BBC - History - Clement Attlee ( - )
Adam Gopnik on “Clement Attlee: The Man Who Made Modern Britain,” a recent biography of Clement Attlee, the postwar Labour Prime. Read the biography of Clement Attlee, the post-war Labour prime minister. Two , Attlee was a highly successful deputy prime minister in Churchill's coalition. Just how special was the 'special relationship' in the Second World War? Copy of a message from Winston Churchill to Prime Minister Clement Attlee, October.
I do not however consider that we should at this stage at any rate talk about quote "Acts of Faith" Unquote. This will in the existing circumstances raise immediate suspicion in American breasts.
Moreover we have a special relationship with them in this matter as defined in my agreement with President Roosevelt. This almost amounts to a military understanding between us and the mightiest power in the world. I should greatly regret if we seemed not to value this and pressed them to melt our dual agreement down into a general international arrangement consisting, I fear, of pious empty phrases and undertakings which will not be carried out.
See what happened about the submarines.
Clement Attlee's Noble Tribute to Winston Churchill
Nothing will give a foundation except the supreme resolve of all nations who possess or may possess the weapon to use it at once unitedly against any nation that uses it in war. For this purpose the greater the power of the U. Evidently we all have to hasten. These are of course only my immediate reactions to your proposed message. I sympathise deeply in your anxieties.
Keep for Tuesday meeting What is this source? Background to this source All the key players in the relationship between the US and the UK had changed by this point. Despite having lost the election in May and no longer being Prime Minister, Churchill was considered a key figure in the post-war relationship with America.
The allies had defeated Germany in May and following the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan had been defeated in August. Stalin was shocked that his allies had developed the atomic weapons without informing him and this led to growing distrust between the Soviet Union and Britain and America.
Under the Quebec Agreement ofBritain and the US agreed to work collaboratively in researching the development of atomic weapons. British scientists had made the key scientific breakthroughs which enabled the development of atomic weapons and shared this information with the United States.
The US led the Manhattan Project which developed the first Atomic Bomb but there were tensions and accusations that the US researchers did not share their findings in return.
During the course of the second Labour government, Attlee had become increasingly disillusioned with MacDonald, whom he came to regard as vain and incompetent, and of whom he later wrote scathingly in his autobiography. He had a fine presence and great oratorical power. The unpopular line which he took during the First World War seemed to mark him as a man of character. Despite his mishandling of the Red Letter episode, I had not appreciated his defects until he took office a second time.
I then realised his reluctance to take positive action and noted with dismay his increasing vanity and snobbery, while his habit of telling me, a junior Minister, the poor opinion he had of all his Cabinet colleagues made an unpleasant impression. I had not, however, expected that he would perpetrate the greatest betrayal in the political history of this country 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.
Deputy Leader[ edit ] The general election held later that year was a disaster for the Labour Party, which lost over seats, returning only 52 MPs to Parliament. The vast majority of the party's senior figures lost their seats, including the Leader Arthur HendersonAttlee narrowly retained his Limehouse seat in the election, with his majority being slashed from 7, to just He was one of only three Labour MPs who had experience of government to retain their seats, along with George Lansbury and Stafford Crippsaccordingly Lansbury was elected Leader unopposed with Attlee as his deputy.
As one of the most capable and experienced of the remaining Labour MPs, Attlee therefore shouldered a lot of the burden of providing an opposition to the National Government in the years —35, during this time he had to extend his knowledge of subjects which he had not studied in any depth before, such as finance and foreign affairs in order to provide an effective opposition to the government.
It was during this period, however, that personal financial problems almost forced Attlee to quit politics altogether. His wife had become ill, and at that time there was no separate salary for the Leader of the Opposition.
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.
- Richard M. Langworth
- Churchill Archive for Schools
At one point he agreed with the proposition put forward by Cripps that gradual reform was inadequate and that a socialist government would have to pass an emergency powers act, allowing it to rule by decree to overcome any opposition by vested interests until it was safe to restore democracy.
He admired Oliver Cromwell 's strong-armed rule and use of major generals to control England. After looking more closely at Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and even his former colleague Oswald Mosley, leader of the new blackshirt fascist movement in Britain, Attlee retreated from his radicalism, and distanced himself from the League, and argued instead that the Labour Party must adhere to constitutional methods and stand forthright for democracy and against totalitarianism of either the left or right.
Lansbury had strongly opposed the policy, and felt unable to continue leading the party. Taking advantage of the disarray in the Labour Party, the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin announced on 19 October that a general election would be held on 14 November. With no time for a leadership contest, the party agreed that Attlee should serve as interim leader, on the understanding that a leadership election would be held after the general election.
Morrison was seen as the favourite, but was distrusted by many sections of the party, especially the left-wing. Arthur Greenwood meanwhile was a popular figure in the party; however his leadership bid was severely hampered by his alcohol problem. Attlee was able to come across as a competent and unifying figure, particularly having already led the party through a general election.
He went on to come first in both the first and second ballots, formally being elected Leader of the Labour Party on 3 December We are deliberately putting a world order before our loyalty to our own country. We say we want to see put on the statute book something which will make our people citizens of the world before they are citizens of this country.Sir Winston Churchill on... Clement Attlee
We do not think you can do it by national defence. We think you can only do it by moving forward to a new world. A world of law, the abolition of national armaments with a world force and a world economic system. I shall be told that that is quite impossible. Attlee responded the next day noting that Hitler's speech, although containing unfavourable references to the Soviet Unioncreated "A chance to call a halt in the armaments race We do not think that our answer to Herr Hitler should be just rearmament.
We are in an age of rearmaments, but we on this side cannot accept that position. Attlee made a radio broadcast in opposition to it, saying the budget: There was hardly any increase allowed for the services which went to build up the life of the people, education and health. Everything was devoted to piling up the instruments of death. 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.
One would think to listen to him that the Government had no responsibility for the state of world affairs The Government has now resolved to enter upon an arms race, and the people will have to pay for their mistake in believing that it could be trusted to carry out a policy of peace This is a War Budget. We can look in the future for no advance in Social Legislation. All available resources are to be devoted to armaments.
ByLabour had jettisoned its pacifist position and came to support rearmament and oppose Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement. We all feel relief that war has not come this time. Every one of us has been passing through days of anxiety; we cannot, however, feel that peace has been established, but that we have nothing but an armistice in a state of war. We have been unable to go in for care-free rejoicing.
Clement Attlee (1883 - 1967)
We have felt that we are in the midst of a tragedy. We have felt humiliation. This has not been a victory for reason and humanity. It has been a victory for brute force.
At every stage of the proceedings there have been time limits laid down by the owner and ruler of armed force. The terms have not been terms negotiated; they have been terms laid down as ultimata.
We have seen to-day a gallant, civilised and democratic people betrayed and handed over to a ruthless despotism.
We have seen something more. We have seen the cause of democracy, which is, in our view, the cause of civilisation and humanity, receive a terrible defeat. The events of these last few days constitute one of the greatest diplomatic defeats that this country and France have ever sustained. There can be no doubt that it is a tremendous victory for Herr Hitler. Without firing a shot, by the mere display of military force, he has achieved a dominating position in Europe which Germany failed to win after four years of war.
He has overturned the balance of power in Europe. He has destroyed the last fortress of democracy in Eastern Europe which stood in the way of his ambition. 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.
One of the companies was named the "Major Attlee Company" in his honour.