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Front Page | UK Politics | Labour's centenary
A history of Labour
Click on the arrows to follow the history of the Labour Party.
1970 - 1979
The rise of the left
James Callaghan: Witnessed rise of the left - and presided over defeat.

Video  A victorious Margaret Thatcher arrives at 10 Downing St after winning the general election in 1979.
The rise of the left

Labour's return office after the defeat of 1970 is swift, if insecure.

Two close-run general elections in 1974 see Harold Wilson back in Number 10, but only with a tiny majority of three at a time when economic troubles, quarrels with militant unions and splits are once more destined to undermine the government.

Wilson shocks the political world by announcing his sudden resignation in 1976. He stays in office long enough to see James Callaghan safely installed as his successor.

But Callaghan's time in office also proves far from happy. Financial crisis sees the government forced to push through unpopular spending cuts and go cap in hand to beg a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

With union pay demands clashing ferociously with the government's economic policy, Callaghan fails to demonstrate that Labour can tame, or even work with, the labour movement that helped found the party.

1900-1906
1945-1951
1906-1914
1951-1964
1914-1924
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1924-1931
1970-1979
1931-1939
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