Back to the 70s: Is history repeating itself?
Some 50 years ago we emerge into a decade of long hair, a surge in afro styles, disco-goers, and the ending of ‘The Beatles’ craze. The 1970s was an era that precedented modernity as we know it. Following the growth of the ‘Sexual Revolution’ that challenged the patriarchal system, and technological progressions that advanced the domesticity of microwaves, television and radios, there was the backdrop of poor politics; a declining economy riddled with inflation and high taxes, all of which lead to mass unemployment and falling industry power and growing agitation amongst the common taxpayer. It seemed as if the once majestic but corrupt Industrial Revolution would cease to revolutionise as it would’ve been liked.
The Conservative government of Edward ‘Ted’ Heath (1970–74), the second Labour government of Harold Wilson (1974–76) and James Callaghan (1976–79) maintained this economic catastrophe. With political tensions high as it was with the supposed ‘Socialist threat’ from the East permeating into the Labour Party and the persisting economic decline narrowly mirrors the situation of today.
What may differ however, is that in 2022 there is no consensus, and while a socialist threat may no longer be a fearful result, there may be a consensus within Britain and abroad due to the Russian War on Ukraine, and inflation hit 2022 at a forty-year high since 1982 at 12%.
Examining the past two and a half years of COVID-19 as a condensed version of post-War consensus Britain, parliament has been put under the pressure of immediate recovery. Meaning: restarting industries to pre-War (Covid) levels, regaining economic loss and incentivising returning to work as well as enjoying leisure.
However, the result of this need for immediate recovery has, in history and today, brought us to the same situation of inflation at almost 13%, cost of living rising as recognisable by fuel prices, and performing strikes encouraged by trade unions in rail, air, bin and waste workers, education, legal services, port workers, as the list continues.
During the 1970s, similar occurrences took place — the situation at London’s Heathrow Airport as ground workers refused to work on low pay, wage cuts, as did airline staff as a result of reduced flights and increasing fuel prices. The same can be said of 2022.
The government today may be different to that of the 1970s, one where Margaret Thatcher had yet to become Prime Minister and radicalise the British scene in the following decade. The government of today, if that it can be called, stands as a laughing stock to the nation. A group of educated, elitist members who are as corrupt as they can be, disdained from loyalty and a lack of comprehension of the poorest and most unfortunate. A government that mocked the intensity of the 2020 lockdown regulations, but eventually came to be mocked once all was released — a scandal of affairs, partygate, a line of resignations and a shameful departure without having actually departed yet.
The Winter of Discontent (1978–79) brought a close to the dire situation of the decade of gloom in Britain. As waste from businesses lined up the streets, a picture of a Leicester Square almost unrecognisable to today, stays presently vivid in one’s mind. A picture where bags of waste created a new foundation of the ground.
Is this predetermined for this decade — are we to fester with the dire situation of today for the coming eight years, until a radical politician seeks to reimagine the 2030s to rid the image of the torrid and sinking 2020s, the same way Thatcher did in the 1980s?
So, it raises the question — will this decade worsen? Or does Sunak have the guts to improve anything that threatens his social standing?