Reversing British Decline? Wilson, Heath, and Callaghan, 1964–79

  • William D. Rubinstein


Between 1964 and 1979 Britain had three Prime Ministers. Two were Labourites, Harold Wilson (1964–70; 1974–76) and James Callaghan (1976–79), while Edward Heath (1970–74) was a Conservative. Although Heath and the two Labourites were bitter political opponents, in many respects this 15-year period is best viewed as a consistent whole. All the governments of the period attempted, first and foremost, to reverse Britain’s increasingly evident economic decline in what were, broadly, the same ways. This is not to say that their approaches were identical: the Heath government was, almost by definition, more hostile to the trade unions than were the governments of Wilson and Callaghan, but, basically, these administrations were recognisably similar in their presuppositions and formulae for improvement. These governments also existed at a time of rapid and, to many, disturbing social change, and against an often turbulent international background.


Prime Minister Trade Union Industrial Relation Share Vote Labour Government 
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© William D. Rubinstein 2003

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  • William D. Rubinstein

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