How Successful Was Edward Heath as Leader of the Conservative Party Between 1965 and 1974?

1525 words 7 pages
How successful was Edward Heath as leader of the Conservative Party between 1965 and 1974?
Edward Heath led the conservative party through a difficult and revolutionary period in British politics from the years 1965 to 1974, punctuated by the joining of the ECC in 1973, prolonged damaging strikes, high levels of inflation, and many monumental U-turns through the period of his office. The concept of change is most notably seen right from the offset of his leadership as he was the first conservative leader to be elected democratically, by ballot, marking a turning away from the old boy network of Tory prime ministers preceding him. He himself went against tradition, coming from very humble backgrounds, having been through the grammar school
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The psephologist R.W. Johnson agrees with the view saying: “Of all those who had switched their vote from one party to another in the election, 50 0er cent were the working class Powellites.’ The swing to the Tories was enough to put Heath in power, and although the win can largely be put down to Enoch Powell’s stand on immigration, Heath led the party s must take some of the praise as leader of the Conservatives.
The major failings of Heath as leader of the Conservatives are undoubtedly the monumental U-turns his government made in his time in office, 1970-1974. Heath was hit by the massive misfortune of the death of one of his most gifted politicians, Iain Macleod, after only one month in office. He was working on tax reform as set of at Selsdon. Anthony Barber, his successor was not in the same intellectual league and introduced policies such as cutting income tax reductions in government spending and the scrapping of the Prices and Incomes Board. Heath still believed that it was possible to escape the ‘stop-go’ policies of the 1950s and 1960s that had so held back the British economy compared to other European countries and the US, by reducing controls and taking Britain into the ECC. Part of reducing restrictions, was also returning to the values of hard work and making industry more efficient (as set out at Selsdon.) The Industrial


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