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James Callaghan
Lord Callaghan of Cardiff

James Callaghan began working life in 1929 as a tax officer. He resigned from Civil Service in 1937, to becoming a union official full-time. He spent the next 10 years serving in the capacity of assistant secretary of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation.

In 1942 Callaghan volunteered for duty in the Royal Navy, going to sea with the East Indies fleet stationed at Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Returning to Britain, he joined the Labour Party and in 1945 was elected to the Commons standing for Cardiff South. In Atlee's government, during the nationalisation of the railways (1947-50), he served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport. While at that post he introduced zebra crossings and cats' eyes. After the 1950 general election he was appointed Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

During Churchill's second ministry (1951-55) Callaghan spoke for the opposition on transport, fuel and power. He was opposition spokesman for colonial affairs 1956 to 1961; and Shadow Chancellor while Macmillan was prime minister (1961-64). He was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Wilson (1964-67), introducing corporation and capital-gains taxes. He resigned that post following a currency devaluation to serve as home secretary from (1967-70). He then was foreign secretary in 1974 in the Wilson government where he renegotiated Britain's membership in the European Community. In April,1976, he suceeded Wilson as prime minister, leader of the Labour Party and First Lord of the Treasury, holding the offices from 1976-79. His government stayed in power after 1977 due to a pact he made with the Liberals. However, strikes in winter of 1978-79 led to a vote of no confidence in the Commons and defeat at the polls in a general election called in May, 1979.

Callaghan was resigned as Party leader in 1979, but remained in the Commons until 1987. He was appointed a Knight of the Garter and created a life peer taking the title Lord Callaghan of Cardiff.

1996, Crown copyright photograph


1976 - Jimmy Carter is elected president of the United States. An Air France Airbus is hijacked by six Palestinian terrorists with 288 passengers aboard. They fly to Entebbe.
1977 - Adolfo Suarez wins the first democratic election held in Spain since 1936. Queen Elizabeth marks her 25th year on the throne with a Jubilee Celebration.
1978 - Naomi James ends her solo round-the-world voyage under sail, beating by two days the record of Sir Francis Chichester. David Berkowitz, the 'Son of Sam' killer is sentenced to life imprisonment in New York.
1979 - Rhodesia becomes Zimbabwe. Elton John performs in the USSR, the first British rocker to do so. Bryan Allen peddles across the channel in the corporately sponsored, man-powered aircraft, Gossimer Albatross, winning a 100,000 prize.

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