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“Harold Wilson – Statesman and Visionary”

“Harold Wilson – Statesman and Visionary”

Location: University of Bradford - Main Campus

Date and Time:
Thu 3 Nov 2016

With a lecture from The Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, the University of Bradford began an annual lecture series to honour former Prime Minister and first Chancellor of the University, Lord Harold Wilson.

Bradford is one of a handful of universities founded as technology universities, representing a key component of Harold Wilson’s vision for improving the British economy.

Lord Wilson was the First Chancellor of the University of Bradford from its founding in 1966 until 1985. The idea to honour him in this way was suggested by the Chair of the Alumni Association, and one of the first people to receive a degree from Bradford under Lord Wilson’s Chancellorship, Jim Brooks.

Veteran Labour politician The Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP delivered the Inaugural Harold Wilson Lecture entitled ‘Harold Wilson – Statesman and Visionary’.

The sell-out audience heard him reflect on Wilson’s impact both as Prime Minister and Chancellor of University of Bradford.

It would have been Wilson’s centenary year and this is the second lecture Alan has given that celebrates his political career. As Labour leader, he won four of the five general elections he contested, and enacted social reforms in education, health, housing, gender equality, price controls, pensions, provisions for disabled people and child poverty. His last speech in parliament in 1981 was about Bradford.

The lecture was attended by son and daughter in law of Harold Wilson, Robin and Joy, and many colleagues and admirers of Wilson including Baroness Ann Taylor, Baroness Haleh Afshah, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress and Sir James Hill.

Alan also spent some time in a Q&A session with students from the Institution and shared his thoughts on Brexit, current affairs and the role of politicians today.

Alan Johnson.

Harold Wilson: Statesman and Visionary

"Harold Wilson was a popular Prime Minister whose approval rating rarely fell below 58%," Alan Johnson said before the event.

"However, from the moment he left office his reputation has been sullied by the claim that he was, above all else, a ‘devious’ politician.

"I believe that to be a totally unfair accusation and will attempt to present a portrait of a principled and astute politician who fully deserved the public affection he enjoyed."

Watch the lecture

Watch the full lecture here, or read the transcript.


Alan Johnson

Alan is the Labour Party MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle.

Alan’s political career started in 1968 when he became a postman in London and joined the Union of Communication Workers.

His political career went from strength to strength and following the 2001 General Elections he was promoted to Minister of State for Employment Relations and Regions.

In 2003 he was given a new post as the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Higher and Further Education at the Department for Education and Skills.

Alan later became the Shadow Chancellor until his resignation from the Shadow Cabinet in January 2001.

He is also a supporter of Wilson’s concept of technology universities at the heart of economic development.

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