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3 Oct 2014
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This Sceptred Isle

Wilson Resigns
In 1976 Harold Wilson resigned. Although this surprised almost everyone in politics, Wilson had always said that he would not stay long after the 1974 election. James Callaghan was Wilson's chosen successor, but in the party leadership election, opposition was formidable (see below). But Callaghan was successful and set out to reduce inflation and unemployment. In September the pound dived. The government had to go to the International Monetary Fund and borrow as much as it could. Bank rates and mortgages increased.

James Callaghan
James Callaghan

  • Born and educated in Portsmouth
  • Began work for the Inland Revenue in 1929
  • Elected Labour MP for South Cardiff in 1945
  • Contested the Labour Party leadership on the resignation of Hugh Gaitskell but lost to Harold Wilson
  • Became Chancellor of the Exchequer in Wilson's 1964 administration
  • Introduced corporation tax and capital gains tax
  • Became Home Secretary in 1967 and Foreign Secretary in 1974
  • Responsible for renegotiating Britain's entry into the EEC
  • Became Prime Minister in 1976 on Wilson's resignation, agreeing a pact with the Liberals in order to stay in office
  • Strike action
  • Forced by strike action to call a general election in 1979 which he lost to Margaret Thatcher
  • Resigned in 1980
  • Became a life peer

did you know?
In 1976 Chairman Mao died

Select historical period

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1973 Britain joins the EEC
VAT is introduced
Yom Kippur War
1974 Labour win General Election. Harold Wilson once more PM
1975 British EEC Referendum
1976 Harold Wilson resigns as leader of Labour Party. James Callaghan succeeds him as leader and PM
Race Relations Act
1977Nationalisation of aircraft industry
Jimmy Carter becomes President of the USA
1978New pope is John Paul II
1979Tories win General Election. Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain's first woman PM
1980 Zimbabwe independence
1981 Nott Defence review
1982 Falklands War
1983 Tories win General Election
1984 Coal Miners strike

James Callaghan's Opponents In The Campaign To Replace Harold Wilson As Prime Minister
Michael Foot
Roy Jenkins
Tony Benn
William Whitelaw
Denis Healey
Tony Crosland

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