Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx (1916–95,) fully James Harold Wilson, was a British Labour-party political leader who served as prime minister 1964–70 and 1974–76. He was one of the shrewdest political tacticians of 20th-century British history.
Born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, Wilson had a remarkable educational background becoming an Oxford don at age 21 and working as a wartime civil servant. He was made a government minister right after he was elected to Parliament.
As leader of the Labour Party, Wilson moved the party towards a technocratic approach and appeared more in tune with the ‘swinging sixties.’ His regime was inundated by economic problems and a balance-of-payments crisis, which led to severe restrictive measures. Wilson was unexpectedly defeated in 1970 but returned to office with a tiny majority in 1974.
Wilson’s government introduced many social reforms, including reducing the voting age to 18, liberalizing the laws on divorce, homosexuality, and abortion, and introducing comprehensive schooling. His government also renegotiated Britain’s terms of entry into the European Economic Community (EEC,) which was confirmed after a referendum in 1975.