Saturday, March 26, 2005


The last real Labour Prime Minister, (Uncle) Jim Callaghan, died today.

Callaghan inherited the premiership from Harold Wilson who led the country off and on from 1964 - with gaps filled by Conservative leader and the coal miners bogeyman, (Captain) Ted Heath.

His Government came crashing down in the wake of a cold, strike bound winter of discontent in 1978-9. At least, that's what the media would have you believe. In fact, the press went overboard and the amount of rubbish built up and bodies unburied wasn't as great as portrayed. Nevertheless, Callaghan famously decided not to call an election in 1978 waiting out until '79 when that woman romped to victory.

What was seen as a referendum on the power of the union, indeed was a watershed for trade union influence in British politics. So too, Democratic Socialism in the UK began nearly twenty years of decline. Labour is back in power, but any resemblance to the Labour governments of Wilson and Callaghan is in name only. It's worth recalling too, that Britain was nearly broke and subjected to stringent price, wage and public spending controls imposed by the International Monetary Fund.

:: Posted by pete @ 17:55