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  1. The Canadian Historical Review
  2. ISBN 13: 9780333644492
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Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Arguably the first successful Labour Prime Minister, he was the first to survive a full Parliamentary term and the first to command a Labour majority in Parliament. Under his guidance the government put in place a radical series of measures to bring greater equality to society, including the nationalisation of major industries and public services and the creation of the National Health Service.

Like Attlee, Gaitskell went to private school and Oxford, rather than rising up through the unions. When Attlee retired as leader, Gaitskell beat the left-wing Aneurin Bevan, causing a split in the party of the left and right. His time as leader was one of the weakest for Labour as the Conservatives presided over an economically prosperous Britain. He continued to lead the party until his death from a sudden flare up of lupus. Won a record four general elections for Labour. Elected leader as the candidate of the left, Wilson benefited from the collapse of the Tory government typified by the Profumo affair.

Within 18 months he was in Number 10, but with a Commons majority of just four seats. His government struggled on until a second election in March , winning by a healthier margin of The following year Wilson was forced into devaluation. Other achievements live on, including founding the Open University, liberalising laws governing homosexuality and ending capital punishment.

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A second election in October gave Labour a majority of four, just as Britain was to be buffeted by an international recession. In March , Wilson suddenly quit, claiming to have lost interest in politics. Sunny Jim took over from Wilson after his surprise decision to quit Number 10, and was soon plunged into one of the most turbulent periods Labour has faced in power.

After a sterling crisis, the former Foreign Secretary was forced to go cap in hand to the IMF, and amid growing demands for cuts and pay restraint — sound familiar? Waves of strike action during the Winter of Discontent brought the country to its knees, creating the scenes of rubbish in the streets and the dead unburied which haunted Labour for almost two decades.


ISBN 13: 9780333644492

When the government lost a confidence vote, Callaghan was forced to call a general election and was roundly beaten by Margaret Thatcher. He clung on as leader for 18 months, leaving the Commons in before becoming a life peer. He died in , on the day before his 93rd birthday. Despite impressing during the Falklands War, crisis and criticism was never far away. The lifelong Plymouth Argyle fan was never allowed to forget his choice of a duffel coat — dubbed a Donkey Jacket — for the wreath laying at the Cenotaph.

And when the country went to the polls in , his election manifesto — branded the longest suicide note in history — sent Labour to its worst post-war defeat, losing more than a fifth of its seats. Foot died on March 3 this year, aged While later seen as a figure of ridicule, and lampooned by Spitting Image and the tabloid press, Kinnock set in motion the modernisation programme and move away from the hard left which would eventually see Labour returned to power under Tony Blair.

He dropped the socialist red flag for a red rose but was dogged by a struggle against the Militant wing of the party. He stayed on after losing the election to a resurgent Tory party, and saw off a leadership challenge for left-wing stalwart Tony Benn. Kinnock stood aside as leader later that summer, and went on to become an EU Commissioner before joining the House of Lords in He also committed his party to creating a Scottish Parliament, something he did not live to see.

He died on May 12, from a heart attack. Acting leader Margaret Beckett was defeated in the leadership contest, in which Gordon Brown agreed to stand aside to give Blair a free run. Three election victories followed, a first for the Labour party, though the Iraq war eventually overshadowed everything, including notable successes in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and investment in public services.

Branded a war criminal by some and the greatest leader Labour ever had by others, since leaving office — and Parliament — Blair has enjoyed a jet-set lifestyle beyond even Prime Ministers, as a Middle East envoy, business advisor and memoirist. The Iron Chancellor ran a leadership campaign despite being the only candidate. After hankering after the job for more than a decade, he enjoyed a Brown Bounce in polls, buoyed by strong responses to events including the terrorists targeting Glasgow and London, severe flooding and foot and mouth. The abolition of the 10p tax rate highlighted his stubbornness and alienated core support.

The global economic crisis and later recession came to dominate his premiership, first bolstering his reputation but subsequently held back by a refusal to accept the need for spending cuts. However, the Tory opinion poll lead of 20 points in the months before the election was whittled down to barely seven, and a hung parliament. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

A brief history of the Labour Party

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