Samuel Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood
Samuel John Gurney Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood, more known as Sir Samuel Hoare, was a senior British Conservative politician who served in various Cabinet posts in the Conservative and National governments of the 1920s and 1930s. He was Secretary of State for Air during most of the 1920s; as Secretary of State for India in the early 1930s, he authored the Government of India Act 1935, which granted provincial-level self government to India. He is most famous for serving as Foreign Secretary in 1935, when he authored the Hoare–Laval Pact with French Prime Minister Pierre Laval; this recognised the Italian conquest of Abyssinia and Hoare was forced to resign by the ensuing public outcry. In 1936 he returned to the Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty served as Home Secretary from 1937 to 1939 and was again Secretary of State for Air in 1940, he was seen as a leading "appeaser" and his removal from office was a condition of Labour's agreement to serve in a coalition government in May 1940.
He was British ambassador to Spain from 1940 to 1944. Hoare was born in London on 24 February 1880, the eldest son of Sir Samuel Hoare, 1st Baronet, a Conservative MP from a by-election in 1886 until 1906, to whose baronetcy he succeeded in 1915, his family were the Anglo-Irish branch of an old Quaker family, with a long history of involvement in banking. He was a descendant of Samuel Hoare, but the family had abandoned Quakerism in the mid eighteenth century and Hoare was brought up an Anglo-Catholic. Hoare was educated at Harrow School, where he was a classical scholar, New College, Oxford; as an undergraduate he was awarded a blue in rackets and was a member of the Gridiron and Bullingdon Clubs. He studied classics, taking a first in Mods in 1901, before switching to Modern History, graduating with a first class B. A. in 1903. He was awarded his M. A. in 1910. He became Honorary Fellow of New College. On 17 October 1909, he married youngest daughter of The 6th Earl Beauchamp, their marriage was childless.
It was, in the words of R. J. Q. Adams, “not at first a love match” but in time became “a devoted partnership”. Hoare inherited Sidestrand Hall in 1915, his London home was 18 Cadogan Gardens. Hoare was short built and a dapper dresser; as a youth he took up games to bolster his physique, including figure skating. He became a tournament-level tennis player, he was a poor speaker but a good writer. He was cold. In 1905 Hoare's father arranged for him to be secretary to the Colonial Secretary Alfred Lyttelton to gain political experience. Hoare stood unsuccessfully in the 1906 General Election for Parliament at Ipswich, but became a J. P. for the county of Norfolk that year. Hoare entered local politics in March 1907, when he was elected to the London County Council as a member of the Municipal Reform Party representing Brixton, he served as Chairman of the London Fire Brigade Committee. He served on the LCC until 1910. Hoare was elected to the House of Commons at the January 1910 general election as Member of Parliament for Chelsea.
In these early years he was a member of the Anti-Socialist Union. He showed little interest in the two largest issues of the day, House of Lords reform and Irish Home Rule, he joined the Unionist Social Reform Committee. He supported Female Suffrage and public education, he opposed Welsh disestablishment quite strongly. He encouraged colleagues to call him "Sam" at this time, to soften his detached image. Aged 34 at the time, Hoare joined the Army soon after the outbreak of the First World War, he was commissioned into the Norfolk Yeomanry as a temporary lieutenant on 17 October 1914. To his disappointment, he was only a recruiting officer, he was promoted to temporary captain on 24 April 1915. While acting as a recruiting officer he learnt Russian. In 1916, he was recruited by Mansfield Cumming to be the future MI6's liaison officer with the Russian Intelligence service in Petrograd, he soon became head of the British Intelligence Mission to the Russian General Staff with the temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel.
In that post, he reported to the British Government the death of Rasputin and apologised, because of the sensational nature of the event, for having written it in the style of the Daily Mail. In March 1917 he was posted to Rome. In Italy, he met and recruited the former socialist leader Benito Mussolini on behalf of the British overseas intelligence service, known as MI1. Newly published documents show that Britain’s intelligence service helped Mussolini to finance his first forays into Italian politics as a right-wing politician. Hoping to keep Italy on its side in 1917, during the First World War, British intelligence gave Mussolini aged 34 and editor of a right-wing newspaper, £100 a week to keep his propaganda flowing. For his services in the war Hoare was twice mentioned in despatches, appointed Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1917, awarded the Orders of St Anne and St Stanislas of Russia, of St Maurice and St Lazarus of Italy. Hoare was re-elected to Parliament in 1918, but by 1922 he had become disillusioned with David Lloyd George after the Honours scandal and the Chanak Crisis.
