Introduction: the Wider Political Context

  • Ivor Burton
  • Gavin Drewry


An account of the enactment or non-enactment of public bill legislation is a mirror of political life during the period concerned. But, as Alice discovered, mirrors are not always all that they seem. Not only is what they reflect merely a limited segment of the real world but that image, restricted as it is, may itself be clouded or distorted. A very different reality may, in life as well as in fiction, lie behind the glass. The purpose of the present chapter is to provide some external points of reference and a sense of wider perspective to the images generated by our analysis of public legislation in the 1970–74 parliament.


Industrial Relation Labour Party Conservative Party Cabinet Minister Channel Tunnel 


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  1. 1.
    R. M. Punnett, Frontbench Opposition (London: Heinemann, 1973) p. 265.Google Scholar
  2. See also D. E. Butler and M. Pinto-Duschinsky, The British General Election of 1970 (London: Macmillan, 1971) p. 68, note 1, for a comment on the chairmanship and membership of the Advisory Committee.Google Scholar
  3. Mr Heath’s own recollection of these events is outlined in Edward Heath and Anthony Barker, ‘Heath on Whitehall Reform’, Parliamentary Affairs xxxi (1978) 363–90, at p. 365.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    For a discussion of Mr Heath’s style of leadership, with particular reference to its effects in exacerbating intra-party dissent, see Philip Norton, Conservative Dissidents (London: Temple Smith, 1978) especially pp. 221–44.Google Scholar
  5. A pertinent comment by one of Heath’s former colleagues on Heath’s positive and negative qualities as a leader can be found in Reginald Maudling, Memoirs (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1978) p. 207.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Philip Norton, Dissension in the House of Commons… 1945–74 (London: Macmillan, 1975) p. 610, where it is noted that Powell voted against the government in 113 whipped divisions, ten per cent of all such divisions in the 1970–74 parliament. Despite Powell’s formidable presence, the faction that developed around him was small and lacked continuity.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Norton, op. cit. (1978) pp. 37–8, citing Andrew Roth, Heath and the Heathmen (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972) p. 211.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    D. E. Butler and Dennis Kavenagh, The British General Election of February 1974 ( London: Macmillan, 1974 ) p. 24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 14.
    See chapter 6, below. For an inside story of the advent of VAT see Dorothy Johnstone, A Tax Shall be Charged, Civil Service Studies, 1 ( London: HMSO, 1975 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ivor Burton and Gavin Drewry 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivor Burton
    • 1
  • Gavin Drewry
    • 1
  1. 1.Bedford CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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