Peter Bruce Columnist

In January 1979, then British prime minister Jim Callaghan arrived back in a cold London after a brief summit in the sunshine in Guadeloupe. British politics was in turmoil. Callaghan led a Labour government. The unions were on strike. There were power cuts. Garbage, I remember, piled two storeys high in Leicester Square in London as the government tried to keep the lid on pay rises. On hearing that the press was waiting for him at Heathrow Airport, Callaghan decided to hold an impromptu press conference. This way he would show he was back to take charge of the situation. Sadly, he underappreciated how angry the British public were. He made jokes about swimming in the Caribbean. A reporter asked him what he thought about the mounting crisis at home. Callaghan was a jovial man, uncomfortable with hurting the feelings of others. "You’re perhaps taking rather a parochial view at the moment," he said to the reporter. "I don’t think that other people in the world would share the view tha...

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