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Why the Labout Party Took Long to Make Itself Electable after 1979 - Essay Example

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The Labour Party is a party with the presence in all the countries forming the United Kingdom. Currently, it is the main opposition party in England and Wales, while it is forming a government in Scotland. …
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Why the Labout Party Took Long to Make Itself Electable after 1979
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Download file to see previous pages The Labour party was founded on democratic socialism. As a result, it had close affiliations with trade unions (Lyman 1957). As a matter of fact, the party was founded so as to fight for the rights of the workers. The party rose from its humble beginnings in 1990 to form its first government under Prime Minister Clement Attlee. Labour party was in office from 1945-1951. This government was the most radical of all British governments to have come into office in the 20th Century. It strived to implement the theories espoused by John Maynard Keynes, among others. This government nationalized key industries where it had majority stake. An example of such industries was banking; where the bank of England was taken back by the government. The same case happened with mining, telecommunications and transport, steel, railway and canals industries. They believed the government had to have a hand in the running of vital industries, an idea that seems so out of place in the era of rapid privatization (Lyman 1957). The Attlee government also instituted the N.H.S (National Health Service). This is a program of socialized medicine that is the envy of the world today. This scheme made affordable healthcare accessible to the extremely poor people in the society. The Attlee government was also behind the slow dismantling of the British Empire. Independence was granted to several colonies, most notably India, the jewel in Britain’s imperial crown. The party went on to lose the 1951 general election to the Conservatives, and spent several years in opposition until Labour’s Harold Wilson was elected Prime Minister in 1964. Harold Wilson’s administration also reinforced the idea of ‘labour’ as the true Leftist party by putting in place sweeping social and educational reforms. Key among them was the legalization of abortion and homosexuality. On the educational front, comprehensive education was made accessible to millions through the creation of the Open University. This is another idea that has been replicated by the rest of the world. Even with such positive changes, Labour party was voted out of office in 1970. The party had inherited a large trade deficit that triggered a currency crisis in which the pound was severely weakened. The party was to return to power again in 1976 under James Callaghan. This administration was tirelessly trying to battle the economic crisis present at that time. It ruled with a slight majority in the Commons. Internally, the party was split down the middle over Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community, E.E.C. The issue had to go to referendum. The public showed its overwhelming support for Britain’s continued membership with a two thirds majority. By this time, inflation stood at a staggering 23%. The government successfully lowered inflation by a policy of wage restraint to a rate of 7%. However, this brought cracks in the relationship between Labour and the trade unions who wanted wages to move only in one direction, up. To shelter ordinary Britons from this economic storm, the Labour government presided an era of rising pensions coupled with massive subsidies on food items (Lyman 1957). This was aimed at to protecting the tiny incomes that had already been decimated by inflation in the rest of the economy. The government sauntered on and introduced several welfare schemes to protect the extremely poor. Pensions of the disabled were significantly increased, and employment legislation ensured that people could be hired even for a short time. Pregnant women were also granted leave. Workplace inspection was prioritized to prevent workers from hazardous working conditions. Unfair dismissal was also curbed through Industrial Tribunals. While the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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