Labour Party in power on the 70s - verdict?

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by ska invita, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. ska invita

    ska invita back on the other side

    Curious to hear what people make of the record of Labour when in power during the 70s. Before my conscious time and have never read up on LP history
  2. cupid_stunt

    cupid_stunt Dyslexic King Cnut ... the Great.

    A clusterfuck, that resulted in Thatcher becoming PM.
  3. S☼I

    S☼I those funny little plans that never work out right

    Pickman's model, oryx and Chilli.s like this.
  4. JimW

    JimW 支那暗杀团

    Smaller point but saw the cabinet papers release had Wilson and Callaghan keeping tabs on so-called left union leaders.
  5. Serge Forward

    Serge Forward Well-Known Member

    The "winter of discontent" was ace. The Labour government wasn't so keen mind :D
  6. planetgeli

    planetgeli There's no future in England's dreaming

    When the lights went out by Andy Beckett is a pretty good read on the 1970s in general, whether you were there (I was, but aged 6-16) or not.

    There’s a particularly good bit documenting the lies that were told to Healey (who believed them) by the IMF.
    Ground Elder and oryx like this.
  7. Chilli.s

    Chilli.s changed the little words

    Banks and finance keen to profit at everyone's expense, security and establishment undermining democracy, a hard playing field.
  8. cupid_stunt

    cupid_stunt Dyslexic King Cnut ... the Great.

    Not sure I would describe it as 'ace', the extra days off school were nice, but the rest of it was shit.
  9. ska invita

    ska invita back on the other side

    I had to google the running order
    • James Callaghan. Labour, 1976 - 1979. ...
    • Harold Wilson. Labour, 1974 - 1976. ...
    • Edward Heath. Conservative, 1970 - 1974.
    Didnt the economy start tanking under Heath? and thats partly why Labour got in?
  10. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Callaghan was the first monetarist PM. His autobiography is worth reading.
    TremulousTetra likes this.
  11. oryx

    oryx Sitting on the bock of the day

    I remember the 70s well. One thing that stands out is how much better dressed the kids at my primary school, which was in a poor area, were when I left school. Fewer kids with plimsolls for shoes and NHS specs mended with Sellotape. :(

    The strikes I remember well actually took place during the Heath government. This was the miners' strike and the three day week. My main memory is of going to Guides in the church hall down the road in candlelight. We thought it was fun, though I bet a lot of people didn't!

    Oddly, I don't remember the Winter of Discontent even though I was not far off leaving school and I wanted to work in the NHS. I think its effect have probably been exaggerated by the right.

    I read somewhere recently that the mid-70s were the time when we had the most equal society. It was really normal and not looked down on to live in a council house. I honestly never saw people sleeping on the street until I went to New York in 1987.

    I don't remember inflation but then I was basically a child so wouldn't have been concerned with shopping and bills. I do remember going on holiday to France and noticing how expensive it was.

    I'd second planetgeli's recommendation of Andy Beckett's book.

    The Red Pepper piece is interesting but obviously (and understandably) is left-leaning. Overall I suspect that the picture of the strike-ridden, inflation-ridden 70s has been massively exaggerated to suit right-wing agendas.
  12. Idris2002

    Idris2002 Well, there goes the frying pan theory.

    I used to work for the son of one of Healey's cabinet colleagues. When I asked him about the IMF deal he got genuinely huffy and said "all that money was paid back in six months".
  13. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    It's broad brush approach means that it also ends up giving Heath credit - not to mind letting labour off the hook and not relating any of it to wider changes in capital globally.

    edit: that 74-79 govt has to be directly related back to the anti-w/c moves of the 64/66-70 labour govt and it's fights with the w/c+unions as well. They were still fighting battles they considered unfinished.
    sealion and The39thStep like this.
  14. Idris2002

    Idris2002 Well, there goes the frying pan theory.

    You could argue that on their own terms the 74-79 government did relatively well, and that it was the 64-70 lot who were the real travesty, and who had no excuse really.
  15. ska invita

    ska invita back on the other side

    I dont think thats going to happen :D
    Thats what i wonder - how much of the damage was already done and Labour came in to pick up the pieces?

    I do remember reading about Tony Benns drive to set up co-ops in this era. In the most high profile cases co-ops took over failing/failed businesses (Meriden-Triumph car/bikes and a Scottish Newspaper). Nut surprisingly they failed again quickly - the businesses were already bust. This set back the UK co-op movement to this day arguably. Co-ops were also encouraged by local councils, and some funds were available, but there was a lack of support and education to go with it, or so Ive read. Anyhow the point is if the base conditions are set for failure its hard to make a success of them just because you have some version of socialism taking over.

    If Brexit tanks the economy and Corbyn gets in power at that point history could yet repeat itself on this level.

