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How many forms of 'Conservatism' are observable between 1945-1980?

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Introduction

Joe Levy Politics Homework How many forms of 'Conservatism' are observable between 1945-1980? In the 1950s and 1960s Conservatism was at 'the Age of Consensus'. The postwar Labour government of Clement Attlee had established what is commonly referred to as a 'welfare state', in which major industries had been taken into public ownership, increasing government control of the economy, and a National Health Service had been established in order to provide free medical treatment to all citizens. The Conservative reaction to this was one of reconciliation. The Party leadership had been dominated by Traditional Conservatives for generations, and Conservative Governments between the wars had demonstrated their hostility to the free market in the 1920s in such policies as protection of industry and agriculture from foreign trade and a degree of intervention to ease problems caused by the Great Depression of the early 1930s; they were also willing to compromise for the sake of the national interest, going into coalition with Labour and part of the Liberal Party in the National Government of 1931. And, in 1925, Stanley Baldwin refused to back an attempt to abolish the trade union political levy, a cut from the wages of union members which went to fund the Labour Party, on the grounds that 'we are not going to push our political advantage home' for fear it would damage social harmony. ...read more.

Middle

Until his death in 1995, he claimed that the Postwar Consensus, then British policy towards Europe and Ulster, arose from an anti-democratic conspiracy among the 'British Establishment', in which the leadership of both major parties, and the civil service, steered the country towards a left-wing, big state agenda through manipulation of public opinion via collaboration with a left-wing and liberal mass media. This view of the world was shared by Mrs. Thatcher, and shaped many of her policies. It can be seen that Powell's influence on the Conservative Party was in redefining what it meant to be on the political right, demonstrating that the free market economics of neo-liberalism could be combined with the patriotism of traditional Conservatism into a coherent ideology which had considerable intellectual depth and which was the direct opposite of the postwar consensus. He also made resistance to British assimilation into Europe the keystone of the Conservative right which it remains to this day. The left's identification with enthusiasm for the EC is largely down to Powell's one-time friend and benefactor, later deadly rival, Ted Heath. The Leadership next fell to Edward Heath (1964-1975). This was the first serious attempt to fracture the postwar consensus was made by the Conservative government of 1970-74, led by Edward Heath. In October 1964 the Conservatives' thirteen years in office were ended by Harold Wilson, a grammar school educated former civil servant who promised to expose Britain to the 'white heat of the technological revolution' which was leading to great prosperity elsewhere. ...read more.

Conclusion

Three think tanks in particular shaped the New Right agenda in Britain and The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) was set up in the late 1950s by Ralph Harris and Anthony Seldon to spread New Right economic ideas amongst the academic world through lectures and publications. Since its foundation, it has published over 500 pamphlets, as well as holding numerous seminars and lectures, as well as translating and publishing Hayek's work in English. The IEA influenced Thatcherism in that it first presented the theory of monetarism to Conservative politicians. This is the idea that it is inflation which leads to unemployment, and that the best means to reduce inflation is through reducing the amount of money in the economy. The 35 years between 1945 and 1980 have seen many changes to conservatism and presented new and idealistic views of different politicians that have inevitably changed the course of thinking in the 21st Century. Powellism has no doubt changed political conservative thinking with his creation of the New Right which effectively changed the course of World history. It was also the period which saw one of the greatest conservative leaders in Margaret Thatcher who still acts as a role model now for politicians including our current Prime Minister Tony Blair. With the knock it took in the 90's, The Conservative party look to have been steadied and in line to perform acts which will hopefully be remembered for a long time to come. ...read more.

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