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How far did Conservative governments conform to traditional conservatism between 1945 and 1990?

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Introduction

History Homework: Essay Question 'How far did Conservative governments conform to traditional conservatism between 1945 and 1990? Edmund Burke's key principle belief was that the most important quality of any society is order; whilst he also strongly believed that tradition kept order in society, and that all state affairs should be run on the judgement of past experiences. Benjamin Disraeli also believed in these principles, in addition to one-nation toryism, and that conservatives should play a dispassionate, neutral role in the struggle between Labour and capitalism. These 18th to 19th century ideas of order, tradition, paternalism and an organic society, became basis of what is now known as 'traditional conservatism'. It can be argued that traditional conservatism was at the centre of British Politics and the Conservative party at least up until the radical Thatcher conservative government's of the 1980s. However, with Britain becoming a firm two-party system of Labour and the Conservatives after World War II, more labour policies were being implemented in this time then ever before. Also, the post-war consensus shows how the Conservatives had to appeal to Labour's supporters more then ever before, due to the very narrow election victory of 1951. ...read more.

Middle

by both Conservative and Labour governments, and the government's general high spending are examples of socialism, while also trying to join the ECC shows interventionalism and a break away from tradition. Thatcher in the 1980s shows a complete break way from economic tradition, with her main policy of reducing the role of the state (economic liberalism). The changes after World War I, following the Beverage report, meant that the government undertook measures in policy to provide for the people 'from the cradle to the grave'. The policy of creating a Welfare State resulted in massive expenditure and a great widening of what was considered to be the state's responsibility. The central services were Education, Health, Unemployment, increasing redistributive taxation, and increasing regulation of industry food and housing. This could all be seen as socialist, but conservatives could argue creating a suitable welfare state was a reform they would have made (especially after World War II). This was initiated by the post-war Labour government, and due to political consensus up until the 1970s, it remained largely unchanged. Churchill continued and extended the welfare state, passing the Mental Health Act. Even into the 1980s, (in comparison to policies), Thatcher hardly changed the Welfare state. ...read more.

Conclusion

Under Thatcher however, Britain turned direction and privatized extensively; privatizing for example Enterprise Oil and British Telecom in 1984, as well as steel again in 1988, showing again Thatcher's conservative parties break away from custom and traditional conservatism. Therefore, to conclude, Britain's post-war policies up until 1990 seem to show some similarities and differences with Traditional conservatism. Theorists of the New Right saw flaws in traditional conservatism, and attempted to amend these by reform. These flaws resided mainly within society, the economy and the role played by authority in an efficient and coherent society. Burke and Disraeli's writings of the 18th and 19th century are by the late 20th century outdated, while conservatism is reactionary and consequentently will adapt to change. While thorough Thatcher shows similarities with Traditional Conservatism, she only implemented her policies after events such as the winter of discontent forced her to, and she was far more against the then Labour government's policies of the 70s. Additionally, other conservative governments were just reacting to the times, and certainly weren't trying to conform to traditional conservatism or any other fixed ideology for that matter. Conservatism governments ultimately conformed to traditional conservatism in that the core values, such as Order, Inequality, Human Nature and Tradition, remain as key values in every conservative government. ...read more.

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