Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait bust of James Callaghan Lord Callaghan Prime Minister (1912 - 2005) 1990s

Ian Walters 

Portrait bust of James Callaghan Lord Callaghan Prime Minister (1912 - 2005), Ian Walters
20th Century
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Callaghan was the only Prime Minister to have attained the premiership after holding in succession the three principal offices of State, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary. His government on eventually attaining the highest office was considerably handicapped by endless wrangles with the trades unions, and the strikes and fuel shortage that precipitated the ''Winter of Discontent'' of 1978 - 79.

His return to an embattlec country from a holiday in the Caribbean, and his jovial response to a question about the strikes wracking the country ''Strikes? What strikes?'' did much to discredit his government and to propel Mrs Thatcher and the Conservatives into power in the 1979 General Election. After losing the election he played the elder statesman's role with dignity, and as Father of the House before his elevation to the Lords maintained the support he had espoused as Prime Minister for maintaining a nuclear deterrent, to the frustration of his more radical colleagues.

Ian Walters devoted his career to producing sculptures of famous figures of the left. A version of this bust of Callaghan is in the collection of the Palace of Westminster. His most celebrated works, however, are the statues of Nelson Mandela in London, one on the South Bank and the other - of giant scale - recently erected in Parliament Square.
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