23 January, 2009

Clement Attlee

Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, was a British politician, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955. He served as Deputy Prime Minister under Winston Churchill in the wartime coalition government, before leading the Labour Party to a landslide election victory over Churchill at the 1945 general election. He was the first Labour Prime Minister to serve a full Parliamentary term and the first to have a majority in Parliament.

The government he led put in place 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 major industries and public utilities as well as the creation of the National Health Service. After initial Conservative opposition, this settlement was by and large accepted by all parties. His government also presided over the decolonisation of a large part of the British Empire, a process by which India and the countries that are now Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jordan, and Israel obtained independence.

Clement Attlee died of pneumonia at the age of 84 at Westminster Hospital on 8 October 1967.

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