chapter  3
41 Pages

Labour in Parliament: The Heath Government and the Politics of Opposition 1970–74

Edward Heath’s premiership undermined Labour’s unity and electoral prospects. Initially, his government picked up where Wilson’s left off. Reform of industrial relations and housing went further than Wilson had felt able or desired to go, but it was Heath’s pursuit of British membership of the Common Market that did greatest harm to Labour’s internal cohesion. What had been the policy of the Wilson government after 1966 became a fundamentally divisive issue in opposition. The problems that flowed from this were exacerbated by the Heath government’s economic and industrial policies, which led to the adoption by Labour of radical and unpopular policies, damaging the party’s long-term electoral prospects.