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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Your tributes: Lord Callaghan
Lord Callaghan
Lord Callaghan

Lord Callaghan, Britain's prime minister from 1976 to 1979 has died at the age of 92.

During his long political career, he held the top four offices of state - chancellor, home secretary and foreign secretary as well as prime minister - the only person to have done so.

He was in key positions at vital times - devaluing the pound after a long battle, sending troops into Northern Ireland, renegotiating Britain's membership of the European Economic Community and presiding over the government during the "Winter of Discontent".

Thank you for your tributes and memories of Jim, later Lord, Callaghan. Read a selection of your e-mails below.


Your tributes:

Am I living in a different world, or is this some Not The 9 o'clock News sketch? All I remember about Callaghan is the Winter of Discontent, his continuing to preside over the sick man of Europe and preserving mediaeval labour and business practices. Hardly a record worth remembering, except as lessons to learn from.
Dr Duncan Campbell, York, UK

I faintly remember the dark days of the late 70s, my final years at school. I just missed qualifying (age-wise) to vote in the 79 election by a few months. It is actually hard to relate the idea that (Lord) Callaghan was the previous Labour PM to Blair, but I know who will be remembered for his qualities. Yes, we had the 'Winter of Discontent', but would we have had the Iraq war, or 'spin', or a political landscape bereft of honesty? Just a pity none of his successors had or have any of his qualities. Rest in peace, your Lordship.
Steve Brereton, York, UK

Lord Callaghan's best achievement was to demonstrate the true and enduring face of Labour during the Winter of Discontent and for paving the way for a strong, motivated and decisive leader in the shape of Margaret Thatcher. The pity is that Labour (New or otherwise) have not learned from the past.
Andy D, Oxford UK

Jim became leader at a terrible economic time. As a Labour Prime Minister he would never have been allowed to push through the drastic and unpopular (yet necessary) economic reforms to turn the country around - that job fell to Thatcher. This should be borne-in-mind when judging him i.e. he was a victim of circumstance with both hands tied by the unions.
Matt F, Bristol, UK

One achievement Callaghan can be proud of is stopping a Falklands War in 1977. It appeared the Argentines were about to invade. Callaghan set a nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine to the South Atlantic, and once it was in position, let Argentina know. This stopped the invasion. This was because he both understood naval strategy and that the "small" issues in the world were most likely to blow up into a crisis, something Thatcher could never understand, but then perhaps she needed a successful little war against a tin-pot dictatorship to boost her election prospects.
Graham Figg, Hatfield, United Kingdom

OK so Jim perhaps was not the greatest Politician or indeed the best Prime Minister we have had but this forum is designated as a tribute page and platform to berate Jim and score "political points". Jim essentially was a man of great integrity, unswerving loyalty to his party and constituents and perhaps more importantly a devoted husband and father... Britain could do with more politicians of his kind, whichever party. RIP Jim... a life well lived.
Mike Cook, Gloucester

James Callaghan's personal attributes shone through over four decades
obert Crosby, Nottingham, UK
An utterly incompetent PM? I don't think so... James Callaghan's personal attributes shone through over four decades and it is impossible to condemn him simply because he happened to enter Downing Street at a time of great economic difficulty. I vividly remember the day that he was sadly voted out as Prime Minister and his innate decency and considerable intellect remain a source of inspiration to those of us who aspire to see "real Labour" in government.
Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK

I will personally never forget Lord Callaghan having to send his then chancellor to the IMF to bail the country out - probably the lowest point of the political scene in this country in the last 30 years. Good man and total respect for his holding of the 4 top jobs in the office. RIP.
Alan, Birmingham, UK

Those who wonder why interest in politics is waning should take a leaf out of Callaghan's book, and try honesty as a tactic. He may not have been the most astute politician, but I'd rather that than a highly competent Thatcher or Blair. In fact, I am not convinced he left the country in such a bad state as some here are claiming. I can remember the Tory election posters from 1979 claiming "Labour isn't working" with a picture of a dole queue. Within a few years, Thatcher had trebled unemployment, and wrecked our manufacturing industries along the way, so who did better?
Jon G, Huddersfield

