Harold Wilson understood importance of winning, claims Alan Campbell MP

Every year MPs are asked what their summer reading will be.

Friday, 2nd September 2016, 3:38 pm

This year mine included a book about Harold Wilson, Prime Minister in the 1960s and ‘70s and for whom 2016 is the centenary of his birth.

Wilson’s career is, I believe, long overdue a revision, not least because many of his achievements have been forgotten. Wilson set up the Open University and polytechnics to challenge the university establishment and widen access.

So in sending congratulations to this year’s A-level students, many of whom will be off to university, it’s worth remembering Wilson’s success in opening up access for children from ordinary backgrounds.

Studying for A-levels seems like a marathon, and on that note well done to our Olympic athletes who did our nation proud at Rio.

Here again Wilson’s legacy is significant. It was his government which set up the Sports Council and shifted sport to a more professional approach. The investment he began was built on by John Major and Tony Blair, and may have played a part in recent success.

Harold Wilson understood the need to invest in a modern economy and he understood the importance of winning.

He’s regarded as a manager and fixer, rather than a leader of principle. In fact, he was both, never forgetting that to actually change things you have to be able to win power.

It’s a lesson we forget at our peril.