James Callaghan

James Callaghan

Overview
Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

, PC (27 March 1912 – 26 March 2005), was a British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 Labour politician
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 from 1976
1976 in the United Kingdom
Events from the year 1976 in the United Kingdom.-Incumbents:*Monarch - Elizabeth II*Prime Minister - Harold Wilson, Labour Party , James Callaghan, Labour-Events:...

 to 1979
1979 in the United Kingdom
Events from the year 1979 in the United Kingdom.-Incumbents:* Monarch - Elizabeth II* Prime Minister - James Callaghan, Labour , Margaret Thatcher, Conservative-Events:...

 and Leader of the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 from 1976 to 1980
1980 in the United Kingdom
Events from the year 1980 in the United Kingdom.-Incumbents:*Monarch - Elizabeth II*Prime Minister - Margaret Thatcher, Conservative-Events:...

. Commonly known as Jim Callaghan (and nickname
Nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

d Sunny Jim, Gentleman Jim, Lucky Jim or Big Jim), Callaghan is the only person to have served in all four of the Great Offices of State
Great Offices of State
The Great Offices of State in the United Kingdom are the four most senior and prestigious posts in the British parliamentary system of government. They are the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary. Since 11 May 2010 these posts have been...

: Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...

, Home Secretary
Home Secretary
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

 and Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly referred to as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior member of Her Majesty's Government heading the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and regarded as one of the Great Offices of State...

.

Callaghan was Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...

 from 1964 to 1967 during a turbulent period in the British economy in which he had to wrestle with a balance of payments
Balance of payments
Balance of payments accounts are an accounting record of all monetary transactions between a country and the rest of the world.These transactions include payments for the country's exports and imports of goods, services, financial capital, and financial transfers...

 deficit and speculative attacks on the pound sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

.
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Quotations

Never let me hear anyone say again that a Socialist State cannot provide outlets for those with initiative. The rewards given to ability in the U.S.S.R. at all levels are far greater than those given to the employed in capitalist Britain. I have seen it and it works.

Reynolds News (17 March, 1946).

I have not the slightest doubt that the economic measures and the Socialist measures which one will find in the countries of Eastern Europe, will become increasingly powerful against the unco-ordinated, planless society in which the West is living at present.

Hansard, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 632, col. 679.

I hate putting up taxes.

Interview on BBC television, 20 May, 1965.

Those who advocate devaluation are calling for a reduction in the wage levels and the real wage standards of every member of the working class.

"Chancellor stands by three per cent growth and no devaluation", The Times, 25 July 1967, p. 13

If we have to prove our Europeanism by accepting that French is the dominant language in the Community, then my answer is quite clear, and I will say it in French in order to prevent any misunderstanding: Non, merci beaucoup.

Speech at Southampton, 25 May, 1971

First of all, please make sure that you go and vote in the Common Market referendum on Thursday. And secondly, the Government asks you to vote 'Yes', clearly and unmistakeably.

Referendum broadcast, 2 June, 1975.

But the policies of the 1960s would not be successful today. No more would general import controls.They benefit some home industries at the expense of the livelihood of everyone working in exports. We would be robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Speech at Woolwich, 30 January, 1976.

When we reject unemployment as an economic instrument — as we do — and when we reject also superficial remedies, as socialists must, then we must ask ourselves unflinchingly what is the cause of high unemployment. Quite simply and unequivocally, it is caused by paying ourselves more than the value of what we produce. There are no scapegoats.

Labour Party Annual Conference Report 1976, p. 188.
Encyclopedia
Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

, PC (27 March 1912 – 26 March 2005), was a British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 Labour politician
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 from 1976
1976 in the United Kingdom
Events from the year 1976 in the United Kingdom.-Incumbents:*Monarch - Elizabeth II*Prime Minister - Harold Wilson, Labour Party , James Callaghan, Labour-Events:...

 to 1979
1979 in the United Kingdom
Events from the year 1979 in the United Kingdom.-Incumbents:* Monarch - Elizabeth II* Prime Minister - James Callaghan, Labour , Margaret Thatcher, Conservative-Events:...

 and Leader of the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 from 1976 to 1980
1980 in the United Kingdom
Events from the year 1980 in the United Kingdom.-Incumbents:*Monarch - Elizabeth II*Prime Minister - Margaret Thatcher, Conservative-Events:...

. Commonly known as Jim Callaghan (and nickname
Nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

d Sunny Jim, Gentleman Jim, Lucky Jim or Big Jim), Callaghan is the only person to have served in all four of the Great Offices of State
Great Offices of State
The Great Offices of State in the United Kingdom are the four most senior and prestigious posts in the British parliamentary system of government. They are the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary. Since 11 May 2010 these posts have been...

: Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...

, Home Secretary
Home Secretary
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

 and Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly referred to as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior member of Her Majesty's Government heading the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and regarded as one of the Great Offices of State...

.

Callaghan was Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...

 from 1964 to 1967 during a turbulent period in the British economy in which he had to wrestle with a balance of payments
Balance of payments
Balance of payments accounts are an accounting record of all monetary transactions between a country and the rest of the world.These transactions include payments for the country's exports and imports of goods, services, financial capital, and financial transfers...

 deficit and speculative attacks on the pound sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

. In November 1967, the Government was forced to devalue the pound sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

 despite having already denied this would be done, both publicly and to the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

. Callaghan offered to resign, but was persuaded to swap his ministerial post with Roy Jenkins
Roy Jenkins
Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead OM, PC was a British politician.The son of a Welsh coal miner who later became a union official and Labour MP, Roy Jenkins served with distinction in World War II. Elected to Parliament as a Labour member in 1948, he served in several major posts in...

