‘The boldest experiment in civil government’: Labour in Power 1974-1979

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With the likely victory of the Labour Party in the upcoming election it seems apt to remind ourselves of what previous Labour governments actually did. Memories of ‘New Labour’ under Blair and Brown (1997-2010) have been popularly tarnished by the lies surrounding the disastrous invasion of Iraq and the subsequent banking collapse of 2008-09. However, other policy decisions by ‘New Labour’ such as the increasing privatisation of the state sector particularly in health care and education, the failure to repeal anti-union laws and their neo-liberal agenda in general, have passed under the radar. Consequently, over the last few years there has been a tendency amongst some left-wing critics of ‘New Labour’ to romanticise the Labour governments of the 1970s claiming that they were ‘socialist’.

The following comprehensive chronology, running to more than 1,200 pages, analyses the period 20 March 1973 to 5 May 1979. It covers, day-by-day, the whole of the Labour Party in government from the hung parliament of February 1974 when Harold Wilson was returned to power, the election victory in October of that year, Wilson’s fall in 1976, through to the Conservative Party election victory in May 1979. It was compiled from contemporary newspaper reports, memoirs and diaries of leading political figures and other sources.

As its somewhat sarcastic title suggests, it is not a cheer-leading exercise for the Labour Party but an impressive attempt to factually capture Labour Party domestic and foreign policy in the context of national and international events. As such it will be a useful preliminary resource for those researching historical events in the 1970s as well as those interested in studying the Labour Party in government, without rosy tinted spectacles.

You can download the pdf here:

‘The boldest experiment in civil government’: Labour in Power 1974-1979

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The immense amout of work that was put into collating this source document is a credit to its author Murat, a comrade of ours from London. So thanks mate for all the work you put in, and allowing us to share it. We wish you well.

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