Wilson, Harold, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx°

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WILSON, HAROLD, BARON WILSON OF RIEVAULX ° (1916–1995), British prime minister. Wilson was the son of an industrial chemist in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and was educated at Oxford. He entered Parliament in 1945, serving as the youngest member of Clement *Attlee's cabinet in 1947–51. He became leader of the Labour Party in 1963 and served as prime minister in 1964–70 and 1974–76. Wilson had particularly close relations with members of the Jewish community, especially as his confidential advisors, such as his solicitor and confidante Lord *Goodman and a Yorkshire industrialist, Lord *Kagan, from whom he sought economic advice. Wilson admired Jews for those qualities he saw in himself: intelligence, social commitment, and an ability to rise above class-imposed obstacles.

No fewer than 40 Jews were elected as Labour members of Parliament at the 1966 general election (out of 363 Labour mps), and the Wilson years probably marked the zenith of the nexus between British Jewry and the Labour Party, especially among those who were young during the time of fascism. Subsequently, many in the Jewish community moved to the political right. Like most social democrats of his generation, Wilson was a strong supporter of Israel and wrote a book on the subject, The Chariot of Israel: Britain, America, and the State of Israel (1981).


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[William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]

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Wilson, Harold, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx°

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