Britain decides_ the first european referendum 1975 _ history extra

On 4 June 1975, just hours before the polls opened in Britain’s first national referendum, two men in top hats and tails fought a duel in St James’s Park. Currency system introduced in britain in 1971 They were there as representatives of the Eldon League, a student dining club whose motto was ‘forwards into the past’, to settle the question of British membership of the European Community. Currency of great britain Before a hushed and anxious crowd, the two champions paced out the ground, turned and opened fire – not with pistols, but with champagne bottles handed to them by their seconds. What is the currency of great britain As the heavens thundered to the roar of champagne corks, a lucky shot blew one man’s top hat clean from his shoulders.


Great britain currency symbol His opponent, a young lawyer and Conservative activist named Neil Hamilton, was declared victorious, and it was at once agreed that the League would oppose British membership.

Britain had joined the European Economic Community – or the Common Market, as it was widely known – on 1 January 1973. What currency does uk use After two failed attempts in the 1960s, success was finally achieved by the Conservative government of Ted Heath, who had come to power in 1970 promising “nothing less” than “to change the course of history of this nation”. Currency of london england Joining the EEC was central to that ambition; yet his achievement was almost throttled at birth. Currency of england in pakistan When the Heath government fell in 1974 it was replaced by a Labour administration that was bitterly divided on Europe. What currency is used in britain To hold his party together, the new prime minister, Harold Wilson, made a twofold promise: he would renegotiate the terms of membership, then put them to the people in a referendum. Currency for britain It was an offer that David Cameron would repeat more than four decades later.

British prime minister Harold Wilson smoking his pipe as he listens to journalists’ questions at the Labour Party election conference, Smith Square, London, 4 October 1974. What is the currency of britain (Photo by Monti Spry/Central Press/Getty Images) We’re not in Kansas anymore

Comparing the referendums of 1975 and 2016 reminds us just how fundamentally British politics has changed in the meantime. What currency does england use 2013 In 1975 it was the Conservative Party that was most enthusiastically supportive of membership. The currency of britain Its new leader, Margaret Thatcher, called for “a massive Yes” to Europe, and stumped the country in a woolly jumper made up of the flags of the member states. Great britain currency name The campaign for withdrawal was dominated by the Labour left, under the charismatic leadership of the secretary of state for industry, Tony Benn. Currency used in britain Newspapers like The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express, which would later become fiercely Eurosceptic, all campaigned to keep Britain in Europe. What does england use for currency Every national newspaper backed a vote to stay in, save only for The Spectator and The Morning Star.

The geography of Euroscepticism was also very different. Great britain currency exchange rate In 1975 it was England – especially the south of England – that was most staunchly European. Best uk currency exchange Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were much more sceptical; indeed, the nightmare for Unionists was that England would vote to stay in, while the rest of the UK voted to leave. The currency of great britain In 2016, Nicola Sturgeon has become a key figure in the Remain campaign; in 1975, a young Alex Salmond warned that “Scotland knows from bitter experience what treatment is in store for a powerless region of a common market”.

The newly elected Conservative Party leader of the opposition Margaret Thatcher lending her support to ‘Keep Britain in Europe’ campaigners in Parliament Square, London, 4 June 1975. Currency gbp vs euro Thatcher is seen wearing a sweater featuring the flags of European member states. Great britain currency to us dollar (Photo by P Floyd/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Different issues also predominated. Currency rate of great britain pound Immigration was barely mentioned in 1975: at a time when Britain was seen as “the sick man of Europe”, nobody thought that German and French workers were anxious to come and work in the UK. Currency great britain ‘Anti-marketeers’ were more worried about outward migration, with young Britons forced to seek work on the continent. What currency does the uk use Conversely, questions about food, fishing and the Common Agricultural Policy loomed considerably larger for a generation that could remember post-war rationing. Currency in london england Voters were encouraged to think of the Community as “the Common Super-market”: “Well stocked shelves”; “Plenty of choice”; and “just around the corner”. Great britain currency Margaret Thatcher warned of food shortages if Britain withdrew from the EEC, insisting that “most housewives would rather pay a little more than risk a bare cupboard”.

