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What were the main factors of the collapse of " Social Democracy " in Britain?

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  1. The weight of the domestic context on policy making
    1. The electoral commitment to a leftist turn in policy making
    2. The domestic political and economic context
    3. The policy narrative of the first years: the beginning of the erosion of social democracy
  2. The external pressures on social democracy
    1. The sterling crisis of 1976
    2. Led to the implication of the IMF in the governing of Britain and in its move away from social democracy
    3. The effects of the IMF conditions
  3. The move towards monetarism: setting the ground for Thatcherism

After the Second World War, the British political and economic landscape underwent a radical transformation in its own foundations. Indeed, the previous economic orthodoxy that had characterized the governing of Britain was substituted by a Keynesian form of welfare state. It was the beginning of a period of social democracy, best known as the post war consensus, during which there was a general agreement around the five core characteristics of policy-making. The first of these pillars was the creation of the welfare state, which according to Rodney Lowe can be defined as a "synonym for a given range of social services provided by the government". In order to present and analyze this painting of social democracy in Britain, it is necessary to define the concept. As it is pointed out by Tom Clark, social democracy is in fact specific to a certain historical moment. Indeed, it is after the Second World War that the majority of Western parties included this notion and its implications in their programs.

[...] The Thatcher decade in perspective, Unwin Hyman Articles Rodney Lowe, Second World War, Consensus, and the Foundation of the Welfare State?, Twentieth Century British History 1 (1990) Peter Burnham, politicisation of monetary policy-making in post-war Britain?, British Politics (2003), pp. 395-416 Mark D. Harmon, 1976 UK-IMF crisis: the markets, the Americans, and the Contemporary British History 11(3) (1997) Chris Howell, British variety of capitalism: institutional change, industrial relations and British politics?, British Politics (2007), pp. 239-263 M. Artis, D. Cobham, M. Wickham-Jones, ?Social Democracy in hard times. The economic record of the Labour Government 1974-1979?, Twentieth Century British History (1992), pp. [...]


[...] With the purpose of exposing the main factors of the abandonment of social democracy in Britain during the Labour government, we will first examine the weight of the domestic context on policy making in the first years. Then, we will focus on the external pressures on social democracy, and we will end by considering this phase as a move towards monetarism, and therefore as setting the ground for Thatcherism. I. The weight of the domestic context on policy making When the Labour Party enters cabinet in March of 1974, it has to face the promises it had made during the electoral campaign of a sharp shift to the left in terms of political economy and of relations to the trade unions. [...]


[...] 32-58, p M. Artis, D. Cobham, M. Wickham-Jones, ?Social Democracy in hard times. The economic record of the Labour Government 1974-1979?, Twentieth Century British History (1992), pp. 32-58, p M. Artis, D. Cobham, M. Wickham-Jones, ?Social Democracy in hard times. The economic record of the Labour Government 1974-1979?, Twentieth Century British History (1992), pp. 32-58, p Henk Overbeek, Global capitalism and national decline. [...]


[...] The move towards monetarism: setting the ground for Thatcherism The acceptance of external conditions in policy making were a major factor of the erosion of social democracy in Britain under the Labour government. In fact, despite its roots and its early commitments to the post war consensus and social democracy, it had undermined Keynesianism in favour of monetarism and had returned to an orthodox way of economic policy making. This final section will concentrate on the consequences of this move away from social democracy, which culminated in what would be called the ?winter of discontent?, and will consider whether the measures adopted by the Labour government set the ground for Thatcherism. [...]


[...] Indeed, the first task of the new Labour government was undoubtedly to solve the social tension with the trade unions[20]. In fact, because of Heath's orthodox policies, the National Union of Mineworkers had begun in 1973 a ban to claim for wage increases. The consequence of this ban, to which it is necessary to add the interruption of oil supply, led the conservative government to declare a restricted work week of three days. When this situation outlets into a strike of the miners in February of 1974, Heath convokes the general election that would bring the Labour party back to power. [...]

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