The flame of British Liberalism burns steady and brighter: A timeline from 1945

Apart from the typo - the GE was October 1966 - all plausible. A Conservative recovery but not enough to break through the Labour majority built up in 1961.

If not already asked, I presume the World Cup occurred as in OTL and of course Aberfan occurred in OTL on October 21st 1966 so you'd see Callaghan and the Queen going to the village (perhaps).

The Smethwick contest in OTL was infamous, as you say. Griffiths went on to become Conservative MP for Portsmouth North as I recall defeating Frank Judd in 1979 and holding the seat until defeated in the 1997 Labour landslide.

Compared with the 1966 OTL election, the Liberals in ATL are getting a lot more votes (19.4% compared with 8.5% in OTL) and seats (24 here compared with 12 in OTL).
Thank you for pointing out the typo in post # 117. In the October 1966 general election the Liberals won 24 seats, not 22.

The 1966 World Cup happened as in OTL, and England won the final. Also the Aberfan disaater on 21 October 1966, and the Queen and Callaghan went to the village.
 
Callaghan made major changes to his government on 8 and 9 October 1966. The Colonial Office was abolished and merged with the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Ministry of Power became the Ministry of Power and Technology; the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance became the Ministry of Social Security; and the Ministry of Aviation was abollished. Alfred Robens, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Patrick Gordon Walker, Foreign Secretary; Ray Gunter, Minister of Labour; Douglas Jay, Paymaster-General; George Brown, President of Board of Trade; Richard Mitchison, Minister of Transport; and James Griffiths, Secretary of State for Wales; George Chetwynd, Minister of Aviation; and Lynn Ungoed-Thomas, Attorney-General, all left the government.

Cabinet changes were w as follows: Denis Healey from Defence Secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer; Hilary Marquand from Commonwealth Relations Secretary to Foreign Secretary; Harold Wilson from Colonial Secretary to Defence
Secretary; Michael Stewart from Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons to Commonwealth Relations Secretary; Sir Frank Soskice from Home Secretary to Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons; Anthony Greenwood from Minister of Housing and Local Government to Home Secretary; Michael Foot from Minister of Education and Science to Minister of Housing and Local Government; Barbara Castle from Minister of Overseas Development to Minister of Education and Science.

The cabinet was as follows:
Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury: James Callaghan
Lord Chancellor: Lord Gardiner
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons: Sir Frank Soskice
Lord Privy Seal: Earl of Longford
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Denis Healey
Foreign Secretary: Hilary Marquand
Home Secretary: Anthony Greenwood
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Douglas Houghton
Commonwealth Relations Secretary: Michael Stewart
Defence Secretary: Harold Wilson
Minister of Education and Science: Barbara Castle
Minister of Housing and Local Government: Michael Foot
Minister of Labour: Frederick Lee
Minister of Overseas Development: Anthony Crosland
Minister of Power and Technology: Frederick Willey
Secretary of State for Scotland: Tom Fraser
Minister of Social Security: Margaret Herbison
President of Board of Trade: Peter Shore
Minister of Transport: Richard Crossman
Secretary of State for Wales: Goronwy Roberts.

Ministers not in the cabinet:
Minister of Health: Reginald Prentice
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Herbert Bowden
Paymaster-General: Edward Short
Postmaster-General: Roy Jenkins
Minister of Public Buildings and Works: John Diamond
Attorney-General: Sir Victor Mishcon
Solicitor-General: Sir Elwyn Jones.

Selected junior ministers :
Economic Secretary to Treasury: Dick Taverne
Financial Secretary to Treasury: Jeremy Bray
Parliamentary Secretary to Treasury (Government Chief Whip): John Silkin
Minister of State Foreign Office: Judith Hart
Minister of State Ministry of Education and Science: Jennie Lee
Parliamentary Secretary Ministry of Health: Gwyneth Dunwoody
Minister of State Ministry of Housing and Local Government: Shirley Williams
Minister of State Ministry of Power and Technology: Anthony Wedgwood Benn.
 
