Hindsight is a useful commodity for a politician; it serves as a safeguard against the slings and arrows of outrageous commentary. Edward Heath may have had more recourse to it than most recent Prime Ministers because posterity has not been kind to his governance. Admittedly he had to confront several unexpected problems during his years of office as well as the constant crises which face any government. Included among the latter were a harrowing confrontation with the trade union movement; the debilitating battle within Parliament (and within the Conservative Party) to ensure UK entry into the EEC; and a spate of social protests induced to some extent by a Prime Minister intent on modernisation and redefining Britain's place in the world. All of these might be described as discretionary items on the political agenda. It was the required items which may have tipped the balance against the return of a Heath government in February 1974. They included the sudden death of lain Macleod - a politician of real weight and a counterpoint to Heath - less than five weeks into office; the disastrous effects of the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War on energy policy and on the continuing battle against inflation; and the growing and exhausting impact of the Northern Ireland conflict. Indeed John Campbell has concluded that the first two months of 1972 'must rate as the most dreadful short period of concentrated stress ever endured by a British government in peacetime - at any rate before the autumn of 1992'.1 In early 1972 the Conservative ministry faced a six-week miners' strike; unemployment figures of over one million - the highest since 1947; a fiercely contested parliamentary battle on enabling legislation to take Britain into the EEC; and a huge surge in violence in Northern Ireland.