Things were grim
in the seventies
Jobs and money were scarce and inflation was running at double figures. In an effort to combat this, the Labour government under Jim Callaghan announced a country-wide pay freeze. All workers were limited to 6% pay rises, roughly half the annual rate of inflation. Low-income workers were hit particularly hard, many finding them selves simply unable to keep up with the constant price hikes.
In an attempt to combat this, a huge series of strikes sprang up simultaneously around the country in the winter of 1978. Lorry drivers and factory workers were among the first, council workers, teachers and nurses soon followed. The entire country was brought to a standstill leading to a near total collapse in the basic functioning of Britain. While the wildly exaggerated reports of bodies being left unburied were untrue, schools, factories and other services came to a standstill.
The strikes ended when the Labour government surrendered to the strikers and lifted the pay freeze. At this point though the party was doomed – the country was in a deep financial mire and a resurgent Conservative party led by a power-hungry Margaret Thatcher was waiting in the wings. To make matters worse, the apparently nonchalant attitude of the government (captured in the infamous Sun headline – “Crisis? What Crisis?”) made them appear incapable of running the country. It would be almost twenty years before they regained power.