This chapter explores Prentice‘s early life, including the development of his political career within the Labour Party up until 1972. During his initial period in Parliament, he established himself as a combative and committed supporter of the leadership of Hugh Gaitskell. He was strongly identified with the Gaitskellite Right during the internal party disputes that affected Labour after 1959. During his early ministerial career, from 1964-69, he was viewed as a popular and non-factional politician in tune with party opinion, and proved willing to criticise the record of the Labour Government (1964-70). However, Labour‘s subsequent period in opposition (1970-74) resulted in a decisive leftward shift in the Party and the growing fragmentation of the Right. The marginalisation of the pro-European Jenkinsites led to Prentice‘s elevation to the Shadow Cabinet in the context of an assertive Left and a divided Right, and propelled him into the role of leading spokesman for Labour‘s moderate tendency.
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