Clement Atlee

Clement Atlee
Administrator, Mar 25, 2006
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      Clement Attlee was born in Putney, London, England, Britain and educated at Haileybury and University College, Oxford. Whilst doing voluntary work at a boy's club in Stepney Attlee he became converted to socialism, and in 1913 became a tutor at the London School of Economics. During the 1914-18 War Attlee served in Gallipoli and Mesopotamia, where he was wounded. After recovery he served on the Western Front until the armistice, rising to the rank of Major.

      Elected a Labour MP for Limehouse in 1922 he became Ramsay MacDonald's Parliamentary Secretary (1922-24), and from 1924, Under Secretary of State for War. He led the Labour opposition (in which he is best remembered for his support of the British volunteers fighting in the Spanish Civil war) from 1935 to 1940, before joining Churchill's Wartime coalition cabinet. He became deputy Prime Minister in 1942, a post he held until 1945.

      During the War it was largely due to Attlee and Ernest Bevin's efforts that virtually the whole British nation was mobilzed for war. Attlee would work as a restraining influence on some of Churchill's more wilder schemes.

      He became Prime Minister in 1945, where one of his first tasks was to take over from Churchill at the Potsdam Conference. During his six years in office he would carry through a vigorous programme of reforms. The Bank of England, the coal mines, civil aviation, cable and wireless services, gas, electricity, railways, road transport and steel were nationalized. The National Health Service was introduced and independence was granted to India (1947) and Burma.

      The major problem during his term as Prime Minister was the British Economy. The cost of the War had virtually bankrupted the country, which now needed to find the funds for rebuilding and restructuring to the peacetime situation. The Americans, however immediately demanded payment of Britain's Wartime debts-a situation that placed all future plans in jeopardy. Eventually negotiations with the Americans provided a new loan (although not as much as was required) for Britain's immediate requirements.

      The Labour party was defeated in 1951 and Attlee spent the next four years again as leader of the opposition until resigning in 1955. He was granted a peerage and was active in the House of Lords until his death in 1967.

      A History of Modern Britain (Andrew Marr, Macmillan Publishing, 2007)
      The World at War (Mark Arnold=Forster,Fontana/Collins, 1973).
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