Labour's 1964 election campaign was aided by the Profumo affair, a ministerial sex scandal that had mortally wounded Harold Macmillan and hurt the Conservatives. Wilson made capital without getting involved in the less salubrious aspects. (Asked for a statement on the scandal, he reportedly said "No comment ... in glorious Technicolor!"). Sir Alec Douglas-Home was an aristocrat who had given up his peerage to sit in the House of Commons and become Prime Minister upon Macmillan's resignation. To Wilson's comment that he was out of touch with ordinary people since he was the 14th Earl of Home, Home retorted, "I suppose Mr. Wilson is the fourteenth Mr. Wilson".
Wilsonwhite heat of technologySir Harold Wilson
Profumo scandalProfumosex scandal
His successor as prime minister was Lord Home, who renounced his peerage and served as Sir Alec Douglas-Home. In the October 1964 general election the Conservative Party was narrowly defeated, and Wilson became prime minister. A later commentator opined that the Profumo affair had destroyed the old, aristocratic Conservative party: "It wouldn't be too much to say that the Profumo scandal was the necessary prelude to the new Toryism, based on meritocracy, which would eventually emerge under Margaret Thatcher". The Economist suggested that the Profumo affair had effected a fundamental and permanent change in relations between politicians and press.
UnionistUnionist PartyScottish Unionist Party
At Westminster, the differences between the Scottish Unionist and the English party could appear blurred or non-existent to the external casual observer, especially as many Scottish MPs were prominent in the parliamentary Conservative Party, such as party leaders Bonar Law (1911–1921 and 1922–1923) and Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963–1965), both of whom served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The party traditionally did not stand at local government level but instead supported and assisted the Progressive Party in its campaigns against the Labour Party.
MacmillanHarold Macmillan, 1st Earl of StocktonMaurice Harold Macmillan
Macmillan was succeeded by Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home in a controversial move; it was alleged that Macmillan had pulled strings and utilised the party's grandees, nicknamed 'The Magic Circle', who had slanted their "soundings" of opinion among MPs and Cabinet Ministers to ensure that Butler was (once again) not chosen. He finally resigned, receiving the Queen from his hospital bed, on 18 October 1963, after nearly seven years as prime minister. He felt privately that he was being hounded from office by a backbench minority: "Some few will be content with the success they have had in the assassination of their leader and will not care very much who the successor is. ...
Conservative Prime Ministers Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home promoted relatively liberal trade regulations and less state involvement throughout the 1950s and early-1960s. The Suez Crisis of 1956 was a humiliating defeat for Prime Minister Eden, but his successor, Macmillan, minimised the damage and focused attention on domestic issues and prosperity. Macmillan boasted during the 1959 general election that Britain had "never had it so good". In 1958, Geoffrey Howe co-authored the report A Giant's Strength published by the Inns of Court Conservative Association.
Lord BarberAnthony Barber, Baron BarberAnthony Perrinott Lysberg Barber
He became a Cabinet minister, as Minister of Health, in 1963, but lost his seat in the Commons in the 1964 general election to Labour's Harold Walker. His absence from Parliament was short-lived, as he won a 1965 by-election in Altrincham and Sale caused by the elevation to the peerage of Frederick Erroll. In opposition, he led Ted Heath's campaign to become Conservative party leader in 1965, and became party chairman in 1967. The Conservatives won the general election in 1970, and Barber held his seat until the general election of October 1974, when he himself entered the House of Lords.
Kinross and West PerthshireKinross and Western PerthshireKinross & West Perthshire
For the 1950 general election, as a result of the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949, the Perth constituency became Perth and East Perthshire, but boundaries were unaltered. 1950 names and boundaries were used also for the general elections of 1951, 1955, 1959, 1964, 1966 and 1970. This also applied to the by-election of late 1963, when newly elected prime minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home won the seat after renouncing his peerage in order to rejoin the House of Commons.
Sir Winston ChurchillChurchillChurchill, Winston
After leaving the premiership, Churchill spent less time in parliament until he stood down at the 1964 general election. Churchill spent most of his retirement at Chartwell and at his home in Hyde Park Gate, in London, and became a habitué of high society on the French Riviera. Although publicly supportive, Churchill was privately scathing about Eden's Suez Invasion. His wife believed that he had made a number of visits to the US in the following years in an attempt to help repair Anglo-American relations. By the time of the 1959 general election Churchill seldom attended the House of Commons. Despite the Conservative landslide, his own majority fell by more than a thousand.
Labour PartyLabourBritish Labour Party
The Labour Party returned to government with a 4-seat majority under Wilson in the 1964 general election but increased its majority to 96 in the 1966 general election. Wilson's government was responsible for a number of sweeping social and educational reforms under the leadership of Home Secretary Roy Jenkins such as the abolishment of the death penalty in 1964, the legalisation of abortion and homosexuality (initially only for men aged 21 or over, and only in England and Wales) in 1967 and the abolition of theatre censorship in 1968.
