Leonard James Callaghan
Son of James Callaghan and Charlotte Callaghan
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Historical records matching Rt Hon James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG
About Rt Hon James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG
Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC (27 March 1912 – 26 March 2005), was a British Labour politician, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980. Commonly known as Jim Callaghan (and nicknamed Sunny Jim, Gentleman Jim, Lucky Jim or Big Jim), Callaghan is the only person to have served in all four of the Great Offices of State: Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary.
Callaghan was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1964 to 1967 during a turbulent period in the British economy in which he had to wrestle with a balance of payments deficit and speculative attacks on the pound sterling. In November 1967, the Government was forced to devalue the pound sterling despite having already denied this would be done, both publicly and to the House of Commons. Callaghan offered to resign, but was persuaded to swap his ministerial post with Roy Jenkins, becoming Home Secretary from 1967 to 1970. In that capacity, Callaghan took the decision to use the Army to support the police in Northern Ireland, after a request from the Northern Ireland Government.
The Labour Party lost the General Election in 1970, but Callaghan returned to office as Foreign Secretary in March 1974, taking responsibility for renegotiating the terms of Britain's membership of the European Economic Community (EEC or "Common Market"), and supporting a 'Yes' vote in the 1975 referendum for the UK to remain in the EEC. When Harold Wilson resigned in 1976, Callaghan was elected the new Labour leader.
Labour had already lost its majority in the House of Commons when he became Prime Minister and lost further seats at by-elections and through defections, forcing Callaghan to deal with minor parties such as the Liberal Party especially in the Lib-Lab pact from 1977 to 1978, the Ulster Unionists, Scottish National Party and even Independents. Industrial disputes and widespread strikes in the "Winter of Discontent" of 1978–79, made Callaghan's government unpopular and the defeat of the referendum on devolution for Scotland led to the passage of a motion of no confidence on 28 March 1979. This was followed by a defeat by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party in the ensuing general election.