How did the Labour Party Recover from the Winter of Discontent?
The late 1970s were bad times for the British economy. The Labour Prime minister James Callaghan was running the country and inflation was high as was unemployment. Off the back of this, and the fact that he attempted to reduce the rate of inflation by putting restrictions on the wages of public sector workers, there were many strikes during the later years of the 1970s, with this being known as the winter of discontent.
This led to reduced working weeks, power cuts and general upheaval as the all-powerful trade unions went head to head with the Government – chaos ensued all over the country, as petrol stations closed due to striking lorry drivers and rubbish piled high with nobody to collect it. It is little wonder then that the Conservative party won the 1979 election, and with Margaret Thatcher as the leader went on to make changes that would define a generation.
The Labour party were then defeated in the next election, and they knew that the public were concerned with what had happened during the 1970s. Labour needed to prove itself and appeal to the public once again as not only a credible opposition but also as a party that could lead the country.
During the 1980s, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair became MPs – and were to make the party successful once again. With re-branding, changes in policies and help and advice from people like Alastair Campbell www.theneweuropean.co.uk/contributor/alastair-campbell/ by the mid 90s, public opinion had certainly shifted. In May 1997, Tony Blair went on to win the general election, and Labour once again were the winning party.