Arguably no decade in ‘post-war Britain’ has been more controversial for those seeking to interpret it than the 1970s. The 1979 election was fought partly upon differing interpretations of the failures of the decade that had gone before. Indeed, students are invited to begin this period of study – using Alwyn Turner’s introduction to his book on this period – to move beyond the anachronistic view of the decade as either an addendum to the 1960s or a precursor the 1980s.

By considering the events of this period on its own terms – students are asked how fair it is to interpret the 1970s as a decade of decline? in a holistic way – considering not only the experiences in Parliament and on the picket line – but in the classroom, the home, the street, and the discotheque. Was this the decade of Callaghan, Wilson and Heath or of Mary Whitehouse, Bernadette Devlin and Ziggy Stardust? And where does Jayaben Desai fit in all of this? By asking these questions, a Manichean story of either decline or progress becomes much harder to tell.

Lesson List

  1. Why did Wilson lose power in 1970?
  2. Was the Heath Government sunk by factors outside of its control?
  3. Were the Labour Governments of 1974 – 79 able to steer a different course?
  4. Why did ‘The Troubles’ escalate in the 1970s
  5. How diverse were Womens Liberation groups in the 1970s?
  6. What were the most significant developments in race relations in the 1970s?
  7. How ‘political’ were British Youth Cultures in the 1970s?
  8. What were the most significant developments for Environmentalism in the 1970s?
  9. How comfortable was Britain in Europe in the 1970s and how do we know? (SOURCE)
  10. Did the Cold War and the Special Relationship take a new direction in the 1970s?
  11. Revision : How fair is it to interpret the 1970s as a decade of decline?



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