Barbara Castle was pleased to be appointed Minister of Education. She and her parliamentary secretary, Jennie Lee, were tasked by Callaghan with setting up the Open University, which was promised in the Labour Party manifesto for the 1966 general election.

At the first cabinet meeting after the general election there were heated discussions over the Prices and Incomes Bill. Richard Crossman objected strongly to the Bill's Part IV, because he argued that if a trade unionist went on strike for a pay rise, which the employer was not legally allowed to grant, he could be fined and would go to prison if he refused to pay the fine. Barbara Castle backed Crossman. (1)

(1) For Crossman's and Castle's opposition in cabinet in 1966 to Part IV of the Prices and Incomes Bill in OTL, see the book Fighting All The Way by Barbara Castle, London: Macmillan 1993.
 
The Glasgow Pollok by-election caused by the death of Alex Garrow (Labour) took place on 9 March 1967. It was won by the Conservative candidate, Esmond Wright, by a majority of 8.5%.. The Labour majority had been 1.3%. The SNP came a close third place with 24.8% of the vote. In the Honiton by-election on 16 March 1967, caused by the death of Robert Mathew (Conservative), the Conservative majority over Liberal fell from 22.5% to 20.7%.

The Walthamstow West by-election caused by the death of Edward Redhead (Labour) was held on 21 September. It was won for the Liberals by Margaret Wingfield. (1) Her majority was 1.2%, compared with the previous Labour majority of 28.3% over Liberal. The government's majority was now down to three.

The introduction of the breathalyser in early October 1967, met with considerable opposition. The Minister of Transport, Richard Crossman, was the subject of much hostility, with abusive letters and death threats. He was attacked as an academic, out of touch with ordinary people. Callaghan felt that someone who could relate better to the general public, would be more suitable as Transport Minister. So he sacked Crossman and promoted Shirley Williams from Minister of State Ministry of Housing ànd Local Government to Minister of Transport. She was replaced by David Ennals at Housing and Local Government. The opinions among historians was that Callaghan used the opposition to the breathalyser as an excuse to remove Crossman from the cabinet. The two men did not get on together.

(1) For the Wikipedia entry for Wingfield see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Wingfield.
 
Last edited:
Without Roy as home sec whither decriminalisation of homosexuality and abortion and what of the Apartheid issue
Homosexuality between consenting adults over 21 years old in England and Wales was decriminalised by the Sexual Offences Act 1967, as in OTL. There was no Abortion Act 1967 in this TL, because David Steel who sponsored the 1967 Abortion Bill in OTL is not an MP. Events in South Africa and the British government's policy towards South Africa were the same as in OTL.
 
The Manchester Gorton by-election on 2 November 1967, caused by the death of the veteran Labour left-winger Konni Zilliacus, was a Conservative gain from Labour by a majority of 0.4%. The Labour majority was 19.0%. The winning candidate was Winston Churchill, the grandson of Sir Winston and the son of Randolph. The government's majority was now done to one.

Several cabinet ministers had been pressing for devaluation of the pound. They were Barbara Castle, Tony Crosland, Michael Foot, Tony Greenwood, Denis Healey, and Peter Shore. However the Prime Minister, James Callaghan, Hilary Marquand, Sir Frank Soskice, Harold Wilson and other ministers opposed devaluation.

Callaghan waited until the last moment when devaluation had become inevitable. At a cabinet meeting on 16 November 1967, he told his colleagues that the pound would be devalued from US $2.80 to US$ 2.40. The official announcement was on 18 November. The bank rate was increased from 7% to 8%.. Callaghan made a television broadcast to the nation that evening. He said that devaiuation of the pound was regrettable, but necessary. It would make British exports cheaper, but imports would be more expensive. However the government's prices and incomes policy would keep prices down. It was a great opportunity from British industry and manufacturers. The British people must pull together to overcome the country's temporary economic difficulties.
 
