The most controversial issue was nationalisation of steel, which was profitable unlike the others. in Timothy Heppell and Kevin Theakston, eds., Steve Marsh, "Continuity and Change Reinterpreting the Policies of the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations toward Iran, 1950–1954. In November 1956, after months of negotiation and attempts at mediation had failed to dissuade Nasser, Britain and France, in conjunction with Israel, invaded Egypt and occupied the Suez Canal Zone. He was prime minister at the time of Bloody Sunday in 1972 when 14 unarmed men were killed by British soldiers during a banned civil rights march in Derry. More-radical members of the party, led by Aneurin Bevan, were growing impatient with the increasingly moderate temper of the leadership. This decision was announced on June 3, 1947, and British administration in India ended 10 weeks later, on August 15. Eden had ignored Britain's financial dependence on the US in the wake of World War II, and was forced to bow to American pressure to withdraw. Britain had spent close to £7 billion, or a quarter of the national wealth, on the war effort. Historian Graham Goodlad calls for taking a longer perspective. They presided over 13 years of economic recovery and stability. The result was inconclusive: the Conservative Party received a plurality of votes cast, but the Labour Party gained a plurality of seats due to the Ulster Unionist MPs refusing to support the Conservatives. Winston Churchill After WW2 - Because he was the Prime Minister of Britain from 1940-1945, Winston Churchill and World War II go hand in hand. "Referendum voting behaviour: The Norwegian and British referenda on membership in the European Community. ", Ina Zweiniger-Barcielowska, "Rationing, austerity and the Conservative Party recovery after 1945.". It is 81 years to the day since Britain entered a war which would last six years and claim tens of millions of lives. Labour, nonetheless, set about enacting the measures that in some cases had been its program since the beginning of the century. Eden was succeeded by his chancellor of the Exchequer, Harold Macmillan. These offers were rejected by both the Muslim minority and the Hindu majority. ", G.C. His Foreign Minister Rab Butler was not especially energetic. The Soviet Union, too, had been heavily affected. Home's few domestic policies were not well received, but he did abolish retail price maintenance, which allowed consumers to find more bargains on sale. The Conservatives made austerity a major issue in the general election of 1950. Wilson regarded with special pride setting up the Open University as a model for Europe. It was little wonder, therefore, that Mrs. Thatcher resoundingly defeated it in 1979. ", Nigel J. Ashton, "Harold Macmillan and the “golden days” of Anglo-American relations revisited, 1957–63.". Although it was cut short in December 1956, when UN emergency units supplanted British (and French) troops, the Suez intervention divided British politics as few foreign issues have done since. There was little debate. The last years of Attlee’s administration were troubled by economic stringency and inflation. However, neither Wilson nor James Callaghan, who succeeded him on April 5, 1976, was able to come to terms with the labour unions, which were as willing to embarrass a Labour government as a Conservative one. Britain, the US, and the Soviet Union signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty in autumn 1963. Britain, which had controlled or ruled Cyprus since 1878, granted independence to Cyprus in 1960. John Maynard Keynes argued the only solution was to drastically cut back the spending on the British Empire, which amounted to £2,000 million. To make matters worse, within a few weeks of the surrender of Japan, on September 2, 1945, U.S. President Harry S. Truman, as he was required to do by law, ended lend-lease, upon which Britain had depended for its necessities as well as its arms. Callaghan was forced to make deals with minor parties in order to survive, including the Lib-Lab pact. [36], By 1950, the Korean War caused a new heavy drain on the Treasury for military expenses. Peden, "Suez and Britain's Decline as a World Power. His domestic priorities followed the post-war consensus with minor adjustments. Most insistent in its demand for self-government was India. NOW 50% OFF! He disclaimed his earldom and, as "Sir Alec Douglas-Home", contested a by-election in the safe seat of Kinross & West Perthshire. [42] Both sides floated proposals unacceptable to the other, each side believing that time was on its side. He saw the Open University as a major marker of the Labour Party's commitment to modernisation. Furthermore, parts of Britain needed to be rebuilt after having been heavily bombed during the war, especially London, where Germany dropped thousands of bombs in less than a year during the London Blitz. Ghana and Malaya were granted independence in 1957, Nigeria in 1960 and Kenya in 1963. Labour survived through what became known as the “Lib-Lab Pact,” an agreement between Callaghan and Liberal Party leader David Steel, which lasted until August 1978. In his short term in office he succeeded only in negotiating Britain’s entry into the EEC, in 1973. Britain post 1945, through to swinging sixties. Labour decided not to antagonize its strong antiwar element and refused Johnson's pleas. ", Sylvia A. Ellis, "Promoting solidarity at home and abroad: the goals and tactics of the anti-Vietnam War movement in Britain. Energy shortages related to the oil shock resulted in much of the