, becoming Home Secretary
Home Secretary
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

 from 1967 to 1970. In that capacity, Callaghan took the decision to use the Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 to support the police
Royal Ulster Constabulary
The Royal Ulster Constabulary was the name of the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2000. Following the awarding of the George Cross in 2000, it was subsequently known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC. It was founded on 1 June 1922 out of the Royal Irish Constabulary...

 in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, after a request from the Northern Ireland Government.

The Labour Party lost the General Election in 1970
United Kingdom general election, 1970
The United Kingdom general election of 1970 was held on 18 June 1970, and resulted in a surprise victory for the Conservative Party under leader Edward Heath, who defeated the Labour Party under Harold Wilson. The election also saw the Liberal Party and its new leader Jeremy Thorpe lose half their...

, but Callaghan returned to office as Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly referred to as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior member of Her Majesty's Government heading the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and regarded as one of the Great Offices of State...

 in March 1974, taking responsibility for renegotiating the terms of Britain's membership of the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 (EEC or "Common Market"), and supporting a 'Yes' vote in the 1975 referendum for the UK to remain in the EEC. When Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 resigned in 1976, Callaghan was elected the new Labour leader.

Labour had already lost its majority in the House of Commons when he became Prime Minister and lost further seats at by-elections and through defections, forcing Callaghan to deal with minor parties such as the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 especially in the Lib-Lab pact
Lib-Lab pact
In British politics, a Lib-Lab pact is a working arrangement between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party.There have been four such arrangements, and one alleged proposal, at the national level...

 from 1977 to 1978, the Ulster Unionists, Scottish National Party
Scottish National Party
The Scottish National Party is a social-democratic political party in Scotland which campaigns for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom....

 and even Independents. Industrial disputes and widespread strikes in the "Winter of Discontent
Winter of Discontent
The "Winter of Discontent" is an expression, popularised by the British media, referring to the winter of 1978–79 in the United Kingdom, during which there were widespread strikes by local authority trade unions demanding larger pay rises for their members, because the Labour government of...

" of 1978–79, made Callaghan's government unpopular and the defeat of the referendum on devolution for Scotland led to the passage of a motion of no confidence on 28 March 1979. This was followed by a defeat by Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

's Conservative Party in the ensuing general election
United Kingdom general election, 1979
The United Kingdom general election of 1979 was held on 3 May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. The Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher ousted the incumbent Labour government of James Callaghan with a parliamentary majority of 43 seats...

.

1912 to 1944: early life and career


James Callaghan was born at 38 Funtington Road, Copnor, Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

, England on 27 March 1912. He was named after his father, also James Callaghan, who was of Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 descent and was a Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 Chief Petty Officer
Chief Petty Officer
A chief petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer in many navies and coast guards.-Canada:"Chief Petty Officer" refers to two ranks in the Canadian Navy...

; he died in 1921, when Callaghan was nine years old. His mother was Charlotte Callaghan née Cundy (born 1880). He had an older sister, Dorothy Gertrude Callaghan (born 1904). He attended Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 Northern Secondary School (now Mayfield School
Mayfield School (Portsmouth)
Mayfield School is a mixed comprehensive school in Mayfield Road, North End, Portsmouth.-Admissions:The School are currently Employing a new Headteacher. This is after former headteacher Derek Trimmer has taken up the heads job at Hove Park School in Brighton and Hove. The school is now an Arts...

). He gained the Senior Oxford Certificate in 1929, but could not afford entrance to university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

, and instead sat the Civil Service
Civil service
The term civil service has two distinct meanings:* A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations....

 Entrance Exam.

At the age of 17, Callaghan left to work as a clerk for the Inland Revenue
Inland Revenue
The Inland Revenue was, until April 2005, a department of the British Government responsible for the collection of direct taxation, including income tax, national insurance contributions, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, corporation tax, petroleum revenue tax and stamp duty...

. While working as a Tax Inspector, Callaghan was instrumental in establishing the Association of Officers of Taxes as a Trade Union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 for those in his profession and became a member of its National Executive. Whilst at the Inland Revenue offices in Kent, in 1931, he joined the Maidstone
Maidstone
Maidstone is the county town of Kent, England, south-east of London. The River Medway runs through the centre of the town linking Maidstone to Rochester and the Thames Estuary. Historically, the river was a source and route for much of the town's trade. Maidstone was the centre of the agricultural...

 branch of Labour Party. In 1934, he was transferred to Inland Revenue offices in London. Following a merger of unions in 1936, Callaghan was appointed a full-time union official and to the post of Assistant Secretary of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation
Inland Revenue Staff Federation
-History:The Union was born in the late 19th Century, when a group of tax clerks met together to fight for higher pay, higher status and better conditions. At that time clerks were hired by surveyors of taxes, they were usually employed on a temporary basis, paid low wages and denied sick leave,...

 and resigned from his Civil Service duties.

His union position at the Inland Revenue Federation brought Callaghan into contact with Harold Laski
Harold Laski
Harold Joseph Laski was a British Marxist, political theorist, economist, author, and lecturer, who served as the chairman of the Labour Party during 1945-1946, and was a professor at the LSE from 1926 to 1950....