Like most people writing on this page I never met the man so I cannot say anything personal about him, however I well remember sitting for hours upon end in the dark, Being freezing cold, the streets being full of uncollected rubbish bags and the unions ruling the country.. Nice guy he may have been but as a PM he was a weak and ineffective man. In short the guy was an unmitigated disaster for this country..
Abaker, Chelmsford, Essex

A gracious elder statesman of politics who had served his country with vigour and balance. His tenure as PM was hampered by a Union movement out of control and at the 1979 general election he paid dearly for his inability to curb their excesses. It all seems such a long time ago and the political situation in Britain has changed so much since (both for good and bad).
Stuart King, London, UK

What people forget whilst criticising his final years, is the role played by the IMF and their ilk
Graeme Lechat, UK, London
What people forget whilst criticising his final years, is the role played by the IMF and their ilk. Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last the World Bank, IMF and their like drove a country into the ground as part of their loan conditions, dictating terms that created the opportunity for Globalisation at the expense of local industry. For the UK in the '70s, read Brazil in the '90s, Argentina in 2001, etc. As an honest politician, bereft of spin he will be missed...at least voting was a worthwhile exercise back then!
Graeme Lechat, UK, London

During the time that Jim Callaghan was Prime Minister Governement spending on overseas development rose to 0.52% of GNP, the highest of any Government before or since - an overlooked but great achievement. One tribute the next Government can make to Jim Callaghan is to achieve the UN target of spending 0.7% of GNP on Overseas Development.
Jenny Blake, Southampton

A great Socialist maybe - but an utterly incompetent Prime Minister. His greatest act was paving the way for the Premiership of Margaret Thatcher who rescued this country from the abyss brought on by successive hopeless Labour and Conservative governments of Wilson, Heath and Callaghan.
Adrian M Lee, Saffron Walden England

I was nine when 'Sunny Jim' became PM. I did not know Lord Callaghan personally, but from the biographies I have read he was a decent, kindly man and a gentleman politician to the end. However, before we become too dewy eyed, the fact remains that he had been a key part of the post-war 'consensus' of political thinking, which caused Britain's economic decline and slide into European anonymity. The IMF crisis and the 'winter of discontent' - that glorious period of political history that left its mark on my youth - were as much his legacy to this country as Iraq will be to Tony Blair.
David Page, Auckland, New Zealand

James Callaghan appeared to be an honest and decent man. Qualities so sadly lacking in the politicians of today.
Stephen, Cheadle, GB

A genuine guy and committed politician, but not a great PM, it has to be said. Jim's legacy? The Winter of Discontent and the rise of Thatcherism, hardly anything to be proud of...
Nigel Pond, Brit living in the USA

Jim Callaghan shall be greatly missed
Ian Alexander, Edinburgh, Scotland
Jim Callaghan shall be greatly missed. He was without doubt a great leader of our nation. His task in uniting this country in very difficult times is only to be admired.
Ian Alexander, Edinburgh, Scotland

What, exactly, did Callaghan achieve as PM or during his time in government that has had a lasting positive influence on British society? Nothing much. His mistake was to place too much trust in power-crazy union bosses for which much of British industry -and he himself- paid a heavy price during the 1970s and then the 1980s under Mrs. Thatcher's anti-union onslaught. He may have been a nice chap, but he wasn't a great Prime Minister at all.
Matthew, London, UK

A decent man who tried but failed to prevent the Unions paving the way for 18 years of the Tories.
Derek S, UK

A thoroughly decent man who held high office with dignity and respect. Sadly he was the right man in the wrong time - it's a pity he hasn't been PM since 1997. How different things might have been on the international front, especially the Iraqi issues.
Richard, UK

Not having been born or lived through the era of his government, I find his will and strength to lead admirable. I hope that the city of Portsmouth will do its best to commemorate the honour of one of its most famous sons.
Jon Henley, Portsmouth

Gone but never forgotten. Rest well Lord Callaghan.
Darren, Japan

A decent man perhaps, but I'm not sure what he did for the country. Perhaps his best achievement was making way for Mrs Thatcher, who took over the "sick man of Europe", and led us on to prosperity. Even the current Labour administration haven't managed to reverse that!
Paul Rowlands, Bracknell

