James Callaghan (1912-2005, Prime Minister 1976-9) started his career as a tax officer at the Inland Revenue and, fittingly, his first Cabinet post was as Chancellor of the Exchequer. On Harold Wilson’s surprise resignation in 1976, the Labour Party’s MPs elected Callaghan as their leader; he therefore automatically succeeded Wilson as Prime Minister. His term in office was dominated by industrial unrest, culminating in the ‘Winter of Discontent’. On 28 March 1979, the government was narrowly defeated (311 votes to 310) on an opposition motion of no confidence. It was the first occasion since 1924 when a vote in the House of Commons had precipitated a general election. Labour lost and, in October 1980, Callaghan resigned as party leader.
HENRY CONROY was a trade union leader, journalist and general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). He was the financial correspondent at the Daily Record and later editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer. When Callaghan was Prime Minister, Conroy was the Labour Party’s press officer in Scotland and got to know him personally.