'A fascinating chronicle ...of the chronic collapse of confidence and competence, which ensured the acceptance of the Thatcher revolution.'
This book chronicles an extraordinary chapter in the history of twentieth-century Britain. Perceptive and authoritative, it casts new light on the last years of pre-Thatcherite Britain, when trade union barons played a dominant role in the country and the National Economic Development Council (known as Neddy) was a vital meeting place for goverment, business and unions. It gives a vivid contemporary account of what a wide range of influential and powerful leaders felt and feared in a period of relentless economic decline and deep social malaise.
The diaries begin in 1973 with the deepening crisis linked to the sharp rise in oil prices, and provide a first-hand, day-by-day account of the Heath government's handling of the dispute in the mining industry, the three-day week and the threat to democratic rule. They tell of serious people sitting around in candlelight discussing how soon the elected government would be replaced by an authoritarian regime; and reveal how in a dramatic meeting an opportunity to resolve the miners' dispute was missed, which eventually led to the downfall of the government.
The book goes on to cover the two elections of 1974, both narrowly won by Harold Wilson; Edward Heath's replacement as Conservative leader by Margaret Thatcher; Wilson's surprise resignation; and the near collapse of the British economy in 1976, under James Callaghan and the Chancellor, Denis Healey, from which it was rescued by the IMF.
Ronald McIntosh was director general of Neddy at this turbulent time, and was thereby in a unique position to observe events from the inside. He worked closely with Heath, Wilson and Callaghan, and was in regular touch with Cabinet minsters, MPs, newspaper editors, bankers and leaders of industry and the trade unions. His diaries give unique insights into the workings of the Establishment of the day.