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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 March, 2005, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Lord Callaghan tributes pour in
Lord Callaghan
Lord Callaghan was Britain's oldest former prime minister
Politicians have paid tribute to former Labour prime minister Lord Callaghan, who has died at home aged 92.

Tony Blair called him a "giant" of the Labour movement. Baroness Thatcher, who beat him in the 1979 election, said he had been a "formidable opponent".

He was PM for three years and the only person to also hold all the other three major offices of state - chancellor, foreign secretary and home secretary.

His tenure as PM was brought to an end by the "Winter of Discontent" strikes.

'Major figure'

Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, who was the longest-living former prime minister, died on the eve of his 93rd birthday at his home in East Sussex.

His death came just 11 days after Audrey, his wife of 67 years, died aged 91.

The life of Lord Callaghan

Jim Callaghan entered Downing Street in 1976 when Harold Wilson stood down. But his short tenure at Number 10 was beset with problems with the economy and trade unions.

By the time he became PM the government was borrowing heavily to support the ailing economy. He tried to curb inflation by imposing public sector pay restraints.

The resulting strikes - the winter of discontent - saw hospitals understaffed and in some cases the dead unburied.

Baroness Thatcher said: "In other circumstances he would have been a successful prime minister.

"He was a superb party manager. Despite our disagreements, I always respected him because I knew he was moved by deep patriotism."

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

First elected to parliament for a Cardiff constituency in the Labour landslide of 1945, Lord Callaghan became chancellor under Harold Wilson in 1964.

After refusing to devalue the pound for three years, he was finally forced to do so under huge economic pressure in 1967.

Moving to the Home Office, he took the historic decision to send troops into Northern Ireland to protect the minority community.

'Warmth and wisdom'

As foreign secretary after 1974 he was responsible for renegotiating the terms of Britain's membership of the EEC.

Sir Edward Heath, Tory prime minister from 1970 to 1974, told the BBC News website Lord Callaghan was "a major fixture in the political life of this country during his long and varied career".

"Although he left the House of Commons in 1987 he continued to follow political life and it was always a pleasure to meet with him. We have lost a major figure from our political landscape."

HIS POLITICAL CAREER
1945: Jim Callaghan is elected as the MP for Cardiff South
1947: Made junior transport minister by Clement Attlee
1964: Appointed chancellor of the exchequer
1967: Made home secretary
1974: Became foreign secretary under Harold Wilson
1976: Succeeds Harold Wilson as prime minister
1979: Loses power as Margaret Thatcher wins general election

Mr Blair said: "He worked tirelessly to put into action the values of social justice, solidarity and opportunity for all which brought him into politics and the Labour Party."

He added: "In later times I sought his counsel on many occasions and found his judgment and common sense invariably sound."

Tory leader Michael Howard said he would be remembered with "affection and respect".

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said: "He was always full of warmth and wisdom."

Lord Callaghan leaves a son and two daughters.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Andrew Marr looks back at Lord Callaghan's life



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