, the Chairman of the Labour Party's National Executive Committee
National Executive Committee
The National Executive Committee or NEC is the chief administrative body of the UK Labour Party. Its composition has changed over the years, and includes representatives of affiliated trade unions, the Parliamentary Labour Party and European Parliamentary Labour Party, Constituency Labour Parties,...

 and an academic at the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

. Laski encouraged him to stand for Parliament. Callaghan joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as an Ordinary Seaman in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 from 1942 where he served in the East Indies Fleet and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 in April 1944. While training for his promotion, his medical examination revealed that he was suffering from tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 and was admitted to the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport
Gosport
Gosport is a town, district and borough situated on the south coast of England, within the county of Hampshire. It has approximately 80,000 permanent residents with a further 5,000-10,000 during the summer months...

 near Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

. After he recovered, he was discharged and assigned to duties with the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 in Whitehall
Whitehall
Whitehall is a road in Westminster, in London, England. It is the main artery running north from Parliament Square, towards Charing Cross at the southern end of Trafalgar Square...

. He was assigned to the Japanese section and wrote a service manual for the Royal Navy The Enemy Japan.

Whilst on leave, Callaghan was selected as a Parliamentary candidate for Cardiff South
Cardiff South (UK Parliament constituency)
Cardiff South was a borough constituency in Cardiff, Wales. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

. He narrowly won the local party ballot with twelve votes against the next highest candidate George Thomas
George Thomas, 1st Viscount Tonypandy
Thomas George Thomas, 1st Viscount Tonypandy PC was a British Labour Party politician and Speaker of the House of Commons. Born in Port Talbot, Wales, he initially worked as a teacher in both London and Cardiff...

 with eleven. He was encouraged to put his name forward for the Cardiff South seat by his friend Dai Kneath, a member of the IRSF National executive from Swansea
Swansea
Swansea is a coastal city and county in Wales. Swansea is in the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan. Situated on the sandy South West Wales coast, the county area includes the Gower Peninsula and the Lliw uplands...

, who was in turn an associate and friend of the local Labour Party secretary Bill Headon. During 1945 he was assigned to the Indian Fleet and served on HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth (1913)
HMS Queen Elizabeth was the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of dreadnought battleships, named in honour of Elizabeth I of England. She saw service in both World Wars...

 in the Indian Ocean. After VE Day, along with other prospective candidates he returned to the United Kingdom to stand in the general election.

1945 to 1976: parliament and cabinet


Labour won a landslide victory on 26 July 1945 bringing Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

 to power. Callaghan won his Cardiff South
Cardiff South (UK Parliament constituency)
Cardiff South was a borough constituency in Cardiff, Wales. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

 seat in the 1945 UK general election
United Kingdom general election, 1945
The United Kingdom general election of 1945 was a general election held on 5 July 1945, with polls in some constituencies delayed until 12 July and in Nelson and Colne until 19 July, due to local wakes weeks. The results were counted and declared on 26 July, due in part to the time it took to...

 (and would hold a Cardiff-area seat continuously until 1987). He defeated the sitting Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 incumbent candidate, Sir Arthur Evans, by 17,489 votes to 11,545. He campaigned on such issues as the rapid demobilisation of the armed forces and for a new housing construction programme. At the time of his election, his son Michael was born.

Callaghan was soon appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport in 1947 where, advised by the young chief constable of Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

 Sir Arthur Young, his term saw important improvements in road safety, notably the introduction of zebra crossing
Zebra crossing
A zebra crossing is a type of pedestrian crossing used in many places around the world. Its distinguishing feature is alternating dark and light stripes on the road surface, from which it derives its name. A zebra crossing typically gives extra rights of way to pedestrians.The use of zebra...

s, and an extension in the use of cat's eyes
Cat's eye (road)
The cat's eye is a retroreflective safety device used in road marking and was the first of a range of raised pavement markers. It originated in the UK in 1933 and is today used all over the world....

. He moved to be Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 from 1950 where he was a delegate to the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

 and resisted plans for a European army.

Callaghan was popular with Labour MPs and was elected to the Shadow Cabinet every year while the Labour Party was in opposition from 1951 to 1964. He was Parliamentary Adviser to the Police Federation
Police Federation of England and Wales
The Police Federation of England and Wales is the representative body to which all police officers in England and Wales up to and including the rank of Chief Inspector belong. There are 141,000 members as of July 2009...

 from 1955 to 1960 when he negotiated an increase in police pay with the then General Secretary Arthur Charles Evans
Arthur Charles Evans
Arthur Charles Evans, CBE is the author of Sojourn in Silesia: 1940 - 1945, in which he recounts his experiences of his time in World War II, between 1940 and 1945, in the prisoner-of-war camp, Stalag VIIIB....

. He ran for the Deputy Leadership of the party in 1960 as an opponent of unilateral nuclear disarmament, and despite the other candidate of the Labour right (George Brown
George Brown, Baron George-Brown
George Alfred Brown, Baron George-Brown, PC was a British Labour politician, who served as the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1960 to 1970, and served in a number of positions in the Cabinet, most notably as Foreign Secretary, in the Labour Government of the 1960s...

