Due to parliamentary convention, the top four jobs in British politics – the Great Offices of State – are the roles of the prime minister, the chancellor, the foreign secretary, and the home secretary. Just one individual has held all four positions - who?
If you already know this, then you have a great piece of knowledge for a pub quiz you may or may not attend in the future.
A handful of political giants have held two or three of the roles in the past, including John Major, Harold MacMillan and Winston Churchill, but only one has graced all four offices with their presence.
The only person to have held all four positions is James – or Jim - Callaghan, Labour’s last prime minister before Tony Blair and Gordon Brown appeared on the scene. Callaghan started off as Harold Wilson’s chancellor in 1964 when Labour came to power for the first time since the political age of Attlee. He remained in the post for three years before being shifted to the Home Office. He stayed in the role until Labour was booted out by Edward Heath’s Conservatives in 1970.
Then, four years later, Callaghan became foreign secretary with the return of a new Labour government. His time was cut short by Wilson’s surprise resignation, following which Callaghan went on to become Labour leader and prime minister, thus completing his journey to have held all four Great Offices of State. He remained prime minister until 1979 when Margaret Thatcher was swept to power.
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