Edward Heath government 1970-1974

  • Created by: parvos98
  • Created on: 25-03-15 14:37

Edward Heath government 1970-1974


  • Efficient and pragmatic politician
  • Was committed to realistic policies for a stronger economy and better economic modernisation.
  • 1973-Britain successfully entered EEC.
  • Enormous welfare spending enriched the lower levels of society.
  • 1972 Local Government Acts
  • Lowered unemployment by 1974 using Keynesian economics-the "Barber Boom" (named after the 1970 Chancellor Anthony Barber).
  • Due to how Heath had essentially lost all control of his government by 1974, when Labour inherited this Britain, it was in a much worse state than 1964, paving the way for Thatcher to take over.


  • Bad luck timing-became PM at end of post-war consensus
  • Seen as very grumpy and rude when dealing with others.
  • U-Turn-1971-1972-Heath went back on his election promises to not bail out failing businesses, by giving government aid to key (but unprofitable) industries.
  • 1973-OPEC oil crisis-fuel embargo on oil resulted in serious socio-economic consequences for Britain.
  • High unemployment and still no economic modernisation. This soon led to "stagflation", with inflation growing but the economy not moving with it.
  • 1971-Thatcher's banning of free school milk
  • Industrial Relations Act 1971-Lost Heath a lot of support from Trade unions.
  • 1973-Imposition of a 3 day week-British industry and society shut down for 4 days of the week due to energy and economic problems.
  • 1974-"who governs Britain?"-Trade union power was growing out of control, with frequent striking (mostly miners and other heavy industry workers) and leadership of Gormley, McGahey and Scargill, who were at war with the Heath government.
  • Heath inherited the long-standing problem of Northern Ireland. Irish protesters grew in number and anger until Bloody Sunday (1972), a violent battle between the British Army and eventually, the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement was reached.
  • The 1973 Sunningdale Agreement also failed, due to Heath being distracted by domestic economic problems.
  • Sanctions placed on South Africa (Rhodesia Crisis) did very little and Heath was seen as weak and incomptetant. Also, the approach divided the Conservative Party.
  • Heath damaged the "special relationship" by refusing to involve himself in Vietnam War and by moving cloaser to European integration.
  • Rumours about possible homosexuality (or asexuality) seriously damaged his image.


Trying to portray Heath as a great PM would be fairly futile as, while he did experience some success with the Barber Boom and British entry to the EEC, not much else went well for him. He was a victim of circumstance in most scenarios, with unlucky events such as the 1973 Oil Crisis and 1972 Bloody Sunday damaging his government. His greatest enemy came in the form of the trade unions and its brutal leaders. The unions, from 1971 onwards, spent time kicking Heath around as they had enough power and support to do as they pleased in society, striking when questioned. His largest problem however, was his historic position. He came alongside Harold Wilson, who was seen as one of the greatest Labour PMs in history, with liberal reforms, Churchill-level wit and intelligent party leadership. Overall, it can be seen that Heath, despite some small victories, will always hold a very tarnished reputation in British political history.


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