Publication Date: 01/09/2022 ISBN: 9781474611954 Category:

Harold Wilson

Nick Thomas-Symonds

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publication Date: 01/09/2022 ISBN: 9781474611954 Category:




Harold Wilson is the only post-war leader of any party to serve as Britain’s Prime Minister on two separate occasions. In total he won four General Elections, spending nearly eight years in Downing Street. Half a century later, he is still unbeaten, Labour’s greatest ever election winner. How did he do it – and at what cost?

Critics then and now have painted him as an opportunistic political calculator, even as a Soviet secret agent. In this powerful new portrait, drawing on previously unavailable sources and first-hand parliamentary insight, acclaimed biographer Nick Thomas-Symonds reveals a more complex figure. Wilson was a new kind of politician but, in his own way, this media-savvy harbinger of modernity was also a deeply traditional man, whose actions often suggest nothing less than a spiritual mission.

In an intriguing paradox, Wilson, influenced by the distinctively democratic faith of his Yorkshire boyhood, united a fractured Labour Party, ushering in the cultural and social changes of the ‘swinging sixties’. His was the government to decriminalise homosexuality, legalise abortion and abolish capital punishment. With a brilliant mind, sure-footed political moves and a feel for public opinion, he was a survivor who over and over again emerged from desperate crises – even, perhaps, conspiracies – to lead his party to victory. It is time at last to learn his secrets.

Publisher Review

This comprehensive, carefully researched and very readable biography aims to establish Wilson's place in history - not as the neurotic schemer often reported during his sad last years, which were blighted by dementia, nor even as the supreme political fixer portrayed by Pimlott, but as a decent, honourable man, as well as a very clever one, who was in politics to do something, not just to be someone. He was, Thomas-Symonds concludes, one of our greatest prime ministers, who, given the political circumstances, had a remarkable record of solid achievement. -- Francis Beckett * Spectator * Well-researched, fair-minded and enjoyable -- Dominic Sandbrook * Sunday Times * Nick Thomas-Symonds' excellent new biography puts Harold Wilson in his rightful place as a crucial figure in Labour Party history, winning four General Elections and introducing important reforms that have endured. It deserves to be widely read not only as a fine work of history but also for its lessons in how Labour wins -- Keir Starmer

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