Postwar Western Europe
Britain, France, & Germany (1945 – 2006)
Things to remember: The Beveridge Report of 1942, under a coalition government set forth the idea of a welfare state in which citizens’ needs were met by the government from “the cradle to the grave.” Also remember the two main political parties in Britain are Labour (a lot like our Democrats) and Conservative (a lot like our Republicans). Also, the Conservatives are sometimes called “Tories”.
1945-1951 CLEMENT ATTLEE (LABOUR)
sets up National Health Service nationalizes coal, steel and railways maintains food rationing wage restraint and cuts in spending
1951-1955 WINSTON CHURCHILL (CONSERVATIVE)
keeps the new welfare state created by Labour promises full employment nuclear testing, first the A-bomb and than the H-bomb
Harold Macmillan wins big points by fulfilling Tory promise to build 300,000 houses a year
Food rationing finally ends in 1954
1955-1957 ANTHONY EDEN (C)
1956: Suez Canal Crisis economic stagnation in 1957-1958
1957-1963 HAROLD MACMILLAN (C)
Commonwealth Immigrants Act ends unrestricted immigration from former colonies and Commonwealth states.
Beginning of decade long expansion of universities
Britain forms the EFTA with Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland
Economic boom in 1959-1960
Unemployment reaches 800,000 during the winter of 1962
During these years standard of living is improving for the Brits
1958 race riot in Notting Hill (Hugh Grant where are you now that we need you?)
1963-1964 ALEC DOUGLAS-HOME (C)
DeGaulle refuses Britain’s request to join the Common Market
1964-1970 HAROLD WILSON (L)
Tries to establish link between higher wages and economic productivity
Prices and incomes regulated by government board established in 1965
1967 economy gets bad and sterling is devalued.
Wilson extended state control and renationalized steel
Labour government is financially dependent on labor unions so they have a hard time curbing the power of the unions and stopping strikes.
1967 DeGaulle once again refuses Britain admission to the EEC
1970-1974 EDWARD HEATH (C)
tried to cure the “British disease” of economic inertia by market-oriented approach: diminished subsidies and welfare, reward hard work, reduced taxation, abandon wage control. Social programs cut.
OOPS! We lied! Rolls-Royce rescued and taken into public ownership in 1971.
Labor unions’ rights restricted in Industrial Relations Act of 1971, the beginning of an economic downturn.
1973 rise in oil prices makes everything worse and Heath government resorts to draconian wage and price controls
1974 miners strike against government wages policy. Industry forced to a three day work week
And on the plus side, Britain finally gets in the EEC now that DeGaulle is dead
1974-1976 HAROLD WILSON (L)
“Social Contract” between the government and the trade unions. Government repeals the 1971 Industrial Relations Act and the unions promise voluntary wage restraint.
Inflation reaches 24 percent and wage settlements were even higher, showing the failure of the Social Contract. Wilson goes back to compulsory pay policy
1976-1979 JAMES CALLAGHAN (L)
The economy still stinks and the leaders still blame trade unions and high wages.
Britain’s effort to maintain the sterling’s dollar exchange rate screwed up her balance of payments so badly that she needed to take a big loan from the International Monetary Fund, which was conditional on cutting public spending. It curbs inflation, but increases unemployment. Standard of living of the working people goes down.
1979-1990 MARGARET THATCHER (C)
She comes in promising radical change. The state industries would be made so efficient that they could do without subsidies and be sold back to private owners.
Power of trades unions would be curtailed.
Direct taxation to be reduced
Social benefits only to those who could not help