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Front Page | UK Politics | Labour's centenary
A history of Labour
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1964 - 1970
The natural party of government?
Harold Wilson: Caught the mood of the 1960s.

Video  Harold Wilson looks to the future in his speech about the "white heat of technology".
The natural party of government?

After winning by a narrow margin in 1964, Labour prime minister Harold Wilson increases his party's grip on power by calling another election in 1966 - this time winning by a landslide.

Despite a six-year spell in office, Wilson's cabinet fail to live up to expectations as the economy is rocked by a devaluation crisis. Trade union strife undermines the economic strategy and the Europe question opens bitter divisions. But groundbreaking social reforms including abolition of capital punishment, legalisation of abortion and male homosexuality are introduced and the government unveils the Open University.

Wilson's support for America's involvement in the Vietnam War angers many party members and the government sends troops to Northern Ireland in 1969 as violence escalates. Labour appears to narrow the Tories' poll lead as the 1970 election approaches but Tory leader Edward Heath dashes Wilson's ambition to turn Labour into the natural party of government.

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