A recurrent theme of the campaign in the 1970s was the memory of war. Great britain currency news 1975, it is worth remembering, was closer in time to the end of the First World War than we are today to the Second. What currency is used in great britain Men like Ted Heath, Willie Whitelaw, Tony Benn and Enoch Powell had all seen military service, and the prospects for peace weighed heavily on the campaign. Currency of england pound “Nationalism Kills”, one poster declared. Currency britain “No More Civil Wars”, said another. Currency gbp pln And yet another reminded voters that “Forty million people died in two European wars this century. Great britain currency rate Better lose a little national sovereignty than a son or daughter”.

This was a wartime election in another sense, too. Great britain currency converter The Cold War was omnipresent in the politics of the 1970s, and the same newspapers that reported the referendum were also carrying the fall of Saigon and the defeat of American power in Vietnam. Currency gbp usd As the US struggled with the scandal over Watergate, the impeachment of President Nixon and the backlash against the Civil Rights movement, Wilson told the Cabinet bluntly that American leadership had gone; in future, Western Europe would have to rely increasingly on its own resources against the Soviet Union. What is the official currency of great britain Heath claimed that a vote to leave, by weakening the cohesion of Western Europe, might trigger a Soviet invasion, pointing out that the USSR was the only major power to favour British withdrawal. Currency great britain pound This was also an important issue for the churches: The Church of England Newspaper told its readers that “if Christians are anti-Marxist, they should support an alliance that is anti-Marxist”.

Throughout the referendum, The Sun ran the strapline ‘Crisis Britain’ above its news pages. What currency does england use 2012 Following the oil crisis of 1973, inflation was running at close to 25 per cent; a balance of payments crisis was placing intense strain on the currency, while labour relations were deteriorating rapidly. What does england use as currency From 1970 to 1974, more than 70 million working days were lost in strikes, culminating in the collapse of the Heath government during its struggle with the miners. What is the currency in britain No democracy had ever survived inflation at that level for a prolonged period of time, and the disintegration of parliamentary government in Northern Ireland increased the sense of impending doom.

Tony Benn wrote in his diary in December 1974 that “the final collapse of capitalism might be a matter of weeks away”. Currency in liverpool england The foreign secretary, Jim Callaghan, put it more gloomily, telling the cabinet that “every morning when he shaved he thought that he should emigrate, but by the time he had eaten breakfast, he realised there was nowhere else to go… There was no solution that he could see to our problems”.

British Labour politicians Tony Benn (left) and Roy Jenkins debate the European Economic Community (EEC) with presenter David Dimbleby on a BBC ‘Panorama’ referendum special, London, 2 June 1975. What currency does england use now (Photo by Chris Djukanovic/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Both sides in the referendum invoked this atmosphere of doom. Currency for great britain ‘In’ campaigners warned that withdrawal would trigger the collapse of the currency, a public spending crisis and massive job losses, while Ted Heath predicted the return of rationing. Great britain military currency A recurring image in cartoons portrayed Britain as a sinking ship, with the great ocean liner of the European Community offering the only hope of rescue. Currency converter great britain pound ‘Out’ campaigners replied that it was membership that was draining the life from the economy. What currency does great britain use Tony Benn claimed that 500,000 jobs had been lost in the first two years of membership. What is the currency of great britain called Staying in, he predicted, would decimate manufacturing and inflict mass unemployment across the country.

The emphasis on risk probably resonated more in 1975 than in 2016, because it connected with people’s experience. What is the currency in great britain For a generation that had lived through rationing, seen oil prices quadruple in 1973 and queued for sugar in 1974, the prospect of economic catastrophe was not something abstract. Official currency of great britain Private polling in May 1975 found that more than half of voters expected “an immediate economic and political crisis” in the event of a decision to withdraw – a conviction that strongly favoured a Yes vote.