Earls of HomeLord Home (1473)Earl of Home (1605)
It was created in 1605 for Alexander Home of that Ilk, 6th Lord Home. The Earl of Home holds, among others, the subsidiary titles of Lord Home (created 1473), and Lord Dunglass (1605), in the Peerage of Scotland; and Baron Douglas, of Douglas in the County of Lanark (1875) in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Various Earls of Home have also claimed the title of Lord Hume of Berwick. The Earl is also Chief of the Name and Arms of Home and heir general to the House of Douglas. The title Lord Dunglass is the courtesy title of the eldest son of the Earl. The most famous recent holder of the title was the 14th Earl, Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, better known as Sir Alec Douglas-Home.
Quintin HoggLord HailshamLord Hailsham of St Marylebone
He was usually in good form in dealing with hecklers, a valuable skill in the 1960s, and was prominent in the 1964 general election. One evening when giving a political address, he was hailed by his supporters as he leaned over the podium pointing at a long-haired heckler. He said, "Now, see here, Sir or Madam whichever the case might be, we have had enough of you!" The police ejected the man and the crowd applauded and Hogg went on as if nothing had happened. Another time, when a Labour Party supporter waved a Harold Wilson placard in front of him, Hogg smacked it with his walking stick.
Donald Wade (1962–1964). Post vacant (1964–1979). John Pardoe (1976–1979). Post vacant (1979–1985). Alan Beith (1985–1988). Eric Drummond, 16th Earl of Perth (1946–1951). Walter Layton, 1st Baron Layton (1952–1955). Post vacant (1955–1965). Gladwyn Jebb, 1st Baron Gladwyn (1965–1988). 1945–1956. 1956–1967. 1967–1976. List of Liberal Party (UK) MPs. Liberalism in the United Kingdom. Liberal Democrats. List of United Kingdom Liberal Party Leaders. List of United Kingdom Whig and allied party leaders (1801–59). List of Liberal Chief Whips. President of the Liberal Party. List of UK Liberal Party general election manifestos. Adelman, Paul. The decline of the Liberal Party 1910–1931 (2nd ed.
House of CommonsBritish House of CommonsCommons
Since 1902, all prime ministers have been members of the Commons; the sole exception was during the long summer recess in 1963: the 14th Earl of Home disclaimed his peerage (under a new mechanism which remains in force) three days after becoming prime minister, and became Sir Alec Douglas-Home. The new session of Parliament was delayed to await the outcome of his by-election, which happened to be already under way due to a recent death. As anticipated, he won that election, which was for the highest-majority seat in Scotland among his party; otherwise he would have been constitutionally obliged to resign.
Quintin Hogg, 2nd Viscount Hailsham and Alec Douglas-Home, 14th Earl of Home took advantage of the Act to disclaim their peerages, despite having inherited them in 1950 and 1951 respectively. Douglas-Home was chosen as Prime Minister; both men later returned to the House of Lords as life peers. Since the abolition in 1999 of the general right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, and the consequent removal of the general disability of such peers to sit in or vote for the House of Commons, it is no longer necessary for hereditary peers to disclaim their peerages for this purpose.
LanarkLanark CCLanark constituency
Lanark was a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster) from 1918 to 1983. It elected one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post voting system.
GaitskellHugh Todd Naylor GaitskellMr Gaitskell
However, many of the Gaitskellites held leading positions in Harold Wilson's Cabinet of 1964–70. Many of them – e.g. Roy Jenkins and Bill Rodgers but not Anthony Crosland or Douglas Jay – became supporters of British membership of the EEC, an issue on which Labour was split in the 1970s and which helped to precipitate the SDP split of 1981. John Campbell writes that "the echoes of the Gaitskell-Bevan rivalry continued to divide the party right up to the 1980s".
PPSParliamentary Private SecretariesParliamentary Private Secretary (PPS)
While giving the holder a close-up view of the workings of government at the highest levels, relatively few Parliamentary Private Secretaries to the Prime Minister seem to have gone on to serve at the highest level of government themselves, although Sir Alec Douglas-Home served as Prime Minister in 1963-4, while Anthony Barber was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1970 to 1974, Robert Carr, Home Secretary, 1972-4, and Christopher Soames, Peter Shore, and Gavin Williamson, the current Secretary of State for Education, all went on to be senior Cabinet ministers. Alec Douglas-Home, Lord Dunglass: to Neville Chamberlain, 1937–1940. Brendan Bracken: to Winston Churchill, 1940–1941.
