Seventies Britain Was A great Place to Live


I’ve been saying this for some time. The idea that we needed ‘rescuing’ by Thatcher in ’79 is bollox. The 30 years from 1945-1975 were the most successful in British economic history – ever! (Including the 19th Century)

The truth is the Keynsian mixed economy worked. The security provided by strong trade unions also made working life for the vast majority far preferable to today. It is perhaps true that elite rule needed ‘rescuing’ and that middle-class professionals felt their status and privilege under attack but for the vast majority of us from the end of the war until May ’79 we had indeed ‘never had it so good’. And now perhaps middle-class professionals are starting to understand the reality of Thatchers neoliberal version of capitalism that sees ‘professionals’ as ‘interest groups’ to be broken on the wheel of profit. Hence the relentless attack on the pay and autonomy of all professionals – Doctors, lawyers, lecturers, teachers have all seen their pay and status eroded as the pay and status of their ‘managers’ rise.

“By 1978, the British economy was rapidly improving. Inflation was down to single figures and unemployment was falling too. Productivity was rising, including in the nationalised industries. North sea oil revenues were starting to transform the balance of payments, which showed a surplus of £109m in 1977. And in December 1978 Britain recorded a massive trade surplus of £246m. Britain was a contented society that had a healthy work-life balance. During 1978, Britain’s standard of living rose by 6.4 per cent to reach its highest ever level: so much for the ‘Sick Man of Europe’.”


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