Harold Wilson


James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour politician and Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the February 1974 General Election resulted in a hung parliament. He is the most recent British Prime Minister to have served non-consecutive terms.… Read More

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1916 Birth Wilson was born at 4 Warneford Road, Huddersfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, on 11 March 1916. … Read More


1930 14 Years Old Wilson won a scholarship to attend Royds Hall Grammar School, his local grammar school (now a comprehensive school) in Huddersfield in Yorkshire. In December 1930, his father, working as an industrial chemist, was made redundant and it took him nearly two years to find work. … Read More
1934 18 Years Old Wilson did well at school and, although he missed getting a scholarship, he obtained an exhibition; which, when topped up by a county grant, enabled him to study Modern History at Jesus College, Oxford, from 1934. … Read More


1937 21 Years Old He was a lecturer in Economic History at New College from 1937, and a Research Fellow at University College.
1940 24 Years Old On New Year's Day 1940, in the chapel of Mansfield College, Oxford, he married Mary Baldwin who remained his wife until his death. … Read More
1943 27 Years Old He was Director of Economics and Statistics at the Ministry of Fuel and Power 1943–44, and received an OBE for his services.
1945 29 Years Old In the 1945 general election, Wilson won his seat in the Labour landslide. … Read More


1947 - 1949 3 More Events
1950 34 Years Old 1 More Event
In the general election of 1950, his Ormskirk constituency was significantly altered and he was narrowly elected for the new seat of Huyton near Liverpool, where he served for 33 years until 1983.
1951 35 Years Old 1 More Event
Wilson was becoming known in the Labour Party as a left-winger and joined Aneurin Bevan and John Freeman in resigning from the government in April 1951 in protest at the introduction of National Health Service (NHS) medical charges to meet the financial demands imposed by the Korean War. … Read More
1952 36 Years Old At the bitter Morecambe Conference in the autumn of 1952, Wilson was one of the Bevanites elected as constituency representatives to Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC), whilst senior right-wingers such as Dalton and Herbert Morrison were voted off. Wilson had never made much secret that his support of the left-wing Aneurin Bevan was opportunistic. When Bevan resigned from the Shadow Cabinet (elected by Labour MPs when the party was in opposition) in spring 1954 over Labour's support for the setting-up of SEATO, Wilson, who had been runner-up in the elections, stepped up to fill the vacant place. … Read More
Despite his earlier association with Bevan, in 1955 he backed Hugh Gaitskell, the right-wing candidate in internal Labour Party terms, against Bevan for the party leadership.


Unusually, Wilson combined the job of Chairman of the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee with that of Shadow Chancellor from 1959, holding that position until 1963.
1960 - 1961 3 More Events
At the Labour Party's 1963 Annual Conference, Wilson made both his best-remembered speech, on the implications of scientific and technological change. … Read More
Labour's 1964 election campaign was aided by the Profumo Affair, a ministerial sex scandal that had mortally wounded Harold Macmillan and hurt the Conservatives. … Read More


1966 50 Years Old 1 More Event
Among the most damaging of the numerous strikes during Wilson's periods in office was a six-week stoppage by the National Union of Seamen, beginning shortly after Wilson's re-election in 1966, and conducted, he claimed, by "politically motivated men". … Read More
1967 51 Years Old Part of the price paid by Wilson after talks with President Johnson in June 1967 for US assistance with the UK economy was his agreement to maintain a military presence East of Suez. … Read More
Due to austerity measures following an economic crisis, prescription charges were re-introduced in 1968 as an alternative to cutting the hospital building programme, although those sections of the population who were most in need (including supplementary benefit claimants, the long-term sick, children, and pensioners) were exempted from charges. … Read More
1969 53 Years Old …  In 1969, a married couple with two children were 11.5% per cent richer in real terms, while for a couple with three children, the corresponding increase was 14.5%, and for a family with four children, 16.5%. … Read More
1970 54 Years Old 1 More Event
A wide range of liberal measures were introduced during Wilson's time in office. The Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act 1970 made provision for the welfare of children whose parents were about to divorce or be judicially separated, with courts (for instance) granted wide powers to order financial provision for children in the form of maintenance payments made by either parent. … Read More
1971 - 1972 2 More Events
1973 57 Years Old Wilson survived as leader of the Labour party in opposition. In the summer of 1973, holidaying on the Isles of Scilly, he tried to board a motor boat from a dinghy and stepped into the sea. … Read More
…  He lost his energy and drive in his second government 1974-76 and accomplished little as the leadership split over Europe and trade union issues began tearing Labour apart.
1975 59 Years Old In 1975 Wilson secretly offered Libya's dictator Muammar Gaddafi £14 million (£500 million in 2009 values) to stop arming the IRA, but Gaddafi demanded a far greater sum of money. … Read More


…  A period of economic crisis was now beginning to hit most Western countries, and in 1976 Wilson suddenly announced his resignation as Prime Minister. … Read More
1978 - 1987 5 More Events
1994 78 Years Old He continued regularly attending the House of Lords until just over a year before his death; the last sitting he attended was on 27 April 1994.
1995 79 Years Old 1 More Event
His memorial service was held in Westminster Abbey on 13 July 1995. … Read More
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