To what extent was there a post-war consensus? (45)
Despite some historians trying to argue that the notion of a “post-war” consensus becomes more blurry and inaccurate the closer one studies modern Britain from 1951-2007, there is a wealth of resources and abundant forms of evidence to firmly claim confidently that a post-war consensus did exist; permeating and diffusing throughout British politics, economics, societal events and also foreign affairs.
* From 1951 to 1979 both parties accepted the mixed economy (loose form of Keynesianism); main priority was full employment
* From 1951 to 1979, successive governments wanted to tackle the unions and dared not to become too forceful; as seen through the failure of In Place of Strife, growing number of wildcat strikes in the 1970s and the psychologically devastating Winter of Discontent 1978-1979
* This consensus ended in 1979 with the advent of Thatcherism; Thatcher derided consensus economics, “unemployment was a price worth paying”; which proves that an economic consensus certainly did exist
* Thatcher took on the unions and wholly smashed them, as seen through the miner’s strike 1984-5; destroying notions of consensus industrial relationships
* Thatcher’s philosophy of “private good, public bad” and “rolling back the frontiers of the state”; completely changed the idea of past consensus collective ideas of collectivisation and corporatism ; further initiatives such as privatisation created new incentives for individualistic wealth creation additionally proved this
* You can argue that there were 2 post-war economic consensuses, after 1989, a blurry neo-liberal plus a free market consensus was established; which was carried on by Blair and his “New” Labour. This was seen through the unions never regaining any power they once might have yielded under a Labour government, clause 4 scrapped, public services were made to be more accountable, much more pro-business