Callaghan, James

Leonard James Callaghan

b. 27 Mar 1912, Portsmouth, Hampshire
d. 26 Mar 2005, Ringmer, East Sussex [1]

Title: Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury [2]
Term: 5 Apr 1976 - 4 May 1979
Chronology: 5 Apr 1976, invited to form an Administration and accepted the offer to hold the post of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, audience of the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London [3][4]
12 Apr 1976, took the oath of office as First Lord of the Treasury before the Queen in Council, Buckingham Palace, London [5]
  4 May 1979, tendered resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury (accepted), audience of the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London [6]
Names/titles: Sir Leonard James Callaghan (from 23 Apr 1987, Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter) [7]; Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, of the City of Cardiff in the County of South Glamorgan (from 5 Nov 1987, life peerage) [8]
Biography:

Born in the family of a Royal Navy officer; educated at Furzeham Primary School, Brixham, Devon, and the Northern Secondary School, Kingston; joined the Inland Revenue (1929), a department responsible for the collection of direct taxation; joined Labour Party (1931); played a leading role in the regional affairs of his trade union, Association of Officers of Taxes; left civil service and became assistant secretary of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation (1937); volunteered with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (1942) as ordinary seaman (East Indies Fleet, Ceylon); commissioned sub-lieutenant (temporary, 1944); appointed acting lieutenant (temporary, 1945); resigned commission (effective 30 Jun 1945); was elected to Parliament as Labour MP (South Cardiff 1945-1950, South East Cardiff 1950-1983, Cardiff South and Penarth 1983-1987); held junior posts as Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Transport (7 Oct 1947 - 2 Mar 1950) and Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, Admiralty (2 Mar 1950 - 5 Nov 1951) in the administration of Clement Attlee; served as a delegate to the Council of Europe; was a member of the the Shadow Cabinet when the Labour party was in opposition; was defeated in the election of the Leader of the Labour Party (14 Feb 1963) by Harold Wilson; following a victory of Labour in the General Election of 1964, he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer (17 Oct 1964 - 29 Nov 1967) and sworn in as a member of the UK Privy Council (17 Oct 1964); was responsible for securing the international agreement on the 'Special Drawing Rights', internationally recognized asset for settling intergovernmental debts; resigned as Chancellor over disagreement with regard to devaluation of the pound and became Secretary of State for the Home Department (29 Nov 1967 - 22 Jun 1970); served as Chairman of the Labour Party (1973-1974); joined the second government of Wilson as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (5 Mar 1974 - 12 Apr 1976); after the announced resignation of Wilson, he was elected Leader of the Labour Party (5 Apr 1976 - 10 Nov 1980) and the same day appointed Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury (5 Apr 1976 - 4 May 1979); inherited only a small majority in the House of Commons which by early 1977 disappeared because of by-election results, forcing him to reach an agreement with the Liberal Party in order to stay in power (The Lib-Lab Pact, 1977); opted to postpone an election (1978) but disputes and strikes undermined both his administration and eventually, his majority in the House of Commons where, on 28 Mar 1979, he lost a vote of confidence (311:310); the subsequent General Election brought the defeat of the Labour Party (3 May 1979: Conservative 339, Labour 268, Liberal 11, Scottish National Party 2, Plaid Cymru 2, others 13); after serving as Leader of the Opposition (1979-1980), he resigned as party leader in 1980; was raised to the peerage (1987) and took seat in the House of Lords. Biography source: [9]


[1] The Times, No. 68,346, Monday March 28 2005, pp. 44-46.
[2] In accordance with The Minister for the Civil Service Order 1968 (SI 1968/1656), the Prime Minister is also Minister for the Civil Service (effective 1 Nov 1968).
[3] The Times, No. 59,672, Tuesday April 6 1976, p. 18: "Court Circular WINDSOR CASTLE April 5: The Right Hon Harold Wilson, MP had an audience of The Queen at Buckingham Palace this evening and tendered his resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept. The Queen subsequently received in audience the Right Hon James Callaghan, MP and requested him to form a new Administration. The Right Hon James Callaghan, MP accepted Her Majesty's offer and kissed hands upon his appointment as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury."
[4] Appointment as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury by Letters Patent under the Great Seal dated 12 Apr 1976, announced by the Crown Office 12 Apr 1976, and gazetted 15 Apr 1976 (The London Gazette, No. 46876, Thursday, 15th April 1976, p. 5575).
[5] The Times, No. 59,678, Tuesday April 13 1976, p. 16: "Court Circular WINDSOR CASTLE April 12: <...> Her Majesty held a Council at Buckingham Palace at 5.30 o'clock this evening. <...> At the Council, the Right Hon James Callaghan, MP, was sworn First Lord of the Treasury."
[6] The Daily Telegraph, Saturday, May 5, 1979, No. 38,541, p. 10: "Court Circular BUCKINGHAM PALACE, May 4 <...> The Rt Hon. James Callaghan had an audience of the Queen this afternoon and tendered his resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept."
[7] The London Gazette, No. 50903, Tuesday 28th April 1987, p. 5605.
[8] The London Gazette, No. 51118, Thursday, 12th November 1987, p. 13941 (announcement on The Queen's intention to confer peerage is dated 31 Jul 1987 and gazetted in Supplement to The London Gazette of Thursday, 30th July 1987, No. 51014, Friday, 31st July 1987, p. 1).
[9] "Callaghan: A Life", by Kenneth O. Morgan (Oxford University Press, 1997).
Image: photograph, 1979.
Last updated on: 26 Jun 2009 04:20:51