A principled human being of immense integrity
Dave White, Nottingham
As a Conservative I can't say that I agreed with "Sunny Jim's" policies and remember the bad old days of the late 1970s well, but I have utmost respect for the man as a principled human being of immense integrity. What a shame that today's politicians wouldn't even recognise integrity. You'll be sadly missed, Jim. Rest in peace.
Dave White, Nottingham

Jim was the only person to date to serve in the four highest offices of state, a great socialist and a true gentleman who will be remembered for guiding motorists through the night with his introduction of cats eyes.
Paul Blackwell, Wrexham

As a person, a diamond. An able politician, certainly. But he let this country down as Prime Minister when we needed strong leadership. Mrs Thatcher did not win the 1979 election. Callaghan lost it, and I'm afraid his weakness led us to endure years of misery under the Conservatives.
Chris Ivory, Bristol, England

To blame Callaghan for Thatcher is a typical left wing delusion brought on by too many politics lectures. In the seventies Britain was a gloomy economic mess dependant on obsolete industries that were riven by disputes and strikes. Trades Unions and firebrand activists dragged Britain into the mud. Callaghan sat on top of that muddle with no solutions. It took years for Britain to get out of the mess that the TUC and old Labour created. You just wouldn't believe what the country looked and felt like 25 years ago - dreary, beaten and rubbish.
Dave, Leicester, UK

Jim Callaghan's biggest mistake was not going to the country in the autumn of '78 when he had the chance to win an election by facing down the unions and appearing to be a firm and decisive Prime Minister. Instead he held on to the last moment with disastrous results for the country - Thatcher, and the labour party, by not resigning immediately after defeat.

He may have been a decent bloke but, as with many of his other decisions, a poor strategist.
Bob H, Glasgow, UK

In the history of British politics, Lord Callaghan's tenure will not merit main headlines. However, he will be remembered as one the kindest, most decent PM's we have had.
Andy Hutchcraft, Peterborough, UK

I was impressed when, during a visit with residents from the Douglas Bader home in Leicester to London in 1978, the Prime Minister came out of 10 Downing street to chat to us for about 15 minutes. The interest shown by him into the lives of the wheel chair bound teenagers was touching.
Martin Hodson, Orlando Florida USA

A serious politician and a major statesman. Another venerated servant of the people - who needs to be replaced, but alas may not be.
R Cowlard, Aston Cantlow

Lord Callaghan was a political centrist who in many ways paved the way for Thatcher with some savage spending cuts in the late-1970s. These spending cuts weren't entirely necessary and added to the sense of urban decay that marked his premiership. He sacked Barbara Castle and pushed the Left to the fringes where they grew resentful. I'm sure he was a nice enough fellow but he never won an election and left the Labour Party in a terrible state. He was, however, good at self-preservation and resigned prematurely.
Carlos, London

He was one of the most enigmatic and charismatic people I have ever met
Maire Verrall, Bristol, England
I met Lord Callaghan often when visiting my mother at the nursing home in Sussex where Lord Callaghan's wife Audrey was cared for. He visited her every day. He was one of the most enigmatic and charismatic people I have ever met. There was something about him that was really special, impossible to define. He was always pleased to see my mother, always called her Stella and treated her with such courtesy and respect.

The last time we met I told him that I was a lifelong socialist and I asked him about Mr Blair 'oh he's not so bad' he said but I saw either a cloud pass over his face or a moment of uncertainty or perhaps and I think it was the latter, deep sadness.
Maire Verrall, Bristol, England

While Jim Callaghan may have been regarded as a decent and well liked man by some, he didn't come across like that to me. I wouldn't have bought a used car from him. He was a complete disaster as Prime Minister, and also as Chancellor. I remember the winter of discontent vividly. He may have thought the rest of the world didn't think there was mounting chaos in Britain while he was in the Caribbean, but that wasn't the experience of people here. His greatest political legacy was the rise of 'Thatcherism'.
Ian, Leeds, UK

Time seems to change people's memories. Am I the only one who remembers the misery caused by the inept and futile years of Wilson and Callaghan? Charm does not make up for incompetence; as we see today!
G. Leake, Camberley, Surrey