) agreeing with him on this policy, he forced Brown to a second vote. In November 1961, Callaghan became shadow chancellor. When Hugh Gaitskell
Hugh Gaitskell
Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell CBE was a British Labour politician, who held Cabinet office in Clement Attlee's governments, and was the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1955, until his death in 1963.-Early life:He was born in Kensington, London, the third and youngest...

 died in January 1963, Callaghan ran to succeed him but came third and the leadership contest was won by Harold Wilson. However, he did gain the support of right-wingers, such as Denis Healey
Denis Healey
Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey CH, MBE, PC is a British Labour politician, who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.-Early life:...

 and Anthony Crosland
Anthony Crosland
Charles Anthony Raven Crosland , otherwise Tony Crosland or C.A.R. Crosland, was a British Labour Party politician and author. He served as Member of Parliament for South Gloucestershire and later for Great Grimsby...

, who wanted to prevent Wilson from being elected leader but who also didn't trust George Brown.

Chancellor of the Exchequer


In October 1964, Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home (who had only been in power for 12 months since the resignation of Harold Macmillan
Harold Macmillan
Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, OM, PC was Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963....

) called a general election
United Kingdom general election, 1964
The United Kingdom general election of 1964 was held on 15 October 1964, more than five years after the preceding election, and thirteen years after the Conservative Party had retaken power...

. It was a tough election, but Labour won a narrow majority, gaining 56 seats (a total of 317 to the Conservatives 309). The new Labour government under Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 immediately faced economic problems and Wilson acted within his first hours to appoint Callaghan as Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...

. The new government had to cope with a balance of payments deficit and speculative attacks on Sterling. It was the policy of the whole government, and one in which Callaghan concurred, that devaluation should be avoided for as long as possible and he managed to arrange loans from other central banks and some tax rises in order to stabilise the economy. Callaghan's time as chancellor was to be during a time of crisis; with high inflation, high unemployment and an unstable economy with a deficit in the budget, a deficit in the balance of import and exports and most importantly conflict over the value of the pound.

On 11 November, Callaghan gave his first budget and announced increases in income tax, petrol tax and the introduction of a new capital gains tax
Capital gains tax
A capital gains tax is a tax charged on capital gains, the profit realized on the sale of a non-inventory asset that was purchased at a lower price. The most common capital gains are realized from the sale of stocks, bonds, precious metals and property...

, actions which most economists deemed necessary to take the heat out of the balance and sterling deficit, though international bankers disagreed.

On 23 November, it was decided to increase the bank rate from 2% to 7% which generated a large amount of criticism. Handling the crisis was made more difficult by the attitude of Lord Cromer
George Baring, 3rd Earl of Cromer
Lieutenant-Colonel Rowland Stanley Baring, 3rd Earl of Cromer, KG, GCMG, MBE, PC , styled Viscount Errington before 1953, was a British banker and diplomat...

, the Governor of the Bank of England
Bank of England
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in the world...

, who argued against the fiscal policies of the new Labour government. When Callaghan and Wilson threatened to call a new general election, the governor soon raised a £3 billion loan to stabilise the reserves and the deficit. His second budget came on the 6 April 1965, in which he announced efforts to deflate the economy and reduce home import demand by £250 million. Shortly afterwards, the bank rate was reduced from 7% down to 6%. For a brief time, the economy and British financial market stabilised, allowing in June for Callaghan to visit the United States and to discuss the state of the British economy with President Lyndon Baines Johnson and the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 (IMF).

In July, the pound came under extreme pressure and Callaghan was forced to create harsh temporary measures to demonstrate control of the economy. These include suspending all current government building projects and postponing new pension plans. The alternative was to allow the pound to float or to devalue it. Callaghan and Wilson however were again adamant that a devaluation of the pound would create new social and economic problems and continued to take a firm stance against it. The government continued to struggle both with the economy and with the slender majority which, by 1966, had been reduced to one. On 28 February, Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 formally announced an election for the 31 March 1966. On 1 March, Callaghan gave a 'little budget' to the Commons and announced the historic decision that the UK would adopt decimal currency. It was actually not until 1971, under a Conservative government, that the United Kingdom moved from the system of pounds, shillings and pence to a decimal system of 100 pence to the pound. He also announced a short-term mortgage scheme which allowed low-wage earners to maintain mortgage schemes in the face of economic difficulties. Soon afterwards, Labour won 363 seats compared to 252 seats against the Conservatives, giving the Labour government a large majority of 97.

Callaghan introduced his next Budget on 4 May. He had informed the house that he would bring a full Budget to the House when he made his 'little budget' speech prior to the election. The main point of his budget was the introduction of a Selective Employment Tax, penalising the service industry and favouring the manufacturing industry. Twelve days after the budget, the National Union of Seamen
National Union of Seamen
The National Union of Seamen was the principal trade union of merchant seafarers in the United Kingdom from the late 1880s to 1990. In 1990, the union amalgamated with the National Union of Railwaymen to form the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers .- The National Amalgamated...

 called a national strike and the problems facing Sterling were multiplied. Additional strikes caused the balance of payments deficit to increase and the 3.3 billion loan was now due. Unemployment was also rising; it had been just over 300,000 when Labour came to power, but two years later it was climbed to more than 500,000.

On 14 July, the bank rate was increased again to seven percent. On the 20 July, Callaghan announced an emergency ten-point programme with a six-month freeze on wage and salary increases. By 1967, the economy had begun to stabilise once again and the bank rate was reduced to 6% in March and 5.5% in May.

It was under these conditions that Callaghan beat Michael Foot
Michael Foot
Michael Mackintosh Foot, FRSL, PC was a British Labour Party politician, journalist and author, who was a Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1955 and from 1960 until 1992...

 in a vote to become Treasurer of the Labour Party
Treasurer of the Labour Party
The Treasurer of the Labour Party is a position on the National Executive Committee of the British Labour Party.Although a post with little power, in the past, it was often hotly contested by people who later became big names in British politics: Arthur Greenwood beat Herbert Morrison in 1943, Hugh...

