Seminars meet each weekday morning, 09.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study or exploring the many beautiful places in and around the city.
In this introductory session, we will identify the main challenges of Britain’s emergence as a post-imperial, modernised, European state, for its political system, economy and society; the function of the Prime Minister’s office, and the endowments of public image, skills, experience and political talent possessed by the eight men and one woman who strove, as incumbents of the office, to address the challenges.
The way the room for manoeuvre of Prime Ministers in the second half of the Twentieth Century was shaped and constrained by, personal political alliances, and by their relations with their political parties - Attlee, Wilson and Callaghan with the Labour Party and Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Home, Heath and Thatcher with the Conservative Party.
The contribution of the Prime Ministers to the gradual transformation of Britain from an imperial state with global pretentions and ruined by war to a medium sized, modern state with attitude off the coast of Europe. We will look particularly at the approach each of them took to financial and economic affairs, ranging from the highly proficient and technocratic to the profoundly amateurish.
The way key turning points were handled, including the Suez crisis of 1956, applications to join the European Union in 1961 and 1982, confrontation between trade unions and the state over the thirty years from the 1960s, and relations with the United States, over the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962 Falklands War of 1975, and the Soviet Union, during the Cold War, including its end in 1991. Field trip to the Bodleian Library Manuscripts department.
Summarising, we will inter alia consider how each incumbent drew on the authority inherent in the Prime Ministership, including harnessing the power of the British state, and what each in their turn contributed to the office and to the unity of the United Kingdom.
Destination: The Bodleian Library; Oxford
Excursion Rating: Moderate
Up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.