In 1919, he became mayor of Stepney and in 1922 was elected Member of Parliament for Limehouse. [152], The crisis led to an unsuccessful plot by Hugh Dalton to replace Attlee as Prime Minister with Ernest Bevin. [79], The New Towns Act of 1946 set up development corporations to construct new towns, while the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 instructed county councils to prepare development plans and also provided compulsory purchase powers. [43], Attlee stood in the subsequent leadership election, held soon after, where he was opposed by Herbert Morrison, who had just re-entered parliament in the recent election, and Arthur Greenwood: Morrison was seen as the favourite, but was distrusted by many sections of the party, especially the left-wing. It will take only 2 minutes to fill in. [71] When Attlee went to see King George VI at Buckingham Palace to be appointed Prime Minister, the notoriously laconic Attlee and the famously tongue-tied King stood in silence; Attlee finally volunteered the remark, "I've won the election". He proved a loyal ally of the US at the onset of the Cold War. [172], The Labour government gave independence to India and Pakistan in an unexpectedly quick move in 1947. Tonight the Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, announced in Downing Street that the Queen is to make Mr Attlee an earl. [78] In 1949, unemployment, sickness and maternity benefits were exempted from tax. They fell in love[15] and were soon engaged, marrying at Christ Church, Hampstead, on 10 January 1922. [28], The war had set in motion profound social changes within Britain, and had ultimately led to a widespread popular desire for social reform. [149] Careful planning after 1945 also ensured that demobilisation was carried out without having a negative impact upon economic recovery, and that unemployment stayed at very low levels. His reputation as an effective, efficient leader gained him promotion to the rank of Major, a title that would stay with him beyond his military life. The Shops Act of 1950 consolidated previous legislation which provided that no one could be employed in a shop for more than six hours without having a break for at least 20 minutes. Although Chamberlain survived this, the reputation of his administration was so badly and publicly damaged that it became clear a coalition governmentwould be necessary. In 1909, he stood unsuccessfully at his first election, as an ILP candidate for Stepney Borough Council. [132] University scholarships were introduced to ensure that no one who was qualified "should be deprived of a university education for financial reasons,"[133] while a large school building programme was organised. When this was introduced in July 1947, it led to a currency crisis and convertibility had to be suspended after just five weeks. On the verge of resigning from Parliament, he was persuaded to stay by Stafford Cripps, a wealthy socialist, who agreed to make a donation to party funds to pay him an additional salary until Lansbury could take over again. He went on to come first in both the first and second ballots, formally being elected Leader of the Labour Party on 3 December 1935. [198], In 1962, he spoke twice in the House of Lords against the British government's application for the UK to join the European Economic Community ("Common Market"). Moreover, most workers in nationalised industries exhibited an essentially instrumentalist attitude, favouring public ownership because it secured job security and improved wages rather than because it promised the creation of a new set of socialists relationships in the workplace. [80] Four out of five houses constructed under Labour were council properties built to more generous specifications than before the Second World War, and subsidies kept down council rents. [203], Attlee's estate was sworn for probate purposes at a value of £7,295,[204] (equivalent to £133,383 in 2019[205]) a relatively modest sum for so prominent a figure, and only a fraction of the £75,394 in his father's estate when he died in 1908. He served as MacDonald's Parliamentary Private Secretary for the brief 1922 parliament. [78], The period was dominated by infighting between the Labour Party's right wing, led by Hugh Gaitskell, and its left, led by Aneurin Bevan. The price was fixed under a commercial contract; a total of 55 jet engines were sold to the USSR in 1947. Attlee had inherited a country close to bankruptcy after the Second World War and beset by food, housing and resource shortages; despite his social reforms and economic programme, these problems persisted throughout his premiership, alongside recurrent currency crises and dependence on US aid. His government's Keynesian approach to economic management aimed to maintain full employment, a mixed economy and a greatly enlarged system of social services provided by the state. [93], The Fire Services Act 1947 introduced a new pension scheme for fire-fighters,[102] while the Electricity Act 1947 introduced better retirement benefits for workers in that industry. He is the first Labour leader to accept a hereditary peerage. [78], Despite these problems, one of the main achievements of Attlee's government was the maintenance of near full employment. The Chancellor expressed great regret that he should have to spend so much on armaments, but said that it was absolutely necessary and was due only to the actions of other nations. The Attlee government proved itself to be a radical, reforming government. "British Labour and the cold war: the foreign policy of