Public Figure Profiles

Harold Wilson

James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from October 1964 to June 1970, and again from March 1974 to April 1976. He was the Leader of the Labour Party from 1963 to 1976, and was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1945 to 1983. Wilson is the only Labour leader to have formed Labour administrations following four general elections.

Born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, to a politically active middle-class family, Wilson won a scholarship to attend Royds Hall Grammar School and went on to study modern history at Jesus College, Oxford. He was later an economic history lecturer at New College, Oxford, and a research fellow at University College, Oxford. Elected to Parliament in 1945 for the seat of Ormskirk, Wilson was immediately appointed to the Attlee government as a Parliamentary Secretary; he became Secretary for Overseas Trade in 1947, and was elevated to the Cabinet shortly thereafter as President of the Board of Trade. In 1950, he moved to represent the nearby seat of Huyton. Following Labour's defeat at the 1955 election, Wilson joined the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Chancellor, and was moved to the role of Shadow Foreign Secretary in 1961. When Labour Leader Hugh Gaitskell died suddenly in January 1963, Wilson won the subsequent leadership election to replace him, becoming Leader of the Opposition.

Wilson led Labour to a narrow victory at the 1964 election, and was appointed prime minister. His first period as prime minister saw a period of low unemployment and relative economic prosperity, although this would later become hindered by significant problems with Britain's external balance of payments. The Wilson government oversaw significant societal changes in the United Kingdom, abolishing both capital punishment and theatre censorship, decriminalising male homosexuality in England and Wales, relaxing the divorce laws and liberalising abortion law. In the midst of this programme Wilson called a snap election in 1966, which Labour won by a landslide. In 1969, he sent British troops to Northern Ireland.

Despite leading in opinion polls, Labour unexpectedly lost the 1970 election to Edward Heath's Conservatives. Wilson chose to remain in the Labour leadership, and spent four years back in the role of Leader of the Opposition, before leading Labour through the February 1974 election, which resulted in a hung parliament. Although the Conservatives had won more votes than Labour, Heath's talks with the Liberal Party failed, and Wilson was appointed prime minister for a second time, now as leader of a minority government; Wilson called a snap election in October 1974, which gave Labour a small majority. During his second term as prime minister, Wilson oversaw the referendum that confirmed the UK's membership of the European Communities. In March 1976, he suddenly announced his resignation as prime minister, and was succeeded by James Callaghan. Wilson remained in the House of Commons until retiring in 1983, when he was elevated to the House of Lords as Lord Wilson of Rievaulx.

Historians evaluate him in terms of leading the Labour Party through difficult political issues with considerable skill. Wilson's reputation was low when he left office and was still poor in 2016. Key issues he faced included the role of public ownership, membership of the European Communities, and how to avoid committing British troops to the Vietnam War. Wilson's approach to socialism was regarded by some as too moderate, by others too left-wing. A member of Labour's soft left, he joked about leading a Cabinet made up mostly of social democrats, comparing himself to a Bolshevik revolutionary presiding over a Tsarist cabinet, but there was little to divide him ideologically from the majority of his cabinet. His stated ambitions of substantially improving Britain's long-term economic performance, applying technology more democratically, and reducing inequality went to some extent unfulfilled.

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Some of their strengths

Harold Wilson has many admirable traits.

Based on spiritual traditions from around the world, they are someone who can be described as Energetic, Creative, Intelligent, Compassionate, Kind, Imaginative, and Charming.

Soulful and Understanding

According to Mysticism’s Astrology tradition, Harold Wilson is someone who is a soulful, understanding, and conscious person, who combines smarts with a deep talent for creativity and imagination. A person who sees life as a journey not a destination.

Warm and Caring

Based on Daoism’s Ba-Zi or ‘Chinese Zodiac’ tradition, people who know Harold Wilson well know them as someone who can be warm, caring, and compassionate, like a lamp or torch.

Inventive and Clever

According to Hinduism’s Jyotisha or ‘Vedic Astrology’ tradition, many would also describe Harold Wilson as someone who is flexible, intelligent, and quick-witted.

A person who likes to be creative, and to be recognized for their artistic talents. Who possesses intelligence, mental discipline, and ambition, and who does well in relationships and partnerships.

Charismatic and Playful

Based on the Mayan Tzolk’in or ‘Mayan Astrology’ tradition, Harold Wilson is someone who is used to being the center of attention, and who has a playful approach to dealing with life.

They are also someone who is mysterious, intuitive, and diplomatic, and who has a keen intuition, charisma, and a focus on balance and partnership.

Creative and Imaginative

According to Judaism’s Kabbalah tradition, Harold Wilson tends to be someone who is sensitive, imaginative, creative, and somewhat of a dreamer. Who is intuitive and compassionate, and who has a friendly, easygoing, calming and relaxing effect on people and for whom friends and family mean the world.

Some of Harold Wilson's challenges

While Harold Wilson has many strengths, nobody is perfect. They also have some challenging traits they need to manage.

For example, Harold Wilson can be Indecisive, Self-centered, Sensitive, Unrealistic, Hypocritical, Emotional, and Standoffish.

Indecisive and Unrealistic

One of Harold Wilson's key challenges is that they are someone who can come across as indecisive and unrealistic.

Harold Wilson must also exercise caution as they can have a hard time reconciling wants and needs.

Unfocused and Indecisive

Harold Wilson is someone who can be scattered, restless, and insensitive, be distracted by fluctuating professional interests, be a workaholic, and who can be arrogant and have difficulty accepting advice.

Lethargic and Unrealistic

Finally, Harold Wilson also can be too soft, lazy and lethargic, and who can have difficulty finding others who share a similarly dreamy outlook on life.

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