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What led to the breakdown of the post war political consensus?

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What led to the breakdown of the post war political consensus? The post war political consensus as a term meant the union between the conservatives and the Labour party on issues including economic and social policy. It is said that the consensus was starting to crumble away from as early as 1968. This was down to several different reasons which all played a factor in the over all breakdown. After the 1951 conservative win in the general election, little happened to change the agreements that were made by both parties but nonetheless continued to work along the same lines as the consensus, but for a long time there was always said to be several differences between the two parties, just because they implemented the same policies does not mean that they were always working on the same lines. In fact their styles, attitudes and emphasis all differentiated in the long run. By the 1970's, Britain's living standards were seen as much improved and generally there was little discontent among the people but on the economic level things was not so brilliant. The economic decline on all levels was starting to really show firstly beginning with the welfare state, the expenses that were needed to fund it espicailly the NHS were very great and with the lack of extra capital not present it became a major issue for discussion. ...read more.


The post war consensus was now being used as a scapegoat for all the many issues that were arising. The Edward Heath government were now looking for fresh new ideas on ways to improve the economy and came up with the idea that we must 'encourage enterprise and the free market if our economy was ever to improve', not too long after he made this statement he dropped it and went back to 'a return to Keynesians with a far more neo-liberal face.' The conservative government called a general election in 1974. The outcome of that election saw the labour party back in control and it came at a time when many world domestic crises were at the very beginning, the party was unable to manage the many ongoing problems such as inflation. Keynesian theories were now being questioned because of the concerns with the ever growing economy and its struggle associated with it. The 'winter of discontent' was a justification by Margaret Thatcher that the consensus was not working which paved the way for Thatcher's New Right Strategy. Keynes ideas were now being attacked from all corners because they were not seen as reliable anymore but then again they were said 'to have been misused' in context. It was in the year of 1976, that Britain really was a state of emergency, there was no money and it was needed urgently in order to mend the already ruined economy so money had ...read more.


She would introduce legislation that would seriously put a halt on their powers and the defeat of this strike just proved this. At this point in time the trade unions were 'dead.' She also wanted to restructure the whole of the mixed economy into a private market based economy through a program of privatisation which she eventually believed would make sure that everything was in private hands rather than in those of the public. Everything that Thatcher hand in mind would formulate the government agenda for the many years that the Conservatives were in power. In conclusion, the consensus provided Britain with many years of stable economy and a happy nation. It must be said that even though the consensus did eventually crumble away over more than 10 years, it was the basis of the political agenda up until the mid seventies and that on its own has to be worth something. Both political parties wanted to achieve 'social citizenship' based on the Michael Beveridge report of 1941 who was a liberal and the person who created the idea of a welfare state and with the Keynes ideas, the Atlee government of 1945 implemented it later. These were known as the consensus years. The disadvantages out weigh the advantages at the time because of the painful consequences that the consensus years suffered, but that does not actually mean that none of it ever happened for a reason either. 'Nothing is more obstinate than a fashionable consensus' 'To cure the British disease with socialism was like trying to cure leukaemia with leeches' ...read more.

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