He helped organise the backbench revolt at the Carlton Club meeting which brought down Lloyd George's coalition. In Bonar Law’s new Conservative government he w
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and to the electorate; the office of Prime Minister is one of the Great Offices of State. The current holder of the office, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, was appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016; the office is not established by any statute or constitutional document but exists only by long-established convention, which stipulates that the monarch must appoint as Prime Minister the person most to command the confidence of the House of Commons. The position of Prime Minister was not created; the office is therefore best understood from a historical perspective. The origins of the position are found in constitutional changes that occurred during the Revolutionary Settlement and the resulting shift of political power from the Sovereign to Parliament.
Although the Sovereign was not stripped of the ancient prerogative powers and remained the head of government, politically it became necessary for him or her to govern through a Prime Minister who could command a majority in Parliament. By the 1830s the Westminster system of government had emerged; the political position of Prime Minister was enhanced by the development of modern political parties, the introduction of mass communication, photography. By the start of the 20th century the modern premiership had emerged. Prior to 1902, the Prime Minister sometimes came from the House of Lords, provided that his government could form a majority in the Commons; however as the power of the aristocracy waned during the 19th century the convention developed that the Prime Minister should always sit in the lower house. As leader of the House of Commons, the Prime Minister's authority was further enhanced by the Parliament Act 1911 which marginalised the influence of the House of Lords in the law-making process.
The Prime Minister is ex officio First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service. Certain privileges, such as residency of 10 Downing Street, are accorded to Prime Ministers by virtue of their position as First Lord of the Treasury; the status of the position as Prime Minister means that the incumbent is ranked as one of the most powerful and influential people in the world. The Prime Minister is the head of the United Kingdom government; as such, the modern Prime Minister leads the Cabinet. In addition, the Prime Minister leads a major political party and commands a majority in the House of Commons; the incumbent wields both significant legislative and executive powers. Under the British system, there is a unity of powers rather than separation. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister guides the law-making process with the goal of enacting the legislative agenda of their political party. In an executive capacity, the Prime Minister appoints all other Cabinet members and ministers, co-ordinates the policies and activities of all government departments, the staff of the Civil Service.
The Prime Minister acts as the public "face" and "voice" of Her Majesty's Government, both at home and abroad. Upon the advice of the Prime Minister, the Sovereign exercises many statutory and prerogative powers, including high judicial, political and Church of England ecclesiastical appointments; the British system of government is based on an uncodified constitution, meaning that it is not set out in any single document. The British constitution consists of many documents and most for the evolution of the Office of the Prime Minister, it is based on customs known as constitutional conventions that became accepted practice. In 1928, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith described this characteristic of the British constitution in his memoirs:In this country we live... under an unwritten Constitution. It is true that we have on the Statute-book great instruments like Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Bill of Rights which define and secure many of our rights and privileges, they rest on usage, convention of slow growth in their early stages, not always uniform, but which in the course of time received universal observance and respect.
The relationships between the Prime Minister and the Sovereign and Cabinet are defined by these unwritten conventions of the constitution. Many of the Prime Minister's executive and legislative powers are royal prerogatives which are still formally vested in the Sovereign, who remains the head of state. Despite its growing
Oliver Frederick George Stanley, was a prominent British Conservative politician who held many ministerial posts before his early death. Stanley was the second son of Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, by his wife Lady Alice, daughter of William Montagu, 7th Duke of Manchester. Edward Stanley, Lord Stanley was his elder brother, he was educated at Eton, but did not proceed to the University of Oxford due to the outbreak of World War I. During the First World War, Stanley was commissioned into the Lancashire Hussars, before transferring to the Royal Field Artillery in 1915, he achieved the rank of captain, won both the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre. After he was demobilized, Stanley was called to the bar by Gray's Inn in 1919. In the 1924 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament for Westmorland. From 1945 he sat for Bristol West, he soon came to the attention of the Conservative leaders and held a number of posts in the National Government of the 1930s. As Minister of Transport he was responsible for the introduction of a 30 miles per hour speed limit and driving tests for new drivers.
In May 1938 whilst President of the Board of Trade he achieved a rare distinction in British politics when his brother Lord Stanley became Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs – a rare example of two brothers sitting in the same Cabinet, more so as their father, a former Conservative minister, was still alive. Five months Edward died. In January 1940 Stanley was appointed Secretary of State for War after the previous incumbent, Leslie Hore-Belisha, had been sacked after falling out with the leading officers. Much was expected of Stanley's tenure in this office, as his father had held it during the First World War, but four months the government fell and Stanley was replaced by Anthony Eden. Churchill offered Stanley the Dominions Office. Instead, Churchill made Stanley a personal link with intelligence agencies, notably as founder of the London Controlling Section. Two years Stanley's political fortunes revived when Churchill appointed him Secretary of State for the Colonies, a post which he held until the end of the war.
