A side view vintage photo of a British Politician James Callaghan.
James Callaghan who is a Chancellor of the Exchequer since October 1964. Labour MP for SE Cardiff since 1950. Callaghan is facing the worst economic situation since the Labour Government came to power in 1964 - a widening trade gap and overseas confidence in the pound lessening.
Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC (27 March 1912 – 26 March 2005), often known as Jim Callaghan, was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980. Callaghan is to date the only politician in history to have served in all four of the "Great Offices of State", having been Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1964 to 1967, Home Secretary from 1967 to 1970, and Foreign Secretary from 1974, until his appointment as Prime Minister in 1976. As Prime Minister, he had some successes, but was chiefly remembered for the "Winter of Discontent" in 1978-79, When his battle with trade unions led to massive strikes that seriously inconvenience the public in a very cold winter, Leading to his defeat in the polls by Margaret Thatcher. Historians Alan Sked and Chris Cook have summarized the general consensus of historians:
If Wilson's record as prime minister was soon felt to have been one of failure, that sense of failure was powerfully reinforced by Callahan's term as premier. Labour, it seemed, was incapable of positive achievements. It was unable to control inflation, unable to control the unions, unable to solve the Irish problem, unable to solve the Rhodesian question, unable to secure its proposals for Welsh and Scottish devolution, unable to reach a popular modus vivendi with the Common Market, unable even to maintain itself in power until it could go to the country and the date of its own choosing.
— Alan Sked and Chris Cook, Post-War Britain: A Political History (4th ed. 1993) p 324.
As a new MP in 1945 he was on the left wing of the party; he steadily moved right but maintained his reputation as "The Keeper of the Cloth Cap" -- that is he was seen as dedicated to maintaining close ties between the Party and the trade unions. Callaghan's period as Chancellor of the Exchequer coincided with a turbulent period for the British economy, during which he had to wrestle with a balance of payments deficit and speculative attacks on the pound sterling (its exchange rate to other currencies was almost fixed by the Bretton Woods system). On 18 November 1967, the government devalued the pound sterling. Callaghan became Home Secretary. He used the British Army to support the police in Northern Ireland, after a request from the Northern Ireland Government.
After Labour lost the 1970 election, Callaghan played a key role in the Shadow Cabinet. He became Foreign Secretary in 1974, taking responsibility for renegotiating the terms of Britain's membership of the European Economic Community, and supporting a "Yes" vote in the 1975 referendum to remain in the EEC. When Prime Minister Harold Wilson suddenly resigned in 1976, Callaghan defeated five other candidates to be elected as his replacement. Labour had already lost its small majority in the House of Commons by the time he became prime minister, and further by-elections and defections forced Callaghan to deal with minor parties such as the Liberal Party, particularly in the "Lib–Lab pact" from 1977 to 1978. Industrial disputes and widespread strikes in the 1978 "Winter of Discontent" made Callaghan's government unpopular, and the defeat of the referendum on devolution for Scotland led to the successful passage of a motion of no confidence on 28 March 1979. This was followed by a defeat in the ensuing general election.
Callaghan remained Leader of the Labour Party until November 1980, to reform the process by which the party elected its leader, before returning to the backbenches where he remained until he was made a life peer as Baron Callaghan of Cardiff.
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