The 50's+the 60's
The period of consensus/collective responsibility
In 1951 the Conservative Party was elected and although there were some minor changes, they continued the policies of the previous Labour Government. They only had a very small majority and so had to rule out any unpopular policies. This meant keeping most of Labours policies. The Conservative Party leadership was moderate and the more right-wing MPs were marginalized. The Tories therefore had no choice or indeed no desire to change the policies started by Labour.
The Conservative economic policy was so similar to Labour's previous one that the phrase 'Butskellism' was coined after R.A. Butler the Tory chancellor and Hugh Gateskell the chancellor under Labour.
Moderates succeeded Churchill as Prime Minister and so these consensus policies were continued. The consensus was generally re-enforced by the successive Conservative governments of 1951-1964. Churchill, Eden and Macmillan continued with Labour's reforms and even extended parts of the welfare state, although the Iron and Steel industries were privatised in 1953.
Accessed 10th Dec 2002
The most important incidents occurred in foreign policy and the economy. The Korean War, the Berlin Wall and the Cuban missile crisis saw the cold wars escalate after Stalin's death instead of relax. Britain became a nuclear force in 1953, and when the Common Market was formed in 1957 kept out of it. The Suez Crisis in 1956 was the biggest stray from the consensus - an aggressive move to regain international control of the vital Suez canal in Egypt by some under-hand dealings by Eden, ending in his resignation and Britain being humiliated.
They remained unchanged when Labour came to power in 1964.
Harold Wilson became PM in this year, and this proposed radically socialist Labour government was, in fact, another moderate, continuist government. Comprehensive education was introduced and...