After the Conservatives' massive defeat in the 1945 general election Stanley was prominent amongst those rebuilding the party and he came to be regarded as one of the most important Conservative MPs. He was a governor of The Peckham Experiment in 1949, he succeeded his father as Chancellor of the University of Liverpool. By this time, his health was in decline. Had Stanley lived longer, he might well have been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Conservatives formed a government the following year. Historian Sir Charles Petrie went further, insisted in his 1972 memoirs that "the greatest blow the Conservative Party has sustained since the late war was the premature death of Oliver Stanley, he was one of the most gifted men of the century, would have made a great Prime Minister.... He was as brilliant a conversationalist as a public speaker." Stanley married Lady Maureen, daughter of Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry and the Hon. Edith Chaplin, in 1920, they had one son and one daughter: Michael Charles Stanley, who married Fortune Constance Hugh Smith and had two sons.
Lady Maureen died in June 1942, aged 41. Stanley survived her by eight years and died in December 1950, aged 54. Howard, Anthony RAB: The Life of R. A. Butler, Jonathan Cape 1987 ISBN 978-0224018623 Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Oliver Stanley Newspaper clippings about Oliver Stanley in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a British politician, army officer, writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament. Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was instead a member of the Liberal Party. Of mixed English and American parentage, Churchill was born in Oxfordshire to a wealthy, aristocratic family. Joining the British Army, he saw action in British India, the Anglo–Sudan War, the Second Boer War, gaining fame as a war correspondent and writing books about his campaigns. Elected an MP in 1900 as a Conservative, he defected to the Liberals in 1904. In H. H. Asquith's Liberal government, Churchill served as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, championing prison reform and workers' social security.
During the First World War, he oversaw the Gallipoli Campaign. In 1917, he returned to government under David Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions, was subsequently Secretary of State for War, Secretary of State for Air Secretary of State for the Colonies. After two years out of Parliament, he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Stanley Baldwin's Conservative government, returning the pound sterling in 1925 to the gold standard at its pre-war parity, a move seen as creating deflationary pressure on the UK economy. Out of office during the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in calling for British rearmament to counter the growing threat from Nazi Germany. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was re-appointed First Lord of the Admiralty before replacing Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1940. Churchill oversaw British involvement in the Allied war effort against Germany and the Axis powers, resulting in victory in 1945, his wartime leadership was praised, although acts like the Bombing of Dresden and his wartime response to the Bengal famine generated controversy.
After the Conservatives' defeat in the 1945 general election, he became Leader of the Opposition. Amid the developing Cold War with the Soviet Union, he publicly warned of an "iron curtain" of Soviet influence in Europe and promoted European unity. Re-elected Prime Minister in 1951, his second term was preoccupied with foreign affairs, including the Malayan Emergency, Mau Mau Uprising, Korean War, a UK-backed Iranian coup. Domestically his government developed a nuclear weapon. In declining health, Churchill resigned as prime minister in 1955, although he remained an MP until 1964. Upon his death in 1965, he was given a state funeral. Considered one of the 20th century's most significant figures, Churchill remains popular in the UK and Western world, where he is seen as a victorious wartime leader who played an important role in defending liberal democracy from the spread of fascism. Praised as a social reformer and writer, among his many awards was the Nobel Prize in Literature. Conversely, his imperialist views and comments on race, as well as his sanctioning of human rights abuses in the suppression of anti-imperialist movements seeking independence from the British Empire, have generated considerable controversy.
Churchill was born at the family's ancestral home, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, on 30 November 1874, at which time the United Kingdom was the dominant world power. A direct descendant of the Dukes of Marlborough, his family were among the highest levels of the British aristocracy, thus he was born into the country's governing elite, his paternal grandfather, John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, had been a Member of Parliament for ten years, a member of the Conservative Party who served in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. His own father, Lord Randolph Churchill, had been elected Conservative MP for Woodstock in 1873, his mother, Jennie Churchill, was from an American family whose substantial wealth derived from finance. The couple had met in August 1873, were engaged three days marrying at the British Embassy in Paris in April 1874; the couple lived beyond their income and were in debt. In 1876 John Spencer-Churchill was appointed Viceroy of Ireland, with Randolph as his private secretary, resulting in the Churchill family's relocation to Dublin, when the entirety of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom.
