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The Labour Party, 1945-Present

3. The Wilson Governments, 1964-70

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the Wilson governments of 1964-70, focusing in particular on: (i) Wilson’s emergence as leader of the Labour Party in 1963, his ideological positioning within Labour, and his political style and personality; (ii) the reasons for Labour’s victory in the 1964 General Election; (iii) Labour’s economic performance between 1964-70 and its failure to meet its own growth targets; (iv) Labour’s progressive social policies in this period, including the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the establishment of the Open University.


In this course, Professor John Callaghan (University of Salford) explores the history of the Labour Party from 1945 to the present day. In the first module, we think about the Labour government under Clement Attlee between 1945-51. In the second, we consider the conflicts which emerged between Labour’s ‘left’ and ‘centre-right’ during its years in opposition between 1951 and 1964. In the third module, we think about Labour’s return to power under Harold Wilson in 1964, before turning in the fourth module to explore the growth of the leftist challenge in the 1970s and Labour’s changing relationship with the trade unions. In the final two modules, we consider the leadership of Tony Blair and New Labour, thinking firstly about the reasons for Blair’s electoral success and his domestic policies, before considering how New Labour’s complex legacy has shaped the Labour Party since 2007.


John Callaghan is Professor of Politics and Contemporary History and the University of Salford, specialising in the history of the British Labour Party, the history of socialism and political theory. His recent publications include Communism in Britain: A Documentary History (2011) and British Labour and Foreign Policy: A History (2007).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Callaghan, J. (2019, December 20). The Labour Party, 1945-Present - The Wilson Governments, 1964-70 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Callaghan, J. "The Labour Party, 1945-Present – The Wilson Governments, 1964-70." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Dec 2019,