.

The economy was soon in turmoil again, with the Middle East crisis between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 raising oil prices. Furthermore, the economy was hit in mid-September when a national dock strike lasted for eight weeks. A run on Sterling began with the six-day war and with the closure of the Suez Canal and with the dock strike, the balance of payments deficit grew to a critical level. A Common Market report suggested that the pound could not be sustained as a reserve currency and it was suggested again that the pound should be devalued. Wilson and Callaghan refused a contingency fund offered from the IMF because of several conditions attached. On Wednesday 15 November, the historic decision was taken to commit the government to a 14.3% devaluation. The situation was a great political controversy at the time. As Denis Healey
Denis Healey
Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey CH, MBE, PC is a British Labour politician, who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.-Early life:...

 in his autobiography, notes:
Before the devaluation, Jim Callaghan had announced publicly to the Press and the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 that he would not devalue, something he later said was necessary to maintain confidence in the pound and avoid creating jitters in the financial markets. Callaghan immediately offered his resignation as Chancellor and increasing political opposition forced Wilson to accept it. Wilson then moved Roy Jenkins
Roy Jenkins
Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead OM, PC was a British politician.The son of a Welsh coal miner who later became a union official and Labour MP, Roy Jenkins served with distinction in World War II. Elected to Parliament as a Labour member in 1948, he served in several major posts in...

, the Home Secretary, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Callaghan became the new Home Secretary on 30 November 1967.

Home Secretary


Callaghan's tenure as Home Secretary was marked by the emerging conflict in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 and it was as Home Secretary that he took the decision to deploy British Army troops in the province after a request from the Ulster Unionist
Ulster Unionist Party
The Ulster Unionist Party – sometimes referred to as the Official Unionist Party or, in a historic sense, simply the Unionist Party – is the more moderate of the two main unionist political parties in Northern Ireland...

 Government of Northern Ireland.

Callaghan was also responsible for the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968; a controversial piece of legislation prompted by Conservative assertions that an influx of Kenyan Asians would soon inundate the country. It passed through the Commons in a week and placed entry controls on holders of British passports who had "no substantial connection" with Britain by setting up a new system. In his memoirs Time and Chance, Callaghan wrote that introducing the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill had been an unwelcome task but that he did not regret it. He claimed the Asians had "discovered a loophole" and he told a BBC interviewer: "Public opinion in this country was extremely agitated, and the consideration that was in my mind was how we could preserve a proper sense of order in this country and, at the same time, do justice to these people – I had to balance both considerations". An opponent of the Act, Conservative MP Ian Gilmour
Ian Gilmour, Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar
Ian Hedworth John Little Gilmour, Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar, PC, was a Conservative politician in the United Kingdom. He was styled Sir Ian Gilmour, 3rd Baronet from 1977, having succeeded to his father's baronetcy, until he became a life peer in 1992. He served as Secretary of State for...

, asserted that it was "brought in to keep the blacks out. If it had been the case that it was 5,000 white settlers who were coming in, the newspapers and politicians, Callaghan included, who were making all the fuss would have been quite pleased".

Also significant was the passing of the Race Relations Act
Race Relations Act 1968
The Race Relations Act 1968 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom making it illegal to refuse housing, employment, or public services to a person on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national origins. It also created the Community Relations Commission to promote 'harmonious...

 in the same year, making it illegal to refuse employment, housing or education on the basis of ethnic background. The Act extended the powers of the Race Relations Board at the time, to deal with complaints of discrimination and unfair attitudes. It also set up a new supervisory body, the Community Relations Commission, to promote "harmonious community relations". Presenting the Bill to Parliament, the Home Secretary, Jim Callaghan, said, "The House has rarely faced an issue of greater social significance for our country and our children."

In 1969, Callaghan, a strong supporter of the Labour/Trade Union link, led the successful opposition in a divided cabinet to Barbara Castle
Barbara Castle
Barbara Anne Castle, Baroness Castle of Blackburn , PC, GCOT was a British Labour Party politician....

's White Paper
White paper
A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and are often requested and used in politics, policy, business, and technical fields. In commercial use, the term has also come to refer to...

 "In Place of Strife
In Place of Strife
In Place of Strife was a UK Government white paper written in 1969. It was a proposed act to alter the functionality of trade unions in the United Kingdom, but was never passed into law....

" which sought to modify Trade Union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 law. Amongst its numerous proposals were plans to force unions to call a ballot before a strike was held and the establishment of an Industrial Board to enforce settlements in industrial disputes. Ironically, if the proposals had become law, many of the activities of the trades unions during the Winter of Discontent
Winter of Discontent
The "Winter of Discontent" is an expression, popularised by the British media, referring to the winter of 1978–79 in the United Kingdom, during which there were widespread strikes by local authority trade unions demanding larger pay rises for their members, because the Labour government of...

 a decade later would have been illegal.

After Wilson's unexpected defeat by Edward Heath
Edward Heath
Sir Edward Richard George "Ted" Heath, KG, MBE, PC was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as Leader of the Conservative Party ....

 in the 1970 General Election
United Kingdom general election, 1970
The United Kingdom general election of 1970 was held on 18 June 1970, and resulted in a surprise victory for the Conservative Party under leader Edward Heath, who defeated the Labour Party under Harold Wilson. The election also saw the Liberal Party and its new leader Jeremy Thorpe lose half their...

