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Former UK Prime Minister James Callaghan Dies

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  • Former UK Prime Minister James Callaghan Dies

    Lord James Callaghan has died. He was the PM before Margaret Thatcher, and was the last Labour PM before Tony Blair. RIP.

    From The Times

    Former Labour Prime Minister Lord Callaghan, the longest-living Prime Minister in British history, died today on the eve of his 93rd birthday at home in East Sussex, a family spokeswoman said.

    Lord Callaghan’s death came 11 days after the death of his wife of 67 years, Audrey.

    Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, one of the most illustrious Labour statesmen of his generation, was a Prime Minister whose clear-cut brand of moderate Socialism often brought him into fierce conflict with the hard-left of the party. He was the target for years of bitter denunciation, even revulsion, from the left over his moderate policies, but subsequent events demonstrated he was right and they were wrong.

    He succeeded Harold Wilson (later Lord Wilson) for the premiership in April, 1976, but had only the smallest of Commons majorities. Sustained in office by a pact between Labour and the Liberals, he led a precarious Government until it was ousted by Mrs Thatcher in 1979. His proclaimed objective was to “redeem the tawdriness” of the Wilson years, but his ambitions were frustrated by, among other things, fractious intra-party warfare.

    The notorious remark “crisis what crisis?” was wrongly attributed to him when he returned to a frozen-up Britain in the chaotic misery of the Winter of Discontent, from a sun-soaked and leisurely world summit in Guadeloupe.

    But it went a long way, nevertheless, towards losing Labour the 1979 general election, and launching Margaret Thatcher on a period of Government which was to keep the Tories in power for nearly two decades.
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