Clement Attlee (1883-1967)
Labour Prime Minister 1945-1951

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Clement Attlee (1883-1967) Labour Prime Minister 1945-1951

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He seems determined to make a trumpet sound like a tin whistle... He brings to the fierce struggle of politics the tepid enthusiasm of a lazy summer afternoon at a cricket match.
Tribune, 1945.

(2) Clement Attlee (1883-1967) Labour Prime Minister 1945-1951

(3) Clement Attlee (1883-1967) Labour Prime Minister 1945-1951

(4) Clement Attlee (1883-1967) Labour Prime Minister 1945-1951

(5) Clement Attlee (1883-1967) Labour Prime Minister 1945-1951

Additional Information on
Clement Attlee (1883-1967)
Labour Prime Minister 1945-1951

Son of a city solicitor, Attlee was brought up in a typically middle class Victorian family. However, after spending time looking after people in the slums of Stepney, he joined the Independent Labour party, campaigning for social improvement. After World War I he returned to Stepney where he was elected as Mayor.

In 1922 he entered Parliament as the member for Limehouse. Attlee soon became Ramsay MacDonald's private secretary, and served in this position throughout both of MacDonald's administrations as Prime Minister. However, when MacDonald formed a National Government in 1931 Attlee considered it a betrayal of Labour principles, and became disillusioned with MacDonald. Attlee left this position and became deputy to the leader of the parliamentary Labour Party, George Lansbury. On Lansbury's resignation in 1935, Attlee assumed the leadership of the opposition. He continued in this position until 1940 when he joined Prime Minister Winston Churchill's Coalition government as Lord Privy Seal. In 1942 Attlee was made Deputy Prime Minister and became in charge of domestic affairs whilst Churchill dealt with foreign affairs. In 1943 he was made Lord President of the Council as well.

At the general election of July 1945 the Labour Party secured their first ever majority vote, and Attlee succeeded Churchill as the first Labour Prime Minister. Attlee's administration was a strong and efficient one which included such leading statesmen as Ernest Bevin and Aneurin Bevan. His ministry is noted for its achievements, particularly those of social and economic reform. It is credited with introducing the nationalisation of industry, establishing the National Health Service, and a major rebuilding programme - the New Towns. In foreign affairs, India, Ceylon and Burma were granted independence.

By 1950-1951 the party's majority was greatly reduced and Attlee fell ill with duodenal ulcers. After a Conservative victory at the 1951 elections he resigned and Churchill took over. King George VI awarded him the Order of Merit, and Attlee became leader of the opposition once more. He resigned after four years in 1955, and the following day Queen Elizabeth made him an earl. Attlee spent his retirement giving debates in the Lords. He died in 1967.


Attlee is a charming and intelligent man, but as a public speaker he is, compared to Winston Churchill, like a village fiddler after Paganini.
- Diary, 10 Nov 1947.

Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking.
- Speech, Oxford, 14 June 1957.

Russian Communism is the illegitimate child of Karl Marx and Catherine the Great.
- Speech, 11 April, 1956.

I have none of the qualities which create publicity.
- On himself, 1949.

Anyone can respect him, certainly, but admire - no!
- Winston Churchill, in Henry Channon, Diary, 1948. Advanced Category Search

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