Harold Wilson Quote

He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.

Harold Wilson

He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.

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About Harold Wilson

James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British statesman and Labour Party politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1964 to 1970 and again from 1974 to 1976. He was Leader of the Labour Party from 1963 to 1976, Leader of the Opposition twice from 1963 to 1964 and again from 1970 to 1974, and a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1945 to 1983. Wilson is the only Labour leader to have formed administrations following four general elections.
Born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, to a politically active middle-class family, Wilson studied PPE at Jesus College, Oxford. He was later an Economic History lecturer at New College, Oxford, and a research fellow at University College, Oxford. Elected to Parliament in 1945, Wilson was appointed to the Attlee government as a Parliamentary Secretary; he became Secretary for Overseas Trade in 1947, and was elevated to the Cabinet shortly thereafter as President of the Board of Trade. Following Labour's defeat at the 1955 election, Wilson joined the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Chancellor, and was moved to the role of Shadow Foreign Secretary in 1961. When Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell died suddenly in January 1963, Wilson won the subsequent leadership election to replace him, becoming Leader of the Opposition.
Wilson led Labour to a narrow victory at the 1964 election. His first period as prime minister saw a period of low unemployment and economic prosperity; this was later hindered by significant problems with Britain's external balance of payments. His government oversaw significant societal changes, abolishing both capital punishment and theatre censorship, partially decriminalising male homosexuality in England and Wales, relaxing the divorce laws, limiting immigration, and liberalising birth control and abortion law. In the midst of this programme, Wilson called a snap election in 1966, which Labour won with a much increased majority. His government armed Nigeria during the Biafran War. In 1969, he sent British troops to Northern Ireland. After losing the 1970 election to Edward Heath's Conservatives, Wilson chose to remain in the Labour leadership, and resumed the role of Leader of the Opposition for four years before leading Labour through the February 1974 election, which resulted in a hung parliament. Wilson was appointed prime minister for a second time; he called a snap election in October 1974, which gave Labour a small majority. During his second term as prime minister, Wilson oversaw the referendum that confirmed the UK's membership of the European Communities.
In March 1976, Wilson suddenly announced his resignation as prime minister. He remained in the House of Commons until retiring in 1983 when he was elevated to the House of Lords as Lord Wilson of Rievaulx. While seen by admirers as leading the Labour Party through difficult political issues with considerable skill, Wilson's reputation was low when he left office and is still disputed in historiography. Some scholars praise his unprecedented electoral success for a Labour prime minister and holistic approach to governance, while others criticise his political style and handling of economic issues. Several key issues which he faced while prime minister included the role of public ownership, whether Britain should seek the membership of the European Communities, and British involvement in the Vietnam War. His stated ambitions of substantially improving Britain's long-term economic performance, applying technology more democratically, and reducing inequality were to some extent unfulfilled.