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The Two Sick Men of Europe?

Britain and Italy between Crisis and Renaissance (1976-1983)

by Giulia Bentivoglio (Author)
Monographs 248 Pages
Series: Euroclio, Volume 104

Summary

At first glance, there could be few countries more diverse than Britain and Italy: one the cradle of democracy, a model for most other parliamentary systems; the other a young nation and the essence of political instability. Yet despite the differences, from the mid 1970s London and Rome shared a common destiny of struggle against the crisis which eventually led them to a new "renaissance" by the early 1980s. Drawing on a wide range of sources, this volume fills an important historiographical gap, casting new light on the unexplored relations between Britain and Italy during the Cold War.
The "Italian case" concerned all the major Western powers: Italy was generally perceived as the great "sick man of Europe", and her very democratic solidity appeared to be challenged, while also seemingly threatening the stability of the continent and the East-West balance of power. Yet there was another "sick man" in the Old Continent: in those years, Britain was to face a severe economic and monetary crisis which weakened her international stance and forced her to play the double role of "doctor" of the Italian disease while being a "patient" herself. It is a tale of two crises, and two ways out of them.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: A tale of two crises
  • The Italian crisis
  • The “Italian case” and its origins
  • The 1976 crisis
  • The Italian scene darkens
  • The dreaded overtaking and Italian economy
  • The British crisis
  • “Sunny Jim” and the ghost of devaluation
  • The greatest loan
  • All sick men together
  • Chapter 2: After the cure
  • Italy under special surveillance
  • The outlook for Italy
  • Loans and riots
  • Britain: on the verge of falling
  • Was Britain healing?
  • The Labour Party and the Italian Left
  • Chapter 3: Democracies on trial?
  • The “annus horribilis” of the Italian Republic
  • “The comedy is over”: the (new) Italian crisis and Anglo-American relations
  • An attack at heart of the State: Moro’s kidnapping and murder
  • “Things are not as bad in Italy as many people think”
  • Attempting cooperation: the European Monetary System
  • The project for the EMS and its reception in Britain and Italy
  • A special European relationship?
  • “Lobbying the Italians on the EMS”
  • Different paths: Rome goes in, London stays out
  • A winter of discontent
  • Chapter 4: Goodbye Seventies, welcome Eighties
  • Mrs Thatcher in power
  • Cyclone Maggie
  • No longer the top of the class?
  • First hints of recovery
  • The end of the national solidarity
  • In search of a new prestige
  • The new five-party experiment
  • The creation of a “lay bloc”
  • Internal struggles viewed from the outside: terrorism in Italy in the early 1980s
  • Chapter 5: Of faraway wars and Socialists in power
  • Is Britain great again?
  • The Falklands effect
  • The Falklands crisis and Anglo-Italian relations
  • The first Socialist Government in Italy
  • A new foreign policy in an unsettled political scene?
  • Here comes Bettino
  • Conclusion
  • Sources and Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series index

The two sick Men
of Europe?

Britain and Italy
between crisis and
Renaissance (1976-1983)

Giulia Bentivoglio

About the author

Giulia Bentivoglio, Ph.D. is Research Fellow at the Department of Political Sciences, Law and International Studies of the University of Padua. She is author of several articles and essays on British and Italian foreign policy in the 20th century. Among her publications, La relazione necessaria. La Gran Bretagna del Governo Heath e gli Stati Uniti (2011).

About the book

At first glance, there could be few countries more diverse than Britain and Italy: one the cradle of democracy, a model for most other parliamentary systems; the other a young nation and the essence of political instability. Yet despite the differences, from the mid 1970s London and Rome shared a common destiny of struggle against the crisis which eventually led them to a new “renaissance” by the early 1980s. Drawing on a wide range of sources, this volume fills an important historiographical gap, casting new light on the unexplored relations between Britain and Italy during the Cold War.

