On This Day

James Callaghan

British Prime Minister James Callaghan
Parliament UK

Profession: British Prime Minister


Biography: Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and the Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980.

Callaghan had served as Home Secretary in the government of Harold Wilson in the late 1960s. In this position he sent troops into Northern Ireland after The Troubles began. He also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which he devalued the pound sterling following sustained speculative attacks on the currency.

As prime minister, he is mainly remembered for the "Winter of Discontent" in 1978–79. During a very cold winter, his battle with trade unions led to massive strikes that seriously inconvenienced the public. This made him deeply unpopular and, when combined with a failed referendum on devolution to Scotland, a successful motion of no confidence was passed on 28 March 1979 in the House of Commons. The Labour Party lost the ensuing general election and he was succeeded by Margaret Thatcher.

Born: March 27, 1912
Birthplace: Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom

Generation: Greatest Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Rat
Star Sign: Aries

Died: March 26, 2005 (aged 92)
Cause of Death: Lobar pneumonia, cardiac failure and kidney failure

Historical Events

  • 1969-01-09 Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Terence O'Neill travels to London to meet Home Secretary James Callaghan and brief him on the growing violence in Northern Ireland
  • 1970-02-01 Northern Ireland PM Chichester-Clark meets British Home Secretary James Callaghan to discuss the economy of Northern Ireland
  • 1971-03-25 James Callaghan speaks at a rally of the Northern Ireland labour movement, but rejects calls for the Labour Party to open membership to those living in N. Ireland
  • 1976-04-05 Harold Wilson resigns as James Callaghan becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
  • 1979-01-10 The Sun paper headline is 'Crisis? What Crisis?' as UK Prime Minister James Callaghan denies that the country is in chaos during the 'Winter of Discontent' strike wave

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