Explore the BBC
3 Oct 2014
Click for a Text Only version of this page
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio

Radio 4
Radio 4 History
BBC History

This Sceptred Isle


55 BC - 1087

1087 - 1327

1327 - 1547

1547 - 1660

1660 - 1702

1702 - 1760

1760 - 1792

1792 - 1837

1837 - 1861

1861 - 1901

1901 - 1919

1920 - 1939

1940 - 1959

1960 - 1979

1980 - 1999


Contact Us


Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

This Sceptred Isle

Who Governs Britain?
In 1974 industrial unrest led to two general elections. Labour won them both and Ted Heath returned to the backbenches and eventually had to give way to Margaret Thatcher as leader of the Conservative Party. Wilson returned to government and gave the miners a 35% pay rise. Denis Healey became Chancellor of the Exchequer - he faced a debt of over £4 billion. Inflation was in double figures and wages were linked to prices. Wage increases brought the country to its knees and the government to the polls for the second time in a year. Labour won by 3 votes.

The violence in Ireland continued throughout 1974. The bombing campaign in England worsened.


  • A Soviet novelist who criticised the system
  • Imprisoned between 1945 and 1957 for his anti-Stalinists views
  • Writing to publicise what was happening in the Soviet Union led to his expulsion
  • Became a US citizen
  • Won a Nobel Prize in 1970
  • Became a Christian but continued to criticise this time the West for its materialism
  • Books include, Cancer Ward and A Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovitch

did you know?

In 1974 Richard Nixon resigned the presidency of the USA.

Barbara Castle's Comments On No. 10 After Edward Heath Moved Out In 1974
Tuesday, 5th of March 1974.
"Our first Cabinet at 5pm. The first shock was the sight of Number Ten. Heath must have spent a bomb on having it done up. Gone was the familiar, functional shabbiness. Instead someone with appalling taste had had it tarted up. New old gold carpeting everywhere; white and silver patterned wallpaper; gold moiré curtains of distressing vulgarity; "nice" sideboards with bowls of flowers on top. It looked like a boudoir. An attendant came up to me to say solemnly that, if I didn't like the new chairs in the Cabinet room, they had kept my leg covers from the old chair and could bring them back!
"No need: the old brass-studded chairs had given way to expensive new leather-covered ones. An interesting insight into Ted Heath's personality."

Select historical period

/home/system/data/timb/kwikquiz.dat does not exist

/home/system/data/timb/kwikquiz.html does not exist

1969 Prince Charles becomes the Prince of Wales
1969 Extra troops sent to Ulster - start of present "Troubles"
Knox-Johnston, first non-stop single handed circumnavigation
1970 General Election. Edward Heath becomes Tory PM
1971 Decimal Currency introduced
1972 The Northern Irish Parliament is replaced by Westminster
1973 Britain joins the EEC
VAT is introduced
Yom Kippur War
1974 Labour win General Election. Harold Wilson once more PM
1975 British EEC Referendum
1976 Harold Wilson resigns as leader of Labour Party. James Callaghan succeeds him as leader and PM
Race Relations Act
1977 Nationalisation of aircraft industry
Jimmy Carter becomes President of the USA
1978 New pope is John Paul II
1979 Tories win General Election. Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain's first woman PM
1980 Zimbabwe (South Rhodesia) independence
1981 Nott Defence review
1982 Falklands War

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy