The 1964 election was heralded at the time as a moment for ‘Modern Britain’. Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s famous demand for a technological change that was ‘white hot’ may have had a narrower political framing, but it promised a radically different decade for society to the one that went before.

Yet how far did this supposed vision match the experiences and events of 1964-70? Students are invited to appraise the extent that ‘Modern Britain’ was made, remade and contested between the rather arbitrary dates Wilson first arrival and departure at Number 10. The enquiry uses Wilson’s ‘white heat’ terminology to consider the pace and extent of change in different aspects of political, economic and social life – as well as considering how much the power the British were really willing to cede on the global stage. Such a story would remain incomplete without considering the early fracturing of the post-war consensus as well as the emergent political consciousness and power of a self-organised working class (in all its diversity) outside of the traditional institutions allowed for them. In so doing, a more complex picture emerges around the question of who welcomed, who remade and who resisted emerging developments in ‘Modern Britain’.

Lesson List

  1. How successful was Wilson’s leadership of Labour between 1963 and 1970?
  2. How well planned was Capitalism under Labour in the 1960s?
  3. Why did the ‘The Troubles’ begin again in the 1960s?
  4. What ‘liberal reforming legislation’ was passed in the 1960s?
  5. Did British society and culture transform in the 1960s?
  6. Did Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech reveal more than reignite racism in Britain?
  7. Did Labour’s foreign policy find Britain a ‘new role’? 
  8. Did Britain really experience the ‘white heat’ of a revolution between 1964 and 70?



Reading Pack

Source Pack

%d bloggers like this: