The memoir writing of the Wilson and Callaghan governments
The Labour Party and constitutional policy in Northern Ireland
in The Northern Ireland Troubles in Britain
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The purpose of this chapter is to analyse the memoir-writing of senior Labour Party (LP) politicians who were closely engaged in developing and implementing government policy towards Northern Ireland during the administrations of Harold Wilson (1964-70 and 1974-6) and James Callaghan (1976-9). Studying the memoirs of these leading policy-makers can furnish researchers with an understanding of the lived experience of individuals attempting to deal on a day-to-day basis with the intricacies of policy in a context (after 1970) of regular, and sometimes intense, political violence.

The argument presented here is that the significant degree of continuity in the Labour governments’ constitutional policy towards Northern Ireland is not always reflected in the memoir-writing of the key protagonists. It is also probable that a fuller understanding of the way in which policy towards Northern Ireland was made, and thought about, by key protagonists, may cast a brighter light on the nature of the LP as a governing party more generally.

The Northern Ireland Troubles in Britain

Impacts, engagements, legacies and memories

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