Many believed that Thatcher offered an alternative to the Labour government, a change, so after Callaghan’s government was destroyed by economic crises, rising unemployment, hostile trade unions and political misjudgements the Conservatives had a landslide victory with 43. 9% of the vote. Before the Conservative rise to power with Thatcher, the Labour party had experience many troubles during their time in government, perhaps this is why the Conservatives won the General election. However was this win purely down to the conservatives and their policies or was it down to the failure of the Labour party.In 1978 Labour were met with, what could be, one of the most catastrophic events of their time in government; the Winter of Discontent. Source 7 expresses that “that winter enabled Thatcher to come to grips with Callaghan…Callaghan tried to downplay the crisis”, here Young is expressing that following this winter the conservatives were sure to win.
On the 22nd January, around 1. 5million workers came out on strike this was to get a pay rise. However, the Wilson and Callaghan governments had failed to meet their expectations and instead had alienated a large section of their supporters and had given encouragement to the opposition.Therefore, the Winter of Discontent may have foreshadowed the outcome of the 1979 general election.
However “Callaghan might have won if he had gone for an election in 1978”(Chris Rowe, Source 9) at this time Callaghan was ahead of Thatcher in the opinion polls, this shows his government were gaining support. Although his relaxed attitude did have its attractions previously but this was not ideal when the country were experiencing economic crises; when asked about the crises he declared “Crisis, what Crisis”.This attitude may have impacted on the result of the vote as it may have impacted the voter’s views on Callaghan – perhaps thinking he didn’t care? However, if Callaghan had made the decisive decision in 1978 for a general election, he would have most likely won this election but when 1979 approached Callaghan was unpopular and Thatcher showed an alternative. Thatcher herself wrote “We had made every sensible preparation for the election and for governing afterwards. If honest effort were to be the test, then we would not fail”.Source 8 is by Thatcher herself, this means that this source is likely to be biased towards the Conservatives and her leadership skills.
This source reflects the views of the British nation; Thatcher offered an alternative (a change) however many were still sceptical of her and her views. Although Callaghan was personally popular they had caused problems for many people in Britain, where as Margaret Thatcher was not a political magnet and therefore offered an alternative to Labour.Although Labour thought she was not a threat originally as time went on her beliefs in Family, Prosperity, Business and Self Help soon attracted many people and due to the discontent that Labour supporters felt she offered them an alternative government and an alternative Britain. During Labours government they had entered the EEC, been involved in the international oil price rise in 1973; had grim effects on Britain’s economy, it caused a recession as the price of Barrels increased from $2 to $35.
The IMF crisis deepened divisions in government and the Labour party.Labours disagreements with the unions lead to the growing number of strikes between 1977-79. All of these events had damaged the reputation of the Labour party and opened the door for Thatcher’s conservatives. Overall, it could be considered that the events from 1973 had foreshadowed the inevitable outcome of the 1979 election with a conservative win. However, it could be argued that if Callaghan had called an election in 1978 he may have won and as Thatcher would have probably not got another chance of running for Prime minister. It is thought that the conservatives were certain to win the 1979 general election.