The Right Honourable '''Geoffrey Rippon''' QC Aubrey Geoffrey Frederick RipponGeoffrey Rippon, Baron Rippon of Hexham
In 1964 Rippon was defeated, but moved to the constituency of Hexham in Northumberland at the 1966 general election and remained MP there until retiring in 1987. Among his posts in the Shadow Cabinet was that of Shadow Defence Secretary from 1969 to 1970. In 1970 he became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster under Edward Heath, and being in favour of the Common Market was given the responsibility of negotiating Britain's entry into it. In 1972 he moved to become Secretary of State for the Environment. During his tenure the Department of the Environment was housed on Marsham Street in tower blocks of appalling ugliness, nicknamed 'the three ugly sisters'.
Prime MinisterBritish Prime MinisterPrime Minister of Great Britain
Macmillan's successors, Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher, all accepted life peerages (although Douglas-Home had previously disclaimed his hereditary title as Earl of Home). Edward Heath did not accept a peerage of any kind and nor have any of the prime ministers to retire since 1990, although Heath and Major were later appointed as Knights of the Garter. The most recent former prime minister to die was Margaret Thatcher (1979–1990) on 8 April 2013.
Secretary of State for HealthMinister of HealthHealth Secretary
No image.svg. 20 October 1963. 16 October 1964. Conservative. style="background-color: " |. Sir Alec Douglas-Home. style="background-color: " |. Kenneth Robinson. No image.svg. 18 October 1964. 1 November 1968. Labour. style="background-color: " |. Harold Wilson. colspan=8| Post merged with Ministry for Social Security in 1968. style="background-color: " |. Sir Alec Douglas-Home. style="background-color: " |. Kenneth Robinson. No image.svg. 18 October 1964. 1 November 1968. Labour. style="background-color: " |.
Foreign SecretarySecretary of State for Foreign AffairsBritish Foreign Secretary
The Imperial Premiership: The Role of the Modern Prime Minister in Foreign Policy Making, 1964-2015 (Oxford UP, 2016). Hughes, Michael. British Foreign Secretaries in an Uncertain World, 1919-1939. (Routledge, 2004). Johnson, Gaynor. "Introduction: The Foreign Office and British Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century," Contemporary British History, (2004) 18:3, 1-12, DOI: 10.1080/1361946042000259279. Neilson, Keith, and Thomas G. Otte. The permanent under-secretary for foreign affairs, 1854-1946 (Routledge, 2008). Otte, Thomas G. The Foreign Office Mind: The Making of British Foreign Policy, 1865–1914 (Cambridge UP, 2011). Steiner, Zara. The Foreign Office and Foreign Policy, 1898-1914 (1986).
19661966 general election1966 election
Wilson's decision to call a snap election turned on the fact that his government, elected a mere 17 months previously in 1964, had an unworkably small majority of only 4 MPs. The Labour government was returned following this snap election with a much larger majority of 96 seats. Prior to the 1966 general election, Labour had performed poorly in local elections in 1965, and lost a by-election, cutting their majority to just two. Labour ran its campaign with the slogan "You know Labour government works". Shortly after the local elections, Sir Alec Douglas-Home was replaced by Edward Heath as leader of the Conservative Party.
Ted HeathSir Edward HeathHeath
Under Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home he was President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development, and oversaw the abolition of retail price maintenance. After the Conservative Party lost the general election of 1964, the defeated Home changed the party leadership rules to allow for a ballot by MPs, and then resigned. The following year, Heath—who was Shadow Chancellor at the time, and had recently won favourable publicity for leading the fight against Labour's Finance Bill—unexpectedly won the party's leadership contest, gaining 150 votes to Reginald Maudling's 133 and Enoch Powell's 15.
Communist PartyCommunistBritish Communist Party
Geoff Andrews Endgames and New Times: The Final Years of British Communism, 1964–1991. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2004. Geoff Andrews, Nina Fishman & Kevin Morgan, Opening the Books: Essays on the Cultural and Social History of the British Communist Party. Palgrave, 1995. John Attfield & Stephen Williams, 1939: The Communist Party and the War. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1984. Francis Beckett, The Enemy Within: Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party. London: John Murray, 1995. Thomas Bell, The British Communist Party: a Short History. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1937. Robert Black, Stalinism in Britain: A Trotskyist Analysis. London: New Park Publications, 1970.
Reggie MaudlingMaudling The Right Honourable '''Reginald Maudling
Back in London the following week, a process of "consultation" by Lord Chancellor Dilhorne and by Redmayne declared Foreign Secretary Lord Home, rather than Maudling or Butler, to be the compromise candidate. Enoch Powell, Macleod, Hailsham and Maudling (known as "the Quad" in some accounts of the following days) sought to persuade Butler to refuse to serve, so that Butler rather than Home would have to become Prime Minister. Macleod and Maudling demanded that Dilhorne lay the results of his consultations before the Cabinet, but he refused to do so.