You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

The Labour Party, 1900-Present

3. The Labour Party, 1964-79

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the Labour governments of Harold Wilson and John Callaghan in the 1960s and 1970s. We begin with Wilson’s election as Prime Minister in 1964, his focus on rejuvenating Britain’s ailing economy, and his creation of the Department of Economic Affairs – initiatives widely considered by contemporaries and historians as failures. We then seek a more balanced picture by examining more positive aspects of Wilson’s premiership, including his refusal to lend military support to the United States in the Vietnam War, his negotiation of Britain’s entrance into the European Economic Community (although this was implemented later by Edward Heath), and his introduction of social and educational reforms. We then move on to think about Labour’s difficult period in government from 1974-9, focusing in particular on: (i) Britain as the ‘sick man of Europe’ requiring bailouts from the International Monetary Fund, (ii) the 1978-9 Winter of Discontent, and (iii) the failed attempt to introduce devolution to Scotland and Wales.


In this course, Dr Kevin Hickson (University of Liverpool) examines the history of the Labour Party from its founding as the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 to the present-day leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. In the first module, we think about the origins and growth of the Labour Party until the end of the Second World War. The second module focuses on the political achievements and enduring legacies of Labour’s first majority government under Clement Attlee, 1945-51. In the third module, we consider the difficulties faced by Harold Wilson and James Callaghan who led Labour governments from 1964-70 and 1974-9. In the fourth module, we think about Labour’s long period in opposition from 1979-97 and try to understand why Labour was so incapable of succeeding in general elections, focusing in particular on the legacy of the 1974-9 Wilson/Callaghan governments. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about the period from 1997 to the present, focusing in particular on the phenomenon of New Labour and the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.


Dr Kevin Hickson is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Liverpool. His teaching and research interests are in the field of British politics, political history and political ideologies.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hickson, K. (2019, September 26). The Labour Party, 1900-Present - The Labour Party, 1964-79 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hickson, K. "The Labour Party, 1900-Present – The Labour Party, 1964-79." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Sep 2019,