I ran into Jim Callaghan at the 1964 General Election and he asked after my father, Sir James Collins, former Labour Lord Mayor of Cardiff. My dad was in hospital and later that week a letter arrived from 11 Downing Street. On his first day as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jim Callaghan took the time to handwrite 8 pages to his old friend. A wonderful man.
Stephen Collins, Orange, NSW, Australia

He was a decent honourable man, a concept the current rabble do not understand. Callaghan acknowledged that he was accountable to the Commons and ultimately the electorate - Blair would do well to remember this fact. The hypocrisy of Blair and Brown trying to bask in Callaghan's shadow is breathtaking.
John, UK

A man of our times who believed in what he did for the country and will be gratefully missed, it's a shame that the current band of labour party MP's don't look to him as a role model and not act like sheep all the time. His like only pass this way but once and it is a sad day for the UK
Alex Drennan, Biggleswade

As a prime minister, he was weak and ineffective and provide little leadership of any value.
Peter White, Emsworth, Hampshire

My leaning in politics in my young days was towards Conservative. Jim Callaghan taught me the error of my ways. If only today's administration had half Lord Callaghan's integrity - the country would be a far better place. God bless him.
Susan Hadnett, Portsmouth, UK

One of the worst PM's of the 20th century. His administration attacked the working class by eroding pay through an incomes policy and inflation. He presided over the downfall of Keynse's economic ideas, the re-birth of monetarism and liberal economics. Labour like to forget, but unemployment was high.
Richard Lloyd, Harpenden

Jim Callaghan was a giant and a statesman of the socialist movement in this country, even this world. I felt privileged to meet him at the 2003 conference and he will be sorely missed.
David Hartley, Stourbridge

If only the politicians in New Labour had principals and were people of integrity like Jim, we would live in a much fairer and decent society.
Peter James, Glossop, Derbyshire

Lord Callaghan was a great statesman, politician and his death marks an end of an era. We have high respect for him.
Udaya Sharma, Kathmandu, Nepal

A decent man undone by indecent times
Richard, Swansea

Possibly the last to rise from nothing to be PM. Stuck to his principles even in defeat. Didn't run crying to the media or resign in a huff after a defeat. Kept his own counsel about the pinheads who have succeeded him as Labour Party leader. A consummate fixer.
Markham, Huddersfield, UK

I remember the winter of discontent, he was an unmitigated disaster as Prime Minister... leading the way for 18 terrible Tory years
Francis Hunt, Falmouth, UK

He was such a nice gentleman. My mother had the pleasure of sharing a train ride back to Wales with him a few years ago. He insisted on sharing his home made sandwiches with her - he was that sort of guy
Steve Evans, UK

A decent man undone by indecent times ... my condolences to his family.
Richard, Swansea

An interesting man who made a number of far-lasting mistakes - sending the troops into Northern Ireland without facing down the unionists left us with a thirty year war on our hands. Perhaps his greatest legacy will be New Labour - hardly the Labour Party he wanted or believed in but the one that his inability to sort out militant and the far left made inevitable. When my pension is cut by Tony Blair I will remember Callaghan for making Blair possible!
Gareth, Cardiff, Wales

Sorry to hear about his death. An honourable man, I'm sure. But a disaster as a prime minister. The mid to late 70's were the worst governed years since the Second World War and ruined the UK until Mrs Thatcher rescued it.
Lionel Townsend, Acton Trussell, Staffordshire

Lord Callaghan was a true gentleman
Nigel Machin, Biddulph, England

Such an immense character, full of wisdom and sincerity. You are back with Audrey now, Jim, God bless you both.
Tim Whelan, Guildford, UK

He was a real gentleman. I remember the very gracious way he accepted defeat by Margaret Thatcher in 1979, enjoining everyone to be pleased that we now had a woman Prime Minister. Has anyone else in his position been as generous in defeat?
Lorie Scicluna, Qrendi, Malta

I was 18 during the Winter of Discontent - a terrible time which had little to do with this man alone. I did not vote for him in 1979, but Lord Callaghan was a true gentleman, a man who I have always had the utmost respect for. Regards to his family - a true statesman and an example to all of us.
Nigel Machin, Biddulph, England

