James Callaghan

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James Callaghan
James Callaghan.jpg
70th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Term of office
April 5, 1976 - May 4, 1979
Political party Labour Party
Preceded by Harold Wilson
Succeeded by Margaret Thatcher
Born March 27, 1912
Died March 26, 2005
Spouse Audrey Callaghan
Religion Atheist (originally Baptist)[1]

James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, was a Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976–1979. The only Prime Minister of the 20th century to have previously held all three of the other Great Offices of State (Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer), he became Labour Party leader and PM following Harold Wilson's unexpected resignation.

His tenure was notable for industrial unrest, culminating in the Winter of Discontent of late 1978, a period of widespread public sector union strikes whose images of uncollected rubbish and unburied dead did much to keep Labour out of power for the next eighteen years.

Callaghan blundered in the timing of the 1979 election; after declining the opportunity to call the election in late 1978 when the economy was showing signs of recovery, Callaghan was stunned as everything went wrong in the 'winter of discontent.' Massive strikes broke out over the government's proposed maximum 5% pay increase, angering both union members and everyone else. Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher seized the offensive as Callaghan was on the defensive, battling not only with the campaign but also with the likes of Tony Benn, on Labour's left.

See also

Further reading

  • Davies, Andrew. To Build a New Jerusalem: The British Labour Party from Keir Hardie to Tony Blair (1996)
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. Britain since 1945: The People's Peace (2001)
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. Callaghan: A Life (1997).