To what extent can the period of conservative dominance between 1951-1964, be regarded as “Thirteen Wasted Years”?
In October 1964 the Labour government described in their party manifesto that the period of 1951-64 was “thirteen wasted years” and their policies brought “direct and crippling consequences”. Many years were senselessly wasted by the conservative government which only led to damaging the Conservative government’s popularity, yet other events that took place suggested that the thirteen-year Conservative rule was not completely futile.
Following the period of austerity, the Conservatives were facing increasing economic problems. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rab Butler, introduced the policy of stop-go. It was designed to balance out the booms and busts of the economy. The go phase would amount to low interest rates, reduced taxes and rising consuming spending. This would lead to the stop phase which consisted of spending cuts, higher interest rates and higher taxes. This was adopted by the Labour government in 1964 suggesting it was partially successful. The 1950s were known as a period of affluence. Weekly wages increased, over 300,000 new home were built annually and there was a continued investment in the NHS. The country was riding high on the post war economic boom and the Conservatives felt optimistic that Macmillan said that people ‘never had it so good’. There was an increase in production of coal and steel and food rationing ended by 1954. The Conservatives did well to accept Attlee’s legacy as the public approval towards it meant that the Conservatives were more accommodating in state intervention and state planning which made the public support them more. Although a great majority in Britain worked in industrial areas agriculture was doing well as the state provided subsides. Farmers were content enough and were good for the conservatives because they were a natural constituency of support for the Tories.
Despite the boom, there were...