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Barbara Castle

(1910—2002) politician


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(b. 6 Oct. 1910, d. 3 May 2002).

British Secretary of State for Employment (1968–70) Born in Bradford, she was educated at Bradford Girls' Grammar School, and Oxford. In the 1930s, she worked as a journalist, and was involved in local politics in London. In 1945, she was elected as Labour MP for Blackburn, and rose to prominence as a left‐winger in the 1950s, a supporter of Nye Bevan. She was chairwoman of the Labour Party in 1958–9, entered the Cabinet as Minister of Overseas Development when Wilson won the 1964 general election, and was Minister of Transport (1965–8). As Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (1968–70), she proposed to weaken excessive trade‐union power through a compulsory twenty‐eight‐day conciliation period, and a universal membership ballot prior to strike action. Unsurprisingly, this was strongly opposed by the powerful trade unions, championed by Callaghan, who effectively scuppered the plans. Secretary of State for Social Services in Wilson's last Cabinet, she was dropped by Callaghan when he became Prime Minister in 1976. She became a Member of the European Parliament in Strasburg (1979–89), and entered the House of Lords in 1990.

Subjects: Politics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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