The last Prime Minister we had before Thatcher introduced naked self-interest to the political agenda and all her successors followed suit. Jim will be sadly missed and I doubt we will see his like again.
Tony, Edinburgh, UK

A kind and decent man, but a poor Prime Minister.
Lester Stenner, UK

He was dignified, honest and inspiring
Vik Vedi, London, England

Lord Callaghan was one of my customers in the newsagents I ran. A gentleman through and through and if the paperboys and girls had kind words for him, you just know he was loved! RIP Mr Callaghan.
C Thorn, Blackwood, South Wales

As a Tory I did not agree with much of what Lord Callaghan did. However, his achievement in holding the three great offices of State is remarkable and he served is country with bravery in the Second World War. A true public servant and a voice of reason and clear thought in the Lords too. My condolences to his family.
Dave, Canada

My late father always referred to Jim Callaghan as 'the boneless wonder'. For myself, I saw him as an unremarkable political leader; I don't think he was anything special as a premier. I think his influence came after he left office as an elder statesman.
John Fox, Halifax, Yorkshire

I heard him speak when I was a 12 year old in 1978. He was dignified, honest and inspiring. A good leader in difficult times - above all he came across to me as a genuinely good man
Vik Vedi, London

Jim Callaghan and his like are, sadly, very much a dying breed. He represented real old Labour values and was a true gentleman member of government and the bedrock of politics in the UK. His integrity and honesty, is sadly something that is greatly lacking in his party today.
Peter, London

To progress from a clerk in the civil service to Prime Minister is an incredible thing to achieve. It's a privilege to be able to pay my respects.
Alan Barrertt, Leatherhead UK

The Gerald Ford of UK politics
Robert Steadman, Matlock, United Kingdom

As PM I honestly believe he was inept, and always seemed to have a look of bemusement on his face, perhaps not surprising as he was witnessing the death throes of a failed socialism that tried to take the country with it. But he was a thoroughly honourable man and in the politics of today, that's saying something. May his God go with him.
Matthew Duckworth, London

Decent chap, no doubt, but a resolute failure as a Prime Minister.
A Howard, Chippenham

Jim Callaghan was one the few honest politicians of my generation. He inspired many to support policies he strongly believed in. May he rest in peace.
Oscar Davies, Gibraltar

I am very shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Lord Callaghan. Having studied the man I feel that he did a sterling effort considering the situation Britain was in during his premiership.
Iain Langmaid, Woodbridge

Very sad news. I believe he was an honourable man and a sincere patriot that became prime minister at a very difficult time. RIP Sunny Jim.
Nicholas Murphy, London, UK

The Labour party will be worst off by his death, may he rest in peace.
P. Mulgrove, Wallsend, Tyne & Wear

Britain's last real socialist prime minister, you will be missed.
Mark Rotherham, Colchester, UK

Jim Callaghan wrote to me whilst I was in hospital after a bomb explosion. His letter meant a great deal to me and to my family.
Barbara Deane, Belfast, Northern Ireland

A truly great politician
Peter Walker, London

To me Jim Callaghan along with Denis Healey ran the UK economy better than any other pair last century. They stood up against the trade unions, they got the UK economy back in the black, they reduced inflation from 23% to 8%, and they invested in the UK oil reserves and set the UK on a growth pathway. Thatcher and the Labour left wing destroyed all this. Lord Callaghan should be recognised as one of the greatest men last century.
Richard Davie, Burntisland, Scotland

The Gerald Ford of UK politics - a disaster as PM too busy trying to appease unions and extremists. His greatest legacy? Thatcher - if he had done his job properly we wouldn't have had to have suffered the extent of her power.
Robert Steadman, Matlock, UK

A decent man and prime minister brought down by trade union leaders who by their actions ushered in their own demise. The 80's greed would not have occurred had he won the 1979 general election.
Ad Roliat, London

A truly great politician. He inspired me to join the Labour Party to change our society. A gentle and kind man who led from the front and never changed his principals. A loss for the Labour Party.
Peter Warner, London




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