January Talk: Citizen Clem

This month our talk was given by Dr Anthea Symonds, History Lecturer, and Committee  Member of the Historical Association Swansea Branch.

Clement Attlee was born in 1883, the son of a wealthy Surrey Solicitor and Educated at Haileybury, Oxford and Lincoln’s Inn. He was greatly influenced by the poverty he witnessed in the East End of London, through his involvement with the Haileybury Club in Stepney.In 1907 he joined the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party.

In WWI he served as an Army officer in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia and on the Western Front. Following a period as Mayor of Stepney, he was elected to the House of Commons as Labour M.P. for Limehouse. By 1935 he was the leader of the Labour Party. A strong critic of Chamberlain’s appeasement policy, he supported Churchill as Leader, becoming Deputy Prime Minister in the wartime cabinet.

Following a resounding Labour Election Victory in 1945, he became Prime Minister, presiding over the nationalisation of Public Utilities and major industries. His Government introduced the Welfare State and the National Health Service and built public housing. He was an admirer of Kipling and during his Premiership, India was granted independence. Attlee was a product of the Victorian Middle Class, a shy patriotic man who believed in the commonwealth of citizens whilst opposing doctrinaire left wingers.

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