Crisis? What Crisis?: Britain in the 1970s
Alwyn W. Turner
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The 1970s. They were the best of times and the worst of times. Wealth inequality was at a record low, yet industrial strife was at a record high. These were the glory years of Doctor Who and glam rock, but the darkest days of the Northern Ireland conflict. Beset by strikes, inflation, power cuts and the rise of the far right, the cosy Britain of the post-war consensus was unravelling - in spectacularly lurid style. Fusing high politics and low culture, Crisis? What Crisis? presents a world in which Enoch Powell, Ted Heath and Tony Benn jostle for space with David Bowie, Hilda Ogden and Margo Leadbetter, and reveals why a country exhausted by decline eventually turned to Margaret Thatcher for salvation.
Plymouth and Bristol that had long prided themselves on their civic identities. And the belief that things were getting out of hand received further support from press reports that in Dudley a new system of metric street numbering was being given a trial: the first house in a street was given the number one, with the next being numbered according to how far away it was – if it was 12 metres from door to door, then it would be number thirteen, and so on. There were further historical losses as yet.
In society and also to fit them to do a job of work’, he argued, ‘not one or the other, but both’. It was an intelligent and honourable venture, but not one – given the economic crises he was facing – that he was able to follow through satisfactorily. It was to take another decade, and another government, to implement the national curriculum and the parental choice for which he called, and to challenge the ‘informal methods of teaching’ that he criticized. He was destined to receive little of the.
The actual election defeat, plunging the party into a bout of fratricidal blood-letting without parallel in modern times, and ultimately leading to a split on the left with the creation of the Social Democratic Party. How much of that anger might have been contained had Labour remained in office is debatable, but it would surely have erupted at some point. Meanwhile, the huge wave of public support for the SDP on its launch in 1981 suggested much of the country had a yearning for the old.
Leader ship challenge in the aftermath of defeat. His words were superficially supportive of the party, but his colleagues were not fooled as to their intent: ‘I hope and believe that Mr Enoch Powell will learn to support the policy of the Conservative Party,’ warned Quintin Hogg, ‘but the Conservative Party does not support Mr Powell.’ Meanwhile, so intense were the feelings that he stirred that he had a police guard mounted on his home, and at the local Conservative Association all the signs.
That man has had, year in year out, and all the banging I’ve had, it is gratifying that he should have only got eighteen votes more than me,’ exulted Tony Benn, who had already announced his own withdrawal. It was indeed a disastrous performance by Jenkins; ninety Labour MPs were considered at the time to be strongly pro-European and yet the man who had risked his career by defying the party whip on the issue, and should therefore by rights have been the leader of that group, attracted little.