The Wounds of Government 1966–1969

  • David Butler
  • Michael Pinto-Duschinsky


In 1960 an imaginary constitution for the Conservative party was prepared for the New Statesman.‘ When the Party is in Opposition,’ started one of the clauses, ‘… the Party shall not normally be in Opposition.’ The article, which for diplomatic reasons was not published, was written by Harold Wilson. At this early stage he had already formulated his main long-term aim — possibly his only one — to build Labour into the natural governing party and to transfer its heritage of protest and internal dissent to the Conservatives. Britain was to follow the example of Sweden where the Social Democratic party had continued in power without a break since 1936. From 1964 onwards, this motive governed the actions of Mr. Wilson, and thus of the whole administration of which he was the moving force.1


Prime Minister Industrial Relation Labour Government Labour Party Income Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    See G. McDermott, ‘ The Wilson-Kosygin Peace Bid’, New Statesman, December 18. 1970.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    Specially useful among the many sketches of Mr. Wilson are Ian Trethowan, ‘Five Years of Mr. Wilson’, The Times, January 29, 30, 31, 1968.Google Scholar
  3. Peter Jenkins, The Battle of Downing Street, Chapter 6 (Charles Knight, 1970). Google Scholar
  4. Ronald Butt, ‘Profile’, Sunday Times, May 24, 1970.Google Scholar
  5. Patrick Gordon Walker describes the working of the cabinet under Mr. Wilson in The Cabinet (Cape, 1970).Google Scholar
  6. 1.
    Cf. Andrew Roth, ‘Plots against Wilson’, New Outlook, November 1966.Google Scholar
  7. 1.
    Mr. Brown’s uninformative version of the July crisis is given in the Sunday Times, October 18, 1970. He discusses relationships between the DEA and the Treasury in ‘Why the DEA lost to the Treasury Knights’, the Sunday Times, March 31, 1968.Google Scholar
  8. Mr. Callaghan’s views are reflected by William Davis, ‘What Really Happened’, Guardian, July 23, 1966.Google Scholar
  9. 1.
    President Johnson requested a British military contribution to the Vietnam War as early as 1964. See Patrick Gordon Walker, The Cabinet (Cape, 1970) (p. 125).Google Scholar
  10. Louis Heren, No Hail, No Farewell (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970), p. 183.Google Scholar
  11. 1.
    See e.g. Nora Beloff, ‘What Happened in Britain after the General said No’, in Pierre Uri, From Commonwealth to Common Market (Penguin, 1968).Google Scholar
  12. Brian Lapping, The Labour Government, 1964–7o (Penguin, 1970).Google Scholar
  13. 1.
    See U. W. Kitzinger, The Second Try: Labour and the EEC (Pergamon, 1968), pp. 3–17. Public opinion on entry into Europe proved very fickle as this Gallup series shows:Google Scholar
  14. 1.
    S. Brittan, Steering the Economy (Penguin, 1971), p. 348.Google Scholar
  15. 1.
    It did not, however, eliminate the growing discontent. See David Wood ‘Where should an M.P.’s loyalty lie?’ The Times, January 22, 1968.Google Scholar
  16. Sir Dingle Foot’s article on the ‘permissive whipping’ during John Silkin’s period as Chief Whip, Observer, February 11, 1968.Google Scholar
  17. Anthony King’s discussion, Spectator, February 9, 1968.Google Scholar
  18. See also two later articles by Douglas Houghton, ‘Labour’s Discipline in Party and in Government’, The Times, November 6, 1968, and ‘The Labour Backbencher’, Political Quarterly, October/December 1969.Google Scholar
  19. 1.
    Mr. Brown’s account of his resignation appears in the Sunday Times, October 11, 1970. While there is good reason to accept that he was in a fit condition on the evening concerned, he was damaged by rumours to the contrary. The impact of his resignation was also lessened by the ‘fit of pique’ he displayed. See Richard Clements, ‘What George Brown forgot’. Tribune, October 16, 1970.Google Scholar
  20. 1.
    See P. Hedley and C. Aynsley, The D-Notice Affair (Michael Joseph, 1967).Google Scholar
  21. 1.
    For a favourable account of the Parliamentary Committee see John Mackintosh, ‘Mr. Wilson’s revised Cabinet System’, The Times, June 21, 1968.Google Scholar
  22. See Patrick Gordon Walker, The Cabinet (Cape, 1970), p. 47.Google Scholar
  23. 1.
    Cf. Rodney Cowton, ‘Year of the Strike’, The Times, October 10, 1968.Google Scholar
  24. 1.
    For an admirable account of the controversy over the Industrial Relations Bill, see Peter Jenkins, The Battle of Downing Street (Charles Knight, 1970).Google Scholar
  25. However, in a few respects his story is incomplete and it should be read in conjunction with Roy Hattersley’s review in the New Statesman, September 4, 1970, and W. E. J. McCarthy’s in the Guardian, September 3, 1970.Google Scholar
  26. See also John P. Mackintosh, The Government and Politics of Great Britain (Hutchinson, 1970).Google Scholar
  27. For a discussion of relationships between the government, PLP and the unions in the months after the abandonment of the Industrial Relations Bill see Francis Boyd ‘ Saying Blow You to Jack’, Guardian, December 6, 1969.Google Scholar
  28. 1.
    PLP reactions to the proposals are outlined by David Wood in The Times of July 4, 1968, and November 14, 1968.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Butler and Michael Pinto-Duschinsky 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Michael Pinto-Duschinsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Pembroke CollegeOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations