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Mile End Institute

Who Governs? Not You! 50 years since the February 1974 election

When: Wednesday, February 28, 2024, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Where: Skeel Lecture Theatre, The People's Palace, Mile End

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At this event co-hosted by the Mile End Institute and the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, Professor Tim Bale and Tom Chidwick will launch their new Edward Heath Academic Forum and host a panel discussion of 'eyewitnesses' to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the February 1974 general election.

50 years ago this month, Prime Minister Edward Heath called a general election. With severe economic problems including the quadrupling of oil prices, a particularly fierce miners’ strike and the introduction of a three-day week, Heath addressed the nation, telling the electorate that they had to choose between ‘a strong Government which has clear authority for the future to take decisions which will be needed’ and one that ‘abandons the struggle against rising prices under pressure from one particularly powerful group of workers’. The result was a monumental moment in British political history – the first hung parliament since 1929 – and, arguably, as Alan Bancroft suggests, consigned the ‘post-war settlement’ to the ‘intensive care unit, ultimately leading to its demise in 1979’.

To mark this significant anniversary, the Edward Heath Academic Forum – a new academic network to encourage study of the politics of the 1970s, and Heath’s contribution to British, European, and global politics – is holding its inaugural public event. Co-hosted by the Mile End Institute and the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, we will be revisiting the campaign, the Conservatives’ struggle to sustain the focus on ‘Who Governs?’, Heath’s efforts to form a coalition with the Liberals, and the eventual formation of a minority Labour government.

We are delighted to be joined by Dr Robert Saunders (Reader in Modern British History, QMUL) and a stellar cast of ‘eyewitnesses’ to the February 1974 election:

 Lord (Robin) Butler (Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, 1972-74, and Cabinet Secretary, 1988-1998)

• Sara Morrison (Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party, 1971-75)

More speakers will be announced shortly!

This event will be held in the Skeel Lecture Theatre in the People’s Palace at Queen Mary University of London, which is number 16 on this map of Queen Mary’s campus in Mile End. What3Words locator: https://w3w.co/fixed.reader.apples

Doors will open at 6.10pm and we aim to start at 6.30pm sharp. The discussion will be followed a drinks reception to which all are welcome.

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