Anglo-German relations during the Labour governments 1964-70

Anglo-German relations during the Labour governments 1964-70: NATO strategy, détente and European integration

Terry Macintyre
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Anglo-German relations during the Labour governments 1964-70
    Book Description:

    Speaking at West Point in 1962, Dean Acheson observed that Britain had lost an empire and had still to find a new role. This book explains why, in the following years, as Britain’s Labour government contemplated withdrawal from east of Suez, ministers came to see that Britain’s future role would be as a force within Europe. To this end, and in order to gain entry into the European Economic Community, a close relationship with the Federal Republic of Germany would be essential. This account of Anglo-German relations during the 1960s reveals fascinating insights into how both governments reacted to a series of complex issues and why, despite differences which might have led to strains, a good understanding was maintained. Terry Macintyre’s innovative approach brings together material covering NATO strategy, détente and European integration, making the volume fascinating and essential reading for students and enthusiasts of contemporary British and German political history. This book makes an important contribution to what we know about Cold War history, and should help to redefine some of the views about the relationship between Britain and Germany during the 1960s.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-222-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
  5. List of key events, October 1964 to June 1970
    (pp. viii-x)
  6. List of abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    For students of contemporary history, study of the conduct of British foreign policy between 1964 and 1970 offers a fascinating and rewarding insight into developments that would have a profound impact upon the future of Britain and its place in the world. As Michael Palliser, the influential Private Secretary to the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was to put it in a note of 1967: ‘To say that Foreign Policy is in transition is perhaps a platitude; it is certainly a truism. We are in an immensely stimulating but also exceedingly delicate and difficult period in our history.’¹ What Palliser...

  8. Chapter 1 Anglo-German relations in 1964 – continuity or change?
    (pp. 19-45)

    The Labour government that came to power in October 1964 promised the renewal of Britain. Labour’s election manifesto provided little evidence, however, that the Party harboured any enthusiasm for the ideal of a united Europe, with Britain at its heart. Rather, it would be the nurturing of Britain’s links with the Commonwealth that would form the bedrock of Labour’s foreign policy.¹ For a more detailed exposition of Labour’s foreign policy objectives, should it come to power, we would have to turn towards an article written by Patrick Gordon Walker, Labour’s Foreign Secretary designate, some six months before the 1964 election.²...

  9. Chapter 2 Nuclear sharing in NATO: hardware or software?
    (pp. 46-72)

    The question of nuclear sharing within NATO was one of the more seemingly intractable problems confronting Harold Wilson and the in-coming Labour government. The solution that commanded the field in October 1964, having been advanced some four years earlier by the United States as a counter to the increasing number of Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) capable of striking at NATO bases, and as tangible evidence of its commitment to the defence of Western Europe, was for a NATO multilateral force, the so-called MLF. The MLF concept envisaged a surface fleet of ships armed with Polaris nuclear missiles that would...

  10. Chapter 3 The offset agreements and their impact on Anglo-German relations
    (pp. 73-99)

    One issue perhaps more than any other seemingly had the potential to seriously undermine relations between Britain and Germany during the period between 1964 and 1970. This was the dispute over the sterling exchange costs of the BAOR. It became an issue to the extent that the cohesion of the Atlantic Alliance was threatened, that differences between leading members of Harold Wilson’s government and within the Labour Party were exposed and, important from the perspective of a study of Anglo-German relations, that the evident wish of both the London and Bonn to improve their understanding could have been undermined.¹ As...

  11. Chapter 4 Britain, Germany and the Harmel report
    (pp. 100-121)

    The Harmel exercise undertaken in 1967 by the members of NATO can be considered as fundamental to the continued existence of the Atlantic Alliance. Not only had the Alliance been shaken by President Charles de Gaulle’s announcement in March 1966 of his intent to withdraw France from the military organisation of NATO, but in January 1964, as Germany’s Defence Minister suggested when outlining the German government’s position on the problems of détente and security, ‘an uneasiness similar to that of 15 years ago can now be observed among the public … they are questioning the value of further defense efforts,...

  12. Chapter 5 NATO nuclear strategy and the adoption of ‘flexible response’
    (pp. 122-146)

    By 1964, the debate within NATO over nuclear strategy, of which nuclear sharing (Chapter 2) was but one element, was in full swing. At issue was the question of deterrence and how, should it break down, the Alliance would respond to any Soviet incursion into Western Europe. In this context, it is worth recalling the basic mission of the Alliance as set out in the Three Wise Men’s 1956 NATO report: ‘the foundation of NATO … is [and remains] the political obligation that its members have taken for collective defence: to consider that an attack on one is an attack...

  13. Chapter 6 Britain, Germany and the Non-Proliferation Treaty
    (pp. 147-173)

    Throughout the period from 1964 to 1970, an international agreement on measures that would prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, not least into the hands of Germany, was a prime foreign policy objective of the Labour governments. In this context, it is significant that the day before Harold Wilson entered Downing Street as the newly elected Prime Minister, the Chinese had detonated their first nuclear weapon, a development that would be bound to cause regional anxieties, and might provoke nuclear proliferation, and not just in Asia.¹ Initially, the Labour government pursued its non-proliferation policies through two channels: firstly, through the...

  14. Chapter 7 Détente, Ostpolitik and Anglo-German relations
    (pp. 174-198)

    A review of international relations in the 1950s and 1960s would show that Germany’s policies towards Eastern Europe varied according to both the prevailing state of East–West relations and the make-up of the government in Bonn. For some, the policies pursued by Germany should be considered in the context of ‘the phrasePolitik der kleinen Schrittei.e. being content with small steps in the right direction … the signposts were there for all to see: sovereignty … unification … and European integration’.¹ In practice, however, things were never as simple as this progression implies. Whereas the first step was...

  15. Chapter 8 Anglo-German relations and Britain’s policy towards the European Economic Community
    (pp. 199-226)

    Looking back on the 1960s and the time of the Wilson governments there can be little surprise at the turn of events that brought about Britain’s second application for membership of the EEC. Although President Charles de Gaulle’s veto in 1963 stopped Britain’s turn towards Europe dead in its tracks, the economic and geopolitical imperatives that had motivated Britain’s first application did not simply disappear. Rather, by the time Labour took office in October 1964, neither the economic advantages that membership of a trading bloc the size of the EEC would convey nor the importance of a potential boost to...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 227-236)

    The years between 1964 and 1970 are often considered as a period crucial in British post-war history, as a period when Britain faced the consequences of the loss of Empire and of increasing international economic competition. For the Labour governments under Harold Wilson, the challenges were immense: managing an economy beset by serious balance of payments problems, with all the implications this held for Britain’s world position; preserving Britain’s nuclear status, after intimating that it should be abandoned and, at the same time, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons; maintaining the viability of the Atlantic Alliance and the coherence of...

  17. Appendix 1 The Future Tasks of the Alliance – Report of the Council
    (pp. 237-240)
  18. Appendix 2 A Declaration on Europe
    (pp. 241-242)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 243-252)
  20. Index
    (pp. 253-260)