How Far Can Edward Heath’s Surprise Election Victory in 1970 Be Explained by the Failure of Wilson’s Own Campaign’

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Wilson’s ‘comfy and complacent’ campaign did play in role in deciding the 1970 election in favour of the Conservatives but it was only a minor one. Much more important was the combination of mistrust by the public over Labour’s ability to control the economy and most importantly; Labour’s complete failure to control the Trade Unions and the fears that this brought with it. Even a Labour minister himself, Richard Crossman admits in Source C that a ‘final warning on the trade figures’ put voters off. Whilst Source A does attack Wilson for his ‘highly personalised campaign’ and his ‘presidential’ style leadership, it goes on to suggest that there is no clear reason for why people changed their minds and voted Tory at the last minute. Despite his ‘too relaxed and assured’ campaign Wilson was not to blame but instead it was a combination of ‘unfavourable trade figures’ and Enoch Powell that swung the vote. This idea of last minute trade figures playing major part of the election is supported in Source C and although Crossman tries to suggest that in fact the economy wasn’t a ‘very big toll’ against Labour I feel this is a smokescreen. Crossman was a minister in Wilson’s government and he is writing just after Labour’s defeat in 1970. He would have an agenda to defend his actions both personally and as a minister. He would look to shift the blame from Labour onto other factors like ‘Heath’s warnings’ and the ‘result of abstentions’. However, if even he supports to some extent that ‘the endless repetitive reminders of rising prices’ was to blame we have to come to the conclusion that this was a major factor in the Conservative success. Labour had failed to control the economy for much of the 1960’s a period of economic crises culminating in devaluation in 1967. This was a humiliation for Wilson and Labour became the party of economic mistrust for arguably another twenty
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