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3 Oct 2014
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This Sceptred Isle

Ian Smith, Harold Wilson, and Vietnam
In 1964 the Conservatives lost the general election and Harold Wilson became the first Labour Prime Minister since Clement Attlee in 1951. He faced problems in the economy, in Southern Rhodesia where Ian Smith was threatening Unilateral Independence (Northern Rhodesia had become independent as Zambia under Dr Kenneth Kaunda) and in Vietnam where the Americans had declared war on the Vietnamese. Relations with the Soviet Union were tense and Nikita Khrushchev, who had been increasingly out of favour in the Politburo since backing down over the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, was deposed.


  • A British scientist.
  • The first bio-chemist to use a computer for research
  • Analysed the structure of penicillin and insulin with the use of X-ray techniques
  • Won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964.

did you know?
In 1964 Britain and France agree to build a channel tunnel estimated as costing £160million. It was not built. The first proposal for an Anglo-French tunnel was made in 1802.

A Return To Power: Extract From Richard Crossman'S Ministerial Diary.
The Origins Of Yes Minister!

"Thursday 22 October, 1963
"In a way it is just the same as I had expected and predicted. The room in which I sit is the same in which I saw Nye Bevan for almost the first time when he was Minister of Health and already I realize the tremendous effort it requires not to be taken over by the Civil Service. My Minister's room is like a padded cell, and in certain ways I am like a person who is suddenly certified a lunatic and put safely into this great, vast room, cut off from real life and surrounded by male and female trained nurses and attendants. When I am in a good mood they occasionally allow an ordinary human being to come and visit me; but they make sure that I behave right, and that the other person behaves right; and they know how to handle me. Of course, they don't behave quite like nurses because the Civil Service is profoundly deferential, 'Yes, Minister! If you wish it, Minister!'"

Select historical period

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1960 Cyprus and Nigeria become independent
1961 South Africa leaves the Commonwealth
1962 The National Economic Development Council is formed
1963 The Profumo Affair
Macmillan resigns due to ill-health
Douglas-Home becomes Tory Prime Minister
1964 General Election. Labour win and Harold Wilson becomes Prime Minister
1965 Winston Churchill dies
Sir Alec Douglas-Home resigns as Tory leader - succeeded by Edward Heath
Rhodesia declares UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence)
1966 Barclay's Bank introduces the first British credit card
1967 The Pound is devalued
1968The Commonwealth Immigration Act is passed
Anti-war riots in London
Student riots in Paris
1969 Charter given to Open University

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