The Conservative Party which was leaded by Winston Churchill (1951-55) and Anthony Eden (1955-57) and Harold Macmillan (1957-63) between the years 1951-59 wanted, according to their manifesto in 1951, to stop all further nationalisation. The Iron and Steel Act will be repealed and the Steel industry allowed resuming its achievements of the war and post-war years. To supervise prices and development we shall revive, if necessary with added powers, the former Iron and Steel Board representing the State, the management, labour, and consumers. They also wanted to free the people from austerity and housing shortages. Macmillan introduced the stop and go economy. If the domestic consumption and the prices rose too quickly (and the economy appeared to be “overheating”) the government put on the “brakes” by increasing taxes and raising interest rates. This would make it more difficult to borrow money. The other way around would be, when the production and the exports declined, and the economy appeared to be a “downturn”, the government pressed the “accelerator” button by cutting and lowering the interest rates. This would make it easier to borrow money. There was also the “Stop-Go” approach. This approach was to try and solve the main two problems of maintaining economic growth which were keeping inflation low and making sure there was a healthy balance of payments. But this policy was not coherent.
The budgets were used to buy votes and it also caused mixed success. One result was “Stagflation” (Stagnation and Inflation). It was a failure to invest in the long term R & D (Research and Development). Britain also started to lag behind because of the heavy defence expenditure and the expensive nuclear arms development programme. Also 35 per cent of the Research and Development were spent on the defence. But this face the rise in living standards (50%) and material prosperity, the wages raised ahead the pries, there was a greater availability of a credit, house buying grew and there was “a property owning democracy”. The gap between the rich and the poor people was wider but the material life improved for both. The first motorways were built and the Clean Air Act (1956) was passed. The home ownership increased from 30 per cent to 50 per cent and also the personal savings increased from 200£ to 2000£. The Conservative Party hindered the country’s economic development but just limited. On one side it hindered the economic development (stop and go), on the other side it enabled the economic growth.
Source 4 is a book called Mastering Modern British History from Norman Lowe which is published in 1984. This source is a secondary source. The Source sets up the thesis “Conservative Party hindered the country’s economic development. It criticises that the Conservative Party emphasised the improvement in world trade rather than improving the economic policies. This caused an economic failure. It accuses the Conservative Party for hindering the country’s economic development. The introduction of the stop and go approach caused this as well. The stop and go approach caused Stagflation. This is a situation where an inflation rate is high, the economic growth rate slows down, and unemployment remains steadily high. Considering the faults under the Conservative Party the government did not perceive their opportunities to improve the economic failures. The government had no coherent economic policy (they used stop and go). There was no structured financial strategy (the budget was used to buy votes). The investment in the Research and Development was minimal and the government did not improve the employer-worker relationship either, which caused Stagflation.
Source 4 admits the improvement in world trade under the Conservative government, but it also says that this was not the merit of the Conservative government’s economic policies. The unemployment before Macmillan was 380.000 people and during Macmillan’s government rose and fluctuated between 420.000 and 800.000 people. As the Source said, Britain’s boom was the result of a growth in world trade, but the government’s policies prevented a rapid development within their own country. This proved fact is also evidence that the government actually hindered the country’s economic development. Source 5 is a book from Harold Schulz. British History was published in 1992. It is a secondary source. This source does not say that the Conservative government “hindered the country’s economic development.” The Conservatives intention was to denationalise Iron and Steel, to free the people from the austerity and from the housing shortages. This source says that the Conservatives met these targets. “…denationalised steel, ended rationing and food subsidies and sharply reduced government regulations and controls.”.
This caused an increasing production and standard living. Besides that was the “economic growth able to continue without unemployment or undue inflation.”. Source 6 is an excerpt from the Conservative Party manifesto in 1959. It is a primary Source. This source is a one-sided public document and reflects just one view of the history; the view of the Conservative Party. It did not agree with the statement “C.P. hindered the country’s economic development”. The Conservative Party marks that the British economy “is sounder today than at any time since the first World War”, “capital investment is over half as large again as eight years go” and “people are saving more than ever before”. It emphasize that the Conservative government took Britain down to a new path and enabled prosperity for everyone. It claims that the Conservative policy doubled the British standard of living and guarantees that every section within the society shares in the development of prosperity. Between the years 1951 and 1957 the Conservative Party achieved and improved a lot. For example: the living standards rose, there was a growth in house buying, more material goods were owned, Clean Air Act was passed in 1956, the first motorways were built, more doctors and nurses were employed, there were more personal savings, new schools and universities were built and there were high wages and low prices.
The sentence “It is leading to prosperity for all.” links to Source 4 (“Britain’s prosperity under the Conservatives should have been even more marked than it was.”) Both sources admit the increased prosperity, but source 4 that Britain’s prosperity was not remarkable as it actually should be. Source 4 criticised that the Conservative government “hindered the country’s economic development”. Source 6 says “the British economy is sounder today than at any time since the First World War”. Both disagree. But source 4 was published in 1984 and is more objective and has a better overview about what happened at the same time and what happened after 1959. So the statement of source is not unfounded and the Conservative Party actually hindered the country’s economic development. In my opinion the years 1951 to 1957 under Churchill and Eden let Britain to prosperity.
The Conservative Party promised to free the people from “The age of austerity” and the housing shortages. This is what they managed. There was a growth in house buying, as source 5 mentioned the government ended rationing, and food subsidies and sharply reduced government regulations and control. The unemployment rate was about 380.000 people. After 1957 when Macmillan was Prime Minister the unemployment increased to 420.000 people and fluctuated between 420.000 to 800.000 people. Macmillan introduced the stop and go policy which let the economy fail. Overall is to say that it was more Macmillan’s government with introducing the stop and go policy (which caused Stagflation…) which “hindered the country’s economic development rather than the Conservative party´s policies in the years 1951-1959”.