the Labour governments, 1945–1951. [115] Improvements were also made in farmworkers' wages,[116] and the Agricultural Wages Board in 1948 not only safeguarded wage levels, but also ensured that workers were provided with accommodation. He would write:[36]. Entitlement to sick leave was greatly extended, and sick pay schemes were introduced for local authority administrative, professional and technical workers in 1946 and for various categories of manual workers in 1948. When Attlee succeeded Churchill, many thought he was the 'improbable' Prime Minister. [175] The new Viceroy was Lord Mountbatten, the dashing war hero and a cousin of the King. We use some essential cookies to make this website work. In his second speech delivered in November, Attlee claimed that Britain had a separate parliamentary tradition from the Continental countries that composed the EEC. In the end he proved to be the 'inevitable' Prime Minister. [103] A Workers' Compensation (Supplementation) Act was passed in 1948 that introduced benefits for workers with certain asbestos-related diseases which had occurred before 1948. In an interview with the News Chronicle columnist Percy Cudlipp in mid-September 1955, Attlee made clear his own thinking together with his preference for the leadership succession, stating: Labour has nothing to gain by dwelling in the past. She died in 1964. [218], Attlee was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1947. [127] In addition, the Livestock Rearing Act of March 1951[128] extended the provisions of the 1946 Hill Farming Act to the upland store cattle and sheep sector. The Labour leader will address claims he is … This gave him an admiration for Churchill as a military strategist, which would make their working relationship in later years productive. Rachel Reeves, and Martin McIvor. [16] They had four children: Attlee returned to local politics in the immediate post-war period, becoming mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney, one of London's most deprived inner-city boroughs, in 1919. "The Ancestry of Clement Attlee". [clarification needed][citation needed] Overseas investments had been used up to pay for the war. He presided over the establishment of the welfare state in Great Britain and the granting of … 68–86. The inflation rate was also kept low during his term. [26], In 1921, George Lansbury, the Labour mayor of the neighbouring borough of Poplar, and future Labour Party leader, launched the Poplar Rates Rebellion; a campaign of disobedience seeking to equalise the poor relief burden across all the London boroughs. It had become too troublesome and much too expensive to handle. All major parties committed themselves to fulfilling this aim, but most historians say that Attlee's Labour Party were seen by the electorate as the party most likely to follow it through. All available resources are to be devoted to armaments. Regulations issued in February 1946 applied to factories involved with "manufacturing briquettes or blocks of fuel consisting of coal, coal dust, coke or slurry with pitch as a binding substance", and concerned "dust and ventilation, washing facilities and clothing accommodation, medical supervision and examination, skin and eye protection and messrooms". Ernest Bevin was a passionate anti-communist, based largely on his experience of fighting communist influence in the trade union movement. By December, the government concluded that although British property in China would likely be nationalised, British traders would benefit in the long run from a stable, industrialising Communist China. He became the British leader most sympathetic to Indian independence (as a dominion), preparing him for his role in deciding on independence in 1947. [117], A number of regulations aimed at safeguarding the health and safety of people at work were also introduced during Attlee's time in office. [157] In a crucial contribution to the economic stability of post-war Europe, Attlee's Cabinet was instrumental in promoting the American Marshall Plan for the economic recovery of Europe. Thus escalated a battle between the left and right wings of the Party that continues today. Attlee, along with Liberal leader Archibald Sinclair, was eventually consulted with by Baldwin on 24 November 1936, and Attlee agreed with both Baldwin and Sinclair that Edward could not remain on the throne, firmly eliminating any prospect of any alternative government forming were Baldwin to resign.[49]. [78], Nationalisation failed to provide workers with a greater say in the running of the industries in which they worked. [126] The Hill Farming Act of 1946 introduced for upland areas a system of grants for buildings, land improvement, and infrastructural improvements such as roads and electrification. Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury: Clement Attlee: 26 July 1945 – 26 … However, in 1945, the Labour Party won the election and Attlee rose to the position of Prime Minister. His last four years as leader were, however, widely seen as one of the Labour Party's weaker periods. He has opened his way to the food, the oil and the resources which he requires in order to consolidate his military power, and he has successfully defeated and reduced to impotence the forces that might have stood against the rule of violence. Due to his style of leadership, it was not he, but Ernest Bevin who masterminded foreign policy. He would spend most of 1917 training soldiers at various locations in England. Coal mining, the railways, road haulage, canals and Cable and Wireless were nationalised in 1947, and electricity and gas followed in 1948. Although it was unsuccessful, Attlee believed that it was a bold strategy, which could have been a success if it had been better implemented on the ground. Attlee was an active and energetic Prime Minister, especially between 1945 and 1947. Consequently, Chamberlain tendered his resignation, and Labour and the Conservatives entered a coalition government led by Winston Churchill on 10 May 1940. [220], On 30 November 1988, a bronze statue of Clement Attlee was unveiled by Harold Wilson (the next Labour Prime Minister after Attlee) outside Limehouse Library in Attlee's former constituency. When the victorious Chinese Communists government declared on 1 October 1949 that it would exchange diplomats with any country that ended relations with the Chinese Nationalists, Britain became the first western country to formally recognise the People's Republic of China in January 1950. [59] Attlee and Greenwood played a vital role in supporting Churchill during a series of War Cabinet debates over whether or not to negotiate peace terms with Hitler following the Fall of France in May 1940; both supported Churchill and gave him the majority he needed in the War Cabinet to continue Britain's resistance. Peter Clarke, "Attlee: The Making of the Postwar Consensus" in Peter Clarke, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War, Keynesian approach to economic management, Martin Richard, Viscount Prestwood, later 2nd Earl Attlee, the granting of independence to India and Pakistan, Cultural depictions of British prime ministers § Clement Attlee, Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1946, National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946, Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1948, Nurseries and Child-Minders Regulation Act 1948, House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949, Landlord and Tenant (Rent Control) Act 1949, National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, Workmen's Compensation (Supplementation) Act 1951, "Why football can be a dangerous game for politicians", "Janet Helen Attlee Shipton – Obituaries – Standard Examiner", "J. Keith Harwood, 62; Ex-Macy's Executive", "DAVIS – Deaths Announcements – Telegraph Announcements", "Mr. Attlee's Daughter Weds – Alison Attlee… 1952", "Lansbury v Morrison, the battle over Poplarism", Contains excerpt from Attlee's biography towards the bottom of the page, "Tribute from Labor's Attlee to George and the monarchy", "Clement Attlee took in Jewish child refugee who fled Nazis", "Clement Attlee: enigmatic, out of time – and formidable", "British Labour Party election manifesto, 1945 [archived]", "VOTE2001 – THE ELECTION BATTLES 1945–1997", "HC S Budget Resolution and Economic Situation", "Who, What, Why: Why do the rich get child benefit? Attlee served in the first Labour minority government led by Ramsay MacDonald in 1924, and then joined the Cabinet during MacDonald's second minority (1929–1931). [33], In May 1930, Labour MP Oswald Mosley left the party after its rejection of his proposals for solving the unemployment problem, and Attlee was given Mosley's post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. We have seen the cause of democracy, which is, in our view, the cause of civilisation and humanity, receive a terrible defeat. The court found against Attlee and his fellow councillors and they were ordered to pay £300 damages. [35], After Ramsay MacDonald formed the National Government, Labour was deeply divided. The agreement included an agreement not to use them for military purposes. Implementing them overnight with an empty treasury proved too challenging. Various other pieces of legislation provided for child benefit and support for people with no other source of income. Suddenly in January 1947, Attlee reversed his position and agreed with Bevin on a hard-line anti-Soviet policy. [2] He was educated at Northaw Place, a boys' preparatory school in Hertfordshire; Haileybury College; and University College, Oxford, where in 1904 he graduated as a Bachelor of Arts with second-class honours in modern history. [28][61], Attlee himself played a generally low key but vital role in the wartime government, working behind the scenes and in committees to ensure the smooth operation of government. Attlee also sponsored the peaceful transition to independence in 1948 of Burma (Myanmar) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). We have seen something more. Another balance of payments crisis in 1949 forced Chancellor of the Exchequer, Stafford Cripps, into devaluation of the pound. [192] Two thousand people attended his funeral in November, including the then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson and the Duke of Kent, representing the Queen. [200], Attlee died peacefully in his sleep of pneumonia, at the age of 84 at Westminster Hospital on 8 October 1967. Don’t worry we won’t send you spam or share your email address with anyone. Strong planning authorities were set up to control land use, and issued manuals of guidance which stressed the importance of safeguarding agricultural land. "Economics and Ethics: The Nature of Labour's Socialism, 1945–1951", "Fifty Facts on Housing", published by the Labour Party, Transport House, Smith Square, London SW1, February 1951. Additionally, Stafford Cripps was made President of the Board of Trade, Aneurin Bevan became Minister of Health, and Ellen Wilkinson, the only woman to serve in Attlee's cabinet, was appointed Minister of Education. During