During the 1960s the Labour Party were led by one of the most academically brilliant students of his generation — Harold Wilson. ‘J. H. Wilson’, as he was then known, graduated from Oxford University in 1937 with a First Class Degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) and gained First Class marks on all of his Finals’ examination papers. Wilson was not a student radical, in his years as an undergraduate at Jesus College, Oxford (he was regarded by his contemporaries as a swot); but he did read the work of ‘radical’ economists such as J. M. Keynes, and his Economics tutor was astounded to discover that, just before sitting his Finals, he read the whole of Keynes’ revolutionary new work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) and absorbed it.1 During his two Labour governments of 1964–70 Harold Wilson was responsible for a period of enormous university expansion. Eight new universities were created during these years — Sussex, Kent, Warwick, Lancaster, East Anglia, Essex, York and Stirling — and 29 Polytechnics. In fact, the student population increased at a faster rate under Wilson than under any previous Prime Minister.2 Moreover, these students were eligible for state maintenance grants as of right and these grants enabled students from working-class backgrounds to go to university.
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