It was here that Jennie's second son, was born in 1880. Throughout much of the 1880s Randolph and Jennie were estranged, during which she had many suitors. Churchill had no relationship with his father, his relationship with Jack would be warm, they were close at various points in their lives. In Dublin, he was educated in reading and mathematics by a governess, while he and his brother were cared for by their nanny, Elizabeth Everest. Churchill was devoted to her and nicknamed her "Woomany". Visits home were to Connaught Place in L
Leslie Hore-Belisha, 1st Baron Hore-Belisha, PC was a British Liberal National Liberal Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister. He joined the Conservative Party, he proved successful in modernizing the British road system in 1934–37 as Minister of Transport. As Secretary of War, 1937–1940, he feuded with the commanding generals and was removed in 1940. Anti-semitism played a role in blocking his appointment as Minister of Information, his biographer compares his strong and weak points: He was a brilliant speaker, a warm and engaging personality, a go-getter and a persistent driver, a master of the unconventional or indirect approach, a patriot and a man of moral and physical courage, not a great intellect but an original with a flair for imaginative gestures and for public relations. He had personal weaknesses, he was self-centred and had a fine conceit of himself. At times he was accused of sharp practice.... Sharp practitioner or not, quickness of mind and tongue, transparent ambition to be seen to succeed, made him vulnerable to smears....
His over-assertiveness... led him to appear inconsiderate of the views of others. His name is still associated in the UK with the amber "Belisha beacons" which were installed at pedestrian crossings while he was Minister for Transport. Hore-Belisha was born Isaac Leslie Belisha in Hampstead, London on 7 September 1893, he was the only son of the Jewish family of Jacob Isaac Belisha, manager of an insurance company, his wife, Elizabeth Miriam Miers. His father died. In 1912, in Kensington, his widowed mother married Sir Charles F. Adair Hore, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Pensions. Leslie Belisha adopted the double-barrelled surname; the suggestion that he changed his name from Horeb-Elisha seems to be without foundation. Hore-Belisha was educated at Clifton College, he continued his studies in Paris and Heidelberg, before attending St John's College, where he was President of the Oxford Union Society. While in Heidelberg, he became a member of die Burschenschaft Frankonia Heidelberg in 1912.
During World War I, he joined the British Army and served in France and Salonika and finished the war with the rank of major in the Army Service Corps. After the war, after leaving the army, he returned to Oxford and, in 1923, qualified as a barrister. At the 1922 general election, Hore-Belisha was an unsuccessful candidate for the Liberal Party in his birthplace constituency of Plymouth Devonport. However, thanks to his new political agent, Benjamin Musgrave, he won the seat at the general election the following year, became known in Parliament as a flamboyant and brilliant speaker, he allied himself with right-wing Liberals critical of their party's support for the Labour minority governments, joining with Sir John Simon in becoming a'Liberal National' upon the formation of the National Government in 1931. After the 1931 general election, Hore-Belisha was appointed a junior minister at the Board of Trade, he remained in government when the official Liberals withdrew in September 1932 over the issue of free trade, was promoted to Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
Hore-Belisha showed considerable intelligence and drive in government, although his intense energy tended to alienate traditionalist elements who resented his status as an "outsider". Hore-Belisha was appointed Minister of Transport in 1934 coming to public prominence at a time when motoring was becoming available to the masses. All speed limits for motor cars had controversially been removed by the Road Traffic Act 1930 during the previous administration. There was, in 1934, a record number of road casualties in the UK, with 7,343 deaths and 231,603 injuries being recorded, with half of the casualties being pedestrians and three-quarters occurring in built-up areas. Hore-Belisha described this as "mass murder". Shortly after being appointed, he was crossing Camden High Street when a sports car shot along the street without stopping, nearly causing him "serious injury or worse", he became involved in a public-relations exercise to demonstrate how to use the new "uncontrolled crossings". Hore-Belisha's Road Traffic Act 1934 introduced a speed limit of 30 mph for motor cars in built-up areas.
The new act was vigorously opposed by many, who saw the new regulations as a removal of "an Englishman's freedom of the highway". The earlier 20 mph speed limit had been abolished in 1930. A large backlog of court cases had made the law unenforceable. In addition, The Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club had been successful in defending their members against evidence from primitive speed traps. Hore-Belisha rewrote the Highway Code and was responsible for the introduction of two innovations that led to a dramatic drop in the number of road accidents: the driving test and the Belisha beacon, named after him by the public. On his retirement, he was made vice-president of the Pedestrians' Association and, to this day, the logo of the organisation includes a Belisha Beacon, his success at the Ministry of Transport, in 1937, led to an appointment by Neville Chamberlain as Secretary of State for War replacing the popular Alfred Duff Cooper, who resigned from the government over Chamberlain's policy of appeasement.