, Callaghan declined to challenge him for the leadership despite Wilson's vulnerability. This did much to rehabilitate him in Wilson's eyes. He was in charge of drawing up a new policy statement in 1972 which contained the idea of the Social Contract
Social Contract (Britain)
The Social Contract is a term used to describe policy by the Labour government of Harold Wilson in 1970s Britain.In return for the repeal of 1971 Industrial Relations Act, food subsides and a freeze on rent increase, the TUC would be able to persuade its members to cooperate in a programme of...

 between the government and trade unions. He also did much to ensure that Labour opposed the Heath government's bid to enter the Common Market
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

—forcing Wilson's hand by making his personal opposition clear without consulting the Party Leader.

Foreign Secretary


When Wilson won the next general election
United Kingdom general election, February 1974
The United Kingdom's general election of February 1974 was held on the 28th of that month. It was the first of two United Kingdom general elections held that year, and the first election since the Second World War not to produce an overall majority in the House of Commons for the winning party,...

 and returned as Prime Minister in March 1974, he appointed Callaghan as Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly referred to as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior member of Her Majesty's Government heading the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and regarded as one of the Great Offices of State...

 which gave him responsibility for renegotiating the terms of the United Kingdom's membership of the Common Market. When the talks concluded, Callaghan led the Cabinet in declaring the new terms acceptable and he supported a 'Yes' vote in the 1975 referendum
United Kingdom referendum, 1975
The United Kingdom referendum of 1975 was a post-legislative referendum held on 5 June 1975 in the United Kingdom to gauge support for the country's continued membership of the European Economic Community , often known as the Common Market at the time, which it had entered in 1973 under the...

.

Election as Leader of the Labour Party


Barely two years after beginning his second spell as prime minister, Wilson announced his surprise resignation on 16 March 1976, and unofficially endorsed Callaghan as his successor. Callaghan was the favourite to win the leadership, although he was the oldest candidate; he was also the most experienced and least divisive. Popularity with all parts of the Labour movement saw him through the ballot of Labour MPs
Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1976
The Labour Party leadership election of 1976 occurred when former leader Harold Wilson resigned as Party Leader and Prime Minister.In the first ballot, held on 25 March, six candidates vied for the leadership: Employment Secretary Michael Foot; Foreign Secretary Jim Callaghan; Home Secretary Roy...

 to win the leadership vote. On 5 April 1976, at the age of 64 years and 9 days, Callaghan became Prime Minister – the oldest person to become Prime Minister at time of appointment since Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

.

Prime minister


Callaghan was the only Prime Minister to have held all three leading Cabinet positions – Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary – prior to becoming Prime Minister.

During his first year in office, Callaghan started what has since become known as 'The Great Debate', when he spoke at Ruskin College, Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 about the 'legitimate concerns' of a public about education as it took place in the nation's maintained schools. This discussion led to greater involvement of the government, through its ministries, in the curriculum and administration of state education, leading to the eventual introduction of the National Curriculum some ten years later.

Callaghan's time as Prime Minister was dominated by the troubles in running a Government with a minority in the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

: he was forced to make deals with minor parties in order to survive – including the Lib-Lab pact
Lib-Lab pact
In British politics, a Lib-Lab pact is a working arrangement between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party.There have been four such arrangements, and one alleged proposal, at the national level...

, and he had been forced to accept referendums on devolution in Scotland and Wales (the former went in favour but did not reach the required majority, and the latter went heavily against). He also became prime minister at a time when Britain was suffering from double-digit inflation and rising unemployment. He responded to the economic crises by adopting deflationary policies in order to reduce inflation, and cutting public expenditure - a precursor to the monetarist
Monetarism
Monetarism is a tendency in economic thought that emphasizes the role of governments in controlling the amount of money in circulation. It is the view within monetary economics that variation in the money supply has major influences on national output in the short run and the price level over...

 economic policies that the next government, a Conservative one led by Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

, would pursue in order to ease the crises.

Callaghan and his ministers did, however, introduce a number of admirable reforms during their time in office. The Rent (Agricultural) Act of November 1976 provided security of tenure for agricultural workers in tied accommodation, while the Bail Act introduced that same year reformed bail conditions with courts having to explain refusal of bail. The Police Act of August 1976 set up a Police Complaints Board “to formalise the procedure for dealing with public complaints.” The Education Act of November 1976 limited the taking up of independent and direct-grant school places and required all local authorities who had failed to do so “to submit proposals for comprehensive schools,” while the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act of 1977 extended local authority responsibility “to provide accommodation for homeless people in their area”.

Despite these difficulties, by the autumn of 1978 (shortly after the end of the Lib-Lab pact
Lib-Lab pact
In British politics, a Lib-Lab pact is a working arrangement between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party.There have been four such arrangements, and one alleged proposal, at the national level...

)most opinion polls showed Labour ahead, and the expectation grew that Callaghan would call an autumn election that would have given him a second term in office until autumn 1983.

Famously, he strung along the opposition and was expected to make his declaration of election in a broadcast in early September 1978. His decision to go on was, at the time, seen by many as a sign of his domination of the political scene and he ridiculed his opponents by singing old-time music hall
Music hall
Music Hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment which was popular between 1850 and 1960. The term can refer to:# A particular form of variety entertainment involving a mixture of popular song, comedy and speciality acts...

 star Vesta Victoria
Vesta Victoria
Vesta Victoria was an English music hall singer and comedian. Although born in Leeds, Yorkshire, Vesta adopted a Cockney persona on stage...

