Harold Wilson was born on March 11, 1916, in Huddersfield, Yorkshire England. He was born into a political family as his father, James Herbert Wilson was active in the Liberal Party and then the Labor Party and his mother, was a school teacher.
He attended Royds Hall Grammar School, Wirral Grammar School for Boys and then later at Jesus College, Oxford, where he studied Modern History. He was also a supporter of his hometown football club, Huddersfield Town.
During his college days, he was slightly involved in Liberal Party politics, which influenced him to change his field of study and opt for Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
At the age of 21, he became one of the youngest Oxford University dons and began his career as lecturer in Economic History at New College and then a Research Fellow at University College in 1937.
At the outbreak of World War II, he was moved to civil service and became research assistant to William Beveridge. He later worked on issues related to unemployment and became a theoretician for the coal industry.
He was appointed as Director of Economics and Statistics at the Ministry of Fuel and Power from 1943-1944.
As the war drew to a close, he was elected to the constituency of Ormskirk on July 5, 1945, following which, he resigned from civil service.
In the 1945 General Election, he won his seat in the Labor Party landslide and was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works on July 5, 1945.
Wilson became the President of the Board of Trade on September 29, 1947; a post he held till October 25, 1951.
He was appointed as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer on December 14, 1955 and proved to be very effective in this role. He served this post till November 2, 1961.
He was later moved to the post of Shadow Foreign Secretary which he served from November 2, 1961 to February 14, 1963. After he assumed this role, he tried for Deputy Leadership, but was defeated by his opponent, George Brown.
After the Macmillan Government ran into trouble, Wilson was appointed as the Leader of the Labor Party and the Leader of the Opposition on February 14, 1963. He held this post till April 5, 1976. As soon as he was appointed, he made his first speech as leader, which is probably the best-remembered speech till date.
In the 1964 General Election, the Labor Party won the majority, making Wilson the Prime Minister on October 16, 1964. In the first three years of his office, Wilson tried to tighten the fiscal stance and the latter part of his term was spent in eradicating rising unemployment and recession and the creation of a new department; the Department of Economic Affairs.
Wilson’s popularity declined and the Conservative Party, led by Edward Heath, won the 1970 General Election and who eventually led Britain to join the European Economic Community.
A minor dispute with trade unions failed to earn a majority for Edward Heath in the 1974 General election and Wilson’s Labor Party came back to power. He was appointed as Prime Minister for the second time on March 4, 1974.
In 1975, Wilson held a plebiscite on membership of the European Economic Community and had a brief dispute with the Cabinet. He was under attack from his own Labor Party and was faced with the prospect of getting a loan from the International Monetary Fund.
On April 5, 1976, he retired from office and was eventually replaced by James Callaghan.
He married Mary Baldwin in 1940. The couple had two sons.
Towards the end of his life, it is believed that Harold Wilson showed early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
He passed away on May 24, 1995.
Today, there are a number of statues, paintings and streets erected and named after him. He has also been referred to and even depicted in a number of television shows and documentaries by various artistes such as ‘The Queen’. ‘The Plot Against Harold Wilson’ and ‘The Lavender List’.