country's industry working a Three-Day Week to conserve power. The government had a target to build 400,000 new houses a year to replace those which had been destroyed in the war, but shortages of materials and manpower meant that less than half this number were built. Britain had to withdraw support from Greece and Turkey, reversing a policy more than a century old, and call upon the United States to take its place. The Labour Party introduced charges for NHS dental services and glasses in 1951. This caused the bitter split inside the Labour party. Nationalization of railroads and coal mines, which were in any case so run down that any government would have had to bring them under state control, and of the Bank of England began immediately. Among Britons, there was a general consensus that the country's first pos… Unemployment remained well in excess of 1,000,000, inflation peaked at 24% in 1975, and the national debt was increasing. [7] It entitled all citizens to healthcare, which, funded by taxation, was free at the point of delivery. London - London - Reconstruction after World War II: London suffered widespread damage during World War II as a result of aerial bombardment, which devastated the docks and many industrial, residential, and commercial districts, including the historic heart of the City. He won and is the only prime minister to resign the Lords to enter the Commons. There were some incouaging economic trends after the War. [21] The Labour government gave independence to India and Pakistan in an unexpectedly quick move in 1947. The wartime prime minister, Churchill was voted out and a new Labour government nationalised many industries, electricity, gas, water, health. American loans and Marshall Plan grants kept the economy afloat. It regularized the de facto nationalization of public assistance, the old Poor Law, in the National Assistance Act of 1946, and in its most controversial move it established the gigantic framework of the National Health Service, which provided free comprehensive medical care for every citizen, rich or poor. British Prime Minister John Major, who had just succeeded Thatcher, worked closely with U.S. President George H.W. However, by the autumn of 1978 the economy was showing signs of recovery – although unemployment now stood at 1,500,000, economic growth was strong and inflation had fallen below 10%. The opposition from physicians was bought off by allowing them to keep lucrative private practices on the side. Callaghan's way of dealing with the long-term economic difficulties involved pay restraint which had been operating for four years with reasonable success. Marshall Plan money began flowing in 1948, and by the time it ended in 1951 the financial crisis was over. Macmillan's successor was the Earl of Home, Alec Douglas-Home. "The Fall of the Attlee Government, 1951." There were problems with transport, factories ran out of fuel and at home people had no electricity to cook with. Relief came with U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall’s announcement that the United States would undertake a massive program of financial aid to the European continent. Britain will today make the final payment on a multi-billion-dollar loan it took out in 1945 to refinance the country in the wake of the Second World War. [14] Britain now shed traditional overseas military roles as fast as possible. None were available, so political restructuring was accelerated. The Viceroy of India warned he needed a further seven army divisions to prevent communal violence if independence negotiations failed. A cornerstone in how the public and its elite perceived the future of the British Isles as a country and political regime. Although Wilson was thought to be a Labour radical and had attracted a substantial party following on this account, he was in fact a moderate. Bread, never rationed during the war, had to be controlled. The Labour government faced severe economic challenges—including post-World War II record levels of unemployment and inflation—yet Wilson was able to renegotiate British membership in the EEC, which was confirmed in a referendum in June 1975. One area where the government was not quite as successful was in housing, which was also the responsibility of Aneurin Bevan. Thousands of Italian prisoners started to arrive in Britain after victories in 1941. This compares with just 36.8 per cent today. He resigned on 18 October 1963 after he had been admitted to hospital for prostate trouble. Callaghan continued Wilson's policy of a balanced Cabinet and relied heavily on Michael Foot. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Britain's application to join Europe had already been vetoed by de Gaulle, the Cuban missile crisis had been resolved, and Berlin was again on the back burner. Some industries, such as aircraft manufacture, were far larger than was now needed, while others, such as railways and coal mines, were desperately short of new equipment and in bad repair. Why Did Britain Enter WW2? Labour’s record in its first 18 months of office was distinguished. World War I was not over by Christmas of 1914. The act pleased no one, neither the Indians, the Labour Party, which considered it a weak compromise, nor a substantial section of the Conservative Party headed by Churchill, which thought it went too far. In an attempt to bolster his government, Heath called an election for 28 February 1974. "Lyndon Johnson is begging me even to send a bagpipe band to Vietnam," Wilson told his Cabinet in December 1964. 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