There were voices within the Conservative majority that such a high-profile appointment should not have gone to a Liberal National, Hore-Belisha's Conservative colleagues labelled him a warmonger. Many took to nicknaming him "Horeb-Elisha" or "Horeb" as an anti-s
Andrew Bonar Law called Bonar Law, was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1922 to 1923. Born in the British colony of New Brunswick, Law is the only British prime minister to have been born outside the British Isles. Law was of Scottish and Ulster Scots descent, having moved to Scotland in 1870, he left school aged sixteen to work in the iron industry, becoming a wealthy man by the age of thirty, he entered the House of Commons at the 1900 general election late in life for a front-rank politician, was made a junior minister, Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, in 1902. Law joined the Shadow Cabinet in opposition after the 1906 election. In 1911, he was appointed a Privy Councillor, stood for the vacant party leadership. Despite never having served in the Cabinet, despite trailing third after Walter Long and Austen Chamberlain, Law became leader when the two frontrunners withdrew rather than risk a draw splitting the party; as Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition, Law focused his attentions in favour of tariff reform and against Irish Home Rule.
His campaigning helped turn Liberal attempts to pass the Third Home Rule Bill into a three-year struggle halted by the start of the First World War, with much argument over the status of the six counties which would become Northern Ireland, four of which were predominantly Protestant. Law first held Cabinet office as Secretary of State for the Colonies in Asquith's Coalition Government. Upon Asquith's fall from power, he declined to form a government, instead serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lloyd George's Coalition Government, he resigned on grounds of ill health in early 1921. In October 1922, with Lloyd George's Coalition having become unpopular with the Conservatives, he wrote an anonymous letter to the press giving only lukewarm support to the Government's actions over Chanak. After Conservative MPs voted to end the Coalition, he again became Party Leader and, this time, Prime Minister. In November he won a clear majority at the 1922 general election, his brief premiership saw negotiation with the United States over Britain's war loans.
Ill with throat cancer, Law resigned in May 1923, died that year. He was the shortest-serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century, is sometimes called "The Unknown Prime Minister". Law was born on 16 September 1858 in Kingston, New Brunswick, to Eliza Kidston Law and the Reverend James Law, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland with Scottish and Irish ancestry. At the time of his birth, New Brunswick was still a separate colony, as Canadian confederation did not occur until 1867, his mother wanted to name him after Robert Murray M'Cheyne, a preacher she admired, but as his older brother was called Robert, he was instead named after the Reverend Andrew Bonar, a biographer of M'Cheyne. Throughout his life he was always called Bonar by his close friends, never Andrew, he signed his name as A. B. Law, changing to A. Bonar Law in his thirties, he was referred to as Bonar Law by the public as well. James Law was the minister for several isolated townships, had to travel between them by horse, boat and on foot.
To supplement the family income, he bought a small farm on the Richibucto River, which Bonar helped tend along with his brothers Robert and John, his sister Mary. Studying at the local village school, Law excelled at his studies, it is here that he was first noted for his excellent memory. After Eliza Law died in 1861, her sister Janet travelled to New Brunswick from her home in Scotland to look after the Law children; when James Law remarried in 1870, his new wife took over Janet's duties, Janet decided to return home to Scotland. She suggested that Bonar Law should come with her, as the Kidston family were wealthier and better connected than the Laws, Bonar would have a more privileged upbringing. Both James and Bonar accepted this, Bonar left with Janet, never to return to Kingston. Law went to live near Glasgow, her brothers Charles and William were partners in the family merchant bank Kidston & Sons, as only one of them had married it was accepted that Law would inherit the firm, or at least play a role in its management when he was older.
Upon arriving from Kingston, Law began attending Gilbertfield School, a preparatory school in Hamilton. In 1873, aged fourteen, he transferred to the High School of Glasgow, where with his excellent memory he showed a talent for languages, excelling in Greek and French. During this period, he first began to play chess – he would carry a board on the train between Helensburgh and Glasgow, challenging other commuters to matches, he became an excellent amateur player, competed with internationally renowned chess masters. Despite his excellent academic record, it became obvious at Glasgow that he was better suited to business than to university, when he was sixteen, Law left school to become a clerk at Kidston & Sons. At Kidston & Sons, Law received a nominal salary, on the understanding that he would gain a "commercial education" from working there that would serve him well as a businessman. In 1885 the Kidston brothers decided to retire, agreed to merge the firm with the Clydesdale Bank; the merger would have left Law without a job and with poor career-prospects, but the retiring brothers found him a job with William Jacks, an iron merchant who had started pursuing a parliamentary career.
