chapter  1
21 Pages

Labour’s response to defeat (I): Blackpool 1970, The Labour Party Conference

Writing in The Guardian two days after Labour’s defeat in the general election of June 1970, Peter Jenkins concluded that ‘Mr Wilson’s Government has been turned out because Labour failed to deliver enough of the goods to enough of the people enough of the time’.1 Jenkins, considered by Barbara Castle at least to be ‘normally a Roy Jenkins fan’,2

displayed little sympathy towards his namesake in a second article five days later when, under the heading ‘Roy muffed it’, he criticised the former Chancellor for his overly cautious pre-election Budget, and blamed Wilson for his decision to call a June election. Jenkins’s second article followed the publication by the Central Statistical Office of the expenditure figures for the first quarter of 1970, in his opinion ‘the best explanation of the election result so far’. Because the economy had not expanded between January and March, he argued, the April Budget had been a missed opportunity to reflate the economy for electoral gain. ‘In other words there was not much of a jingle in the housewives’ handbag when Mr Wilson went to the country.’3