Christopher Rowland, the Labour MP for Brierley Hill since 1961, died on 5 November 1967 at the tragically early age of 38, from pneumonia and pleurisy. (1) He was also parliamentary secretary to the Board of Trade. Callaghan appointed Roy Hattersley as Rowland's replacement at the Board of Trade. The government now no longer had a majority in the House of Commons.

On 21 and 22 November 1967, the House of Commons debated the government motion that 'This House approves the economic policy of the government as set out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his statement to the House on 20 November 1967.' The debate was opened by the President of the Board of Trade, Peter Shore, for the government. The shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. Iain Macleod, led for the Tories. The Liberal leader, Frank Byers, was the first Liberal speaker. He said that his party agreed with the government's decision to devalue the pound, but they had waited to long to do it.

On the second day, Callaghan, Healey, and Harold Lever, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, were the government speakers. Reginald Maudling, the Conservative leader, and Robert Carr, the shadow President of the Board of Trade, were the speakers from the Opposition Front Bench. The vote at the end of the debate was 313 for the motion and 313 against the motion. The Liberals voted with the Tories. In accordance with precedent, the Speaker gave his casting vote in favour of the motion.

(1) As he did in OTL.
 
In February 1967 the cabinet authorised Jennie Lee to establish a planning committee to take forward her scheme for an open university (OU). But she did not have funding for it. In the public expenditure round in July 1967, the OU was protected from spending cuts. In September 1967 Lee announced the membership of her planning committee. It included five university vice chancellors.

In the local elections on 4 May 1967 the Conservatives gained control of the London County Council from Labour after 34 years. There were 95 Conservative councillors elected, compared to 64 in 1964, and 31 Labour councillors, compared to 62 in 1964. Labour had kept control of the council in 1964 because of Labour aldermen. Also in the local elections, of the largest cities the Conservatives took control of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff. Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, and the new borough of Teeside.

John Hobson, the Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington, died on 4 December 1967. Together with the resignation because of ill health of William Roots, Conservative member for South Kensington, the government's majority was now two. Leslie Hale (Oldham West - Labour) resigned because for health reasons on 15 January 1968. Two Labour MPs died on 9 February 1968. Sidney Silverman (Nelson and Colne) and Richard Winterbottom (Sheffield Brightside). The government was now in a minority of one.

There were by-elections in Brierley Hill, Oldham West, and Kensington South on 14 March 1968. The Tories easily held Kensington South and gained Brierley Hill and Oldham West from Labour. The by-elections in Nelson and Colne, Sheffield Brightside, and Warwick and Leamington took place on 28 March. Sheffield Brightside, and Warwick and Leamington were held by Labour and Conservative respectively. Nelson and Colne was a Conservative gain from Labour. The Liberals came second in Kensington South, and Warwick and Leamington. The government was now in a minority of five. The composition of the House of Commons was now as follows:
Labour: 312
Conservative: 294
Liberal: 23
Speaker: 1
---------------
Total : 630
--------------
 
On 1 April 1968 the Conservative shadow cabinet tabled a motion of no confidence in the government. There was much media speculation as to whether or not the Liberal Party would support the Labour Party in an arrangement with them. Liberal MPs met on 2 April. The consensus was against any such arrangement. The party was on average increasing its share of the vote in by-elections. When it had supported minoriry Labour gpvernments in the past, it had done badly in the subsequent general elections. They did not want to keep an unpopular government in power.

The House of Commons debated the motion of no confidence on 3 April. It was passed by 316 votes to 311 votes. After the Speaker had read out the voting figures, Callaghan announced that Parliament would be dissolved on 11 April, and a general election take place on Thursday 2 May. Nominations would close on 22 April. The newly elected Houae of Commons would meet on Tuesday 14 May 1968.
 
