James Callaghan, 1979-80

Meredith, Stephen Clive orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2382-1015 (2012) James Callaghan, 1979-80. In: Leaders of the Opposition: From Churchill to Cameron. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 109-125. ISBN 9780230296473

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This chapter attempts to review and reasess Callaghan's turbulent stewardship of the Labour Party in the period immediately following election defeat in 1979 as Leader of the Opposition. It evaluates his leadership on dimensions of public communication; effectiveness in constructing public policy platforms; party management and emotional intelligence in coping with the demands of the role, but argues, in Callaghan's case, that intra-party and broader political developments and context were mightily important and, despite his wide experience and obvious skills, party trends and priorities were passing him by, at least temporarily. As such, his brief post-election leadership of the party exposed him as not so much a ‘caretaker’ or ‘night watchman’ as ‘lame duck’ Leader of the Opposition.

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