Harold Wilson: The Winner

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Harold Wilson: The Winner

Harold Wilson: The Winner

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Labour seems to hate its winners – Wilson won four elections; Blair won three – but is compromise and consensus the vital winning formula?

As Thomas-Symonds argues, Britain under him became a more free, equal, tolerant and open society -- Leo McKinstry * DAILY EXPRESS * I would heartily recommend The Winner to anyone interested in postwar British politics. Incidentally, Wilson himself publicly claimed (Liverpool Daily Post, December 17, 1981) that he had recently drafted, and was putting the finishing touches on, the first 50,000 words of his autobiography. The index of The Winner lists 68 references to Marcia Williams, Lady Falkender, twice as many as any cabinet minister.

In this powerful new portrait, drawing on previously unavailable sources and first-hand parliamentary insight, acclaimed biographer Nick Thomas-Symonds reveals a more complex figure. While Wilson was a socialist, he was also a centrist, and sought to balance the ‘left and right tendencies. When Bevan and then Gaitskell died prematurely, Wilson was the unchallenged leadership candidate of the left in a party still dominated by the right.

One tends to see Pimlott being described as the most celebrated volume and Ziegler’s book as having been overshadowed by the prior appearance of Pimlott’s biography. Wilson took his place in British history as the prime minister who deserted his friends and abandoned his principles.

However, said sanctions were ineffective, and Wilson’s boast that the collapse of the Smith regime would be a matter of ‘weeks rather than months’ quickly came back to bite him. Wilson had to walk a tightrope on the issue of Vietnam, and he did it remarkably well; in light of the relationship between Tony Blair and George W. He lost, but in 1963, after Gaitskell’s death, Wilson took the leadership, and a year later led Labour to victory.

Of course, social reforms are always a double-edged sword; the legislation that Wilson’s governments passed in the 1960s ‘liberated millions of people from repressive prejudice and puritan intolerance’, but have also been decried as unleashing ‘an era of licentious behaviour and moral depravity’ (p. Fiscal policy may affect the payments balance rapidly, but even so, fiscal policy actions are sometimes put into effect well after Budget day.

But he chose to point out that he was opposed to the whole drift of the government’s economic policy, “not just the levy on teeth and spectacles”.



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