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Domestic policies

In contrast to the situation in Northern Ireland, Welsh and Scottish nationalism remained essentially non-violent, and in 1997 each gained a devolved assembly exercising a considerable amount of local control.

At times, Britain itself appeared to be going the same way, as entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) - later European Union (EU) - in 1973 led to a marked erosion of national sovereignty and to a transfer of powers to Europe.

At the national level, government was controlled by the Labour Party (1945 - 1951, 1964 - 1970, 1974 - 1979 and 1997 onwards) and its Conservative rival (1951 - 1964, 1970 - 1974, 1979 - 1997), with no coalition ministries.

The Labour and Conservative parties shared major overlaps in policy.

These two parties shared major overlaps in policy throughout the post-war period, for example in maintaining free health care at the point of delivery - the basis of the National Health Service.

But there were also major contrasts, particularly between 1979 and 1990 when Margaret Thatcher held power as the country's first female prime minister.

The Conservatives tended to favour individual liberties and low taxation, while Labour preferred collectivist solutions and were therefore happier to advocate a major role for the state.

This was particularly evident in Labour 's support for the nationalisation of major parts of the economy during their pre-1979 governments. Most, in turn, were denationalised again under the Conservatives between 1979 and 1997.

Uncertain public policy in the post-war period played a role in the marked relative decline of the British economy, which was particularly pronounced in the field of manufacturing.

This contributed to a sense of national malaise in the 1970s, which also owed much to very high inflation and to a sense that the country had become ungovernable, as strikes by coal miners led to the failure of government policies on wages.

Spending became a major expression of identity and indeed a significant activity in leisure time.

Manufacturing decline was matched by the rise in the service sector, resulting in a major change for many in the experience of work. This rise was linked to a growth in consumerism that also owed something to an extension of borrowing to more of the population.

Spending became a major expression of identity and indeed a significant activity in leisure time. The move to 24-hour shopping and the abolition of restrictions on Sunday trading were symptomatic of this shift.

Shopping patterns also reflected social trends in other respects with, for example, a major change in the diet, as red meat declined in relative importance, while lighter meats, fish and vegetarianism all enjoyed greater popularity.

So too did products and dishes from around the world, reflecting the extent to which the British had become less parochial and readier to adopt an open attitude to non-British influences.

Increased foreign travel and intermarriage were other aspects of a relatively un-xenophobic and continually-changing society - trends that continue to this day.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/overview_1945_present_01.shtml)


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