Right from the start, the 1975 referendum pitted two very unequal armies against one another. Best uk currency rates The ‘In’ campaign could call on almost all the leading figures in British politics – from Harold Wilson, Roy Jenkins and Shirley Williams on the left, to Ted Heath, Margaret Thatcher and Willie Whitelaw on the right. What is great britain’s currency They assembled a galaxy of actors, sports stars and celebrities, such as the boxer Henry Cooper, the Olympic gold medallist Mary Peters and the former England cricket captain Colin Cowdrey. Great britain currency coins Football managers Brian Clough, Sir Matt Busby and Jock Stein sent messages of support to campaign rallies, while novelists as diverse as Agatha Christie, Karl Popper and Tom Stoppard signed adverts in the press.

The ‘Out’ campaign had some big hitters of their own, such as Tony Benn, Barbara Castle, Ian Paisley and Enoch Powell. What currency does london england use The problem was that these were all quite controversial figures – the so-called “men with staring eyes” – encouraging an association between the ‘Out’ campaign and political extremism. Great britain currency euro It did not help in this respect that the IRA, the National Front and the Communist Party of Great Britain all advocated a vote to leave.

Enoch Powell speaks at Sidcup on the subject of the European Common Market, 5 June 1975. United kingdom of great britain and northern ireland currency (Photo by John Mitchell/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the big battalions of British society were all for staying in. Currency of great britain pound Membership was backed by the Confederation of British Industry, the National Farmers Union and the mainstream churches, while supermarket chains like Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer advocated membership in their customer magazines. Currency used in great britain Companies like IBM, ICI, Vickers and even Ladybird books campaigned for a Yes vote, canvassing their workers, shareholders and customers. What is currency of britain Business support for leaving was almost non-existent. Britain currency rate in india While the Trade Union Congress backed withdrawal, major unions like the GMB broke ranks and fought to stay in. Currency rate of england pound Vic Feather, the former general secretary of the TUC, told voters bluntly that “If we go it alone we will be knackered”.

This mismatch was reflected in the accounts of the two campaigns. What currency does great britain use now The government gave each side a grant of £125,000, on top of which they could raise whatever money they pleased. Currency in britain The ‘Out’ campaign raised £8,000 plus contributions in kind from some of the unions. Currency in great britain and europe The ‘In’ campaign raised more than £2 million. Currency gbp graph With all the major newspapers backing membership, the wonder was not that the anti-marketeers lost; it was that they put up a viable challenge at all.

The result of the 1975 referendum was a landslide. Decimal currency in britain On a 64.5 per cent turnout, more than two-thirds of voters opted to stay in. Great britain pound currency Every part of the United Kingdom voted for membership, save only for Shetland and the Western Isles [the electoral district which includes the Hebrides]. Currency in england converter The Daily Express published a celebratory editorial, announcing that the British had declared themselves “decisively” and “irrevocably” European. Currency of britain “What had been made out to be the most doubting and hesitant member of the Common Market has shown that it means business”.

After the results were declared, Harold Wilson told journalists that “fourteen years of national debate” had come to an end. Great britain currency denominations As our own referendum makes clear, that prediction was hopelessly optimistic. What currency does england use Just eight years later, Wilson’s own party would run for election on a promise to withdraw from the European Community. Great britain currency code Yet the decision made on 5 June 1975 had a lasting impact. Great britain money currency For good or for ill, British history since that date has been closely intertwined with the European Union. Currency exchange great britain Membership has affected everything from trade policy and the legal system to gay rights and the Northern Ireland peace process. Currency gbp chf In this respect, the political commentator Anthony King was right to list the 1975 referendum among the most important decisions in British history since 1945. What currency does britain use The vote on 23 June 2016 will almost certainly be closer than in 1975, but its consequences – whatever the result – will be no less momentous.

Robert Saunders is a lecturer in modern British history at Queen Mary University of London. Currency in great britain He is the author of Democracy and the Vote in British Politics (Farnham, 2011) and co-editor, with Ben Jackson, of Making Thatcher’s Britain (Cambridge, 2012). Great britain currency to usd He is completing a book on the 1975 referendum and blogs at www.gladstonediaries.blogspot.com