    Also more generally were Labour bereft of good ideas? Were they going through the motions? Out of date thinking for the times?
    Kaka Tim and Puddy_Tat like this.
  16. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    I think the first lot helped to significantly narrow what those terms might be.
  17. skyscraper101

    skyscraper101 0891 50 50 50

    I wasn't born until mid-1981 but everything I saw from 1970s Britain looked well depressing to me.
  18. Serge Forward

    Serge Forward Well-Known Member

    29 and a half million days lost to strikes... what's not to like?
    Puddy_Tat likes this.
  19. Yogibear

    Yogibear Let it be Banned

    The impact that had on the strikers and their families. Or maybe you just see numbers?
    ElizabethofYork likes this.
  20. Sasaferrato

    Sasaferrato Grateful for what I have.

    Really? We should depend upon the word of an ultra-left publication, and an author who doesn't know then difference between 'reining' and 'reigning'?

    Perhaps not.

    I lived through those times, and don't recognise the socialist utopia presented by the author.
  21. Sasaferrato

    Sasaferrato Grateful for what I have.

    So the downplay by a blatantly left wing author is fine then?

    I was married with a child in 1975, and struggling hard to make ends meet under Wilson then Callaghan. Their fiscal incompetence cost me my job, I was a Civil Engineer.

    They were dire, and frankly that article is so far off what was actually happening, it is fiction.
  22. oryx

    oryx Sitting on the bock of the day

    God knows what you did under Thatcher then.
    DWNL likes this.
  23. Sasaferrato

    Sasaferrato Grateful for what I have.

  24. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    How can you be so ...vacuous?
  25. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Lucky you.

    Surely from your vantage point you could also see around you in the 80s the desert that was created and called peace?
    likesfish and krtek a houby like this.
  26. isvicthere?

    isvicthere? a.k.a. floppybollocks

    My memories (politically) of the '70s, in which I went from 10-20.

    Northern Ireland (all through) and Vietnam (early years) constantly in the news.

    Apocalyptic coverage of how "the unions" were "holding the country to ransom." (Fast forward forty years into our neoliberal rats' nest and workers having representation doesn't seem such a bad thing).

    The IMF loan in (I think) 1976.

    Mike Yarwood "doing" the well-known politicians of the day: Ted Heath's shoulders, Denis Healey's eyebrows.

    The (dismal) prominence of the NF and the (marvellous) resistance to it.

    The Winter of Discontent and the wretched arrival of Thatcher which threw a wrecking ball against everything worthwhile and decent and began the decline into our current ignominy.
    Kaka Tim, AnnaKarpik and oryx like this.
  27. DownwardDog

    DownwardDog Riding a Brompton with a power meter.

    The Triumph co-op didn't fail immediately, it lasted about 6 years and made a decent effort at modernising the product. It went tits up when the pound became a petrocurrency and rose in value destroying any chance of competetive exports in tbe early 80s. It could have succeeded with only slightly more procipitous circumstances. One of AWB's better ideas I always thought.
    Idris2002 likes this.
  28. Serge Forward

    Serge Forward Well-Known Member

  29. TremulousTetra


    Sorry, haven't read all the thread, and also sorry to not address the specific question. But I think the specific question needs context.

    In my opinion, between 1945 (edited to change from 40 to 45 because of the Second World War. But to be honest, 1940 IS when the change started.) and 1970 the major economic players in the world turned to, what some people call socialism, and which could more accurately be described in my opinion as "the state direction of capital investment". Or reformism, whose aim is to reform capitalism, to make it run not destroy destroy capitalism.

    What they saw in Britain was massive investment in the human population. Investment in education, health, housing and many other forms of infrastructure that aided directly the people of Britain. The upside for capitalism, a more healthy, productive, profitable labour force. On an industrial perspective, it rationalised British industry which had become woefully antiquated in the opinion of many of the observers of the day.

    There is a "genius" video on YouTube discussing Keynes, as the father of this movement. However much part it was a reaction to the failure of economic liberalism (Reaganomics neo-economic liberalism) to deal with the depressions of the 1930s (and 20s in Britain). But to some degree it was also following the lead of Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany (some historians labelled the first Keynesian), who both appeared to overcome global downward trends in economic fortunes.

    In my opinion, why Keynesianism began to fail at the beginning of the 70s is partially answered in Chris Harman, "the post-war arms economy". What I would say however that the Labour Party of the 1970s were more the convenient Patsy of the global trend, rather than its instigator. However, for working class people and ironically even more so for the capitalists, socialism/reformism of the Labour Party type produced the greatest period in capitalist, if not world history, again in my opinion.

    Again in my opinion, Reaganomics has actually been detrimental to the long-term interests of the capitalist classes, though it has satisfied their gluttony. Where investment in people socialism/reformism of the Labour Party type still takes place, not only the people prosper, but also the millionaire's.

    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
  30. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Starry Wisdom

    Still to the left of auld corbyn mind
    danny la rouge likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice