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Old April 25th, 2008, 11:22 PM
mtg999 mtg999 is offline
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Ted Heath wins 1974 election

What if the Conservatives under Heath won the 1974 election in the UK? Assuming that unlike the OTL Labour win, he is able to form a majority government.

How would things have gone differently? I presume that Thatcher's rise would have been delayed a bit, but there would still be discontent on the Tory backbenches (many of Heath's proposed policies in both OTL 74 elections were more interventionist than Harold Wilson's, etc).
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Old April 26th, 2008, 12:57 AM
alt_historian alt_historian is offline
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Originally Posted by mtg999 View Post
What if the Conservatives under Heath won the 1974 election in the UK? Assuming that unlike the OTL Labour win, he is able to form a majority government.
I was going to say 'it was a majority', but I assume you were referring to the February election, not October.
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How would things have gone differently? I presume that Thatcher's rise would have been delayed a bit, but there would still be discontent on the Tory backbenches (many of Heath's proposed policies in both OTL 74 elections were more interventionist than Harold Wilson's, etc).
Well, Heath would have to deal with the mid-term consequences of the 1973 oil crisis, and also the effects of stagflation and a possible sterling crisis. The Labour response to all this would be interesting...
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Old April 26th, 2008, 10:02 AM
Marky Bunny Marky Bunny is online now
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Heath goes to the Country earlier than he did in OTL, and wins.
Most people in his own Cabinet couldnt believe that he dithered in late December 1973 and should of called the election then, everyone belived he would win with a small majority.
I think they would be a real chance that Britian could go hard left, more strikes, maybe even a general strike (which was being spoken up in Heath got in again).
Maybe the hard right coup happens with Lord Louis Mountbatten taking over the Governement, maybe even a civil war, (I know this is very dark).
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Old April 26th, 2008, 11:32 AM
mtg999 mtg999 is offline
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Originally Posted by Marky Bunny View Post
Heath goes to the Country earlier than he did in OTL, and wins.
Most people in his own Cabinet couldnt believe that he dithered in late December 1973 and should of called the election then, everyone belived he would win with a small majority.
I think they would be a real chance that Britian could go hard left, more strikes, maybe even a general strike (which was being spoken up in Heath got in again).
Maybe the hard right coup happens with Lord Louis Mountbatten taking over the Governement, maybe even a civil war, (I know this is very dark).

Interesting thoughts. I wonder if even if Heath won, whether at sometime between say 74 and 76, if Heath continued on with his rather centrist, corporatist policies, whether the right-wing of the Tories would ditch him as leader.

Especially if Labour had gone hard-left, I wonder if there could be a National Government with the Labour right-wingers and One Nation Tories in coalition. Certainly in OTL Heath expressed his willingness to consider this in the mid 70's.

What you say about the possiblity of a hard right coup is interesting. I've think it would also be interesting to consider the possbility that a moderate National Governement could actually end up instituting martial law and in effect having a 'coup' of sorts in order to restore stability.

This is a timeline I'm considering expanding on and writing up more fully. I'd have it that Ted Heath as PM and say Denis Healey as Deputy PM. Buffeted by an increasingly militant hard left and a restless Tory Right (Thatcher), I can see a National Govt that sees itself as the 'moderate voice of reason' instituting semi-authoritarian policies, perhaps a ban on strikes on the one hand and strict price controls/freezes and rationing on the other.

A corporatist govt would try and 'tame' the trade unions by banning strikes and other sorts of legislation, rather than the overall more indirect means used by Thatcher (mass unemployment and/or destroying highly unionised intdustries). I can envisage the National Govt perhaps extending the life of Parliament if it felt that it couldn't win an election or suspending parliament it it feared a no confidence vote.

I suppose this is my own little version of a 'What If Gordon Banks Had Played' - esque British dictatorship scenario. Any thoughts on it?
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Old April 27th, 2008, 11:58 AM
mtg999 mtg999 is offline
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Any thoughts on this ATL?
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Old April 28th, 2008, 04:33 AM
mtg999 mtg999 is offline
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Just thought I'd bump this one up a bit
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Old April 28th, 2008, 11:53 AM
Marky Bunny Marky Bunny is online now
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Heath was prepared to go into a national Government with Thrope in 1974, and during the October 1974 election he talked of forming an National Government of unity.
I consider this was the last time that Britian could have gone hard left or hard right, or even a civil war.
Actually for the time-line you have a hard left coup, hard-right coup, or a civil war.
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Old April 28th, 2008, 02:06 PM
ljofa ljofa is offline
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I don't think that Britain would have been any better off if Heath had won the election. In fact, his decision to call a February election, as others have pointed out, was catastrophically stupid. If the election had been held in January (even with Xmas & New Year interrupting Purdah), Heath would have won. Alan Clark remarked in his diaries that Labour MPs kept approaching him in the House of Commons and thanked him/the Tories for letting Labour off the hook.

Heath survives to fight another day and Thatcher isn't able to challenge him for the leadership. She probably won't become leader but there's a good chance either Willie Whitelaw, Keith Joseph or even Airey Neave will become the next Tory PM because Heath is hanging on by his fingernails. The Tory government of the 1970s had one of the worst public images on record, damned for what it did and damned for what it didn't - Uganda & Idi Amin was a humiliation with regular snide comments coming from the cannibalistic one.

Labour might be in disarray - Wilson's iron grip on the Party will slip and potential successors will be even tougher to source. Benn will probably lead from the left and Jenkins from the right with outsiders like Crossland, Foot and Hattersley waiting in the wings. The Unions will be bought off by Willie Whitelaw's deal (which was ready to be offered but the election stopped it) but will return to their militant tendencies against a backdrop of Yom Kippur and the oil crisis.

The Liberals were also beginning their resurgence under Jeremy Thorpe. Heath once offered Thorpe the post of Home Secretary as part of a coalition deal which could still potentially be on the cards. They won 19% of the vote in the 1974 February election. Thorpe's scandal wasn't until 1975 and if he were made Home Secretary, there's every reason to think Norman Scott could be bought off to save both parties from embarassment.
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Old June 21st, 2008, 11:47 PM
mtg999 mtg999 is offline
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Originally Posted by ljofa View Post
I don't think that Britain would have been any better off if Heath had won the election. In fact, his decision to call a February election, as others have pointed out, was catastrophically stupid. If the election had been held in January (even with Xmas & New Year interrupting Purdah), Heath would have won. Alan Clark remarked in his diaries that Labour MPs kept approaching him in the House of Commons and thanked him/the Tories for letting Labour off the hook.

Heath survives to fight another day and Thatcher isn't able to challenge him for the leadership. She probably won't become leader but there's a good chance either Willie Whitelaw, Keith Joseph or even Airey Neave will become the next Tory PM because Heath is hanging on by his fingernails. The Tory government of the 1970s had one of the worst public images on record, damned for what it did and damned for what it didn't - Uganda & Idi Amin was a humiliation with regular snide comments coming from the cannibalistic one.

Labour might be in disarray - Wilson's iron grip on the Party will slip and potential successors will be even tougher to source. Benn will probably lead from the left and Jenkins from the right with outsiders like Crossland, Foot and Hattersley waiting in the wings. The Unions will be bought off by Willie Whitelaw's deal (which was ready to be offered but the election stopped it) but will return to their militant tendencies against a backdrop of Yom Kippur and the oil crisis.

The Liberals were also beginning their resurgence under Jeremy Thorpe. Heath once offered Thorpe the post of Home Secretary as part of a coalition deal which could still potentially be on the cards. They won 19% of the vote in the 1974 February election. Thorpe's scandal wasn't until 1975 and if he were made Home Secretary, there's every reason to think Norman Scott could be bought off to save both parties from embarassment.
Thank for the reply. Some interesting thoughts on this. I wonder what the next election, which would be held by January 1979 would look like. Is it likely (this is my favourite scenario) that some if Labour goes more left-wing in the interim, some right-wing Labour MPs will join a Heath-led National Govt?

If Heath continues becoming ever more centrist is it likely that some of the more right-wing Conseratives will form their own party. The next election after this could be interesting.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 11:32 PM
ljofa ljofa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtg999 View Post
Thank for the reply. Some interesting thoughts on this. I wonder what the next election, which would be held by January 1979 would look like. Is it likely (this is my favourite scenario) that some if Labour goes more left-wing in the interim, some right-wing Labour MPs will join a Heath-led National Govt?

If Heath continues becoming ever more centrist is it likely that some of the more right-wing Conseratives will form their own party. The next election after this could be interesting.
The Conservative Party is nothing if not pragmatic and they will not split like Labour did when the Gang of Four formed the SDP. Rather, discontented MPs will conduct one of their famous "Night of the Long Knives" operations from Central Office.

Heath was distancing himself more and more from the core of the political party (but not the rank and file members) and I think it inevitable that he should fall to some dark horse candidate as any election victory in 1974 would be marginal at best.

National Governments in British Politics have always been Conservative dominated and I don't think that the Labour Party of the 1970s would allow themselves to be used in this way because there are too many strong characters rather than weak subversives. Add into the mix that many Labour MPs were looking towards Moscow for guidance on socialist activities and you would have a rebellion if Wilson (or successor) even contemplated the idea.

As I said in another of these 1970s UK political scenarios, the 1979 was one of the most crucial in British 20th Century History as revenues from North Sea Oil were finally flowing into the Treasury and whomsoever was to win the election that year would be able to determine how these revenues would be spent. Thatcher of course decided to slash income tax but another leader might decide to do something quite different.
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