Harold Wilson (1916-95) served twice as Labour Prime Minister during one of the greatest periods of social and industrial change in the twentieth century.
During his first period in office, 1964-70, Wilson aimed to modernise Britain by harnessing the ‘white heat’ of technology. His government abolished capital punishment and liberalised laws on censorship, divorce, abortion and homosexuality. Crucial steps were also taken towards ending discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, and the Open University was created.
Wilson’s second term as Prime Minister, 1974-76, saw further reforms in education, health, housing, gender equality, pensions, provisions for disabled people and child poverty. However, with his government battling the UK’s deep set economic problems, Wilson’s last years in power were marked by economic and industrial crises.