The Conservative manifesto for the 1968 general election promised that a Conservative government would repeal the Prices and Incomes Act, which fixed a ceiling of 3.5% for pay and prices increases; would not go ahead with the establishment of an Open University; would restrict immigration from the Commonwealth; and would negotiate with Ian Smith and the rebel regime in Rhodesia. Also a Conservative government would ask the chairman of British Railways to produce a plan for major cuts in unprofitable railway lines; and would abolish the London and Middlesex County Councils, the London Metropolitan Councils, and other councils, and replace them with a Greater London Council.
 
The Conservative manifesto for the 1968 general election promised that a Conservative government would repeal the Prices and Incomes Act, which fixed a ceiling of 3.5% for pay and prices increases; would not go ahead with the establishment of an Open University; would restrict immigration from the Commonwealth; and would negotiate with Ian Smith and the rebel regime in Rhodesia. Also a Conservative government would ask the chairman of British Railways to produce a plan for major cuts in unprofitable railway lines; and would abolish the London and Middlesex County Councils, the London Metropolitan Councils, and other councils, and replace them with a Greater London Council.
hmm if they don't' win outright they will find a lot of that a very hard sell to the Liberal Party. I can also see a fair number of more marginal rural seats being lost with that policy on railway lines. (i am ashamed to say Beeching was a pupil at my old school) .
 
On election day, 2 May 1968, polling stations were open from 7am to 9 pm. Because borough and district council elections were held on the same day, counting of the ballot papers for the general election was delayed for about an hour, while these were separated from those for the local elections.

As the results came in there was a steady stream of Conservative gains from Labour, early in the afternoon of Friday 3 May, the Conservative seats reached 316, and an overall majority of seats in the House of Commons. James Callaghan resigned and Reginald Maudling became Prime Minister in his place.

The number of seats for each party were as follows (1966 general election):
Conservative and Uniionist: 342 (289)
Labour : 268 (318)
Liberal: 16 (22)
Republican Labour: 1 (n/a)
Scottish National: 1 (n/a)
Unity: 1 (n/a)
The Speaker: 1 (1)
--------------------
Total: 630 (630)
--------------------
The Conservative and Unionist majority over all parties was 55.
 
Last edited:
In the general election the Conservatives gained 48 seats from Labour and 8 seats from the Liberals. They lost Smethwick to Labour. The new Labour MP was the Andrew Faulds, the actor The Ulster Unionists lost Belfast West to Gerry Fitt (Republican Labour), and Fermanagh and South Tyrone to Frank Macmanus (Unity). Labour lost three seats to the Liberals and Western Isles to the SNP. They gained Merioneth from the Liberals.

Several government ministers lost their seats. In alphabetical order of surname,
they were as follows:
Herbert Bowden, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Leicester South-West)
Jeremy Bray, Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Middlesbrough West)
John Diamond, Minister of Public Buildings and Works (Gloucester)
Gwyneth Dunwoody, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Health ( Exeter)
David Ennals, Minister of State, Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Dover)
Michael Foot, Minister of Housing and Local Government (Plymouth Devonport)
Douglas Houghton, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Sowerby)
John Mackintosh, Under Secretary of State Scottish Office (Berwick and East Lothian)
Sir Victor Mishcon, Attorney-General (Gravesend)
Peter Shore, President of the Board of Trade (Halifax)
Other notable Labour MPs who lost their seats were David Marquand (Barry), Walter Johnson (Bedfordshire South), David Owen, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Health (Falmouth and Camborne), Jo Richardson (Hornchurch), Renee Short (Watford).