The Kidston brothers lent Law t
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, was a British statesman and Labour Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951. He was the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955. In 1940, Attlee took Labour into the wartime coalition government and served under Winston Churchill, becoming, in 1942, the first person to hold the office of Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he went on to lead the Labour Party to an unexpected landslide victory at the 1945 general election. The 12 per cent national swing from the Conservatives to Labour was unprecedented at that time and remains the largest achieved by any party at a general election in British electoral history, he was re-elected with a narrow majority at the 1950 general election. In the following year, Attlee called a snap general election, hoping to increase his parliamentary majority. However, he was narrowly defeated by the Conservatives under the leadership of Winston Churchill, despite winning the most votes of any political party in any general election in British political history until the Conservative Party's fourth consecutive victory in 1992.
Attlee remains the longest-ever serving Leader of the Labour Party. First elected to the House of Commons in 1922 as the MP for Limehouse, Attlee rose to become a junior minister in the first Labour minority government led by Ramsay MacDonald in 1924, joined the Cabinet during MacDonald's second ministry of 1929–1931. One of only a handful of Labour frontbenchers to retain his seat in the landslide defeat of 1931, he became the party's Deputy Leader. After the resignation of George Lansbury in 1935, he was elected as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition in the subsequent leadership election. At first advocating pacificism and opposing rearmament, he reversed his position, he took Labour into the Churchill war ministry in 1940. Serving as Lord Privy Seal, he was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister in 1942. Attlee and Churchill worked together smoothly, with Attlee working backstage to handle much of the detail and organisational work in Parliament, as Churchill took centre stage with his attention on diplomacy, military policy, broader issues.
With victory in Europe in May 1945, the coalition government was dissolved. Attlee led Labour to win a huge majority in the ensuing 1945 general election two months later; the government he led built the post-war consensus, based upon the assumption that full employment would be maintained by Keynesian policies and that a enlarged system of social services would be created – aspirations, outlined in the 1942 Beveridge Report. Within this context, his government undertook the nationalisation of public utilities and major industries, as well as the creation of the National Health Service. Attlee himself had little interest in economic matters but this settlement was broadly accepted by all parties for three decades. Foreign policy was the special domain of Ernest Bevin, he supervised the process by which India was partitioned into India and Pakistan in 1947. He arranged the independence of Burma, Ceylon, his government ended the British Mandates of Jordan. From 1947 onwards, he and Bevin pushed the United States to take a more vigorous role in the emerging Cold War against Soviet Communism.
When the budgetary crisis forced Britain out of Greece in 1947, he called on Washington to counter the Communists with the Truman Doctrine. He avidly supported the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe with American money. In 1949, he promoted the NATO military alliance against the Soviet bloc, he sent British troops to fight in the Malayan Emergency in 1948 and sent the RAF to participate in the Berlin Airlift. He commissioned an independent nuclear deterrent for the UK, he used 13,000 troops and passed special legislation to promptly end the London dock strike in 1949. After leading Labour to a narrow victory at the 1950 general election, he sent British troops to fight in the Korean War. Attlee was narrowly defeated by the Conservatives under Churchill in the 1951 general election, he had lost his effectiveness by then. He was elevated to the House of Lords. In public, Attlee was unassuming, his strengths emerged behind the scenes in committees where his depth of knowledge, quiet demeanour and pragmatism proved decisive.
His achievements in politics owed the unsuitability of his rivals. He saw himself as spokesman on behalf of his entire party and kept its multiple factions in harness. Attlee is rated by scholars and the public as one of the greatest British Prime Ministers, his reputation among scholars in recent decades has been much higher than during his years as Prime Minister, thanks to his roles in leading the Labour Party, creating the welfare state and building the coalition opposing Stalin in the Cold War. Attlee was born on 3 January 1883 in Putney, into a middle-class family, the seventh of eight children, his father was Henry Attlee, a solicitor, his mother was Ellen Bravery Watson, daughter of Thomas Simons Watson, secretary for the Art Union of London. He was educated at a boys' preparatory school near Pluckley in Kent.