Edward Heath: Issues and solutions of his government


Edward Heath: Issues and solutions of his government


  • A formidable politician.
  • A promise minister with a clear and detailed programme of policies for the modernisation of Britain.


  • Perceived stiff and prickly when dealing with people, overshadowed by wilsons people skills.
  • Regarded as to honest for his own good by his colleagues.
  • Not skillful enough in pleasing politic allies.
  • He was good at policies but not politics.


  • Secured British membership of the EEC, and seeing that confirmed by the 1975 referendum. He knew the issues inside out, being chief negotiator in 1961-63.
  • Heath's cabinet included the chancellor Anthony Barber, the N.Ireland secretary Willis white law and the employment minister Jim prior.
  • Those who were lukewarm about Health's economic policies include sir Keith Joseph and the education secretary, Margaret Thatcher.
  • Post-saf consensus was fraying at the edges in 1972 but it is often forgotten that the government seemed to mpbe making a good recovery in 1973.
  • Number of working days lost through strike action had halfed compared with 1972.
  • Lots of GOV investment to boost the economy.
  • Unemployment dropped sharply to about 500,000.
  • North Sea oil due to come on stream in the next few years.


  • Notorious for his 'long sulk' that lasted from his downfall in 1975 to the demise of Margaret thatcher in 1990.
  • His time in office coincided with the end of the long lost-war boom in 1973 and the economic and political crisis of NUM and OPEC that followed.
  • The U-turn 1971-71 was Heath's retreat from the free enterprise economic principles his government had tried to follow from 1970. His desire to maintain full employment led him to give state aid to key industries, especially rolls Royce. This policy was heavily criticised by Enoch Powell, sir Keith Joseph and later Margaret Thatcher, all of whom opposed state intervention in industry.
  • Heaths priorities were British entry into the EEC and what to do about the 'troubles' in Northern Ireland.
  • EEC negotiations were relatively easy, his main task was gaining parliamentary approval. There were conservative doubters and labour was split and hostile to the EEC. In the end 69 rebel LMP's won the decisive commons vote for the conservatives. Labour Party was badly split because of this, Heath only managed kept semblance of unity by promising a national referendum as and when labour came back into power.
  • The troubles in Northern Ireland. It was an explosion of sectarian violence,mother British army was struggling to keep the peace and political situation was close to breakdown.
  • Heaths GOV tried to find a solution, they came close to success with the the sunning sale agreement in 1973.
  • Heaths tough and persistent negotiating style might well have achieved success but for the bad timing of the economic crisis that undermined him.


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