's song "Waiting at the Church
Waiting at the Church
Waiting at the Church is a popular British music hall song by Vesta Victoria. It is sung by a woman who has given her fiancee all her money to buy a ring or a house only to be left "waiting at the church" when she discovers that he is already married. It has featured in a number of films including...

" at that month's Trades Union Congress
Trades Union Congress
The Trades Union Congress is a national trade union centre, a federation of trade unions in the United Kingdom, representing the majority of trade unions...

 meeting: now seen as one of the greatest moments of hubris
Hubris
Hubris , also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power....

 in modern British politics, but celebrated at the time. Callaghan intended to convey the message that he had not promised an election, but most observers misread his message as an assertion that he would call an election, and the Conservatives would not be ready for it.

"Winter of Discontent"



Callaghan's way of dealing with the long-term economic difficulties involved pay restraint which had been operating for four years with reasonable success. He gambled that a fifth year would further improve the economy and allow him to be re-elected in 1979, and so attempted to hold pay rises to 5% or less. The trade unions rejected continued pay restraint and in a succession of strikes over the winter of 1978–79 (known as the Winter of Discontent
Winter of Discontent
The "Winter of Discontent" is an expression, popularised by the British media, referring to the winter of 1978–79 in the United Kingdom, during which there were widespread strikes by local authority trade unions demanding larger pay rises for their members, because the Labour government of...

) secured higher pay. The industrial unrest made his government extremely unpopular, and Callaghan's response to one interview question only made it worse. Returning to the United Kingdom from an economic summit held in Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and a population of 400,000. It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe...

 in early 1979, Callaghan was asked, "What is your general approach, in view of the mounting chaos in the country at the moment?"
Callaghan replied, "Well, that's a judgement that you are making. I promise you that if you look at it from outside, and perhaps you're taking rather a parochial view at the moment, I don't think that other people in the world would share the view that there is mounting chaos." This reply was reported in The Sun
The Sun (newspaper)
The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow and Dublin...

 under the headline "Crisis? What Crisis?". Callaghan also later admitted in regard to the Winter of Discontent that he had "let the country down".

The Winter of Discontent saw Labour's performance in the opinion polls slump dramatically. They had topped most of the pre-winter opinion polls by several points, but in February 1979 at least one opinion poll was showing the Tories 20 points ahead of Labour and it appeared certain that Labour would lose the forthcoming election.

In the build up to the election, the Daily Mirror and The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 supported Labour, while The Sun, the Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982...

, the Daily Express
Daily Express
The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977 and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year. Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers...

 and The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

 supported the Conservatives.

On 28 March 1979, the House of Commons passed a Motion of No Confidence by one vote
1979 vote of no confidence against the government of James Callaghan
The 1979 vote of no confidence in the government of James Callaghan was a vote of no confidence in the British Labour Government of James Callaghan which occurred on 28 March 1979. The vote was brought by opposition leader Margaret Thatcher and was lost by the Labour Government by one vote ,...

, 311–310, which forced Callaghan to call a general election
United Kingdom general election, 1979
The United Kingdom general election of 1979 was held on 3 May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. The Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher ousted the incumbent Labour government of James Callaghan with a parliamentary majority of 43 seats...

 that was held on 3 May. The Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 ran a campaign on the slogan "Labour isn't working" and won the election.

Callaghan's failure to call an election during 1978 was widely seen as a bad political miscalculation; after losing power in the election, Labour would spend the next 18 years in opposition.

Resignation, backbenches and retirement



Callaghan resigned as leader of the Labour Party on 15 October 1980, shortly after the 1980 party conference had voted for a new system of election by electoral college involving the individual members and trade unions. His resignation ensured that his successor would be elected by MPs only. In the second round of a campaign that laid bare the deep internal divisions of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Michael Foot
Michael Foot
Michael Mackintosh Foot, FRSL, PC was a British Labour Party politician, journalist and author, who was a Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1955 and from 1960 until 1992...

 narrowly beat Denis Healey
Denis Healey
Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey CH, MBE, PC is a British Labour politician, who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.-Early life:...

 to succeed Callaghan as leader.

In 1982, along with his friend Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

, he co-founded the annual AEI World Forum
AEI World Forum
The AEI World Forum is an annual meeting of business and financial executives, heads of government, government officials, and intellectuals. Held every summer in Beaver Creek, Colorado, it is sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and the Vail Valley Foundation, and it features a number of...

.

In 1983, he attacked Labour's plans to reduce defence, and the same year became Father of the House
Father of the House
Father of the House is a term that has by tradition been unofficially bestowed on certain members of some national legislatures, most notably the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. In some legislatures the term refers to the oldest member, but in others it refers the longest-serving member.The...

 as the longest continuously serving member of the Commons. He was by this time one of only three survivors of the 1945 general election, but the only one with continuous service. Michael Foot and Ian Mikardo
Ian Mikardo
Ian Mikardo , commonly known as Mik, was a British Labour and Co-operative politician. An ardent socialist and a Zionist, he remained a backbencher throughout his four decades in the House of Commons...

 also remained of the 1945 intake, but Michael Foot had been out of the House from 1955 to 1960 and Mikardo from 1959 to 1964.

