Saturday, March 26, 2005

Bye, Jim

Former Labour Prime Minister Lord Callaghan has died the day before his 93rd birthday.

Despite being the only politician in history to have held all four major positions in British politics - Chancellor, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister - he's probably unfairly, for the time being at least, going to be remembered as a bit of a failure. After all, he was only PM from 1976-79, and on losing the 1979 general election his party entered a ridiculously long period of opposition. He was also responsible for the devaluation of the pound in 1967, the deploying of the British army to Northern Ireland in 1970, and was in charge during the Winter of Discontent.

The judgement of failure is, however, unfair: while at the Department of Transport in the late 1940s he brought in both Cat's Eyes and Zebra Crossings, making our roads safer and demonstrating a strange obsession with animals which he failed to capitalise on later in his career.

God, that sounds callous. By (almost) all accounts he was a thoroughly nice chap. More from The Guardian, The Times and Wikipedia.

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