Cover 9781785906336

Kevin Hickson reintroduces us to James Callaghan in the latest Biteback blog: have a read here!


It has been forty years since James Callaghan – the only person to hold all four of the great offices of state – resigned as Leader of the Opposition, bringing to an end over three decades of service on the front bench.

Debate still rages over whether Callaghan was a successful Prime Minister. Critics see him variously as holding back the inevitable tide of economic liberalism or betraying the ‘socialist’ policies on which Labour had been elected (twice) in 1974. Following his downfall in 1979, there were few defenders of his legacy.

This vital reassessment explores the context within which Callaghan governed and the policies his administration pursued, inviting the reader to draw their own conclusion as to how his premiership should be remembered. It includes contributions from leading politicians, journalists, advisors and academics, including some of those who knew Callaghan best.

As debates over the future of the Labour Party intensify, this illuminating book offers valuable insights into the party’s past.


He was a big man in every way and anyone reading this excellent compendium of essays will conclude that the question mark in the title is entirely superfluous.

Lord McNally, The House Magazine

This excellent collection provides an invaluable and authoritative guide to James Callaghan’s premiership, analysing the policies the Callaghan administration pursued alongside the economic and social context in which they governed. The essays include priceless reflections from senior figures who were intimately involved in the politics of the era. This book shines a light on crucial themes in post-war British politics and will be read keenly by students and general readers alike.

Dr Patrick Diamond, senior lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London, and former head of policy planning at 10 Downing Street

“This book provides real insights about an underrated Prime Minister who, in very challenging economic and political conditions, sustained minority government and social protection.” 


Lord Kinnock, former Leader of the Labour Party and Vice-President of the European Commission

“A brilliantly timed and conceived book. There is so much to enjoy and be stimulated by within its covers.” 

Sir Anthony Seldon, contemporary British historian and author of May at 10

“It is time to consider afresh the remarkable career of Jim Callaghan, the only politician of the twentieth century to hold all four Great Offices of State.  This new book offers a range of perspectives to provoke much-needed thought and debate about a significant figure in our history.”  

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, barrister and shadow Home Secretary

“Had I been asked to name all the people whose views on Jim Callaghan I wanted to hear, I’d have nominated these authors – Cabinet colleagues and backbenchers from both sides of the aisle, academics, SPADs, journalists and commentators, who together paint a rounded picture of this exceptional and internationalist man.” 


Baroness Dianne Hayter, Labour life peer and former chair of the Labour Party
Show more

Share this book

Buy this book

not available
  • eBook
  • ISBN: 9781785906343
  • 3 November 2020
  • £20.00

About our eBooks

Similar titles:

Didn’t You Use to Be Chris Mullin?
Marcia Williams
Red Queen?
Labour Takes Power