The Liberals lost the following seats to the Conservatives: Aberdeenshire East, Aberdeenshire West, Chippenham, Denbigh, Dorset North, St, Ives, Scarborough and Whitby, and Torrington. Frank Byers, the leader of the party, was the most prominent Liberal casualty. They gained Birmingham Ladywood, Greenock, and Rochdale from Labour, where Nancy Seear was elected,

The percentage votes for each party were as follows (1966 general election):
Conservative and Unionist: 42.3 (38.8)
Labour: 37.8 (40.1)
Liberal: 16.9 (19.4)
Others: 3.0 (1.7)
---------------------------
Total: 100.0 (100.0)
--------------------------
The turnout was 79.4% (76.6%).
 
Last edited:
A shame to see both Mishcon and Shore out of Parliament: hopefully they'll be back soon
Mishcon is tipped to be Lord Chancellor in the next Labour government. Shore must wait for a by-election in a Labour constituency to return to the House of Commons.

Here is the cabinet appointed on 3 to 5 May 1968:
Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury: Reginald Maudling
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons: John Boyd-Carpenter
Lord Privy Seal: Lord Carrington
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Iain Macleod
Foreign Secretary: Earl of Home
Home Secretary: Quintin Hogg
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: John Hare
Commonwealth Relations Secretary: Selwyn Lloyd
Defence Secretary: Duncan Sandys
Minister of Education and Science: Enoch Powell
Minister of Housing and Local Government: Sir Edward Boyle
Minister of Labour: Edward Heath
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Harold Watkinson
Minister of Power: Frederick Erroll
Secretary of State for Scotland: Michael Noble
President of the Board of Trade: Robert Carr
Minister of Transport: Margaret Thatcher
Secretary of State for Wales: Peter Thomas.

Non cabinet ministers appointed 6 May 1968:
Minister of Health: Joseph Godber
Minister of Overseas Development: Hugh Fraser
Paymaster-General: Duke of Devonshire
Postmaster-General: William Whitelaw
Minister of Public Buildings and Works: Anthony Barber
Minister of Social Security: Reginald Bevins
Attorney- General: Sir Peter Rawlinson
Solicitor-General: Sir David Renton

Selected junior ministers appointed 7 May 1968:
Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Sir Keith Joseph
Economic Secretary to the Treasury: Richard Wood
Financial Secretary to the Treasury: Edward Du Cann
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Government Chief Whip) : Ian MacArthur
Ministers of State at Foreign Office:
Nigel Fisher and Richard Hornby.
 
Frank Byers resigned as leader of the Liberal Party on 4 May 1968. His successor would be chosen by the sixteen Liberal MPs. Three candidates were nominated: Mzrk Bonham Carter (Devon North), Emlyn Hooson (Montgomeryshire) and Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley). Bonham Carter was the favourite, and regarded as the heir apparent to Byers. He was a grandson of Herbert Asquith, the son of Lady Violet Bonham and uncle of Helena Bonham Carter. Wainwright campaigned as the main challenger to Bonham Carter.

The election took place on Wednesday 22 May. Voting was by the alternative vote.
The first preference votes for each candidate were as follows:
Bonham Carter: 7
Wainwright: 6
Hooson: 3.
After Hooson's second preferences had been distributed, Bonham Carter had 10 votes, and Wainwright 6 votes. Therefore Bonham Carter was elected leader of the Liberal Party. He appointed Wainwright deputy leader.
 
Last edited:
The deputy leader of the Labour Party, Sir Frank Soskice, retired as an MP at the gwneral election. So Labour MPs needed to elect a new deputy leader. Two candidates were nominated - Barbara Castle and Denis Healey. The result of the election on 16 May 1968 was:
Healey 148 votes
Castle: 117 votes.

In the Labour shadow cabinet election on 23 May 1968, the following MPs were elected. In order of votes received from highest to lowest, they were as follows:
1. Barbara Castle
2. Frederick Lee
3. Anthony Crosland
4. Michael Stewart
5. Ted Short
6. Shirley Williams
7. Harold Wilson
8. Jennie Lee
9. Reginald Prentice
10, Anthony Greenwood
11 Goronwy Roberts
12 Tom Fraser
 
Last edited:
Top