Briey turning to Harold Wilson, despite excited talk in Opposition about a ‘New Britain’ where citizens would live purposeful and prosperous lives in the ‘cities of the future’, as Prime Minister Wilson was much less actively involved in trying to secure modern centres for government than either of his immediate Conservative predecessors. Indeed, except for the occasional intervention – including an attempt to settle a local turf war between the two departments with most responsibility

for the Whitehall scheme – Wilson appears in the archives largely as a spectator, letting his ministers – whom he swapped around relentlessly – slowly nudge the Martin plan into a bureaucratic cul-de-sac. There are certainly no sources similar to Macmillan’s detailed musings on whether the new Foreign Oce should be ‘a daring new building’ or Douglas-Home’s striking interventions in support of the creation of a building that ‘is both ecient and beautiful’. Indeed, it is perhaps telling that one letter from the Ministry of Public Building and Works to an ocial working at 10 Downing Street – regarding a controversial decision, in 1965, not to hold a public inquiry into Whitehall redevelopment – contained the line, ‘My Minister thought that the Prime Minister would be interested in the background’, and, before passing it on, the ocial, presumably with personal knowledge of Wilson’s enthusiasms, added the handwritten warning: ‘Prime Minister – I am not sure how far you will be interested’.3 Not very, it seems.