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Wilson

Harold Wilson (1916-1995, KG 1976, baron 1983), Labour politician, Prime Minister 1964-70, 1974-6. Wilson held out the promise of technology and of 'the Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution'. A balance of payment crisis, leading to devaluation in 1967, frustrated the fulfilment of his promises; and Britain's economic difficulties were underlined by nearly four years of the most stringent exchange controls. Meanwhile foreign affairs were dominated by the issue of Rhodesia, in which Wilson took a personal initiative in diplomacy with Ian Smith but failed to make any progress. He lost the 1970 election, but returned to power in February 1974 without an overall majority; a second election in that year gave him a slender majority. He then surprised the nation, early in 1976, by the sudden announcement of his resignation.


Paul Routledge is chief political commentator of the Daily Mirror, who earlier in his career reported on the Wilson administration. His books include biographies of Arthur Scargill, Betty Boothroyd, Airie Neave and Peter Mandelson.


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