Harold Wilson

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Harold Wilson's Governments 1964-70
`Swinging sixties'
True for many, but mostly the affluent middle class and young
Those in the south or parts of northern cities in the 60s were a time of worsening economic
issues and even more lost confidence
Although Wilson managed to get himself linked to all the new movements, it should be
understood that of all the new enterprises coming out of Britain, hardly any were started by
government initiatives; they were down to individual brilliance and hard work
The 1964 election; why did Labour win?
Labour appeared younger and more in touch with the changes taking place in British society
The Tories , in contrast seemed old and stuffy and out of touch with British people
Wilson tapped into the current mood by talking of the need to tap into the white heat of the
technical revolution= party of progress
The conservatives and the public were tired after 13 years of rule
The scandals in the early 60s has undermined the conservative's authority and integrity
The selection of Douglas-Home damaged the conservative's attempts to portray themselves
as modern
Unemployment reached over 800 000 in '63 , undermining Mac's claim that Britons had
never had it so good
The failure to join the EEC under Mac showed how isolated Britain was
The conservatives took the brunt of the new satirists ire
Wilson ran a much better campaign
Many of the reasons for the victory are more to do with Conservative problems rather than
Labour being impressive
Wilson was from a lower middle class family and still managed to get into Oxford gaining
some of the highest marks ever awarded
Wilson had common tastes of food, drink and culture and easily came across a man of the
All agreed he was a very nice man and he was polite to all from his drivers to the Queen with
whom he got on famously
Pragmatic politician, not bound by theory, ideology or principles, but this sometimes made
him appear to be rather an opportunist
Wilson's retirement in `76
Despite his achievement in leading his party to victory in the next 2 elections of '74, he was
only in office for 2 years
He resigned in March '76 , succeeded by Callaghan
Surprising decision to step down so early was because he wanted to leave office before the
economic situation got worse/ because he was threatened with blackmail by the soviet
secret service over an affair he supposedly had with Marcia Williams, his personal secretary
Strains of office leadership led him to keep to an earlier resolution that he had made to retire
at the age of 60

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Labour wold break from stop go
economic policies associated with the Tories BUT the '73 oil price crisis destroyed any hopes
of doing that
Industrial unrest following the IMF crisis= there was scarcely a month during Callaghan's rule
that a strike did not occur
Moderate unions became involved
Callaghan's announcement in December '77 of a 5% ceiling on wage rises= angered the
Fire man strike `77
'77 mass picketing and violet clashes with the police at the Grunwick photographic works
September `79= 23 plants…read more


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