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Harold Wilson, uninterrupted (1964-1974)

Aznavour

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Looking at recent British history, it does seem common for parties to control government for periods of 10 years of longer at a time*, which of course got me thinking about the exceptions, which got me to Harold Wilson, twice PM (1964-1970 and 1974-1976), who got to have such non-consecutive governments by virtue of losing the general election of 1970 to Heath, when according to all polling, he should have won. (Polls being wrong, what a twist)*

So, question is simple enough: what if Harold Wilson had won in 1970 and had been Prime Minister for 10 years straight?**

*1905-1922 Liberals
1935-1945 Conservatives
1951-1964 Conservatives
1979-1997 Conservatives
1997-2010 Labour

**The answer to that in What if Gordon Banks had Played was PM Enoch Powell, but we can skip that one.
 

Yokai Man

Well-known member
Looking at recent British history, it does seem common for parties to control government for periods of 10 years of longer at a time*, which of course got me thinking about the exceptions, which got me to Harold Wilson, twice PM (1964-1970 and 1974-1976), who got to have such non-consecutive governments by virtue of losing the general election of 1970 to Heath, when according to all polling, he should have won. (Polls being wrong, what a twist)*

So, question is simple enough: what if Harold Wilson had won in 1970 and had been Prime Minister for 10 years straight?**

*1905-1922 Liberals
1935-1945 Conservatives
1951-1964 Conservatives
1979-1997 Conservatives
1997-2010 Labour

**The answer to that in What if Gordon Banks had Played was PM Enoch Powell, but we can skip that one.
He planned on retiring in ‘72 or ‘73 if he won in 1970,so it ain’t likely he stays that long.
 

AgentRudda

rip geronimo rip babycakes i want to run to you
Pronouns
He/Him
Was that a political promise, or a real promise?

Harold had a certain reputation for not necessarily being completely honest with everyone.
I'm not the Harold Wilson expert around here, but the consensus is that he would've stepped down by 1973 at the latest. I think he'd have likely tried to get EEC accession through and have that as a legacy, before going.

By the 1970s, Wilson was an exhausted man. He's definitely someone who peaked in his 50s and was on the downward slope. When he lost in 1970, all he wanted to do was win another election so he could get Edward Heath out, and then go soon after. He had initially wanted to resign in September 1975 but postponed.
 

Simon

Oblivious
Slight digression but if Dunglass had pulled out a narrow win in 1964 with Wilson then gaining a large majority in 1969 when do people see him leaving office? Sixty would be 1976 which suggests running agiain before handing over, becoming Prime Minister later potentially butterflies the promise to his wife although there will be the extended period as Leader of the Opposition, alternatively the early 1970s are going to be a rather stressful time to be in office so he might decide one term is enough.
 

Aznavour

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Almost forgot to reply:

1. I wonder, would Wilson had reacted differently than Heath to certain events, like escalating problems with Unions, Scotlands, the Middle East and Northern Ireland, or could we take his actual actions once back in government IOTL

We have this little nugget from Wikipedia, but of course, it was formulated once he was out of government:

While out of office in late 1971, Wilson had formulated a 16-point, 15-year programme that was designed to pave the way for the unification of Ireland. The proposal was not adopted by the then Heath government.[114]
Or this:
On 11 September 2008, BBC Radio Four's Document programme claimed to have unearthed a secret plan—codenamed Doomsday—which proposed to cut all of the United Kingdom's constitutional ties with Northern Ireland and transform the province into an independent dominion. Document went on to claim that the Doomsday plan was devised mainly by Wilson and was kept a closely guarded secret. The plan then allegedly lost momentum, due in part, it was claimed, to warnings made by both the then Foreign Secretary, James Callaghan, and the then Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Garret FitzGerald who admitted the 12,000-strong Irish army would be unable to deal with the ensuing civil war.[115]

On the other hand, there's always the possibility of contrasting his economic policies to that of Heath, as Wilson or his successor would have to deal with the 1973 Oil Crisis, which brings us to:

2. I guess the most likely successor after a Wilson Resignation in 72 or 73 remains Callaghan, although I'm unsure about what Wilson remaining in power means for the Labour Left. Assuming Callaghan loses to Heath or whoever leads the Tories in 74, that could mean either Foot being PM in 78 or Callaghan leading Labour into the 80s and implementing many of the 80s policies that people like Thatcher, Reagan and Nakasone were famous for IOTL.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
If Wilson does start to shunt Northern Ireland out of the union and it goes wrong - especially if it means the Irish Army has to send troops and they're fighting what used to be UK cits - that would overshadow everything he did before. Labour could be in the wilderness for a long time after.
 

David Flin

Real people take priority over imaginary people
If Wilson does start to shunt Northern Ireland out of the union and it goes wrong - especially if it means the Irish Army has to send troops and they're fighting what used to be UK cits - that would overshadow everything he did before. Labour could be in the wilderness for a long time after.
If Wilson does shunt NI out of the union, there is absolutely no doubt it would go very badly indeed for the people living there. If the Irish Army has to cope, well, it didn't have the numbers to even begin to cope. Regardless of how good they were, how well intentioned they were, how careful they were, they could not even begin to cope.

The Troubles during the 1970s were bad enough as it was. Given that there was a viewpoint, expressed in 1970 (I think) that the Irish Army should cross the border and protect the Nationalists and eliminate (the word used) the Unionists, well, it doesn't take a genius to see how this might have turned out.
 

Ventriloquist

New member
Either Powell or Joseph replaces Heath in 1970. Whoever wins, it sure as hell won't be Gordon Banks ITTL, because that was imo too dystopic. Either way, the Tories probably go through with all the privatisations they went through in Thatcher's first term IOTL, and when the Winter of Discontent comes about, the public turns on the Tories hard.

Labour is elected in 1979/80 ITTL, most likely still with Callaghan at the helm if not Healey, and while I can't see them going full Thatcherite ITTL (especially if Reagan wins in 1976 off the nascent Anglosphere conservative wave and loses in 1980), I really don't see them renationalising BP, British Aerospace, Amersham International or any other profitable privatised companies ITTL. (They'll probably keep natural monopolies in the public sector tho, so BT will likely flourish by the end of the century.)

When the Tories are eventually reelected, I feel like the Josephites/Powellites ITTL will be somewhat marginalised, so the neoliberal era will be much more moderate and measured in comparison to politics post-Thatcher IOTL. I dunno.
 
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