The “Italian case” concerned all the major Western powers: Italy was generally perceived as the great “sick man of Europe”, and her very democratic solidity appeared to be challenged, while also seemingly threatening the stability of the continent and the East-West balance of power. Yet there was another “sick man” in the Old Continent: in those years, Britain was to face a severe economic and monetary crisis which weakened her international stance and forced her to play the double role of “doctor” of the Italian disease while being a “patient” herself. It is a tale of two crises, and two ways out of them.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Abbreviations

Introduction

Chapter 1: A tale of two crises

The Italian crisis

The “Italian case” and its origins

The 1976 crisis

The Italian scene darkens

The dreaded overtaking and Italian economy

The British crisis

“Sunny Jim” and the ghost of devaluation

The greatest loan

All sick men together

Chapter 2: After the cure

Italy under special surveillance

The outlook for Italy

Loans and riots

Britain: on the verge of falling

Was Britain healing?

The Labour Party and the Italian Left

Chapter 3: Democracies on trial?

The “annus horribilis” of the Italian Republic

“The comedy is over”: the (new) Italian crisis
and Anglo-American relations

An attack at heart of the State:
Moro’s kidnapping and murder

“Things are not as bad in Italy as many people think” ←7 | 8→

Attempting cooperation: the European Monetary System

The project for the EMS and its reception
in Britain and Italy

A special European relationship?

“Lobbying the Italians on the EMS

Different paths: Rome goes in, London stays out

A winter of discontent

Chapter 4: Goodbye Seventies, welcome Eighties

Mrs Thatcher in power

Cyclone Maggie

No longer the top of the class?

First hints of recovery

The end of the national solidarity

In search of a new prestige

The new five-party experiment

The creation of a “lay bloc”

Internal struggles viewed from the outside: terrorism
in Italy in the early 1980s

Chapter 5: Of faraway wars and Socialists in power

Is Britain great again?

The Falklands effect

The Falklands crisis and Anglo-Italian relations

The first Socialist Government in Italy

A new foreign policy in an unsettled political scene?

Here comes Bettino

Conclusion

Sources and Bibliography

Index←8 | 9→

Acknowledgements

For their help and support during the long journey out of which this research developed, I owe many people a debt of gratitude.

First, I would like to thank the Department of Political Sciences, Law and International Studies of the University of Padua for the research fellowships granted me in these years. This research took its first steps during my participation in the Project of National Interest (PRIN) L’Italia nel contesto internazionale (1968-1981): crisi, trasformazioni, stabilizzazione, led by Prof. Antonio Varsori. To him goes my heartfelt thanks, also for his precious advice.

I owe much to the Gerard Ford Foundation for awarding me a travel grant that has been fundamental for my research in the United States.

The months spent as Visiting Fellow at the IDEAS Centre of the London School of Economics and Political Sciences have proved to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration. I would like to thank Prof. Odd Arne Westad, then co-director of the Centre, and Dr. George Lawson for their assistance.

I also express my gratitude to the scholars who offered to share their advice and knowledge with me during the years of this research: I refer, in particular, to Prof. Piers Ludlow and Prof. Mark Gilbert. Special thanks also to my colleague and friend Prof. David Burigana, for the encouragement and support.

I would like to thank the staff of the many archives I have visited during my research, in particular Jeremy Schmidt (Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan), Jeremy McIlwaine (Conservative Party Archive, Oxford) and Darren Treadwell (Labour History Archive and Study Centre, Manchester). I am also grateful to the staff of the library “Ettore Anchieri” of the University of Padua. Thanks to Paul for the final revision of this work.

Last but definitely not least, my final thanks go to Sebastiano, without whom this book would have never seen the light of day. Words cannot explain how much he has helped me through these long and difficult months, sharing my burden (most of the time, carrying it all by himself) and being my firm foundation in this shaky world. I hope I will be able to repay him in the life we will spend together. This book is dedicated to him.←9 | 10→ ←10 | 11→

Abbreviations

ASPR Archivio Storico della Presidenza della Repubblica, Rome

BBQ British Budgetary Question

BR Red Brigades

Details

Pages
248
ISBN (PDF)
9782807607217
ISBN (ePUB)
9782807607224
ISBN (MOBI)
9782807607231
ISBN (Softcover)
9782807607200
Language
English
Publication date
2018 (June)
Published
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2018. 248 p.

Biographical notes

Giulia Bentivoglio (Author)

Giulia Bentivoglio, Ph.D. is Research Fellow at the Department of Political Sciences, Law and International Studies of the University of Padua. She is author of several articles and essays on British and Italian foreign policy in the 20th century. Among her publications, La relazione necessaria. La Gran Bretagna del Governo Heath e gli Stati Uniti (2011).

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