The Short Parliament

  • D. E. Butler
  • Anthony King


The most remarkable thing about the 1964 parliament was that it lasted as long as it did. Harold Wilson had been asked on becoming leader of the Labour party what he would do if Labour had only a tiny majority after the next election. ‘Oh,’ he had replied, ‘we don’t discuss nightmares like that,’ Later, as the results were coming in, a future cabinet minister maintained on television that, short of a coalition, no government could survive for long with a majority of less than about a dozen. In the event, however, Labour succeeded in governing for fully seventeen months with a majority over the Conservatives and Liberals that fluctuated between five and only one. And when the 1964 parliament was dissolved on March 10th, 1966, it was at a time entirely of the Prime Minister’s own choosing.


Prime Minister White Paper Opinion Poll Labour Party Income Policy 
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  1. 1.
    For accounts of the crisis friendly to Labour, see Anthony Shrimsley, The First Hundred Days of Harold Wilson, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1965Google Scholar
  2. Peter Shore, Entitled to Know, MacGibbon and Kee, 1966Google Scholar
  3. see Reginald Maudling’s article, ‘What Really Happened in 1964’, The Director, June 1966.Google Scholar
  4. Cf. Henry Brandon, In the Red: the Struggle for Sterling, André Deutsch, 1966.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. E. Butler and Anthony King 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. E. Butler
    • 1
  • Anthony King
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.University of EssexUK

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