- Category : Political
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Small (16)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Tension 4
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS (3 January 1883 – 8 October 1967) was a British politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955.
Attlee was the first person ever to hold the office of Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, serving under Winston Churchill in the wartime coalition government, before going on to lead the Labour Party to a landslide election victory in 1945 and a narrow victory in 1950. He became the first Labour Prime Minister ever to serve a full term, as well as the first to command a Labour majority in Parliament, and remains to date the longest ever serving Leader of the Labour party.
First elected to Parliament in 1922 as the MP for Limehouse, he rose quickly to become a minister in the minority government led by Ramsay MacDonald in 1924. In 1931, after the Labour Party had suffered a disastrous election defeat, he was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Four years later, he became the Leader of the Labour Party after the resignation of George Lansbury. After reversing Labour's previous policy of pacificism and appeasement, he became a strong critic of Neville Chamberlain's attempts to appease Adolf Hitler. He took Labour into the wartime coalition government, 1940–45 formed by Winston Churchill. Initially serving as the Lord Privy Seal, he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister two years later. With victory assured in the Second World War in 1945, the coalition government was dissolved and Attlee led Labour to win a huge majority in the ensuing general election.
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 greatly enlarged system of social services would be created – aspirations that had been outlined in the wartime 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. After initial Conservative opposition to Keynesian fiscal policy, this settlement was broadly accepted by all parties for over three decades until Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979. His government also presided over the decolonisation of a large part of the British Empire, granting British India, Burma, and Ceylon independence, as well as ending the British Mandate of Palestine and the British Mandate of Jordan. When the budget crisis forced Britain out of Greece in 1947 he encouraged the United States to counter the Soviets with the Truman Doctrine. He avidly supported the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe with American money, and the NATO military alliance against the Soviet bloc. After leading Labour to a narrow victory in 1950, he was narrowly defeated by Churchill in 1951; he retired from politics in 1955.
In public, Attlee appeared modest and unassuming; he was ineffective at public relations and lacked charisma. His strengths emerged behind the scenes, especially in committees where his depth of knowledge, quiet demeanour, objectivity and pragmatism proved decisive. He saw himself as spokesman on behalf of the entire party, and successfully kept its multiple factions in harness. His reputation among scholars in recent decades has been much higher than during his years as Prime Minister, thanks to his role in forging the welfare state and opposing the Soviet Union in the Cold War. In 2004 he was voted the greatest British Prime Minister of the 20th Century by a poll of 139 academics organised by Ipsos MORI.