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The way we were: Calling—and not calling—snap elections

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

By Ian Irvine   May 2017

James Callaghan became prime minister in 1976, but did not fight an election until 1979 ©Harris/AP/Rex/Shutterstock

In late 1973 the miners’ strike was causing severe disruption, challenging the authority of Edward Heath’s Conservative government. Parliament still had 18 months to run. William Waldegrave, Heath’s political secretary, recalled:

“So, into that last winter we went: the country rationed on energy and petrol use; industry working a three-day week; No 10 lit by Camping Gaz butane lamps. I argued that we should challenge the extra-parliamentary power of the unions at…

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