Harold Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson and Anglo-American relations ‘at the summit’, 1964–68

This book is based mainly on government sources, namely material from the White House, State Department, Foreign Office (FO), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Prime Minister's Office (PREM) and Cabinet (CAB). Private papers consulted include those of Harold Wilson, Foreign Secretary George Brown and Undersecretary of State George Ball. The book explores a period of the Wilson-Johnson relationship. It considers the seven weeks from Wilson's election until he went to see Lyndon B. Johnson on 7-9 December, a formative period in which Britain cultivated American financial support and which saw pre-summit diplomacy over the NATO Multilateral Force (MLF). The book covers the summit in detail, examining the diplomatic exchanges over the Vietnam War, the British commitment East of Suez and the MLF, as well as the interplay of personality between Wilson and Johnson. By exploring the relationship of the two leaders in the years 1964-1968, it seeks to examine their respective attitudes to the Anglo-American relationship. The book then assesses the significance of an alleged Anglo-American strategic-economic 'deal', Wilson's 'Commonwealth Peace Mission' to Vietnam, and another Wilson visit to Washington. It also considers why the personal relationship between Johnson and Wilson suffered such strain when the Labour government 'dissociated' the UK from the latest American measures in Vietnam. Next, the book addresses the period from August 1966-September 1967, during which Wilson launched an intense but abortive effort to initiate peace negotiations over Vietnam, and London announced plans to withdraw from military bases East of Suez.

Labour and cultural change

This book is the first in the new series The Labour Governments 1964–70 and concentrates on Britain's domestic policy during Harold Wilson's tenure as Prime Minister. It deals, in particular, with how the Labour government and Labour party as a whole tried to come to terms with the 1960's cultural revolution. The book is grounded in original research, takes account of responses from Labour's grass roots and from Wilson's ministerial colleagues, and constructs a total history of the party at this critical moment in history. It situates Labour in its wider cultural context and focuses on how the party approached issues such as the apparent transformation of the class structure, the changing place of women in society, rising immigration, the widening generation gap, and increasing calls for direct participation in politics. Together with the other volumes in the series, on international policy and economic policy, the book provides an insight into the development of Britain under Harold Wilson's government.

Open Access (free)

In the years 1964–68, the Labour government of Harold Wilson coincided with the Democratic presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. David Bruce, US Ambassador to London 1961–69, regarded the relationship between Wilson and Johnson as an especially interesting one, because ‘seldom if ever have two heads of state been such long-time master politicians in the domestic sense as those two’. 1 Many writers have

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Harold Wilson and Lyndon B. Johnson: a ‘special relationship’?

This work has examined the question of Harold Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson and Anglo-American relations ‘at the summit’, 1964–68. By exploring the mutual dealings of the two leaders, it seeks to examine their respective attitudes to the Anglo-American relationship and to one another; how they approached the matters of mutual interest and the extent to which their personal relationship was in any sense a

in A ‘special relationship’?

On 16 October 1964, Harold Wilson became Britain’s new prime minister, when the Labour Party gained power after thirteen years in opposition and by a slim margin. 1 Wilson promptly turned to President Johnson for help in the British economic crisis which occurred soon after Labour assumed power, and he gained American assistance in obtaining a major bail-out for sterling. Labour’s handling of the British economic

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On 6 December 1964, Harold Wilson, along with an unusually large entourage, travelled to the United States to see President Johnson for discussions about a number of issues of mutual concern. These included Britain’s military role East of Suez, the preservation of which the White House urged in support of the United States’s own role in keeping the peace in Asia. For reasons of prestige and to

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Prime Minster, and many Americans about their President’. 12 Johnson’s tirade did not seem to strain Wilson’s basic loyalty to the White House, but he was stung nonetheless – until the news broke two days later he had wanted to keep the telephone call secret. On 29 March, Bundy recorded that Henry Brandon of the Sunday Times had given him ‘quite an account of Harold Wilson’s thinking’ on Vietnam. Although Wilson had told

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remained unimpressed. On 3 June, Bundy wrote to the President, noting Johnson’s ‘scepticism when one or another of us has remarked that the British have been very solid and helpful on Vietnam. And you have recollections … of Harold Wilson’s effort [on 11 February] to telephone his way into a fancy trip to the White House at just the wrong time’. Moreover, Bundy noted, Johnson still felt ‘the wounds of what Home

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: against doing or saying anything which could imply a shift in the British position away from Washington and towards Hanoi … President Johnson admired and trusted the Prime Minister. He had heard him say several times to doubters or critics that if only a few more Americans had the courage of Harold Wilson the war would already be over. The President saw these matters in intensely

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: USGPO, 1998), pp. 419–20. 2 Quoted in Ben Pimlott, Harold Wilson (London: Harper Collins, 1992 ), p. 476. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid., p. 475. 5

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