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About 1964-1979

Freedoms and ferments


Labour took office in 1964, with Harold Wilson as Prime Minister. Legislative change ensued, liberalising homosexuality, abortion, and divorce, and ending the death penalty.

For those participating, youth culture was vibrant. Radical new fashions, music genres, film and art found room for expression in a way which had never been seen before. The years were marked with the legendary World Cup win of 1966 and the first man on the moon in 1969. British currency was decimalised and the UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973.

Britain encountered significant economic problems as the years moved on, exemplified bythe devaluation of the pound. Economic troubles continued into the 1970s as Britain experienced industrial turmoil. In 1970, the Conservatives beat Labour by a narrow margin and so briefly regained office under Edward Heath. Inflation rose and economic prospects worsened. The miners struck and the ‘three day week’ was introduced in 1973.

In 1974, Labour returned to power under Harold Wilson. Wilson was followed by James Callaghan in 1976. The government was forced to approach the International Monetary Fund for a loan. Public spending was cut and unemployment rose. 1978-79 saw the ‘Winter of Discontent’ with some of the most prominent trade unions striking. Socially, the period brought legislation on child benefit and redundancy payments. 1979 saw the return of the Conservatives, this time headed by Margaret Thatcher.