An Exercise in Optimism: 1966–70

  • C. J. Bartlett


Until the end of ‘confrontation’ in 1966 the government was unable to complete the main part of its defence review, which aimed at a defence expenditure by 1969–70 of no more than £2000 million at 1964 prices. The end of the crisis with Indonesia made it possible to make projections concerning both Britain’s immediate roles East of Suez and the forms they might take in the 1970s. The discussions that took place within the machinery of government leading up to the defence policy announced in July 1967, and to the final revision of January 1968 that was made necessary by the devaluation crisis in the autumn of 1967, will, in time, make fascinating reading. But it is already clear that some of the most powerful figures in the Wilson Cabinet, including the Prime Minister himself, came to revise their East of Suez policy with the utmost reluctance, and only under acute economic and political pressures. One may also guess, in the light of the evidence that has emerged concerning the role of the Treasury in the 1950s, that the latter was a severe critic of the defence estimates given the recurrent economic crises and the steady refusal of the economy to grow at the pace so optimistically envisaged by the government in 1964–5.


Indian Ocean Nuclear Weapon Defence Policy Nuclear Submarine Nuclear Deterrent 
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© C. J. Bartlett 1972

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  • C. J. Bartlett

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