this year he was also named President of Toynbee The newly established National Coal Board offered sick pay and holiday pay to miners. Viceroy Wavell said he needed a further seven army divisions to prevent communal violence if independence negotiations failed. Attlee himself instituted, and later chaired the third body, the Lord President's Committee, which was responsible for overseeing domestic affairs. [201][202], Upon his death, the title passed to his son Martin Richard Attlee, 2nd Earl Attlee (1927–1991). [156], After Stalin took political control of most of Eastern Europe, and began to subvert other governments in the Balkans, Attlee's and Bevin's worst fears of Soviet intentions were realised. ", This page was last edited on 18 February 2021, at 20:39. In February 1917, he was promoted to the rank of Major,[11] leading him to be known as "Major Attlee" for much of the inter-war period. He was a serious man and a patriot. On arriving in Britain, Attlee invited one of the children into his home in Stanmore, north-west London, where he stayed for several months. The National Health Service Act of 1946 indicated that domestic help should be provided for households where that help is required "owing to the presence of any person who is ill, lying-in, an expectant mother, mentally defective, aged or a child not over compulsory school age". [50], In June 1936, the Conservative MP Duff Cooper called for an Anglo-French alliance against possible German aggression and called for all parties to support one. He continued as Labour leader but retired after losing the 1955 election and was elevated to the House of Lords; he died in 1967. The economic legacy of the Attlee government endured in its essentials until the election of Mrs. Thatcher in 1979. [150] A Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act was passed in 1948, which allowed for investigations of restrictive practices and monopolies. [185][186], By 1951, the Attlee government was exhausted, with several of its most senior ministers ailing or ageing, and with a lack of new ideas. [134] A rapid increase in the number of trained teachers took place, and the number of new school places was increased. The transition to a peacetime economy, and the maintaining of strategic military commitments abroad led to continuous and severe problems with the balance of trade. [6], Following the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Attlee applied to join the British Army. His party was narrowly defeated by the Conservatives in the 1951 general election, despite winning the most votes. Elected Leader of the Labour Party in 1935, and at first advocating pacificism and opposing re-armament, he became a critic of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler and Mussolini in the lead-up to the Second World War. [74] On 5 July 1948, Clement Attlee replied to a letter dated 22 June from James Murray and ten other MPs who raised concerns about West Indians who arrived on board the HMT Empire Windrush. [169] By contrast, the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and also the Sikh community, strongly supported the war effort. Retaining Hong Kong was especially important; although the Chinese Communists promised to not interfere with its rule, Britain reinforced the Hong Kong Garrison during 1949. The ensuing disastrous Norwegian Campaign would result in a motion of no confidence in Neville Chamberlain. His government also reformed trade union legislation, working practices and children's services; it created the National Parks system, passed the New Towns Act 1946 and established the town and country planning system. [221] By then Wilson was the last surviving member of Attlee's cabinet,[222] and the unveiling of the statue would be one of the last public appearances by Wilson, who was by that point in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease; he died at the age of 79 in May 1995. Although one of his brothers became a clergyman and one of his sisters a missionary, Attlee himself is usually regarded as an agnostic. [159], Decolonisation was never a major election issue but Attlee gave the matter a great deal of attention and was the chief leader in beginning the process of decolonisation of the British Empire. [193], Attlee, now aged 72, contested the 1955 general election against Anthony Eden, which saw Labour lose 18 seats, and the Conservatives increase their majority. This was a very unpopular commitment, and the evacuation of British troops and subsequent handing over of the issue to the United Nations was widely supported by the British public. Labour had looked forward to making it a fully independent dominion like Canada or Australia. He was three times Leader of the Opposition (1935–1940, 1945, 1951–1955). This mood was epitomised in the Beveridge Report of 1942, by the Liberal economist William Beveridge. Seventy-five years ago this week, Clement Attlee became prime minister of the most radical government in British history. We are in an age of rearmaments, but we on this side cannot accept that position". That's why he was so damn good". From 1945 to 1948, over 200 public Acts of Parliament were passed, with eight major pieces of legislation placed on the statute book in 1946 alone. [1] He supported the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe with American money and, in 1949, promoted the NATO military alliance against the Soviet bloc. His funeral was attended by 2000 people, and warm and generous tributes were paid to him by all political parties, who recognised that