were drawn ever deeper into a bog of lies and deception, particularly with the Americans. Parliament was also deceived. Therefore when the British public voted for the conservatives for the second time they may not have been aware of the lies that surrounded the conservative party and in particular Eden at this time. Therefore the Suez crisis didn’t just damage the fortunes of the conservative party economically and politically, but it caused a decline in the ethics and