Posted: June 14th, 2021

Assess the Impact of the Suez Crisis on the Conservative

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Assess the impact of the Suez crisis on the conservative party 1955-1959 The conservative party managed to recuperate after the Suez crisis, which was a major low point in the party’s history. But how could the party bounce back after such a major event? The conservative’s policies changed to cater of everyone with re-established the conservatives as a strong party. The Suez crisis greatly affected the conservative party as a whole. For an example the lack of trust with the party.
Eden secretly colluded with the Israelis, even when this want known by the public the war between the Israelis and the Egyptians looked like a convenient excuse to seize the canal. However aside from this inconvenience the conservative’s social policies had changed increasing the party’s popularity. Such as the economic prosperity at the time. Things such as TVs were becoming increasingly common in people homes. White good such as fridges and washing machines were too becoming increasingly common this prosperity ment people didn’t want change because the quality of life was getting better and there was no need for a change in government.
And, as a result of perhaps the most distinctive Conservative policy of these years, home ownership rose from some 30 per cent to nearly 50 per cent, as the famous pledge given in 1950 to build 300, 000 new homes a year was redeemed by Macmillan as Housing Minister after 1951 – giving substance to the great Tory ideal of a property-owning democracy popularised by Anthony Eden after the war, as did the increase in personal savings from under ? 200 million to nearly ? 2, 000 million.

Welfarism was also a policy of the conservative party, it ment that the poor were looked after by the government more than before by being provided council houses and of course the free healthcare provided by the NHS. The post-war „baby boom? meant that there was in any case a need for more schools and teachers, but a series of reports arguably both highlighted the importance of education and influenced policy development. The Education Act 1944 had laid the foundations for a system of secondary education grounded in the idea of selection through the „11-plus? xamination, with some children progressing to grammar schools and others to secondary moderns, and in some places technical schools. However, during the 1950s a number of local authorities began to introduce an alternative model, comprehensive schools, but the Conservative Party, including in its general election manifestos in 1955 and 1959 manifestos promised to defend and develop grammar schools. Following the White Paper Secondary education for all a major school building programme took place, albeit mainly of secondary moderns.
Within higher education, university colleges such as Sheffield and Southampton were upgraded to university status, and even before the publication of the Robbins report approval was given for seven new universities, including East Anglia, Lancaster, Warwick and York. The economic policy of the Conservative Party is to help create the conditions in which the British people can steadily improve their standard of living. By the end of the decade, things were not going well.
Staying in the Middle East had led step-by-step to the confrontation with President Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, and the disastrous decision to seek his overthrow by force in collusion with Israel. The 1956 Suez Crisis was a savage revelation of Britain’s financial and military weakness and destroyed much of what remained of Britain’s influence in the Middle East. In the colonial territories, more active interference in social and economic matters, with a view to speeding the pace of development, had aroused wide opposition and strengthened nationalist movements.
The economic policies of the conservative party were unconventional, such as using Keynesian economics, which was more on the socialist side. But sorting out unemployment was one of the reasons the party survived; it made them more popular with the working class. Keynes stated that Unemployment was due to a deficiency in the demand for goods and services. Governments could, by adjusting their own spending, overcome that deficiency. Control of the money supply and interest rates could also influence investment. Macmillan was convinced that this would solve the unemployment.
The intervention in Suez was a disaster. US President Dwight Eisenhower was incensed. World opinion, especially that of the United States, together with the threat of Soviet intervention, forced Britain, France and Israel to withdraw their troops from Egypt. In Britain too there had been widespread outrage. A United Nations peacekeeping force was sent in to supervise the ceasefire and to restore order. The Suez Canal was cleared and reopened, but Britain in particular found it’s standing with the US weakened and its influence ‘east of Suez’ diminished by the incident.
The Suez Crisis strained Anglo-American relations, but as Cold War Allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) they continued to cooperate, and by 1962 Britain had adopted the US Polaris missile system. During the period of opposition between the conservsatives and labour, the feud between the Gaitskellites and Bevanites continued. In 1954 Gaitskell and Bevan ran against each other for the position of Treasurer of the Labour Party, which was seen as a stepping-stone to the position of Party Leader.
Gaitskell defeated Bevan. Following Labour’s defeat in the 1955 election, Attlee announced his retirement as Party Leader. In the leadership election, the Labour left rallied around Bevan, while the Labour right was split between Gaitskell and Herbert Morrison. Gaitskell defeated both, gaining almost sixty percent of the vote, and on December 14, 1955, became both Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. Harold Macmillan took over as Prime Minister after Eden had resigned over the Suez crises.
Soon after his appointment, Macmillan took part in a Ministerial broadcast so he could introduce himself to the British people. After seeing his performance, Macmillan commented that he had the “appearance of a corpse looking out of a window” and decided to learn television techniques. With his government losing by-elections and behind in the polls, Macmillan was confident enough to create events for television. During 1959 he visited the Soviet Union and made brief tours of most European countries.
In August 1959 he invited the BBC to No 10 Downing Street so a live informal discussion with the American President Eisenhower could be shown on television. Afterwards both leaders went on to a dinner party held in No 10. The broadcast gave the impression of a statesman like Macmillan who was above politics. The following week, Macmillan announced the date of a General Election, which he would win by a landslide victory. Macmillan knew that television was an important part of politics.
The conservative party’s reputation declined after the Suez crisis. However the conservative party managed to recover quickly, from foreign policy to housing the party changed radically, incorporating socialist policies such as Keynesian economics and increasing spending on the welfare state. Altogether the socialist side of the party played to their advantage and the party stayed in power for 13 years. The Suez crisis was handled badly by Eden but after his resignation everything improved from housing to the economy.

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