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Was Heath unlucky as prime minister?

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Edward Heath has generally not been judged kindly as a prime minister. Edward's Heath government, 1970 - 74 was a turbulent one. The aim to reduce government's involvement in the economy began to lose focus when Rolls Royce ran into difficulties in its aero engine operation, and had to be bailed out with government money. After this Heath's administration increasingly became one of intervention. This change of policy seemed essential with the rapid rise of unemployment, which climbed to over one million in 1972. Then war in the Middle East in 1973, pushing oil prices up dramatically, had a severe impact on the economy, and persuaded the government of the need for yet more intervention. Efforts to hold back pay rises to control inflation led to huge conflicts with unions, particularly miners' unions. However with all his failures Heath successfully achieved his dream of entry into the European Union in January 1974, but this triumph was barely noticeable in the gathering economic crisis. ...read more.


The Heath Government had pledged in 1970 to free the economy from State intervention or ?Disengagement?. Many of Heaths Cons MP?s at the time were disappointed with Heath?s progress here and his increasing reliance on Keyenesian policies to stimulate growth in the economy. This was seen as being quite left wing in comparison to the tradition of the right wing conservative party. This not only was another failure Heath had acquired but also showed that consensus politics which had dominated British politics since the war was coming to an end. It is believed that gaining entry into the EEC was Heaths biggest success. This would show us in retrospect that Heath was not a complete failure in the conservative party as our trading options were now much larger and this was seen as a success as to many they believed that it would have a positive effect on the British economy and ?get it back on its feet?. ...read more.


When faced with the muscle of the militant miners' union, however, Heath backed down, executing a 'U-turn' for which the Conservative Party's right wing never forgave him (Thatcher ?U-turn if you want this lady is not for turning). Mass strikes continued, in parallel with on-going violence in Northern Ireland. The 1974 General Election was inconclusive and Heath resigned as prime minister, to be replaced by Harold Wilson and a minority Labour government. The following year Thatcher replaced Heath as Conservative leader. We can thus infer that Heath was not a successful leader and his reign from 1970 to 74 is seen by many to have been a disastrous failure. We can deduce in retrospect that even his successes turned out to be failures this making his entire stint in number 10 a failure. Therefore I believe that Heath was not successful as conservative leader. This was due to his easily swayed position on issues and how unlucky he was in general as the slow decline in consensus politics also aided his demise. ...read more.

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