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Leonard James Callaghan Callaghan of Cardiff, Baron

Callaghan of Cardiff, Leonard James Callaghan, Baron, 1912–2005, British statesman. He was first elected to Parliament as a Labour member in 1945. As chancellor of the exchequer (1964–67), he introduced extremely controversial taxation policies, including employment taxes; he resigned when he was forced to accept devaluation of the pound. Prime Minister Harold Wilson then appointed him home secretary (1967–70), and in that post he ordered British troops into Northern Ireland to deal with the rising violence there. Callaghan also served as foreign secretary (1974–76). He succeeded Wilson when the latter resigned as prime minister in 1976. Callaghan was by nature a moderate man, but his government was plagued by inflation, unemployment, and its inability to restrain trade unions' wage demands, and foundered after a series of paralyzing labor strikes in the winter of 1978–79. In the elections later in 1979, the Labour party lost to the Conservatives, led by Margaret Thatcher. Callaghan resigned as party leader in 1980 and was created a life peer in 1987.

See his autobiography Time and Chance (1987); biography by B. Donoughue, Prime Minister (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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