In 1987, he was made a Knight of the Garter and stood down at the 1987 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1987
The United Kingdom general election of 1987 was held on 11 June 1987, to elect 650 members to the British House of Commons. The election was the third consecutive election victory for the Conservative Party under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, who became the first Prime Minister since the 2nd...

 after 42 years as a member of the Commons. Shortly afterwards, he was elevated to the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 as Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, of the City of Cardiff
Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

 in the Royal County of South Glamorgan
South Glamorgan
South Glamorgan is a preserved county of Wales.It was originally formed in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, as a county council area...

shire. In 1987, his autobiography, Time and Chance, was published. He also served as a non-executive director of the Bank of Wales
Bank of Wales
The Bank of Wales was a bank based in Cardiff, Wales, founded by Sir Julian Hodge in 1971. The company provided commercial banking services to small and medium-sized businesses in Wales....

.

In 1988, Callaghan's wife Audrey
Audrey Callaghan
Audrey Elizabeth Callaghan, Lady Callaghan of Cardiff was the wife of British Prime Minister James Callaghan and was herself a politician and campaigner and fundraiser for children's health and welfare....

, a former chairman (1969–1982) of Great Ormond Street Hospital
Great Ormond Street Hospital
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children is a children's hospital located in London, United Kingdom...

, spotted a letter to a newspaper which pointed out that the copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 of Peter Pan
Peter Pan
Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie . A mischievous boy who can fly and magically refuses to grow up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang the Lost Boys, interacting with...

, which had been assigned by J. M. Barrie
J. M. Barrie
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan. The child of a family of small-town weavers, he was educated in Scotland. He moved to London, where he developed a career as a novelist and playwright...

 to the hospital, was about to expire. Callaghan moved an amendment to the Copyright Bill then under consideration in the Lords to extend the term under which the hospital could continue to collect royalties, despite the lapse of copyright, and this was accepted by the government.

In July 1996, he was awarded an honorary degree
Honorary degree
An honorary degree or a degree honoris causa is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations...

 from the Open University
Open University
The Open University is a distance learning and research university founded by Royal Charter in the United Kingdom...

 as Doctor of the University.

In October 1999, Callaghan told The Oldie Magazine that he would not be surprised to be considered as Britain's worst prime minister in 200 years. He also admitted in this interview that he "must carry the can" for the Winter of Discontent.

Personal life


James Callaghan's interests included rugby
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

, tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 and agriculture. He married Audrey Elizabeth Moulton
Audrey Callaghan
Audrey Elizabeth Callaghan, Lady Callaghan of Cardiff was the wife of British Prime Minister James Callaghan and was herself a politician and campaigner and fundraiser for children's health and welfare....

, whom he had met when they both worked as Sunday School teachers at the local Baptist church, in July 1938 and had three children — one son and two daughters. Lady Callaghan died on 15 March 2005. Although there is much doubt about how much belief Callaghan retained into adult life, the Baptist nonconformist ethic was a profound influence throughout all of his public and private life.

James Callaghan died on 26 March 2005, 11 days after his wife's death and one day before his 93rd birthday, of lobar pneumonia
Lobar pneumonia
Lobar pneumonia is a form of pneumonia that affects a large and continuous area of the lobe of a lung.It is one of the two anatomic classifications of pneumonia .- Symptoms :...

, cardiac failure, and kidney failure. He died as the longest lived so far British former Prime Minister -- a feat he achieved 39 days earlier, beating Harold MacMillan's record.

One of his final public appearances came on 29 April 2002, when at the age of 90 he sat alongside the then prime minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 and the three other surviving former prime ministers at the time at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

 for a dinner which formed part of the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations, alongside his daughter Margaret - Baroness Jay of Paddington - who had served as head of the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 from 1998 to 2001.

Callaghan was cremated and his ashes were scattered in a flower bed next to the Peter Pan
Peter Pan
Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie . A mischievous boy who can fly and magically refuses to grow up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang the Lost Boys, interacting with...

 statue at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital
Great Ormond Street Hospital
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children is a children's hospital located in London, United Kingdom...

 for children.

James Callaghan in popular culture


The song "Time for Truth" from The Jam
The Jam
The Jam were an English punk rock/New Wave/mod revival band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were formed in Woking, Surrey. While they shared the "angry young men" outlook and fast tempos of their punk rock contemporaries, The Jam wore smartly tailored suits rather than ripped...

's debut album, In the City, a scathing critique of the state of the British nation, directly addresses Callaghan: "I think it's time for truth, and the truth is you lost, Uncle Jimmy."

Titles from birth to death

  • James Callaghan, Esq (27 March 1912–1943)
  • Lieutenant James Callaghan, RNVR (1943 – 26 July 1945)
  • Lieutenant James Callaghan, MP (26 July 1945 – 21 October 1964)
  • Lieutenant The Right Honourable James Callaghan, MP (21 October 1964 – ?)
  • The Right Honourable James Callaghan, MP (? – 23 April 1987)
  • The Right Honourable Sir James Callaghan, KG, MP (23 April 1987 – 11 June 1987)
  • The Right Honourable Sir James Callaghan, KG (11 June 1987 – 5 November 1987)
  • The Right Honourable The Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC (5 November 1987 – 26 March 2005)

See also


  • Callaghan Ministry
    Callaghan Ministry
    This is the Cabinet list for former Prime Minister James Callaghan. His Cabinet was formed on 5 April 1976 after he took over from Harold Wilson and ended, upon his resignation, on 4 May 1979.-The Ministry:-See also:...


External links