Britain in the 1960s: Descent from Power

September 27, 1967

Report Outline
Economic and Social Strains in Britain
Rise and Decline of World Leadership
Means of Strengthening British Position

Economic and Social Strains in Britain

The british labor party, meeting in annual conference at Scarborough for five days starting October 2, will have the doleful task of examining its own condition and that of Great Britain. Because Britain is currently top contender for the title of “sick man of Europe,” there will be heated debate over what treatments are needed to bring the invalid around. The symptoms are obvious: unemployment exceeding 560,000, the highest level in 27 years and still rising; a shaky balance-of-payments situation, with the United States standing by for another pound-propping operation; mounting talk of devaluation of the pound; and, finally, problems in Hong Kong, Aden and Rhodesia.

The Labor Government suffered a setback on Sept. 21 when it lost two by-elections to the Conservative Party opposition, one of them in a London working-class constituency (West Walthamstow) that had been in Labor hands since 1929. The losses were described as a clear rebuke to the Government for economic policies that threaten Britain—a nation of 55 million—with up to 1,000,000 unemployed this winter. Despite the by-election reversals, Labor's majority in the House of Commons will be a safe 86 seats when Parliament resumes in October. Prime Minister Harold Wilson does not have to go to the country before the spring of 1971; no general election is likely before the fall of 1970.

In an attempt to forestall criticism and renew confidence, Wilson last month announced that he was assuming direct responsibility for British economic policy. At the same time, the government eased credit curbs on installment buying with a view to priming a deflated economy. But the effects will not be felt immediately and the move is considered no more than a gesture in the face of a large problem. “As was the case in France 10 years ago, all the pessimistic croakers from the outside are only taking up the roar of the pessimistic criticism from within.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
United Kingdom
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Jan. 30, 1998  U.S.-British Relations
Mar. 08, 1996  The British Monarchy
Sep. 15, 1995  Northern Ireland Cease-Fire
Nov. 17, 1978  New Prospects for Britain
Apr. 08, 1977  Britain: Debtor Nation
Sep. 26, 1975  Britain in Crisis
Jun. 10, 1970  British Election, 1970
Oct. 30, 1968  British Economy Since Devaluation
Sep. 27, 1967  Britain in the 1960s: Descent from Power
Sep. 10, 1964  British Election, 1964
Jun. 24, 1964  British Commonwealth in the Postwar World
Aug. 09, 1961  Socialized Medicine in Great Britain
Jul. 19, 1961  Britain, the United States and the Common Market
Sep. 16, 1959  British General Election
Mar. 13, 1957  American-British Relations
May 10, 1954  Political Trends in Britain
Sep. 13, 1951  British Social Services
May 24, 1950  Sterling Balances
Feb. 08, 1950  British Election, 1950
Jan. 12, 1949  British National Health Service
Mar. 28, 1946  Sterling Area and the British Loan
Jul. 14, 1945  British Export Trade
Jun. 22, 1945  British Election
Jan. 01, 1943  Food Rationing in Great Britain
Apr. 19, 1941  Convoys for Britain
Jan. 02, 1941  Financing Britain's War Requirements
Aug. 26, 1938  Anglo-American Relations
Apr. 28, 1938  Economic Recovery in Great Britain
May 12, 1937  Britain's Intra-Imperial Relations
Sep. 09, 1931  Unemployment Insurance in Great Britain
Aug. 09, 1930  The Protectionist Movement in Great Britain
Sep. 10, 1929  The British Task in Palestine
May 06, 1929  The British General Election of 1929
Jun. 12, 1926  The British Trade and Financial Situation
May 07, 1926  Background of the British Labor Crisis
Oct. 17, 1924  British Electoral System and Political Issues
Feb. 29, 1924  British and French Finances
Jan. 14, 1924  The British Labour Party
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