Moreover, the Conservative economic policies of this period were accused of being too concerned with macro policies that supported rapid growth but failed to develop policies that directly improved economic efficiency and looked to developing the economy in the long term, with adverse effects on international competitiveness, leading to problems. Apparently "It was a government of Tory wets for whom social harmony was a higher priority than economic efficiency." (Addison. 1992) This therefore shows how the conservative dominance can be viewed as 13 wasted years as despite the boom there were major problems with economy.
Even though Labour described the conservative dominance as “13 wasted years” this is not reflected in the electorates actions as the people still voted in the Tories and in 1956 they won yet another election. Something I consider a tactic is the fact that the conservatives implemented tax cuts before the elections which obviously contributed towards them winning the election but it also benefited the people therefore it wasn’t “13 wasted years”
The Conservatives did well to accept the legacy of Atlee’s government had left and the public approval towards it this meant that conservatives were more accepting of the welfare state and nationalism which the public approved of. This made them more accommodating towards state intervention and state planning which meant that the public supported them more. As well as this Macmillan had a good relationship with the media so he portrayed the conservatives well this in turn made them more popular. During this period Agriculture was doing well because the state kept on giving subsides. Farmers being happy were good for conservatives because a lot of their votes come from the rural areas; they are a natural constituency of support for the Tories. The conservatives period of dominance was therefore not 13 wasted years as during that time they had some highly talented politicians for example Eden Butler, Macmillan and even Churchill and they remained in power as the electorate saw that the conservatives were making a difference to Britain.
The government was also further more rocked by failure to join ECC. Macmillan decided to pursue an application for membership of the European Economic Community which split the party and was subsequently vetoed by French President Charles de Gaulle. In 1962, government unpopularity spurred Macmillan into dismissing one-third of the Cabinet this upset many of his own supporters. The following year, his handling of the Profumo affair - when his War Minister resigned after admitting lying to the House about his affair with a prostitute - left him looking out of touch with events. He looked old, and old-fashioned, in comparison with the new Labour leader so things appeared unstable. To add the idea that things appeared unstable Macmillan was seriously ill he had had a major abdominal operation which undermined his position. There were also splits in the party as there was a massive conflict between Butler and Macmillan which made the party weaker and therefore appear unstable. In 1957 there was a financial crisis which caused a huge split in the conservative party, therefore adding to the unstable appearance.
There were also a lot of foreign affairs which can explain why the labour government said the years 1951-64 were “13 wasted years.” One example of a foreign affair was the suez crisis, this happened during Eden’s time in office and shattered the government’s reputation. The Suez crisis left Britain with an embarrassment in terms of government respectability. What Suez showed with was that Britain had lost its place as a great world power able to play by the rules, and 'simply looked absurd when trying to cheat'. Rather than maintaining Britain's world status by shifting focus from Imperialist objectives to Commonwealth, Suez showed how British politicians, in misrepresenting Nasser as 'the Hitler of the Nile', could embarrass itself on a global stage. Marr asserts, 'Government by click became government by conspiracy'. Marr is highlighting the public rejection of the Etonian-Oxbridge bred 'Establishment' government riddled with corruption and complacency. Economically, it highlighted to much reliance on US sterling support, which when removed led to a “Sterling Crisis”. As well as this, Suez can be seen as a bad moment in Britain's foreign policy. Britain no longer had the military power or economic resources to engage in Empire maintenance.
MacMillan asked in the same speech, 'Is it too good to be true...too good to last?' During this time period there was still the consensus from Atlee's government in regards to the welfare state inherited of Beverage’s welfare and Keynes' economics which became MacMillan's story of British affluent success. This is significant as it shows how the people of Britain were enabled such benefits which maintained improvements in health and overall social/living conditions, people were able to make use of the welfare state which shows how things were supposedly good, like they have never had before.
The social aspects such as living conditions were improved. The actual proportion of Britain’s population saying they are “very happy” was 52% in 1957. The streets were however covered in soot and polluted this may be due to the industrial success which wasn’t good for people health which however was weighed up by the welfare state.
Life in the period was the emergence of an individualistic consumer society based on youth culture. From Macmillan’s point of view, he argued that the 1960s represented a classless society in which “we won it.” American sociologist Edward Shills agreed with Macmillan saying how “scarcely anyone in Britain seems any longer to feel there is anything fundamentally wrong. Never has an intellectual class found its society and its culture so much to its satisfaction” which was seemingly apparent even in general things such as strikes for example in the USA 1,185 working days were lost due to strike actions whereas only 272 were lost in Britain during the same years of 1951-62 which showed how generally standards had improved.
There was an initial rise in consumer goods as previously mentioned however there were more consumer goods being made than actually being bought in Britain, there was a share of world trade that had decline in this pose war era. This was due to other countries being starved financially from the war and couldn't afford to export goods from other countries. Ironically though, those 'starved' countered achieved better capital GDP than Britain because they had to literally start their economies up again, as did Britain. It ended up with Britain losing money abroad as they had a lot of investment abroad and countries couldn't afford their products due to the failing economies.
Therefore in conclusion looking at the economic political and social factors you can see that the conservative dominance between 1951-64 was “13 wasted years” to an extent. Things had improved and some people perhaps really hadn’t “had it so good” before but there were still many negative factors such as those in which Macmillan even said in his speech where he reminded his supporters of the “rationing, shortages, inflation, and one crisis after another in our international trade” under a labour government which goes to suggest that perhaps the people “never” had it “so good” and therefore the conservative dominance was seen as 13 wasted years compared to previous times such as Attlee’s government.