he had transformed the UK and arguably a large part of the world. [72], As Prime Minister, Attlee appointed Hugh Dalton as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ernest Bevin as Foreign Secretary, and Herbert Morrison as Deputy Prime Minister, with overall responsibility for nationalisation. Attlee retained a fondness for Congress and until 1946, accepted their thesis that they were a non-religious party that accepted Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and everyone else. [123] As noted by Martin Francis: Union leaders saw nationalisation as a means to pursue a more advantageous position within a framework of continued conflict, rather than as an opportunity to replace the old adversarial form of industrial relations. [78] At one time, Attlee had favoured Aneurin Bevan to succeed him as leader, but this became problematic after Bevan almost irrevocably split the party.[192]. [9], The Gallipoli Campaign had been engineered by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. [188], Finding it increasingly impossible to govern, Attlee's only chance was to call a snap election in October 1951, in the hope of achieving a more workable majority and to regain authority. Through the National Dock Labour Board (on which trade unions and employers had equal representation) the unions acquired control over recruitment and dismissal. The move backfired as the Conservatives came to power with their own small majority and Attlee resigned his office. He admired Oliver Cromwell's strong-armed rule and use of major generals to control England. [196] In 1958, he was, along with numerous notables, to establish the Homosexual Law Reform Society. Upon the advent of the First World War, he applied for a Commission and served as a Captain. The son of a London solicitor, Attlee was born into a middle-class family. The shock to the Party was very great, especially to the loyal workers of the rank-and-file who had made great sacrifices for these men. With violence escalating in India after the war, but with British financial power at a low ebb, large-scale military involvement was impossible. More than one survey of academics has voted Attlee the most successful British Prime Minister of all time. In the old days I had looked up to MacDonald as a great leader. Attlee didn't. [190], Following the defeat in 1951, Attlee continued to lead the party as Leader of the Opposition. [89], The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 1950 amended an Act of 1885 to bring prostitutes within the law and safeguard them from abduction and abuse. He always supported the crown, and as Prime Minister was close to King George VI. [86][87] These benefits had been legislated for the previous year by Churchill's Family Allowances Act 1945, and was the first measure pushed through parliament by Attlee's government. He had a fine presence and great oratorical power. Labour had won power by a huge landslide, winning 47.7 per cent of the vote to the Conservatives' 36 per cent. Clement Attlee is my favourite Prime Minister, and remains so after reading this latest biography of the unpretentious little man who changed life in Britain to a far greater extent that any other Prime Minister. Nicholas Owen, "Attlee governments: The end of empire 1945–51". We have seen to-day a gallant, civilised and democratic people betrayed and handed over to a ruthless despotism. He went on to manage Haileybury House, a charitable youth organisation in Limehouse, east London. After retaining his seat in Labour's landslide defeat of 1931, he became the party's Deputy Leader. During its time in office, the Attlee government increased spending on education by over 50 per cent, from £6.5 billion to £10 billion.[147]. It set in place an entirely new system of social security. Clement Attlee was leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955, and served as Britain’s Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951. The final result was two nations consisting of a Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority Pakistan (which incorporated East Pakistan, now Bangladesh). Attlee also attended the later stages of the Potsdam Conference, where he negotiated with President Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin. Using the Dominions of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as a model, he continued the transformation of the empire into the modern-day British Commonwealth. [93], The Attlee government placed strong emphasis on improving the quality of life in rural areas, benefiting both farmers and other consumers. In an interview he described himself as "incapable of religious feeling", saying that he believed in "the ethics of Christianity" but not "the mumbo-jumbo". There is also a statue of Clement Attlee in the Houses of Parliament[225] that was erected, instead of a bust, by parliamentary vote in 1979. Attlee, however, narrowly retained his Limehouse seat, with his majority being slashed from 7,288 to just 551. "Clement Attlee and the foundations of the British welfare state". [109], Wages for members of the police force were significantly increased. Registered dockers laid off by employers within the Scheme had the right either to be taken on by another, or to generous compensation. [77], A number of reforms were embarked upon to improve conditions for women and children. Bevan openly called for him to stand down in the summer of 1954. , decisive action Mandate in the midst of a London solicitor, Attlee his... 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