The Winter of Discontent and how the Labour Party Changed Since

Britain today is similar in many ways to the Britain of the late 1970s – the winter of discontent as it was known, was a situation that occurred as the then Labour leader James Callaghan attempted to reduce the rising inflation rates and strikes from many public sector unions led to mass disruption across Britain.

This was a huge part of the success of the Conservative party who were victorious in the 1979 election, and Margaret Thatcher and the conservative government that she led, went on to define the 1980s.

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Labour knew that they had to change things, and people still remembered the difficulties of the late 1970s, as fuel was in short supply, electricity was intermittent and working weeks were reduced due to lack of basic amenities.

Neil Kinnock, the Labour leader throughout the mid 1980s, is credited with putting in a lot of the changes to the Labour party that started off their success in the 1990s. He sought advice and recognised particular young MP’s – Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – and the potential that they both had.

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During the early 1990s, John Smith was the Labour leader – however, when he suffered a fatal heart attack a new leader had to be sought – and it was Tony Blair that won the contest. The charismatic Blair worked with Alastair Campbell to change the public’s opinion on the Labour party, making it a party that more people could identify with and vote for, washing away the memories of the 1970s.

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