Biography of the Leading Personalities of the British Imperial Political Elite Establishment, Presiding Over the Decolonisation Policy of the British Empire, and its Wider Implications

Biography of the Leading Personalities of the British Imperial Political Elite Establishment, Presiding Over the Decolonisation Policy of the British Empire, and its Wider Implications

Biography of the Leading Personalities of
the British Imperial Political Elite
Establishment, Presiding Over
the Decolonisation Policy of the British Empire,
and its Wider Implications.

  1. Labour Party

Attlee, Clement R. Prime Minister 1945-51.

Clement Attlee entered legal chambers after Oxford University, but in 1905 became involved in the Haileybury boys’ club in Stepney. In 1907 he became its resident manager. Toynbee Hall Settlement was another institution where Attlee served for a time as a secretary. Attlee’s years in the East End of London changed him to a socialist. He joined the Fabian Society in 1907, however he thought it was too middle class in terms of attitude. By 1908 he was a member of the Stepney branch of the Independent Labour Party, and after a time became its secretary. In 1922 Attlee was elected as a Labour M.P. for Limehouse. In Ramsay Macdonald’s first Government in 1923-24 he became Under-secretary for War. His appointment as Labour member of the Simon Commission to India provided him with the self-confidence required for his Indian initiative twenty years later.

Attlee proved an efficient Leader of the Opposition, between1935-1940. He held the Party together. In 1945 having served in the War Cabinet, he eventually became the firm and decisive Chairman of a Cabinet that carried through a social revolution without violence or repression. From the nationalisation of hospitals to recognition of Communist China, Attlee instinctively belonged to the radical camp. He held together an extraordinary team of powerful personalities, as well as his party and the Labour movement, united in its purpose of transforming Britain into a welfare democracy. As a result of his emotional feeling for Britain, he combined an intellectual socialist anti-colonialism with a benevolent imperial, concern of raising the conditions, economically and politically, in the ex-colonies by bringing the old empire to a free multi-racial Commonwealth. Additionally, Attlee, in conjunction with the Americans, built the whole post-war system of Western defence.

Bevin. Ernest Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 1945-51.

Ernest Bevin’s roots were solidly working class, therefore, he was most concerned about the welfare of the working man. Bevin was brought to the front line of the trade union movement as a result of his drive, resourcefulness and ability to take a broad view of the interests of the Labour movement. Being a Labour leader helped him to develop these qualities. He was able to take bold decisions and stand by them and preferred organisation to empty rhetoric. Above all his background taught him the over-riding importance of power. It was the profound conviction of the need to negotiate from strength which was later to characterise his whole conduct of British foreign policy. Attlee appointed Bevin as the Foreign Secretary above all because of his expectation, based on his experience at Potsdam, that the Russians would be aggressive and unco-operative and that Bevin would be the best man to stand up to them. Ernest Bevin and Clement Attlee were probably closer than any other two members of the Cabinet. Bevin and Attlee’s personal friendship had grown into a well developed political partnership, by the time they took office. Attlee was, unassuming, practical, detached and quiet. He had a tendency to remain in the background but Bevin on the other hand was full of ideas.

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